It’s been a while.

Yes, it’s been a while. The last month has been whirlwind to say the least – but it appears I say this every time. Prepping for presentations left and right, trying to smash out as much thesis writing as I can, prepping for the next set of experiments… You know the drill. It’s funny, I always find myself coming back to this blog as a way to reflect and recalibrate. There’s a saying that we all need ‘me’ time to understand and reconnect with ourselves better. Writing on this blog is my form of reconnecting with myself.

A lot has happened already, but the next few months will really test my mental capacity as I head into the last 6 months of my PhD. Can you believe it?

I have a love/hate relationship with being on the grind and hustling. I hate it, because I think I am inherently lazy. I am so good at doing absolutely nothing. When I am doing work, at times I catch myself daydreaming of lying on the couch and just existing, doing nothing. I would be the most boring person to watch as a star of The Truman Show. Unlike others, being proactive doesn’t come naturally to me. I have to expend a significant amount of energy to go against my inherent laziness to think of ways to be proactive.

On the flip side, I love hustling because it gives me purpose to my days. After much convincing from the SO I finally invested in a physical scheduler/diary to improve my time management. Before, I would solely rely on my iCal and always managed to forget something. Hate to say he’s right, but so far I love it. I love managing my days with tasks that I need to complete. Some days I give myself unrealistic goals for the day after which I always feel shit for not completing. But when I do? Much victory.

I don’t know if it’s an age thing, but I am also slowly becoming a morning person. If you knew me 5 years ago or back in high school this would be huge news. Everyone knew me as the one who would sleep at 1am the earliest, and wake up 10am the earliest. I loved my sleep ins, and believe me I still love a good 11am sleep in on a Saturday, but as I get older I am becoming more aware of 1) how valuable time is, and 2) how little I have of it. I mean, we’re already nearing the end of May. Which means we’re already nearly half way through 2017. Seriously? Seriously?!?!!? For this sole reason I have been willingly sleeping no later than 11pm, waking up at 6.30am and getting into work before 8am just so I can get an extra hour out of my day. I don’t know why but it just feels good to wake up before everyone else. The tram isn’t so packed, and the people that get on at that time just look more peaceful and serene. An early bird trait perhaps.

This next bit also ties in with the whole “me being proactive” and “there’s no time left” crisis, but lately I have also been more mindful of the amount of uselessness that I feed my brain. From those stupid memes, videos and BuzzFeed surveys on Facebook that we get sucked into doing (“Choose your ideal IKEA furniture and we’ll tell you when you will die!”) to the weird side of YouTube that we always manage to find ourselves in every once in a while – I got to a point where I started to get into the habit of asking myself: I have so little time to do the things I want today, this week, this month – is this really worth my time? 95% of the time I answer no. There are so many more useful things and information that we can feed our brains with and yet because of the social construct algorithms that social media enforces on us I feel like a lot of us have become blind to this. I want to make the most of the little time that I have, and while I can’t completely eradicate all of my guilty pleasures I have become more conscious about compartmentalising my time for those pleasures and using it as a positively enforcing ‘reward’, and not letting it bleed into my productivity.

Wow, this post became longer than I thought. That’s all I have for today.

New year, new self. 

I’m currently sitting on our bed in our guesthouse in Luang Prabang waiting for the other two to wake up from their naps before we hike up a mountain close by. I feel like right now has been the only time since early December since I’ve truly had time to myself to just think and reflect back on everything. So here goes.

2016 was both a good and bad year for me. The first few months of the year felt like a haze, nothing eventful and yet spending my days feeling unsatified with my life. My relationship was on a downward spiral which I tried so hard to keep afloat from, my social life lacked any real substance which I was becoming increasingly frustrated by. Once the break up happened, my life turned around 180 degrees. The break up propelled me to take control of my life without the constant back thought of someone else’s feelings or opinions. I made a new group friends who now feel like home to me. I met someone who finally shows me the respect I deserved from the beginning, someone who shares the same values in life and in love, someone with the same level of patience and understands the crucial importance of open communication. Together we make a good team; despite sharing similar weaknesses we do our best to push each other to help achieve our goals. We just get each other, which always feels good. 

In terms of my work, I really hit a brick wall towards the end of the year. I developed an anxiety issue which eats me alive at times of solitude. This consequently led to a growth of a negative, toxic mindset that propelled me into the brick wall. I became unnaturally lazy with my work last year which is most likely how my anxiety came about.

With the new found support that I gained in 2016, I’m optimistic for what’s to come in 2017. This year is crunch year for me. I have solid goals that I want to achieve which I know I’m going to have to up my hustle game for – I know for sure that this will be the only cure to my anxiety. This time next year I’ll be equipped with an extra degree under my belt. I let myself down once, I can’t do it again. 

Ramble

With the start of the new Spring season I can’t help but feel an array of emotions that will sound more or less like a ramble and incoherent, as my thoughts always are.

It has already been two seasons since leaving an old chapter of my life and turning over a fresh new page. I entered the gloomiest seasons of the year emotionally scarred and battered, and came out of it intact and… actually happy. I’ve always regarded the beginning of Spring as the beginning of a rejuvenation. The end of year is in sight, days will get longer and the prolonged sunlight and warmth will only keep me more energised. I feel like as the months of gloom are past us, from here things will only start to look up. I can finally start to get excited about end of year travel plans, and excited (but nervous) about inching closer towards finishing my PhD, my growing relationship with someone who I’ve come to be so grateful for. I started a new chapter six months ago and now I can truly feel like I can call that last chapter a form of reminiscence.

It’s a weird phenomenon, though: that feeling you get when six months sounds so long ago and yet it feels like time has rushed by so fast. There needs to be an English term for this.

A message.

This will be the last I speak of you on here. This post will be my form of permanent closure to that chapter of my life.

So, I learned you got yourself a new girl recently. We both moved on fast, but to be honest I wasn’t too surprised of your news – probably would’ve been more surprising if you didn’t, considering you haven’t been single for longer than three months since you were 17. I’m sure she’s kind, well mannered and down to earth – just the type you like. If she is anything like me we probably could’ve been good friends in another lifetime.

For some reason, I care about her. Yes, I care about a stranger I don’t even know. But I know you. And I know she would’ve gotten sucked in by your initial charms. You are attracted to girls who don’t make you feel overpowered by intellect or humour. So you use those factors to charm a girl. I know it all, I’ve seen it all, I’ve felt it all. She will see how much you care about your family, your friends, how career-focused you are, how hardworking you are. How you have a soft spot for cute things when your outward persona is quite the opposite. These are genuine traits about you that I liked.

You love that initial rush and excitement of a new relationship, of getting to know a new and attractive girl. But it won’t be long till you let complacency and comfort replace the initial excitement of a relationship, because you believe a honeymoon phase is naturally supposed to end, so you make very little effort to make it last for as long as possible.

It’s funny that I’ve managed to feel and experience almost everything I wanted you to be and do in the two years we were together all in the space of a mere 3 months of being in my new relationship after you. I understand now how every girl should be treated. I realise now that at least while you were with me you lacked fundamental values in what it meant to be the best partner for your other half. I want to give you the benefit of the doubt by thinking maybe you’re just not aware of these values, maybe because you were just really spoiled by myself and probably the one before me who gave you everything you wanted and us being too naive on how we should’ve been treated back.

Because I care for this stranger, the following is what I urge you to implement in your new relationship. She deserves this.

  1. Communicate and be transparent. We both know how bad you are at face to face confrontation. You lose your words when you have to talk feelings face to face and you feel more comfortable typing out your feelings. You find it hard processing feelings in general. That’s fine, but don’t pretend you are okay with something when you’re clearly not. Communicate with her straight away when you’re uncomfortable with something, don’t leave it until you get upset. And when she voices out her discomfort about anything that you might consider as paranoia, don’t ridicule her. Give her assurance with clear communication. 
  2. When you talk to her, actually talk to her. You’re good at talking about your day and what happened to you, you you you, but you’re not good at asking back. Ask her things. Ask about her day and actually be interested in it by asking more questions. Ask if she’s okay. Ask her if there is anything on her mind that she wants to talk about. Be interested in what she likes. Show your curiosity. It’s not a conversation when you only talk about yourself. Talk to her.
  3. Do not lie in any circumstance. None. Zero. Honesty is the best policy, and openly establish this early on in your relationship. I don’t care if you wanted to protect me from being hurt, I’d have rather get hurt a little from the truth than be even more hurt from figuring out that you lied or tried to hide it from me. The moment she catches that you told a lie, her trust in you will diminish little by little and be replaced with doubt, like the way mine did in you. 
  4. Don’t victimise yourself in arguments. You are so good at this, and in turn it makes the other person feel so guilty and ridiculed at the same time. Probably the worst you ever did was when you lied about something and then tried to hide your lie by victimising yourself and either 1. accuse me of accusing you for lying, and/or 2. make me feel like an absolute fool for thinking that you lied, then when I found out the truth you victimised yourself again by saying you were just trying to protect me, and that I found out the truth only because I invaded your privacy. Don’t be a dick, say sorry first, don’t get defensive. Listen to what she has to say, try to understand where she’s coming from. Don’t give up on an argument because you’re too fed up with it. Let down your inflated ego. You’re not right all the time. Pick your battles.
  5. Give her assurance with the little things. Hold her hand when you’re walking, don’t make her hold yours first. Wrap your arms around her. Kiss her forehead when she doesn’t expect it. Give her long hugs. Tell her how much you love her every chance you get. Wipe away her tears when she cries. Tell her how beautiful she is even when she has the darkest eye bags with a bare face. Tell her how hot and sexy she looks in that new outfit. Take good pictures of her, take good pictures with her. Make her feel like a queen, because she deserves it.
  6. Be encouraging in all aspects of her life. You have a knack of wanting to be the better one at everything. Give her words of support and advice when she needs it. Tell her how much you believe in her when she doesn’t believe in herself. When she achieves something good, whether it’s a really good grade or when she gets a bullseye while playing darts, tell her well done and that you’re proud of her. Words of affirmation go a long way.
  7. Never take her vulnerability for granted. The longer she is with you the deeper she’ll fall in love with you, and that takes a great deal of vulnerability. You took mine for granted and used it to your advantage and as a result at some points I found myself forgetting how much I’m really worth. Never let her feel that way.
  8. Be selfless. Show your initiative and do things for her that you know she’ll appreciate. When she cooks you food, help her mince the garlic. When she’s busy doing her makeup, take out the garbage. Cook her breakfast in bed. Insist that you do the dishes. Buy her flowers every now and then. Help fold the laundry. This is a huge part of never taking her for granted. Thank her for cooking you food. Thank her for anything she goes out of her way to do for you. Tell her directly how much you appreciate her, don’t assume she already knows. She will do so many things out of pure love for you. Never take that for granted.
  9. Don’t let complacency get in the way of a long lasting spark in the relationship. And when you do find your relationship in a rut, address it openly with her and plan things to keep that excitement last. Go on weekly date nights. Go on day trips, or plan a romantic getaway. Plan things with her only, don’t include your friends just to kill two birds with one stone. Keep the spark going, because contrary to your belief, the honeymoon phase can last for as long as both parties make an effort.

I hope she loves you the way I did, and I hope you love her back the way every girl deserves.

Progress.

I have realised through the course of this breakup process that to my surprise I’m actually pretty fast at processing my emotions. In the past 60 hours I have cried my eyes out in the lab, in the car, in my bathroom, in my bed, out on the balcony, in my closet, in front of strangers, felt absolutely lonely even around friends, reiterated over and over in my head that none of it was my fault, and finally now starting to come to terms with the entire situation. Continue reading