The Most Stressful Conversation I Had in 2017

The Most Stressful Conversation I Had in 2017

“So what kind of guy do you like?”

While this question might sound innocent enough, and probably even normal for women who like to chatter with their friends about their type of men, it threw me off completely.

At the time, I stuttered, and felt as though I had the wind knocked out of me. I never really had an answer when women asked me this question, their eyes bright with curiosity as they tried to find out more about the quiet Sabahan chick, and I certainly didn’t have one for the man in front of me.

“I… I don’t know. I never really thought about it.”

“Never?”

“I guess not.”

I thought that was going to be the end of it, but it wasn’t. If anything, what was supposed to be a simple culture/language exchange hang out turned into an extremely prying conversation about what kind of men I like, whether I had a boyfriend, whether I was dating anyone, whether I’d like to get married, when I’d like to get married, etc. Just so you won’t feel like I’m singling anyone out, this was one out of dozens of similar incidents over the past 5 or so months.

Maybe other women could’ve handled it better than I had, but with the way I was at the time, this pressed right up against my commitment phobia. While I remained polite in all of my exchanges, I was always panicking on the inside, dizzy. At first, I tried to brush off this line of questioning as a difference in culture (all of these men are foreigners) and that it was just their way of initiating a conversation (I know it’s dumb, but I always had this belief that no one and especially not non-Muslims would be interested in, let alone look at, me), but then it got to the point where I’d avoid our community, just to avoid more incidents like that.

Still, despite the immense discomfort each of these instances entailed, I’m glad they happened; they helped me get a grip of my commitment phobia. I’d already spent close to a decade avoiding men (for the most part. I had a few dates here and there), so it was well about time for me to get past it. That, and my resolution to get to know new people were some of the reasons I had agreed to such meetings. I may be a strong introvert at heart, but I also recognise that it’s important to socialise and network.

I’m getting used to talking to people, and while there are still a few things I might get shy about, I daresay I’ve come a really long way from the person I used to be last year. And I’m proud of it.

I no longer internally panic when someone new speaks to me, I no longer make it a point to avoid people, I don’t clam up or divert attention when it’s time to talk about myself, etc. One of the biggest changes of all, is that my commitment phobia is now but a dwindling flame. Of course, I’m not about to just jump into any relationship, but the thought of one no longer paralyzes me with fear.

I’m just going to go with the flow; if it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, then no big deal. Either way, I’ll continue to be grateful for what I have in life. There is so much to be happy for; it’s impossible not to be.

That said, I’m still going to hold off on making a full return to that community for a while longer haha.

Hello, 2018, and Hello, New Year’s Resolutions

Here’s  to another New Year. 2017 was somewhat of a rocky ride, and despite some of the things that happened during that year, I will look upon it with a sense of thankfulness and pride. This is because I feel that I’ve grown a lot over the past year; I finally found my passion and purpose in life, I learned to let go of things that don’t matter, I’m learning to be more open in terms of sharing things about myself (though I sometimes still hedge from getting personal. I’m still working on that), I learned to be more disciplined, etc. Lots.

Honestly, 2017 was a very fruitful year for me, and the only regret I have is that I didn’t realise what I really want in life sooner. My only and biggest regret, because that was a lot of time up in smoke.

But that’s alright. Now it’s 2018, and hopefully it’ll be even more productive than the last. I’ve never been the sort of person to draw up New Year’s resolutions, but seeing that I’ve become more and more goal-oriented, why not? I might as well, since I’m already doing just that.

So here’s my very first list of New Year’s resolutions:

Be more disciplined

Top priority. I know I’m not a robot, but I would like to be more disciplined in terms of work. Due to the nature of my job, it sometimes can’t be helped that I might have to suddenly work outside of office hours. Which is fine, but it would be good if I could do all I can during my usual hours to ensure I’d have less to worry about later. This can be done by preparing articles way in advance.

If I can do this, I’ll have more time to devote to my studies, health and hobbies.

Learn a new skill

Low priority. Photography, maybe? If I can’t manage to secure classes for this one, I can always try learning how to apply makeup hahahahaha. I know the basics, but if you ask me to do anything else, I’m at a loss.

Earn more money

Medium priority. This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while now (think 3-5 months), but I never really got round to it due to time constraints. This is tied to my first resolution, so if I manage my time just right, I might be able to secure a part-time/freelance job.

This isn’t a priority, but it would be nice to have a bit more cashola in my pocket. Wishful thinking because my schedule is already bursting at its seams hahaha. No harm trying, though!

Allocate more time to studying

Top priority. It’s not easy studying while working a full-time job, but something has to be done about this. Japanese is steadily getting more and more difficult, and I really need to dedicate time to studying as much as I can whenever I can. I’ll just have to squeeze in studying during my commute to and from work, and maybe an hour after work before I head home.

Read more

Low priority. Not just novels, but works of non-fiction as well.

Dye my hair dark ombre purple 

Medium-Low priority. Because why not? Ehehehehh. I’ve had the same hairstyle since forever. Time to try something new.

Participate in a marathon

Low priority. It would be a nice challenge to myself! We’ll see if I can even manage it, though. This also depends on the marathons that are available when I’m finally ready to take one on. At this point, I’m just aiming for a half marathon.

Keep meeting new people

Medium-Low priority. Despite being an introvert, I realise how important it is to keep meeting new people, so… Just like the tail-end of last year, I’ll be open to and keep meeting new people whenever the opportunity arises. Whew. This is a far cry from how I used to be; I’m fairly sure I used to have social anxiety at some point in my life. Now that trait is barely there. I’m definitely still quiet, but the fear of speaking to someone new doesn’t strike me anymore.

There you have it. My first list of resolutions. Yay!

Have a very happy New Year, everyone!

Something to Be Happy About

It’s not like this is a big deal or anything, but I just want to put this out there so I’d remember what happened over the weekend. It’s not all the time you receive praise from a film & television director, after all.

But… yeah.

That’s what happened. I was wondering why one of my articles suddenly had a spike in Likes and thought it was some sort of error. Apparently not. So what happened is that the director of one of the shows I reviewed for work really liked my review and shared it on social media with the cast and crew, and they in turn shared it with their loved ones, etc… He also thanked my colleague for bringing me over to the press screening.

Haha, so yeah.

That’s my good news for the day. Now I’m going to awkwardly slink back and return to reality.

My Journey Studying 2 Languages While Working Full-Time

Most people like to unwind after work by watching television, hanging out with friends, playing games or just plain eating. I admit that I used to be – and still am! – one of these people. I enjoy watching TV, and I just love lazing around being a couch potato after clocking in so many hours at work. There’s really nothing better than binge-watching a damned good tv series on telly.

But recently, or it would be more accurate to say about 5-6 months ago, this started to change. Priorities shifted. Ever since I signed up for Japanese and Mandarin language classes, I try to cram in as much studying as I possibly can into my day. This means sacrificing my precious TV time. My TV time got severely cut down and when I do watch something, it’s usually in the language I’m learning. Or some light-hearted comedy I’ve rewatched a billion times.

I know. Sad, haha.

Still, I don’t find this too depressing. Maybe people think I’m putting a lot of unnecessary stress on myself and that I’m being too serious, but in all honestly, I find it fun. Yeah, I know that people equate studying with stress and all things boring, but it is the direct opposite for me, at least for this.

The only times I get stressed out by my language studies are when work comes into play. Sometimes I can’t attend class because I have work to do, sometimes I can’t study because of yeah, I have to meet some sort of deadline or attend a work event. Sometimes, these things happen a lot, and I fall behind in my studies. That’s when I get stressed.

And I’d ironically sacrifice classes in order to catch up, because if I don’t understand past chapters, I won’t understand the new ones. Hahaha. So painful to be an adult sometimes, amirite.

The past couple of months have been especially bad, thanks to the chaos that naturally comes when you start job hunting. A lot of time was again sacrificed to prepare for interviews, exams, whatever assignment that I had to complete, etc on top of the responsibilities I already had at the time. As for my new job, things have started to settle, so I’m glad to say that I’ll be properly caught up on my studies soon. Haha! Only took me 3-4 months. Ouch.

It really doesn’t help that Japanese and Mandarin are titans in terms of languages. Japanese, especially. It’s surprising, because you usually hear people complain about Mandarin, but nah man. The true Ruler with an Iron Fist is Japanese. It has so many grammar rules crammed in every possible crevice there is that it’ll make your head spin. To this day I haven’t got a complete handle on particles.

Minor gripes aside, what other ways has taking up new languages changed my life?

I’m happier

For the longest time since I can remember, English has always been my passion. I taught myself the language before I got into kindergarten, I read every English book I could get my hands on, and being the introvert that I am, it wasn’t long before I showed an interest in writing. The language has always been my happy spot, and I think it’s because it’s so rich in literature, film and music that I was initially drawn to it.

What I didn’t realise is that this love can be for other languages as well. I wasn’t a fan of Malay because to young me at the time, it didn’t have all the attractions English does. I’ve always been into the arts, and like it or not, the Malay scene wasn’t as robust. (Note the word “wasn’t”. We’re starting to get there now.) So yeah, it took a long while for it to sink in that I can love other languages.

When it finally occurred to me, it was like falling in love again. And here I am, hitting the books like I used to.

I have more direction in life

Let’s be honest. The writing industry in hot and humid Malaysia ironically isn’t doing too hot right now, and it’s only going to get worse from here on out. Too often do I see job adverts that offer horrendous pay and hours despite the never-ending amount of responsibilities and skills they demand from writers. What’s worse is that quite a number even require working on the weekends. Talk about harsh. Who’d be able to have a life that way?

Now that I have my language studies by my side (as well as globalisation, haha), I have a clearer goal to work towards. As the world grows smaller, language becomes all the more valuable. Sure, I can probably continue to trudge on with just English alone, but I’m going to be old one day, and who would employers rather hire, a younger, cheaper and perfectly capable English writer with other languages in their arsenal (Mandarin is growing popular with the young ‘uns these days), or an older one who costs more and is pretty much only fluent in English? The answer is obvious.

I’ve made new friends

This one took awhile, but once I plucked up enough courage to try out Hellotalk with my shitty Japanese, I made new friends quite easily.

And I found that it was ridiculously easy to find people that I have interests in common with- which is a first, because that’s not something that I get to experience right here in Malaysia. Sad face. That being said, my interactions with my new friends aren’t without misunderstandings; we’ve had plenty, thanks to the cultural differences!

Who knew that communication styles could differ that greatly between fellow Asians?

Reforged an old bond

Unexpected, but not unwelcome. When I started talking to an old friend again, we eventually discovered that we share the same interest in languages- and even wish to study the same ones as well!

It was from that moment forth that we started to spend more and more quality time together again. Like old times, but with a more solid, definitive purpose. We’ve gone as far as to plan (or at this point, dream) to travel together. Because come on, travelling with friends before somehow miraculously getting married is on our bucket list!

I’m fitter

This one sounds weird and completely unrelated, but it is true. Now that I have something that I truly want to devote myself to, work aside, I have the desire to have more time and energy for it. So what better way can I increase productivity than getting fit?

Exercising will allow me to focus better on my passions, and I’m already starting to see the effects after nearly a month of working out. I’m more attentive and I’m not as easily exhausted as I used to be. It’s a great feeling, to be honest. I definitely want it to continue.

Ohhh. This turned out lengthy. That’s alright, though. I wrote this one for me; it’s nice to have a change of pace every now and then.

To those who actually read this and made it this far, thank you!

7 Things People Always Say to Me

7 Things People Always Say to Me

It has been awhile since I’ve written anything that isn’t a review, so let’s shake things up a little with a vaguely personal post! Here’re a couple of things people have always said to me, many of which they still do till this day:

“What are you?”

Being born a multiracial means many things, and one of those things is that you’ll get a lot of questions probing into the nature of your ethnicity. I’m definitely no stranger to this, especially since I bear no resemblance to any race out there, but there are times when I’m astounded by how tactless some people can be.

“What are you?” Really?

“You’re not [multiracial/insert race]. You’re [insert race].”

Unfortunately, the idea of interracial marriage has yet to reach the minds of some. Perhaps they still live in an era where racial purity is the only way to go, or they just can’t comprehend how people from two different races can get together, especially if the both of them possess different religions.

The level of denial I’ve witnessed thus far can be quite perplexing. So much so that they can go as far as to deny a person’s racial heritage if their looks don’t match their religion.

“You work too much.”

This is a funny one because as of late, it doesn’t really register in my mind that I do work a lot. Maybe it’s because I’ve finally found something that I like doing, or because I feel like I finally have a damned purpose, but none of it feels like work to me. I happen to enjoy my new job, I love contributing articles to websites during my free time and I adore my language classes.

Sure, it can get tiring at times, but in my mind, it is all well worth it. If I work hard now, I can have things a bit easier later, is what I think.

“Mel has no feelings/interests.”

I do. I just can’t be bothered to tell you.

Which probably isn’t a very good thing, if I’m honest. Because I’m big on privacy, I have a natural dislike for sharing too much about myself with other people. Not that I’d tell this to anyone’s face, of course. Instead of saying just that, I’d laugh and joke that I have no interest aside from catching some Zzzzs.

This is a flaw that I’m working on, and I’m slowly learning to warm up to people and make (more) friends.

“Are you gay?/Do you hate men?”

No and no.

Due to my lack of interest in the men that have approached me thus far, and the model-like beauties I used to share an office with, people started to speculate whether I play for the same team. –That said, though, now that I think about it, people have been wondering that since my college years.

Of course, I didn’t help matters by hardly ever giving a proper answer. Let them speculate, was my thought. At least they’d nag me less about dating.

“I’m very interested to see what kind of person you’ll end up with.”

This comment usually comes from people who know me as a person with zero interests. Because you know, I let them believe that.

To be fair, when I was still a stubbornly private person, I didn’t know what I liked either. I have a better idea of what I like now, but even then, I’m not the type to purposefully hunt for a partner. If it happens, it happens.

“You’re going to marry a workaholic.”

“The guy you’ll end up with will either work as much as or even more than you.”

“I can’t imagine you being interested in someone who doesn’t at least work as hard as you do.”

Etc, etc… Not going to lie, the thought of ending up with a husband who is barely home freaks me out, but I don’t think these assessments are wrong either. I just have to look at my track record of recent guys I was interested in… One worked 7 days a week for months on end, with the rare 6-day week whenever he was lucky. So…

I seriously don’t see myself liking a guy who is complacent and lazy about his career, so I’ll just have to hope whatever poor sod I end up with (if any) doesn’t have some job with brutal hours.

But then again, with the way things are now, everyone is a bit of a workaholic, aren’t they?