defragment.me

Live, love and be yourself

I watched "Eat Pray Love" the movie last night and was left disappointed by the adaptation of the book. Like many of the book's fans, I was excited to watch Julia Roberts casted in the movie, she seemed like a perfect choice to play Elizabeth Gilbert.

Now it just seems like the movie audience is just going to think that Elizabeth Gilbert is selfish whiny b*tch. The movie left out important details of how she eventually made that decision to end the marriage. Or even start praying to God. I don't think it will eventually matter to Elizabeth Gilbert anyway. If she didn't make that "selfish" decision to go on her journey, I don't think she would have written that book which inspired many other women to do the same, or at least reflect on their lives. She wouldn't have gone on to speak at one of the most popular Ted talks – the talk that brought me to read her book in the first place. She needed to do what she had to do. Why is there such a negative connotation to pursuing your happiness?

No pulse left

When I first read the book I felt like I was reading myself. To be fair, there was a tiny part of the movie which made me feel like I was watching myself. The part when she tries to explain to her friend why she needed to go away for one entire year. She had no pulse left. I had no pulse left.

I don't think it is ever possible to explain this feeling to anyone else unless they have been through the same. The same feeling which makes you feel that you're suffering a fate worse than death. It makes you feel guilty for feeling that way, because there're tons of cancer patients or hungry war victims who are wishing they have a proper chance at life. But that's the thing you see, there is no feeling worse than being totally able and in supposed comfort and still feeling like you may be better off dead. At least the sick, poor and hungry have proper reasons to be angry with their lives. I had no reason to have felt this way, just like Elizabeth Gilbert had no reason to.

That guilt, eats you up inside. The desire to be truly alive, eats you up inside.

Each and every time I go through a transformative phase, I tell myself to learn from it and never make the same mistakes again. I have come to realise the way I am built mentally, emotionally and spiritually, I am destined for a life of change. Of movement, of desiring the feeling to truly be alive. This is who I am, but I've spent my life trying to shut that side of myself up. Yup, I am writing about this again. But I've only come to terms with this recently, it is really going to take a while before it entirely sinks in.

I just hope I don't sabotage myself in the process.

Fatigue

Sometimes it feels tiring and lonely. To be one of those misfits who cannot live life like how others do. I have had times wishing I could be less emotional, less perceptive or having an interest in numbers instead of visuals. I wish I would be excited by the prospect of being an auditor instead. I was actually wishing all my innate gifts away.

It feels really really lonely and tiring when nobody could empathise with this sort of self-introspection and dissatisfaction. Why I seem to be so hard upon myself. I'm sure there're tons of people who read this blog and decide that that the writer whines throughout.

Even I, myself, get sick of my own "principles". Why can't I just take work as work. Why do I feel so personally about every design decision I have made. The frustration I feel when a client prides the importance of the number of features rather than the value of design. Or when somebody thinks design is just making things pretty. Or when a developer writes inline styles into the html.

You know, I could live a lot better if I don't get all worked up over "trivial" things like that. But this is me. These are the qualities that I hope prospective clients would deem as strengths when they choose to hire me. There are tons of more gifted designers out there. I'll be the first to admit that. I don't write a design blog or speak at events, I don't network very well. But I bring myself completely into the work that I choose to do.

Just like this blog. I can't write about "25 tips to Zen Living", neither can I write about" 25 ways to become a better designer". There are better writers out there with these topics. But I can write honestly and openly about myself, by doing that I hope to share the best gift I can – my thoughts, emotions and experiences. Perhaps it would make some of you roll your eyes, but once in a while, I get a heartfelt email or comment about my writing, and to me these are what that counts.

True connections are the ones that matter to me. There will always be the ones disagreeing with you, your decisions, your product. There will even be the ones who think "Eat Pray Love" the book is a piece of crap. I cannot help but raise my eyebrows at those people who refuse to use an Apple product. But when you manage to genuinely touch the lives of those who can relate to you, your decisions, your product, you know that you have made a real difference to them. When this happens, they truly appreciate you or your work, not because it is something everyone uses (ahem. Windows) or admire.

Respecting choices

Would you choose to be the spouse who stays out of responsibility or the one who leaves because you believe your partner deserves better? Would you design a product that the mass use out of necessity or a niche who truly loves it? Would you spend your life chasing stability and security or would you want to feel alive?

If you have the gift of foresight, and you know you will get paralysed in a year's time...Would you spend this year enjoying every moment of your life, or would you work really hard to have savings and buy insurance?

If you truly love and care for someone, wouldn't his/her happiness be the most important? Why can't we, as a society, encourage the individual to be happy, instead of being "responsible"? As a parent, would you wish your son or daughter to be truly happy, to be "responsible", stuck in jobs they do not love, just to be filial? Would you, want your wife to stick with you because she took a life vow, or do you want her to be with the person she truly loves?

We all make different decisions and respond differently to the same situation. While I used to believe everyone should live life with passion, I have come to accept, albeit a little unwillingly, that some people could be happier with security. The world needs diversity, but I do hope the world will come to love and be kinder to the minority as well. The ones who choose to live their dreams.

Support

Reading a book like "Eat, Pray, Love" makes me feel less lonely, that somewhere in the world there are people like me, who stubbornly refuse to give up on their chosen dreams, no matter how painful or how stupid they can seem to be.

There have been countless times when I have felt like there's nothing left in me to go on, that I should just give it all up – and then almost like magic, a random book, video, blog post comes along to tell me, I am not that alone after all.

This is why I still choose to keep on writing my long, rambling, repetitive monologues. That somehow, somewhen, somewhere in this fragmented world, these words would mean something to somebody. That perhaps my writing could make a person feel a tad less lonely, less unsupported, less of a sore thumb sticking out.

Happy birthday, Singapore – with gratitude but not love.

Growing up in my home country feeling like a misfit, it is indeed difficult to express any sort of patriotic love. For never once I have truly felt like a child of this country, I have never felt loved nor accepted.

I had felt no sense of belonging and instead trapped, bound by the location of my birth. I was angry with the lack of choices available for my education, the restriction of speech that I should have, the lack of tolerance for diversity in a country that boasts of being multi-racial.

Yet as I grow older and as my horizons widened (still rather narrow, unfortunately but am trying to correct that), I am increasingly grateful for what this country has given - security, stability and freedom. Yes, freedom, though not in the idealistic sense, but the freedom of choices still exists and we do not realise how much freedom we have, until we look beyond and out of what we've taken for granted all this while.

I am grateful that I feel safe roaming the streets of Singapore, I am grateful for our transportation system, I am grateful that that I can have clean water to brush my teeth with.

However, it makes me extremely grateful, that having the privilege of being born a Singapore citizen, I do not have to undergo female circumcision, systems with racial quotas (apart from buying a hdb flat), or risk getting stoned to my death if I was ever unlucky enough to be a victim of a sexual assault.

I am sorry to be such a wet blanket in a celebratory mood but I wish to remind myself and all of us, the sort of freedom we have, and to a certain extent, the social responsibility we have as the younger generation to protect the harmony and rights most of my peers are born with but these were not given to us without a fight by our forefathers.

I am also sorry, that I love the foreigners that are now running riot in this country and are supposedly taking our jobs away. We're proud of being a multi-racial country for a reason, that reason being we had a diverse range of ancestors. Before taking a swipe at that foreign person, perhaps we may want to recall if our grandfathers were 'truly Singaporean' in the first place.

On this day I hope and pray that the younger generations will grow up to not only tolerate diversity but to embrace it. I hope in an idealistic manner that misfits like me will come to be accepted one day, that there will come a time that we will enjoy greater freedom of speech and less media censorship.

Perhaps I will come to fall in love with this country one day, perhaps I won't. Maybe I'll find a better environment for myself, just like many of the others coming to Singapore in search for a better home. I will still remain grateful. For despite all the difficulties I've faced being a Singaporean, it is undeniable that I still have the basic rights as an individual to dictate my fate.

Happy birthday, Singapore. I wish to love you from the bottom of my heart but I still find it difficult to. I am very grateful anyway, thanks for what you've given me all these years.

Why I need to find myself

I remember this time around last year, I fell into a drain.

I remember laughing at myself, and I gave myself a promise that I will, finally commence on my journey.

A journey I’ve always felt compelled to make – a journey to find myself.

Somehow, the practicalities of life took over. I had to move residences, rush deadlines because of the interruptions faced while moving, and then cope with all the repercussions. The unsettled environment, the fatigue, the financial drain.

I should have gone anyway, and simply trust that everything will work out the way it is meant to be.

I didn’t. I couldn’t find the strength.

On the other hand, my work was slowly getting recognised, and I was worried if I didn’t build on it I would lose all the momentum I worked so hard to gain.

Somehow, I fell back into the usual pattern – trying to be happy living life like how others do – working all the time, trying to build some financial security that would make me feel safe enough to venture forward, some day.

I spent the entire second half of last year trying to re-settle, pad my finances again, thinking that this year, would be the year I would finally commence on my journey.

Crisis

Life almost never works according to plan (at least for mine), so it didn’t really surprise me when something happened at the turn of this year. I have to move again, out of a place I thought I would occupy for the next four years.

Faced with the prospect of moving in this property climate (read unaffordable rental), I was contemplating all sorts of ideas that I would never consider in the right frame of mind, stuff like going back into employment for a stable income.

At the same time, I was going through an emotional crisis (which I didn’t realise until a month passed by) because whatever that happened involved close family members and it brought back painful childhood memories that I thought I had gotten over for a long time.

Who would have thought that an adult almost reaching her thirties will still be so haunted by the past?

Denial

My career was going well and I was trying really hard to keep everything going. The truth was that I was so affected emotionally and stressed out with my financial situation that I felt like I was struggling to match the high expectations I have put in myself. It was like a vicious cycle, I needed my work to ease my financial worries, but I wasn’t producing the quality I wanted, that in turn gave me tremendous frustration and stress and I was just slowly drowning.

My soul was slowly dying. And I could feel it.

It took me a while to get out of denial. I kept telling myself that I will be okay, it was just temporary, I was going to get out of it. I had this opportunity to work with people I really respected and I was getting paid significantly well. With so much uncertainty financially, I did whatever I could to hang on.

You know how I got out of this self-denial?

I literally crumbled. Until I thought I was losing my self.

And it all led me to think. If I was going to lose myself, what would financial security mean to me? All the good work that I was doing would mean nothing, even if one day I could afford my own house to stay in would mean nothing. I was just in tears all the time, I could no longer pull myself up and I can no longer smile. I was a mess and my partner bore the brunt of it. I was getting very sick, physically. I could not get out of bed and I could not breathe.

Only then, I knew what was important to me.

My Self.

Why

Many people don’t understand why am I always seem to be in some form of self-torture, but that’s because they don’t understand what is going on in my mind or in my heart. I just don’t pursue the same things most people seem to enjoy pursuing. The money, the ambitions, the assets. Sometimes I wish that I was mercenary, at least life would be simpler in some ways, wouldn’t it?

I am constantly in search of answers. Why am I here? Who am I? I’ve been asking myself these questions ever since I was a toddler. Sometimes I wake up and I feel bemused to be here. I never felt like I belonged here. I never found the meaning in growing through childhood, scoring straight As, getting a good job, getting married, having children, growing old and dying. It was like, all these doesn’t interest me so I may as well skip everything and just go straight to my death.

Over the past few years I’ve been evolving spiritually, in my own ways, and that made me feel a lot better. It is a trial and error process but to me, at least I was trying.

I somehow stopped trying or remembering to try getting so caught up in the worries and practicalities of life. I was just working all the time, trying to rebuild my sense of security. I've lost sight if what I truly wanted to do.

On hindsight, whatever that happened at the turn of the year was needed to give me a huge shove out of my comfort zone and my delusion. I was caught up in the whole ‘wanting to build a comfortable life for myself and my partner’ thing.

Falling apart was the best thing that could ever have happened to me.

I was falling out of love with my work, I started to be resentful, I was falling sick. I couldn't even love my partner anymore. How could I when I couldn't even love myself?

I need to do what I had to do one year ago. Find myself. Follow my heart. Expose myself to different things. Learn. Be touched by people's lives. Find the opportunities to touch people's lives. Feel excitement again.

In short. Live.

I don’t know what I am going to do next, all I know is I need to tie up some loose ends in terms of work, and go on my journey. I don’t know what is going to happen, or if I am going to end up penniless, but I just know that this is what I have to do. I don’t have much of a choice because my soul would wither otherwise.

Travel

Travel, travel, travel, were all the words that were popping up in my mind. Go somewhere, find yourself, I hear my heart speaking.

So, when I visited a channeler (yes, go on, roll your eyes ;p) this morning, when I was barely into my first question and was just about to ask her about my intention to travel, she was already mid-way through her sentence about me needing to travel and rebuild my energy. I have grown out of this place she says. I will find what I am going to do next on my travels. (I may elaborate about my visit in another post, it was definitely interesting and positive.)

How come I’m not surprised. :)

And how come it took me so long.

I already knew, didn't I?

I am not going to let myself fall back into the same old pattern again. I am just going to go. I look back at my twenties and I'm thinking why did I not do much more when I had no financial commitments and less health problems?

In roughly a decade's time, when I am 40, I am going to look back at my thirties and be really proud of myself.

This is it: The genius who wanted to change the world but couldn’t save himself

*This post may contain spoilers if you didn't watch the movie.*

I just watched "This is it" at the movies. I was teary from the beginning, amazed during the middle and totally in tears at the end. I hope to pen down my thoughts about Michael Jackson and the movie when the after-thoughts are still fresh as there was many a time that I had very much wanted to write but just couldn't remember enough when I had time to do so. So, this may end up being totally unstructured but it is the thought that counts right?

My personal review

The movie was better than expected, though I did hope to see more of his personal side. You will see that undeniable brilliance of Michael Jackson. His genius. How he has that innate artistic ability to direct his crew at his concert. Little details like pauses longer here and there, requests for the musical beats to be simpler, how he always had to attain perfection on stage. I was blown away. Now we all know he was in such poor health and spirit, yet he was able to dance and sing for hours. He could have just gone through the motions, but no, he fussed over details, made sure his crew knew that he appreciated them, and gave them a chance to shine on stage.

I am very grateful for the chance to experience his genius by watching the movie. How he knew every inch and note of his music. How he could detect the slightest, most subtle change in the music arrangement or alter the entire effect of the choreography by moving a few seconds. How he showed his very generous and humane side by asking his female guitarist to make good use of her chance to display her own genius. He even knew how to direct in specifics for the videos to be shown during the concert. I just don't know how someone can be so extremely talented.

Watching the concert redefined the concept of "hard-work" for me. I feel sorry about all the times I complain about working hard when a quite literally broken man like MJ could work so hard.

Concert that was never to be, deserved to be shown live

I feel upset because the entire production deserved to be shown live. Seriously. To me, the world missed an amazing concert. The band and dancers were the cream of the crop, the stage production was just too good for words to describe, everyone was just putting in their best effort and talent on show. I felt very, very sorry for the crew, really. So much planning, hard work, anticipation that went into the preparation, that would never see the light of the day if not for the movie.

I don't care whether it is an attempt to cash-in on his death, it is just something that is very worth experiencing. The concert that never was did not belong to MJ alone, it is only fair that the amount of work and the come-together of all these talent get shown to the world. I really hope that many people will get to watch it, not only for the concert itself, but for all the messages MJ wanted to carry to us but never had the chance to. I cannot help the tears that come to my eyes each time I think how heartbroken and devastated the crew was because they clearly adore him and put in so much just to be able to share the stage with the great man.

On Michael's death

I actually penned half a post a few months ago after MJ passed away. To be really honest, I was never a huge fan of him and I thought he was just about snazzy dance moves and feel-good music. However, being the curious info-junkie I am, I read up quite a bit of him after his passing and was particularly moved by a tribute penned by Deepak Chopra. I was very much intrigued that the well-known spiritual teacher was a good friend of MJ and his intricate, expressive writing shed a lot of light on the sensitive, kind, soul that MJ had.

One thing led to another and before I knew it, I was re-listening to his music, pouring over his lyrics and reading up whatever that would give a little more information on the mystery of the greatly talented but visibly broken soul.

Then, I poured my thoughts and emotions into that post, but I never got to finishing it. It was too personally empathetic and I did not want anybody to perceive that I was comparing myself to the great man. I will never understand how much burden (neither will anyone else) it was to bear that sheer amount of talent but I can personally identify with the pain, self-torture and the isolation. Not to that extent of course, but that is precisely the point. What I feel on a personal level is already enough to drive me to the brink at times, what about the scale he had to endure?

A blessing & a curse

I have two theories on why so many talented artistes die young. One, is that there are not enough highly talented souls to go by on this earth so they will need to do short lifespans in order to reincarnate quickly enough to inspire generation after generation (yes I can picture you rolling your eyes now). Two, is that the burden of immense talent is just so difficult to bear that they either kill themselves (Leslie Cheung), or die of drug overdose in an attempt to nullify the pain (Heath Ledger, MJ).

I mean, can you imagine doing one mind-blowing hit or performance and the entire world expects you to churn that out on a regular basis? And if you don't, they automatically assume you're finished. The public is impatient, cruel and does not possess much empathy. Right now, I am just referring to expectations from people and I have not even started on self-expectations yet.

The one that makes you breaks you.

Apart from having to cope with the public glare, they have themselves to cope with. I am not sure which is worse. They expect themselves to out-do their previous efforts every single time. This is ironically what makes them great. The relentless pursuit of greater heights. It is also the same thing that breaks them.

It is a constant nightmare having to face the fears of regressing in terms of the quality of the work. The fear of having that sick feeling when they cannot produce something that at least matches their previous successes. Or the fear of never experiencing the feeling you get when you are at the brink of greatness, again. Or when the look of adulation and admiration in people's eyes become disappointment and distaste.

I can totally empathise why they may need substances to help them sleep or to numb their pain. I am not saying that it is the right thing to do, but I can feel why they will do anything just to shut that part of them out. That inner-critic that refuses to let go. Who repeatedly tells them that they're never good enough. The one who mocks them at being done.

I believe that artistes in general have a particularly strong sensitive nature to them and it enables them to infuse this sensitivity into their work. One who is able to be extra sensitive towards emotions, sounds, sights, sub-liminal stimulation, will be able to get inspired and project these during the creation process. I have learnt that everything is a double-edged sword. It is also the same sensitivity that makes these people prone to depression because they take everything (especially criticism or failure) personally and/or they cannot differentiate their own feelings from people's feelings.

He probably loved everything but himself

MJ was exceptionally sensitive and empathetic, you don't have to know him to know that because you can already feel it in his songs. He shows awareness singing "Man in the Mirror",  love penning the lyrics for "We are the World" and "Heal the World", sadness for the state of the world writing "Earth Song". I would feel that he is very much spiritually aware. In the movie you would see him telling his crew that "love is very important and you must love each other", and significantly, that "we are all one". Anyone with heart can feel that he genuinely cares and it is not some attempt at a publicity stunt.

It is extremely heartbreaking and ironic because he clearly felt that he had a mission to spread the message of loving the planet and people should love one another; but he couldn't love himself. He couldn't love himself enough to appreciate his natural good looks, he didn't love himself enough to overcome all the negative criticisms, he didn't love himself enough to tell himself that he was already perfect enough being himself and he didn't have to be better looking or to keep on achieving greater heights just to prove to himself and the world that – he deserved being loved.

It certainly didn't help that the world is particularly harsh and judgmental. He was different, he was an unique individual who was so severely misunderstood as being weird and he had to pay the price for it. He was meant to be nurtured and protected, but all we did was to expose it to abuse and judgment, like we tend to do to everything that does not feel similar or familiar to us.

Before anyone should want to criticise him, they should consider that they will never be able to understand the internal and external pressure he had to face; so what makes them feel that they will do better in his shoes?

Stop feeding the fear mongers

They are not worth our precious time and energy.

Perhaps I was naive to think that things will settle down after the AWARE EGM – it has opened a can of worms that probably most of us would wish that it had remained closed, the Singapore government included.

I grew increasingly disturbed and worried as I chanced upon comment after comment that reeked of homophobia and narrow-mindedness. The news of MOE (Ministry of Education) suspending the sex education program made me start to seriously wonder what is going to come next. A witch-hunt?

Just when we think that the media censorship laws have gradually relaxed and the society seemed to be progressing, now it just seems like we are almost back to square one.

Many thoughts went through my mind as I came up with retort after retort, full of logic and reasoning, why people should stop being so near-sighted and judgmental. I was prepared to write a long post, making a clear argument on why all this paranoia is just plain ridiculous.

'The other side'

Until I came across a few blog entries and comments from 'the other side' – the side that believes that homosexuals are just headed for hell and that raising kids with 'the right values' is the apparent right thing to do. There were other people like me, who tried to reason their way through by making comments, and looking at the written exchange, I came to a realisation.

There is no point reasoning or arguing out with people who are just not willing to listen in the first place. Reading most of the conversations between the pro-gay and the anti-gay are like trying to understand a conversation between a chicken and a duck. One party can make a perfect argument but if the other party is not willing to see beyond his/her own viewpoint, they can go on forever and nothing will be concluded.

Alienation

Being marginalized personally for most of my life, I was actually almost immune to it. However, the scale of the matter this time caught me by surprise and I could not help but worry about the homophobia surfacing into the mainstream society. It is like the AWARE issue has forced many to take a stand and have a say, especially when their precious kids are concerned.

Prior to the AWARE hijacking, everybody went about their own business, the very most, conservatives would sometimes stare and mutter words of disgust to themselves. Now, the publicity and scale are somehow making many of the 'traditional' family-oriented people jump on the anti-gay bandwagon.

Ironically being gay is the least of what I have been marginalized for. I was made to feel like an alien because of my academic success (or the lack of it), my career path, my choice of hairstyle, a whole long list actually, and more recently, my spiritual beliefs.

People give me strange looks all the time, and that includes my very own relatives. Like the uncle who snorted when I told him I was running my own business. Friends roll their eyes when I talk about astrological charts and reincarnation. Strangers stare because of my spiky short hair (yes, girls must keep their hair long and flowy).

All these made me stronger, but not without much pain and tears. I have grown to be proud of my individuality and identity. What I have learnt through all these experiences is, there is only so much you can do to change a person's mind.

There are people who will listen, these are the ones who are not judgmental in the first place. Those who judge, are typically people who do not have it in them to open their minds to another viewpoint. The third category, are people who believe very strongly in their own beliefs, so firmly that nothing will change their mind unless they personally experience otherwise.

I generally do not have a problem who stick to their own belief systems, the issue only comes when there is a lack of respect in the belief systems of others. The extreme end of this spectrum, are people who deliberately incite fear and hatred.

Playing into their hands

It suddenly dawned upon me, by reacting negatively to these fear-mongers, I am simply playing into their hands. Negative feelings drain our energy. These people get a kick out of seeing us getting upset. The best way to deal with them, is either react positively, or choose to not react at all. It is just like dealing with people who are (consciously) abusive. They continue their abuse because the fear shown by their victims gives them a sense of power. The only way to dis-empower them is to stop the fear.

Having not much of a sex education in school did not make me less or more gay. Having a rigid education system depressed me more than it made me 'equipped' for society. Facing nay-sayers all my life did not dilute my individuality.

My take on the sex-ed program and 'concerned parents'

They can do whatever they want with the sex education program. I believe the targeted age group (12-18) will form their own judgments (or non-judgments) with or without a sex-ed program. The 'impressionable' ones, I am sorry to say, will still be impressionable by other sources even if the sex-ed program preaches all the 'right' values. Food for thought, would a 'concerned parent' be happier if their kid leads a double life in order to upkeep the 'right values'? It does not have to be an extreme case like a married man having a boyfriend on the side (though there are plenty of these around), there are plenty of people out there who are so internally conflicted that they cannot even bear to face themselves. Kids who live the 'right' way but end up extremely unhappy will make these parents happy and proud indeed (can't help the sarcasm, sorry).

Good will eventually prevail

I personally believe that whatever goes around comes around. I also believe in the good old fashioned 'good will prevail over evil'. Just as they would like to believe 'evil' gay people like us will be damned, I believe people who deny the minorities their rights and respect will have to bear the consequences one day. The government, for being overly conservative, will one day have to face repercussions (please stop complaining when there is a mass exodus of talent).

Nobody has the power to change my beliefs if I carry a strong conviction towards them, thus I understand that I do not have the power to change anybody else's.

However, I have the freedom and the right to express myself, that includes leading a fulfilling life and contributing to the causes I support. There will be people, however few, who will honestly question themselves, if I deserve to be in hell, simply by being in love with another girl.

Do not play in their hands any longer by feeling any ounce of anger, instead, focus on doing our own part (whether by setting a positive example or by positive advocacy, we just need to answer to ourselves.

I am not afraid to be judged if judgment day comes because I hold nothing but truth and love. On the contrary, am not so sure about the ones who incite fear and hatred. I therefore hope that one day love can open their eyes to God's unconditional and non-judgmental love.

Creating my own reality

I've spent most of my life doing two things – escaping from reality & trying to live in it. I alternate between the two, trying my best to run away from everything that is real and feeling miserable trying to cope with what is real. It was not a very happy existence.

They say when you hit the bottom of the pit, there is no where else to go except upwards.  I was feeling totally miserable with my existence, feeling that nobody ever understood me, almost resigned that my life was just destined to be a crappy one. I have tried everything I could to make things work for me, to make people who care for me happy, to survive in reality.

Surrendering

One day, I simply gave up.

The honest truth was that, I have reached my bottom of the pit, decided that my life was never going to get better, and the only reason why I did not take my life then was because I was a believer of karma and I really did not think it was a good idea to repeat what I have gone through this lifetime in my next life. That was a horrible thought, to go through all that pain and suffering once again – ironically this kept me alive.

I had decided that since my existence was already going to be totally screwed up, then I might as well just play along with it. Since I have already been through a pile of shit, it would not make much difference to go through more. From that moment of realisation, I made the conscious decision to stop trying to make people happy by living my life the way they want and to live my life the way I want, since the worst that could happen to me was to screw it up further, which by then I was already somewhat used to it. The people that care for me, can continue to remain unhappy, as I have given my best and they did not seem much happier, in fact, I was only making them feel worse.

It was like a mathematical equation. One person being happy (myself) > all of us being unhappy together.

Redefining reality

I quit my job, went on a month's long backpacking trip with my partner, which opened my eyes to the possibility of me being truly happy. During the trip we had met different people. There was the guesthouse owner who made her fortune selling rice, and was excitedly pointing out to us which property belonged to her. We were strangers, but she simply offered her help when I mentioned that we needed to extend my visa. She was rich, but unfamilarly real. She cried when we left, oafter spending only 2 days with us.

There was another lady we met staying at another guesthouse. She taught us how to ride a motorbike (for free), we gave her plenty of smiles and she gave us plenty of laughter. There were other backpackers who did not seem to be bothered by the outer-reality of the world, choosing to travel and live in the moment. There were plenty of people who did not bother with having a job and climbing social/corporate ladders. I have finally found that part of the world, the world that was contented with simple pleasures of life and did not equate success with having a life-long iron ricebowl.

I have actually learnt rather retardedly, that having nomadic tendencies was not wrong, trying to be happy was not wrong, and not being interested in the material world was not wrong. There were other people like me, I was just blinded by the reality that exists in my own country.

That was my first step to that knowledge that reality is relative.

What is reality?

It is only defined by your own experience, along with the experiences of people around you. For me, I had to live in the reality created by the people who were with me. That cold, harsh reality that they painted for me. That I must have a job, I must live my life the way 'everyone' else seems to be living, or else I will not survive. I had to listen to countless "...but this is reality!". It is their reality that they have to be stuck in jobs they do not love, because everyone else's reality says so, or your survival will be threatened. I was sucked into their reality, living in a life I felt that did not fit me. I was made to feel like it was a crime to not want to be in that reality.

I had to listen to countless "...but this is reality!".

I was their idealist, their escapist, to them I was in denial of reality. If I had a dollar for every shake of the head I've encountered so far in my life, I would have been a millionaire.

To people living in rural areas, planting their vegetable, leading a really simplistic life everyday, was their reality. I came across old couples, young children, living in really poor conditions. Yet, they had the sparkle in their eyes.

It gave me a lot to ponder. I began asking myself a lot of questions.

  • We're all individuals, we're all unique. How come there's so many of us try to live like the majority of the others?
  • If everyone of us is unique, why is it so unacceptable that some people are happy to be tied to their iron ricebowls, and some people are better off being a floater?
  • Why do we try so hard to disown our individuality when it should be protected and celebrated?

For my whole life I've been consciously trying to disown that unique self of mine, and I have developed a low self-esteem for all the criticism I received by trying to be myself. I felt unloved, and I thought I did not deserved to be loved, because I was creating so much unhappiness for the people who loves me.  I hated myself for being the person I was, I hated myself for not being able to 'face reality', for not being like the rest of the world I know.

Discovering that reality is relative was the key turning point in my life.

After so many years of conditioning to believe otherwise, it was not easy. Even till today I still get the little niggles of self-doubt, but I started to learn how to love myself and appreciate my own individuality. I am who I am, and I am also what I believe.

It is so simple, yet very few people realise that:

  • Why should anybody believe in you if you don't believe in yourself?
  • Same goes for self-love. One does not find true love unless you accept and love yourself for who you are.

The moment I gave up on reality, I discovered and created my own.

My own designed reality now consists of:

  • Waking up whenever I want
  • Doing the work that I love
  • People that love me finally accepting me for the person I am, once they saw me truly happy (which occured because I started to live for myself)
  • Still not having a job
  • On my way to being a global nomad – traveling and working wherever and whenever I want
  • Finding and being with my true love (which will only happen if you believe true love exists)

You can create your own reality, if only you believe in it in the first place.