give and take.

I’m starting to really accept the fact that everything in life is a matter of give-and-take. Compromises are tough but necessary. We make decisions in everyday situations that lead us down different paths…and sometimes we regret them. But regret is a mechanism that we blame too often for our faults and our hesitations and regret blinds us from the truth of reality. Rather than regret, it’s better to simply embrace the nuances of it all.

I could have been at a Christmas Party today with my cluster. They’re a bunch of nice, warm people who invited me, a stranger younger than all of them, with such warm open arms. I could have been singing Christmas carols and be sharing verses with them. I could have been connecting, forming deeper friendships with them.

But I didn’t. I backed out at the last minute because I was scared I would feel out of place, because I just didn’t feel like going all the way across Singapore.

Choosing not to has resulted in a divergence in my reality. When I look at the photos they had sent into the group chat, I feel a pinch of regret as ‘what-if’s set into my mind.

But do I really truly regret it? Nah.

I sacrificed this opportunity and yet gained a memorable time with my family. Christmas feasting around that familiar red table, followed by endless rounds of poker. Bumping shoulder to shoulder because the children in my family are growing bigger day by day, and so is the family. We can almost barely fit. So much ‘shh’s going around, because we are all trying to share stories and it’s too loud and we’re scared we’ll annoy our neighbours. So much laughter, oh, the laughter. Fits-inducing, belly-trembling, tears-rolling-down-the-cheeks. Love. Warmth. Acceptance.

Really thinking about it, either path would have been a great experience. It’s really all about perspective.

While I was watching an episode of my drama and a cheesy scene came on screen, I felt a pang of sudden loneliness attacking me from the side. Here, before me was a bunch of girlfriends having the time of their lives. And here I was, lying in bed.

And then, as if my doubts had been heard, Maddy and Shirlyn simultaneously texted me respectively, waking me from my trance. It was soon followed up by my cluster group wishing me Merry Christmas and including me into more meet-up sessions. I smiled at their concern, their excitement, as we formed more plans to hang out. Maddy, for a nature walk. Shirlyn, for our own home concert. Cluster, for Christmas Round Two.

That pang of loneliness was suddenly seized and replaced by gratitude.

Life is a give-and-take.

Life offers you chances, but I believe none of them will lead you to a dead end. There are only longer routes and shorter routes, but if you remain true to your most authentic self, everything will turn out okay.


Radiate boundless love towards the entire world from within – above, and below, and across. Unhindered, without ill will, without enmity.

Had the sudden urge to document the humility and grace I have felt resonating in my ribs as I receive overwhelming love from all my family members, my friends, and my closed ones. Truly blessed to be who I am and where I am in this present moment, and I’m hoping to give back even more than I am given.

Grateful for how kind the universe can be.

a girl sits

on her bed

in her dorm room

sixth floor

one of twenty three halls

of her university

settled in a corner

of Singapore

a dot on the map

where Earth is spread out

a planet among the rest of the solar system

nestled in the milky way galaxy

one of billion galaxies

in the infinite space

how can she feel anything less than wonder, when she is alive in all of this brilliant magnificence?

the trees are dancing. they keep dancing, and dancing, and dancing. when the girl sits upright, they’re dancing. when she lays upside down on her bed, they’re dancing. they’re so free in the wind, she thinks, they must be happy. but how can plants be capable of happiness? no. how would she know? unless a plant tells her personally that it doesn’t feel happiness, she can’t possibly rule that thought out.

there’s so much she doesn’t know about the world.

you know…

she’s so glad to be alive, she can’t even describe this feeling bursting at the seams in her physical being. it’s something like peace, but a peace that overflows.

so she just listens to the sound of the leaves, and the sound of her ecstatic heart.

and she waits for other miracles that the universe has to offer.

yes. the way the trees are dancing is a miracle to her too.

don’t feed her, she can only survive when and where we have forgotten to love

movements like blades




carrying the weight and fierceness of a million invisible warriors behind them

she is angry


raging againsts her reality

her breathing short and shallow

she breathes fire

she is the one who starts war

she is the part of you that is capable of burning down cities

and waging war against the ones she loves

she is the part of you that hides under the surface

the part of you that surprises you when she shows her teeth

the part of you that you deny

push away

pretend does not live there

within you

she is your darkness

the one who dwells in the shallow waters of your being

she is in every one of us

she rides up from the back of the waves of your righteous egos

she feeds on the ideas that you deserve more



she lurks on the thoughts that keep you small

the notion that you have something to fight for

to reclaim

to preserve

she is the face of war

the part of us that can understand how we fight others

how we ruin our lives

how we can kill in the name of our beliefs

~An extract from “Our Warring Self” of Live Awake Podcast

she feeds on unlove, and i keep feeding her, fuelling the anger in me, an anger directed at myself.

your thoughts pass by like traffic


it’s in the dead of the night — it’s always in the dead of the night (why are you out in the dead of the night, jean?) — when your thoughts become louder than the occasional sportscar that speeds past, louder than the crinkle of the paper bag that you’re fidgeting in your hand as you try to distract yourself from the silence and the chill running down your shoulders from the absence of a warm body beside you.

it’s 3am and you’re walking back to your dorm, alone. your hair smells like kimchi and overcooked noodles, and your clothes are crumpled beyond salvation. you can feel your contacts struggling not to let go of your eyeballs, crudely put. you try not to shuffle your feet too much, but you do it anyway. the cicadas are overwhelming. can the streetlamps stop flickering? it’s creepy as heck. i could walk in the middle of the street and it’ll be okay. that’s how quiet everything is.

you hum the opening sequence of your recent favourite song to yourself. then louder, to the trees and the empty streets and the flickering streetlamps, because inanimate objects and mother nature have always been kind critics.

a video message from your room-mate. you sacrifice the last percent of your battery to listen to it. “hey roomie!! i came back and you are not in the room and it is 3am and i am very confused?”

right as you send your reply, your phone dies.

one point five;

in a way, i’m never truly alone.

(cuz there’s always some bug attempting kamikaze in my room, flinging itself against my fluorescent light the way i fling myself towards destruction without a care in the world)

one point seven five;

coming home on fridays always feel the best. i sink into my bed and its familiar smell. it doesn’t smell like home, it just smells like me. maybe subconsciously, i miss the…old…me? i don’t think i’ve changed, per se, just merely in a process of metamorphosing, one which life throws you in sometimes. the old me smells like i-haven’t-gotten-out-of-bed-in-24-hours, smells like drool and sweat and tears. in this bed i’ve binged watched dramas, tossed and turned while reading sappy mangas, slept like i’ve been deprived.

it’s been a while since i’ve had the luxury of doing all that.

which reminds me of this particular conversation i had with grace while we were wasting time on a bench.

i haven’t caught up with my dramas foreverrrrr because uni has sucked my soul 

omg i know right i haven’t read all my manga updates and they’ve been tragically piling up and i can’t even catch up on bts anymore and i don’t know what new dramas there are i feel like my entire life is just revolving around university now 

because we stay in hall and we hang out with friends until late at night or rush through homework and readings every day, so we barely have time to do those things, you know? we don’t have a life anymore lol

yeah…or do we have too much of a life?

…good point

i mean i used to entertain myself with all those things because i had nothing better to do, right? but now, we have actual engagements and we don’t have time to think of free time anymore

yeah, yeah. every second of our life is just consumed with actual activity-

i love it, but funny how we’re yearning for a certain lifestyle when in the past when i had that lifestyle i was yearning for this lifestyle, you know what i mean?

i think we’re just yearning for some comfort from the past, with all these changing climates and unfamiliar situations day in day out, it’ll be nice to find some solace in ourselves and what we used to be.


necessary lists

current commitments—

  1. monday – hall dance
  2. tuesday – cip reading programme
  3. wednesday – recreation programmes/social-emotional learning???/yoga
  4. thursday – korean classes
  5. indefinite – hall arts and culture subcomm/ hall cip committee/hall foc subcomm/wsc foc subcomm
  6. saturday – reading programme which i rarely turn up for anymore cuz im an ass

things to complete this recess week—

  1. creative writing – 3 or so poems
  2. creative writing – start on multimedia project
  3. astronomy – try to at least comprehend something
  4. literature – survey essay/intro comparison essay
  5. acad comms – academic argumentative essay
  6. also, catch up on all those readings you’ve put aside for god-knows-how-long

things i’ve learnt in the past week—

  1. we fault people for having flaws, and we seem to place heavier weight on some flaws rather than the others, when on closer inspection, these flaws simply seem less digestible to our palettes because they’re placed under bright social spotlights. in all honesty, we all have our demons, and your flaws are very much equivalent to that other person’s flaws. so stop harbouring some superiority/hero complex and accept that you’re very much as flawed at the person you’re scrutinising.
  2. fault people for their actions, but not for who they are. if your judgement is leaning into the territory of personal attacks on their appearances instead of a certain behaviour that is different from your values, then you’re just being a bitch.
  3. gossiping about others or constantly having conversations revolving around people will never end up feeling good or satisfying. (learnt that from very very good, pensive hthts with valerie and cherylene)
  4. if you gossip about other people, chances are, some other person has made some comment about you as well.
  5. meditation is so important in getting rid of toxicity.
  6. do something to improve the day of other people if you’re having a bad day.
  7. i find myself unconsciously labelling other people as “lame” or “unexciting” just because they have different levels of social activity and enthusiasm as me, and this, i admit, is a bad habit that i have to stop imposing on my own life.
  8. i love my hair. i love crazy, loud colours. i love wearing weird things, like oversized men shirts. the weirdest thing is, the very things that you think people will judge you for, actually end up being the very things that people point out in compliment of. there’s so much power in rocking something with confidence.
  9. if you’re good at something (or at least, better than others), you’ll receive more side-eyed glances and snarky comments rather than genuine compliments, and you’ve just got to learn to accept that. it’s a projection of their insecurities, it’s got nothing to do with you.
  10. focus on the present. don’t let the past pull you away, don’t let the future stop you from acting. i realised that life really does have a way of planning things out for you. when one activity is cancelled and you might feel bummed out about it, there’ll always be another opportunity, one that you might find you needed more than the previous activity. (case in point: sleepover with bp got cancelled, but because of that, i went to church with cherylene and met so many new people, opened up my connections massively, and just felt so renewed in my trust and faith in people and in myself. the talk i had with cherylene was so important in affirming so many fears that i had been holding in privately as well. thank you @ life for this transition towards something better.)




lessons i’ve learnt in the first two weeks of university

  1. nothing good comes out of comparison and putting others down. stop obsessing over the blessings of others, stop magnifying your own flaws and stop treating yourself as less. YOU ARE NOT INFERIOR.
  2. when you seek validation from others, you will receive nothing but disappointment and insecurity.
  3. people will say things about you regardless of how cautiously you portray yourself in public, so to hell with it. let them judge, let them label you as whatever makes them happy, so long as you are clear of what do or do not define you as a human. (chances are, you’re unconsciously judging other people and making biased, often frivolous assumptions as well.)
  4. there is nothing wrong with wearing makeup and putting on contacts and dressing to the nines. more than vanity, it’s about putting the best version of yourself out there. if it makes you feel good about yourself and it kick starts your day on the right note,  then slab on as many layers of eyeliner as you desire, wear all the coloured contacts you’ve always wanted to try and strut the fuck out of those heels.
  5. on that note, remember to tell yourself that you’re still beautiful in your own way. sometimes it’s hard to remember that when you’re surrounded by people who are just effortlessly gorgeous and it seems that you and you 105% best self can’t even match up to those standards — anyway. it’s not true. refer back to point 1.
  6. don’t get swept away. back away from things that make you uncomfortable.
  7. whenever you feel overwhelmed, take a deep breath. close your eyes. zen zone and night naps are crucial. it will be okay. it won’t always be this messy, or this suffocating, or this crazy. soon enough you will get the hang of it.
  8. choose to spend wisely, whether it’s time or money or effort. opportunity cost is a real thing, don’t sacrifice unnecessarily.
  9. stop being a doormat, jean. goddammit.
  10. everybody is flawed. seek the good in them and learn to tolerate the bad sides.

he reads lang leav and speaks in sign and cries when he thinks of his ex and you (and 10000 other girls) think he’s the most beautiful boy in the vicinity. when he smiles his eyes crinkle and his teeth shine and you forget he’s three years older and that he smokes and that he likes someone else.

he’s not good for you.

but why does he make you feel so….so….good?

stupid fuckboys.

“jean, you’re too nice.”

i’m not.

stop saying that.

i’m helping others because of this insecurity that no one will want me if i have nothing to offer them. if you knew that, would you still say that? i truly wonder.




We are running against traffic, leaving elongated shadows and half-sung lyrics trailing in our wake. We are digging our feet in wet sand, mourning at the impermanence of our footprints and these magical moments. We are staring at our smudged reflections in a greasy glass window, relishing in the way ‘NTU’ stretches across our chests and brands itself into our skin.

Hugging our knees close to our chest, we huddle tightly together and speak in code names and hushed whispers and breathy giggles. With eyes wide open, the girl you’ve just met a few days ago announces, “You’ll never guess what happened at the club last night”, and all of a sudden you’re trapped in a whole web of tales that has your heart beating fast and your mind spiralling out of control.

Lying wide awake in an unfamiliar bed, you attempt to pour your heart out to your roommate, but insecurities take the form of anything and everything but words, so you can never really accurately describe that heaviness in your heart that you are feeling.

You’re trying not to lose yourself, and you don’t feel like you have. Or perhaps you’re merely evolving, or merely shedding an old skin…

Everything is foreign now, even yourself.



very short short stories by me about me


“do you want to race?” the hare asks the tortoise one day.

“not really,” the tortoise replies calmly.

“yeah, me neither.” the hare confesses.

“you could walk beside me if you want,” the tortoise suggests with a smile.

“that’ll be nice,” the hare smiles back.


“aren’t you lonely?” the shadow asks the little girl in the empty hallway.

“no,” the little girl says, and her voice echoes across the length of the corridor.

“but you’re all alone,” the shadow says dumbly.

“not true,” the girl answers, shaking the head. “i have you, and my echo too. that’s quite some company.”

“but we’re both just…made up of you!”

the girl smiles warmly. “exactly.”


“you’re here a lot lately,” the eyes say to the tears.

“is that a problem?” the tears question.

“yeah,” the eyes snort. “you’re in the way of my line of vision.”

“i see more than you do,” the tears tell the eyes calmly. “i’ve always seen more than you.”

“what are you talking about,” the eyes deadpan, rolling itself in annoyance. “my job is literally to see.”

“before i became tears, i was morning dew. and rain. and a part of the sky, and a part of the ocean.” the tears explain. “i’ve seen a lot before you even could see, and i know that my presence is very much needed in the grand scheme of things. for your owner, and for the universe.” the tears pause for a second, clings onto the underside of the chin as it shimmers with brightness. “and for you, too. because of me, you’ll be able to see more clearly now, right?”

the eyes blink, and indeed the tears were right.

and before the tears let go, it gives a little wave, and it tells the eyes. “the next time you see me, i’ll be in the ink of a bestselling novel. good luck!”



the wind: i’m sorry i’m so distant i’m just really uncomfortable with physical touch and also i need some space too; are words of encouragement okay?

the sun: i’m sorry i’m too much; i’ll try my best to tone it down.

people: we don’t care! you gotta fit into the standards of society!



“she’s probably forgotten all about you,” the wall says to the lost thing that is tucked in a corner, collecting dust.

“no, she’s still looking, i’m sure.” the lost thing replies reassuringly.

“she’s stopped trying,” the wall says, a little more forcefully.

“well then,” the lost thing says with a nonchalent shrug. “now i can look forward to her look of happiness when she does find me someday.”


“what are you supposed to be?” the paper asks the dot, squinting at it sceptically.

“for now, i’m a dot.” the dot says.

“that’s boring,” the paper says. “maybe you’re not even meant to be here.”

“maybe,” the dot replies. “or maybe i’m meant to be something more! i could be anything if i took off from here! isn’t that simply exciting?”


“yo,” the face says to the zit. “she hates you.”

“what are you talking about?” the zit says. “i’ve made her life so much more colourful!”


“hello, i’m new.” the pencil says to the contents in a stationary box.

“hello,” everyone greets back happily.

“wait, there’s no correction tape in here?” the pencil says, shocked. “and no ruler?”

“nope,” everyone replies. “our owner is a big fan of having her mistakes as reminders and embracing crooked lines in her life.”


“this is my dog,” the girl tells the boy as she points to her dog.

“and this is my cat.” the girl continues as she points to her cat.

“so which one do you love more?” the boy asks.

“what do you mean?’

“are you a dog-person or a cat-person?”

“pfft,” the girl laughs. “i’m simply a better and happier person.”

“huh,” the boy breathes, taking in her words. “so what’s their names?”

“the dog’s Motivation, and the cat’s called Chill. they balance me out just right, and i love them equally.”


“oh my god!” the girl gasps. “you’re the boy of my dreams!”

“oh my god, aww! that’s the sweetest -”

“yeah! you’re not real! thank god!”




girl: omg the smell of new books!

girl: omg the smell of old books!

boy: wtf girls are so confusing?!

girl: um, im hinting that u stink and i only need books in my life???? omg boys are so dumb its unreal.

boy poofs for the second time.

ps. i died writing number 10.

pps. i conjured all 10 stories during my most recent trip to the showers. go figure!

ppps. very politically and grammatically incorrect which are both true reflections of me.

solo te haces menos


solo te haces menos. 

“do you know what it means?”

“it’s spanish, i know. but i don’t do spanish.”

“it means that it’s not other people who make you feel like you’re alone. you do it to yourself.”


a mother.

in my memory, my mother never had a face. i remembered with vividness the clothes that she wore to work, especially this zebra-striped blouse that was slightly silky. i remembered her cologne when she hugged me close and said goodbye. i remembered my feet dangling from her queen-sized bed as i held onto my stuffed bear and watched her put her face on.

but her face, that i don’t remember.

i kept my aunt’s passport photo in my wallet and told other children in my class that she was my mother because, at that time, i had thought that my aunt was prettier.

in truth, it was because i never truly bothered looking at my mother’s face.

i think my mother knew the word sacrifice well. when she quit her job, in spite of how painstakingly hard she slogged her guts to reach the top, that was sacrifice. when she learned how to drive, in spite of crying silently in trembling anger because the instructors were masochistic shits, that was sacrifice. when she gave up her childhood to be the surrogate mother for her younger siblings because my grandma was working hard to earn a second income, that was sacrifice.

now, when i look at my mother, i think to myself: all this while, the past nineteen years, how could you not see her beauty?

maybe, the real truth was that she was always too beautiful to look at.


my great-grandmother beckons me over and makes me sit beside her. i don’t actually fancy physical affection very much, but she’s the exception.

i sling an arm over her shoulders and i feel her bones jutting into my skin. she’s getting more fragile with age and it pains me to even think of that.

silently, she holds out my hand and stuffs two ten-dollar bills between my fingers. “shh,” she whispers conspiringly. “i won forty dollars in the lottery today. this is your share.”

“this is my share?” i chortle. “i haven’t done anything.”

i wasn’t totally ok with the gambling thing, but it makes her happy, so.

“you ask too many questions, just take it.”

“thank you,” i squeeze her tightly, then lessen my hold a little, because i’m genuinely scared she might break.

“the past few days, you’ve been busy?” she asks me.

“yeah, going out with friends for dinner.” i say, flashing an apologetic smile.”

“because of you, i’ve been walking around with dollar bills tucked in the waistband of my pants for four days straight.”

i laugh, but my lungs feel kind of blocked.

“i’ve missed you a lot. come see your old great-grandmother more often, okay? when i die, i won’t be able to see you anymore.” her blue eyes are swimming a bit. i’ve always been very fascinated by her eyes, but that night i couldn’t bear to look into them.

“don’t say that.” i scold, and tears well up uncontrollably in my eyes.

i still feel like crying whenever i think about this.


i confess to my friends that i’ve never been very good at dealing with sadness. not my own, definitely not with the sadness of others. feelings are kind of like hands. you never know where to put them.

there are so many sad people these days.

but sadness is too personal and trying to interpret them in my own terms seems almost illegal, like i might misunderstand or mistranslate and make things worse.

after all, i look back on my past posts in my phase of sadness, and i still can’t figure out what overwhelmed me at that point of time.


we’re sitting in a far corner in the library, reading to each other children’s books in our best storyteller voices.

i feel so, so light, like i could just jump and i would float to the ceiling. it’s truly an amazing feeling. i’ve been feeling a lot of this lately.

is this what it feels like to be on a permanent high? i’m digging it.


“what time did you come back home?”


“and…you’ve been sleeping all the way since?”


“why? are you very tired?”

“…not really. it’s just. i really like it – sleeping, i mean. it’s kind of like a hobby now.” 

“sleeping as a hobby. wow.”

“ok, more like, dreaming as a hobby. there’s something amazing about what dreams make you feel after you emerge back in reality, you know? this slightly lightheaded, detached feeling and the blood just sinking back to your limbs from where it had just been in your head, and they kind of feel like a golden rush settling into your bones. i don’t remember my dreams, but i do know how they make me feel, and that satisfaction is akin to what you feel after spending time on a favourite hobby. yeah.”

“that’s the biggest bullshit anyone has ever pulled on justifying their laziness.”