naked in all senses.

by The Dreamer

the first post of 2017!

i have no idea what is Society’s obsession with firsts, but it’s pretty contagious, even to the point where i’ve developed an irrational fear of it. the drive and the need to make any first experience just perfect sometimes even deters me from doing it in the first place, out of the fear that i will ruin that perfect moment or that perfect memory. it’s dumb, it really is.

you know what else is contagious? perfectionism. i’m hardly a perfectionist – i even think that my perfectionism stems more from needing to complete something, which kind of deviates from the mainstream definition of perfectionism. but at the same time, every single time i embark on a single project, i’m just paralysed with fear. quoting one simple example: my bullet journal. i was so careful not to ruin the first few pages. perfect font, perfect straight lines, perfect template. all these were just too hard to keep up, because it just wasn’t something that was compatible to who i was as a person, and so the whole idea of bullet journalling was nearly abandoned. this, in turn, crippled me even further, because i become convinced that i literally cannot complete anything i set my mind to do. a half-asser.

by this time, you might have realised that this is word vomit. i’m trying to seamlessly segway into what i intended to talk about, but it’s hard, and i don’t know how to navigate my way around it, and this post has become way overdue because of this sudden writer’s block that has lasted since the start of the year. or maybe even before that. it’s really aggravating because the words are in there; they’re morphing into something more, something wonderful, and then it’s as if they just get lethargic and give up or something. i can feel them wilt and wither; the garden in me smells of rotten compost and dead flowers.

okay, having gotten those negative thoughts out of the way — life’s been treating me pretty well, in all honesty. maybe it’s because i’ve actually started to embrace the concept of letting go, so besides excessively hoarding unspoken and unwritten words somewhere in me, i’ve cleared up enough space in my mind, heart and soul and it’s just so much easier to breathe. there are many other factors as well, of course. (which actually brings me to illustrate my main point; things that have influenced me greatly in my blogging absence.)

Talking Personal

Getting a job has been one of the highlights so far in 2017. Dreary technicalities aside (eg. low pay, long hours, overworking), every day has been inexplicably blissful so far. I work at a playschool/kindergarten in the neighbourhood as a teacher to many wonderful, precious children. In the morning, I play with the 1-4-year-old nursery kids and teach the 5-7-year-olds. After lunch, I watch after napping kids while tutoring the primary school children that come in for afternoon study sessions.

There’s no sugarcoating it. Handling kids is an exhausting and extremely draining job. Not only do you have to be alert at all times because of how accident-prone children are, but you also have to learn how to balance sensitivity and strictness to be an effective teacher. So far, I still have much to learn. I get ‘bullied’ by the kids a lot, but it’s mostly because I’m so soft for them. I love all the kids in the playschool (albeit – cough cough – i love some kids more) and it’s so emotionally fulfilling to be spending my time with them. Working never feels like a chore, even when I get so tired sometimes that I’m ready to drop dead, but some cheeky kid insists I piggyback them or feed them or change their diapers. Kids say the darnest things too, and it’s really entertaining to hear their conversations, or to just be their listening ear. There are no words to describe the feeling that overcomes me when a parent drops off their sleepy child in the morning, and the first thing they utter is “Where is Teacher Jean?” before silently tottering over to me and stretching out their arms for early morning kisses and cuddles. I secretly love it when the kids grow clingy/attached to me, even if they can get demanding at times, like when this girl willingly sacrificed her play time with her friends so that she could talk to me while I was finishing up some mundane admin duties or when the kids fight to sit in my lap.

Also, being surrounded by children is a breath of fresh air. Kids do lie, but they are also open and honest most of the time. I get glimpses of them being selfless and kind to one another, like this 1-year-old that takes care of his 4-year-old Special Needs classmate so well and with such genuine love even without the teachers looking that I can’t help but swoon. Yes, there are a few Special Needs children as well, and I am incredibly happy to know they are warming up to me well. During my lunch break, I sit beside them in a corner and the way their eyes brighten up — I live for those moments. (I sound like I’m some self-important person lol! apologises!) I’ve learnt the importance of Listening and being patient when it comes to children, especially the special ones. They burst into tears sometimes, and they can’t tell you why, and you really have to think from their perspective and understand. Are they feeling left out? Do they want to pee? The special kids rarely get a chance to speak up; they’re always dismissed or talked over. But when I actually listen past their incoherency, I do understand what they’re saying, simple words like “sing a song for me?” or “sit with me?” They immediately stop throwing random tantrums when you bother to listen. 

Their innocence is invigorating as well, lacking the heart-clutter that one accumulates as they grow up. I think if you’ve been following my blog, you will know that I absolutely detest the Adult World, its twists and turns and betrayals and lies. I cannot, for the life of me, manoeuvre myself out of this maze. There’s really nothing better than being with little humans that wear their hearts on their sleeves, that speak their mind, that don’t hide their passions, that ignite the passion in me as well. Living with a kindled fire in my heart is warm and cosy and I sleep with the biggest smile on my face every night.

I can also say that getting a job has allowed me to get out of whatever hermit life I am accustomed to living, and to really get into a routine that I enjoy. I get to wake up early in the morning, water the plants while watching the sun rise, and actually get things done instead of sleeping my life away. I feel motivated to make good use of whatever spare time I have by taking driving lessons or even picking up a new language (soon!) In between the cracks, I fill it up with books and dramas and friends.

Friends – I’m so happy I’ve found the support system that is so crucial and important to me, kind of like they’ve already fossilised themselves in a part of my spine. You should know who you are if you’re reading this, because you guys are literally my biggest stalkers (biggest fans?) but, yeah, you guys really make my life so much better. Communicating your feelings and flushing all that negative energy out of your system is so vital to one’s mental health. Thank you for being so non-judgemental, understanding, wise and inspiring. You guys know how much of a noob I am in the worst and best of times, and I really depend on this support system so much to ease me into Reality.

It’s good to be busy as well. There’s less time mindlessly drifting into the Internet Space. I’m spending significantly less time on social media, which is literally the bane of my existence, and I’m weaning off even virtual conversations. I do try to sustain the important online friends I have, but at the same time, I learn the value of maintaning and keeping only the healthy and essential friendships, and allowing myself the time to myself. Oh, enjoying time with myself is an understatement. I have a whale of a time being alone, to be very honest. There’s nothing more eye-opening than walking through crowds and doing things by myself while listening to soundtracks that I’ve curated for my own everyday movie experiences.

On Internet Inspiring

Here are a few contents that I’ve stumbled upon on the web that has struck raw nerves in me, touched me so deeply and has, in its own way, positively impacted my life.

  1. Speaking of Internet Soul Sisters, I definitely cannot neglect the advice Rookie has provided me over the years. If I allow myself to dream big, perhaps I can aspire to become a regular content creator for this empowering online magazine as well. Articles like How To Not Care About What Other People Think of You and On Taking Yourself Seriously avoid the cliches and are brutally honest on their words, which makes their advice digestible and relatable.
  2. Rosianna is my new self-appointed Big Sister. Her videos are so deep and mind-altering in a way that helps me – who struggles with forming my own opinions – to get a clue on issues that I should be dwelling on, while consciously not letting her views mold my own. I do disagree to some things she says, but I still do admire her courage on putting them out there anyway. She speaks with clarity and articulates her feelings so brilliantly and I’m always a little wiser after going through her content. Of course, she has some pretty fantastic stuff that are simultaneously lighthearted too, and my recent favourite has been her views on being single which really spoke to me on a spiritual level as I find myself agreeing to every line she says in the clip.
  3. This little answered ask on tumblr from one of the biggest writers in the BTS fanfic community on getting better on writing got me reeling for a few days.
  4. This is pretty random, but this veteran actress from South Korea called Ra Mi-Ran has been my beacon of hope for a while now. Her path to success had been so rocky but her determination and perseverance so inspiring, and there’s that unwaving quality in her eyes that makes me kind of want to be like her, in my own soft, small way.
  5. Lastly, credit needs to be given to La La Land for shaking/stirring me up to tears both times that I had watched the movie. On muses, on aspirations, on being true to yourself. This is a unpublished draft of what I wrote on a sleepless night, titled “Here’s to the mess we make”.

in an earlier edition of the lala land script that i’ve recently unearthed and desperately sobbed over, mia says this to seb:

You were so true to this…this idea…

And now… I don’t see that idea anymore.

I just see someone who’s begging to be liked.

it’s probably not in the final cut of the movie (i think it was edited to “when did you care about being liked?”) but i do remember the feelings that had swarmed in me while witnessing that scene unfolding before my eyes. the sympathy clouding over, the angstiness seeping in…the guilt.

it was as if mia was saying this to me.

2016 had been a year where i mourned over the loss of my words, and then simultaneously gained it back in the later half of the year. gained an audience, even.

i have to admit that i’m struggling, though. i’m battling this internal conflict, a tug-of-war against wanting the support of this audience, and wanting to actually like what i write.

simply put, i don’t like the content i’m putting out there. there’s a subtle sickening sensation that rises in my throat as i see the views climb, because a part of me is happy. of course i’m happy. people are liking what i’m writing and complimenting me and what more can i ask for? 

but of course, a bigger part of me is just resigned. i don’t think the words and the ideas that i actually pour my heart and soul into will ever see the light of day, simply because i don’t have the confidence of revealing them to the world, and i’m pretty convinced they’ll be overlooked anyway.

just get over it, jean. you’re not that good of a writer anyway, so stick to supplying whatever the people demand for and just make them happy. 

i think i’m losing touch with my words once more, and all i want to do is strip myself of this silly identity, delete all my works, and start afresh. anew.

but i won’t, because i’m a coward that is begging to be liked.

If my time can be divided into ten equal portions, 1/10 is spent actually being decently happy of me for being me, and 9/10 is spent putting myself down. I have caught myself saying stuff like “I am the worst” or even making self-deprecating jokes to my mom (who tunes out) whenever I watch dramas with her, such as “I need to find a Goblin and become his bride ASAP or I will never be successful in anything in the future because I suck” or “Lol why is literally everyone except me pretty” or even “Ma, I’m never going to make it, in anything I do. Wanna bet?” Insert nervous laughter to fill in the awkward silence as my mom rolls her eyes and tells me to shut up.

2017 needs to be a year where I need to stop being my own worst critic. My writer’s block is a manifestation of all these negative hateful spiteful feelings for myself and my words, and similarly, my self-deprecatory nature is a product of worshipping everyone but me, giving everyone heart-eyes while not even giving a flicker of attention to my own attributes and good points. As if there’s some kind of filter in me, I’m only capable of seeing what others are doing better than me or what others have that I don’t, and I’m honestly so sick of it. I’m trying to stop by adopting the matra of “say nothing if you have nothing good to say at all”, which includes gossiping, of course.

Wow. I’ve spent two hours on this blogpost, and I should be getting some sleep before I turn out like some zombie in tomorrow’s lessons and fall asleep before the kids do. But here’s to 2017, here’s to whatever tumbles out of its mouth and here’s to a kinder, truer and more passionate Jean.