Of Where It All Began

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I fell into the world of words by chance, like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, equally confused and fascinated by the newfound stirring around – and within – me.

I was given the opportunity to go to a literary camp back in junior high. I didn’t understand why exactly they’d picked me. I’d never felt any particular pull towards writing and I’d not distinguished myself with any of the articles that somehow ended up in the school magazine. In hindsight, the way I understood a good article should be written was flawed at its core. At the time, there was nobody to tell me that while imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, that doesn’t however make the original piece valuable or worthy of such compliment.

It took me a few more years after that fateful camp (and later on returning for a second year) to crystalize a style that was my own instead of relying on the knowledge that other people’s writing had already been validated by public opinion and was therefore safe. Blogging was where I found myself, even while there were other pieces taking form offline that I’ve still not found the courage to show.

Vulnerability comes in degrees, so the moments to reveal your raw and hidden sides will need to be scoped and seized as they present themselves. Being mindful instead of being regretful is an approach I can adhere to now, after looking back on years of missteps and mistakes.

Being aware of others at the same time as staying true to yourself remains the greatest challenge as long as the writing is meant for an audience and not destined for secrecy in some dusty diary hidden under piles of useless papers. I tackle it every time I sit down to write something new: will this touch anybody? will it offend someone? will it simply be ignored? And always: is this any good? and what will the ones reading it think of me?


Photo by Simson Petrol on Unsplash

It sometimes gets to be such a balancing act that despite my impulse to publish a post immediately, I have to remind myself to take a breath (and maybe sleep on it), revisit and refine before sending something into the world that has a high chance of being misinterpreted. The risk could never be reduced to zero, but a rational mind will still try.

The questions I mentioned earlier, those I’m sure will never truly be silenced either. Should one even try to do so completely, if one is to remain humble and continue to strive for betterment? 

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Of Anger And Other Demons

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Half a year ago, I thought I’d break. I was firm in my conviction I’d break beyond repair this time round, the irony of it being that I’d triggered the shattering myself. To me, it was one of those things you never see yourself capable of doing – until, that is, there’s no other option left but to do it.

In case you’re wondering, I did break. Into a zillion tiny shards that were so sharp I ended up making deeper and deeper cuts into my heart, and so oddly shaped that they didn’t seem to fit together into an identifiable version of myself anymore.

I was in a rush to make my universe better, normal again. But it wouldn’t work that way, so I got angry. I was angry at the world, at certain people, but mostly – and most of the time – at myself for months during which I didn’t want to understand the anger, let alone to confront it. I just lived in it. Something which, once again, I’d never seen myself capable of doing. 

It wasn’t a pretty sight, it wasn’t an emotion that you’d normally associate with progress. You see, I’d never acknowledged anger as an acceptable emotion to experience, as if in order to be a good person you couldn’t have any negative emotions infect your being. All the anger that I’d let build up for much of my existence over all sorts of topics was finding an outlet and it was not about to be bottled up anytime soon. 


Photo by Vishal Joshi on Unsplash

So I let it run its course, until one day I woke up and realised I’m just not angry anymore. I was able to recognise my reflection in the mirror. I was able to enjoy who I was after for much too long I’d spread myself so thin for the sake of everyone except me that I’d forgotten the life I truly wanted and needed.

I also realised anger could be the fuel one sometimes needs in life as the catalyst for change (to be used wisely and in moderate doses). Lesson to learn: all emotions deserve to be acknowledged, even if not all emotions should be acted upon.

I’ll Have An Extra Shot, Please!

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They say you should live your life with no regrets.

But let’s cut the bull for a moment, shall we? Any way you look at it, there will be some form of regret, bigger or smaller, depending on whether you decided to go the coward route or the ‘why isn’t this person institutionalised?’ one. 

There are things you stop yourself from saying out loud. Common sense dictates that you keep them under wraps, lest the world at large start probing and prodding, and judging. It’s that which hurts and which most of us go to great lengths to avoid.

I can’t not ask, though: won’t the regret of silence and of what could have been had you uttered what you longed to weigh heavier than the regret of feeling silly for a few minutes (or a day, or maybe even a week or two)?

If you find yourself wondering why you don’t ever win, it’s probably because you don’t play to win, but rather not to lose. That fear of losing face is what keeps you from your brightest dreams and desires. Not advocating for recklessness or lack of consideration for others’ sensitivities and boundaries, but I think we could all do with an extra shot of bravery in our morning coffee from time to time.


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Of How F***ed Up We Are (a book review)

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The more I read Hanya Yanagihara’s ‘A Little Life‘, the more certain I am that we’re all so very fucked up. Every last one of us. The absurdity of it being that we’re convinced – how we get to that warped conviction, I’ll never know – we’re solitary in our deviance, in our pains and our necessities for healing. We are not.

I’ve been at this book for more than a month now simply because it’s not an easy read, despite the clarity of the language and the elegance of the sentence structure. It’s breaking my heart page by page and the biggest push is the emotional one, not the intellectual one. I manage to get through 20 – 25 pages or so in one sitting before I need to put it down for a couple of days and allow my mind and my heart to disconnect from the hurt it’s putting into crafted words.

Then here I am, back again like an addict looking for a fix.

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Photo by Josh Edgoose on Unsplash

It hits much too close to home to just give up in the middle of it. The destinies Yanagihara paints are much too familiar if you dare accept the damages and the so-called demons, and gather the courage to look past the made up stories of not needing anybody when in fact one desperately does, of feeling comfortable in roles society imposes on us as normalcy when there’s so much more to each one of us than a two-line definition.

There are worlds of hurt in every single one of us, unique in their depth and scenery. I have no doubt of this anymore. What I’m not sure of is if we’ll all be able to find the healing we long for. This kind of healing requires vulnerability that has equal potential to bring more pain, so in the face of these options many will choose the familiar pain to the unfamiliar and uncertain peace of mind they desire.

Let me say this again: we are all fucked up. Don’t take my word for it, just look around for more than a few seconds.

Of Wisdom In A Teabag

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My teabags are full of wisdom – much more so than me – and this is tonight’s message: “Impression is for the now trust is for the future“.

This is something I find myself having to painfully relearn again and again and again. Won’t it just stick already? I wonder whenever the time for another lesson arrives. I say painfully because going through the disappointment of realising a person is nothing like that impression they left on you in the first instance is a hurtful experience. You somehow end up feeling hurt and betrayed, even though often times you have no claim to those feelings. The person you got to know only momentarily owes you nothing in the moment.

I have to remind myself that trust is earned and built in time. So if that initial intoxicating impression which overwhelmed you into mistaking it for trust is then consistently negated through actions that tell a different story, take that as the truth. That person is telling you their truth. It might open old wounds and make you question the trustworthiness of people in general, but it’s not about that as much as it is about you understanding the difference between a fleeting moment’s impression and the sturdiness and constancy of trust.

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Photo by Sam Manns on Unsplash

I’m not saying that people can’t change their behaviour if they realise it’s causing a loss of trust. Neither am I saying that broken trust can’t be repaired. It just takes time and a serious amount of determination to stick to what you’ve started. New habits are so hard to form because it’s easier and more comfortable to remain in the familiar and cosy status quo (face it! how many excuses have you come up with to not do more exercise this year?). But if something or someone is important enough, that effort will be something you’re willing to take on day after day, month after month and even year after year if necessary.

I told you my teabags are wise as heck. I wonder what else I’ll learn tomorrow evening.

Of The Expected Unexpected

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A question for the audience (don’t be shy, I’d really like to hear from you): have you ever made the silly mistake of thinking what else could possibly go wrong? only to have a tonne of bricks fall on your head? What’s that?… I think I heard someone whisper a no. Well, whoever you are, my friend, you are one lucky bastard, one of a kind even.

As a less fortunate individual, I can say that tempting fate is rarely a good idea. She’s going to deliver in spades. And yet I’m not breaking under the weight of those bricks anymore – even if breathing can be hard work sometimes.

This might be what’s commonly known as growing up. You get a problem thrown at you and have to find the solution. No more parents to shield you from real life difficulties and the pettiness of some people, no more mock tests you can fail and still sleep peacefully at night knowing you’re getting a re-do (or more). Just come up with a solution and get shit done.

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Photo by Saffu on Unsplash

Or it might simply be that I’ve turned on the blasé side and can’t imagine a peaceful, eventless stretch of time anymore. So I deal with it as it comes, because there’s no way to avoid it anyway. Come on, universe! Show me what you’ve got! It’s not like you’ve been sparing me, but I haven’t been backing off either.

Of A Fall Like This

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It’s hard to remember when we had a fall like this last. It must have been way back when I was a kid (I can say that now without it sounding like an exaggeration). The sun warm and joyful, the light in the afternoons coating the city in honey. The air tasting of smoke, the wet leaves smelling of earth. Surrounded by bright yellows and look-at-me oranges and reds, I bite my tongue not wanting to jinx it by bursting out in screams of joy. But what a fall! The perfect fall for falling, don’t you think?

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Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

Allowing yourself to fall is where things get contorted. The amount of trust – in yourself and the other – that’s needed is unquantifiable, and by that almost a thing of science fiction stories. To make yourself completely vulnerable and at the mercy of whims only romance can awaken in human beings requires faith of indescribable strength. Yes, a perfect fall for falling. Just don’t forget that once you start falling, there’s no way to stop – except maybe for when you hit the ground with a most deafening thud.

So what if, instead of falling, you try jumping? Assess your best options, calculate trajectories, and for God’s sake, if you’re still not sure, prepare a parachute! You might float about for a while, the adrenaline high won’t be quite as exhilarating as you remembered it, but at least you won’t be breaking yourself like a fool again.

Your choice.

All I know is that it’s such a perfect fall.

I Want You To See Me

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Photo by Jahsie Ault on Unsplash

It just so happens

that I dream secret dreams,

but also dream

about secrets

offered to me

without having asked for such a gift

and in a most surprising manner.

I am the keeper of secrets

of hearts

that insist on raising unclimbable walls

between us.

You see, wine makes walls crumble –

if only momentarily –

and opens up weary hearts

quicker than a lock-pick.

In the light of the morning,

the haze lifting off of drowsy, hungover eyes,

left pondering what I’m to do

with yet another precious little piece

of someone’s soul,

I stand

in front of the re-erected wall

and wonder

when I might get another glimpse

of the person on the other side.

Habits vs. Change

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I set a motto for myself a few years ago: never trade in progress for familiarity. I was trying to pump myself up for a career move that made me anxious. I was about to trade in familiarity and stability for progress, but it meant starting over in a field I knew nothing about, in an environment I knew nothing about, nor could I guess what to expect from it.

These days, I find myself having to repeat it in my personal affairs as well. Because there are few things more alluring than the familiar. That’s why, even when we swear to the heavens that we’ll change, it’s so easy to fall back into known patterns that we end up barely remembering why we wanted to change anything in the first place. Some changes are absolutely necessary, possibly not just for your own wellbeing, but just as much for the person next to you. Still, because they are as necessary as they are painful to enact, we run away from them and we often allow the warmth of familiarity to convince us the status quo is not so bad, absolutely liveable, great even if you compare it to other situations.

That solely human, God forsaken, messed up tendency to go back to a past which has nothing more to offer you than a warped feeling of familiarity. That is what I cannot process or comprehend as much as I’ve tried, even when I’m the one doing it. Scratching at it, like picking at an itchy scab, you can’t seem to stop yourself. Worse even, there’s this undertone of pleasure while your fingers trace the profile of the almost healed wound. So instead of letting time be time and paint over your soul with the pink of a scar in place of the pink of watercolours, you choose to destroy the ongoing work of art. You should know by now that the scar only gets deeper and a darker shade of painful the more you pick at it. Even so, you keep on going at it like a naughty child.

Moving past the philosophical ruminations, there’s also a more palpable side to all this from a personal perspective. I took part in #walkingmonth for the second year in a row and I’ve been walking like crazy to get to the goal of daily steps I set for myself. Don’t fool yourself thinking the target was set very high, but for someone like me, who’s turned shamefully sedentary in the past few years, it took a great amount of willpower to hit the target on a regular basis. It was a long and tiring month, but it provided me with the motivation to do things differently. There was a sweetness to that feeling of physical exhaustion, like I was actually moving forward from things weighing me down, increasing my endurance and resilience bit by bit, day by day. I’m still recuperating, giving my feet some rest for a few days, but I feel that the habit of walking as much as my daily schedule permits is now formed. All that remains is for me not to fall back into the old, familiar, cosy pattern of finding excuses not to get those steps is.

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Photo by Anika Huizinga on Unsplash

I’d let my motto whither away for a while, it took a month of walking around the city every single day to remind me of it.

Of a record-breaking week

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Years ago, the world felt like a very small and limiting place to me. It’s easier than you might think to become invisible in a small community when you don’t fit the mould that most everybody else does. Lucky for me, I soon found out that there are more heretics like me out there, who might have felt out of place for years but could start being themselves (or discovering themselves), all the while feeling like they are invisible no more.

As I drink my tea this evening whose label reads ‘Never try to impress others, try to impress only yourself’, I contemplate last week, its days that managed to cram in moments which felt like chapter endings, deep sadness for those endings, retracing of steps and rethinking of moves to come. Most of all, though, it meant breaking of barriers I never thought I would be able to push through.

I did say barriers are at times for keeping you from being stupid. I still believe that. All those other times though, that barrier’s meant to remind you there’s something beyond, it calls on you to turn it into something more. A rock, a piece of wood, a piece of barbed wire in a desperate whisper, begging you: Pick me up and turn me into wings, make me into what you need to fly.

What I didn’t understand years back is that the world was only as small and restrictive as I allowed it to be. Trying to impress others just to fit in instead of showing yourself – quirks, qualities and all – is just a form of self-limiting I wasn’t yet aware of.

Push through those barriers, but do it because it will make you better and give you wings to soar over your fears (you know, the ones you don’t even like to admit to yourself).