What You Tell Yourself on Week 13

Week 13 is here! And honestly, I’m still not ready for it. I’m like a gymnast mid jump in between two poles and realizing mid air that I may not actually reach the second pole. But I have to reach out anyway, have to give it some sort of try, lend my voice some sort of honesty.

So yes, it’s halfway through the week. I still have two and a half assignments to go, one presentation and one group report. I also have rehearsals and three performances. A lot of things are on my plate and honestly I’m quite full as it is.

A big part of me wants to feel like I want this. I want to live in the now. I don’t want to miss the past, constantly ruminate on trivialities like free time spent in army, the guidance received from teachers in JC. It all seems better, sure. But it wasn’t. It isn’t better because we tend to isolate the pleasantries of the past, put them on a pedestal and think; hey, that’s where I want to be. The past constitutes so much more than those occasional glimmers of sanity. Humans forget pain like a goldfish forgets yesterday’s chores. Our past is misshaped, misconstrued as easily as we want it to be, it will always seem a place where things were easier. I know this to be untrue. In the past I had definitely been pushed harder, both physically and emotionally. I have grown to be someone who thinks highly of the now, because past me urged present me to treasure this time to truly challenge myself in (somewhat) the ways that I want to be challenged. I cannot throw these past promises away simply because some assignments pile up and I feel lousier for it.

There is no point in feeling like these challenges are bigger than they actually are because they’re not. These challenges are there because we signed up for them, we had concrete choices and we chose this path, to follow this particular course. I can’t say for sure that any other path will be easier or harder. I mean, every path we choose will have its challenges for sure. But we chose this so we owe it to ourselves to press on. Once you question these choices is when your resolution will unspool and you will be left a traveller without a passport, an athlete without his granola bar. You just can’t go on doing what you do. You’ll feel everyday that you should be somewhere else and there’s no worst feeling than that. So at many junctures, then, it’s not that the work is too tough that you’re overwhelmed by it, it’s just that the inane desire to function within a certain system has gone awry. Once you lose this core motivation you lose a lot of things. So make sure that once you’ve chosen a path that you stick by it, don’t ever feel your choice to be second best.

And once you’re done comparing with the past, once you’re done feeling like this isn’t where you belong, spend some time on your own. I believe in my own little world that stress comes from people. People hand you assignments, deadlines, people will mark your work. You will always be answering to a person, we live in these tight communities where it only makes sense that we do. When we talk to our friends we think it helps but it doesn’t always. A lot of times a group setting can be triggering, people remind you of your insecurities, frailties. People are so real, yet so abstract. You can’t ever fathom just how these connections pan out without any particular logic. People, though good intentioned, may not always make you feel better about yourself.

 

So I got away today, from all that. I took a long bus ride to Hougang to get my haircut, went back home to drop my stuff and went for a long intense swim. I did 20 laps, almost died from the heat, bought some groceries, went back home then went back to school. I did all this under the close supervision of no one. And no one, at many times in my life, was just the person I needed.

Of course, these bouts of alone time are all but temporal. You can’t solve your problems by ignoring them, by ignoring life. Life is the coming and going of people in your day, some just rushing past and some staying for longer. Your time spent alone is like the short recess where you can just sit at a corner and count the number of birds that pick on the leftover bowl of fish ball noodles. Where you can stare out of the window to your hearts content without fearing the teachers irritated yell, pulling you back into the banality of focused attention. My point here is to savour your time of rest, but gear up when you have to get back to the crunch. Let gravity do the work on the downslopes, but climb fiercely on the inclines. Something like that.

So that’s week 13 for you. Not the most pleasant week, but definitely not your toughest week by a long shot. If you’ve read so far then you’ve probably related to these struggles enough to know that the worst had already come and gone. The worst has been buried in your past, and will continue teaching you to be a stronger person. Week 13? What’s that going to be to us in a few weeks time when we’re basking in our Bermudan Sunsets? Look up and see yourself for all you’re worth and enjoy the challenge. Talk when you feel like it and hide away if you don’t. Drink lots of water and sleep enough to last the day. Eat hearty breakfasts and liquid suppers. Live and learn. Love and grow. And before you know it, it’ll be over.

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