I shall start by saying that I kept from writing another post any earlier because I have had the whole month of April off before I complete my two year National Service journey on the 17th of May.
This break has been a good time to reflect on the things that have happened over the past four months and to figure out how I feel as well. And trust me, there’s been quite a bit going on in my mind.
Let me kick things off by giving an update on one of the things that I had alluded to in my previous post, ‘RESET. REVAMP. RELAX’:
“On top of all that stress, there was a lot of uncertainty when it came to the plans I had with my friends during these last two weeks of the year. There were all these things that I had wanted to do but of course, everyone else’s schedules do not revolve around mine nor do I expect it to.
But it is frustrating that I cannot even lock in plans because of how busy my friends are – some by choice and others by circumstance.”
As much as I tried to control the uncertainty and disappointment that was building up in me, I eventually told my friends how I felt. Sure, some friends coerced it out of me because they could tell something was off with me but others had no clue. And their responses ranged from understanding to nonchalant.
To be honest, I don’t know if this feeling will ever completely go away. I would like to think that it has been magnified lately because I spend five days a week in an environment where I don’t quite feel comfortable in – that’s why spending time with people who I want to spend time with, when I can, matters so much to me.
But it is also uncertain whether I will feel the same way even after I move onto the university phase of my life. I do not know if I will find people I can forge meaningful connections with – I have not exactly been hearing the most promising things. And so it is not unrealistic for me to expect that this feeling may persist.
And if anything, I am realising that there is nothing anyone else can do to help me fix this. It is all starts and ends with me. I just need to be independent and for that I will need more time.
With that being said, I was glad to be able to get it off my chest and so now, everyone who needs to know, knows… Moving on!
The next thing I want to address requires me to pull up various excerpts from different posts of mine to give you a summary or ‘story arc.’ Basically, it is about how I feel about the people that I have spent the past one and a half years with.
First up, I have to go all the way back to my post from January 2017, ‘A Quarter of a Third’:
“When it comes to the people around me at this unit, I would say that the dynamics are not exactly in my favour. Sure, the people are nice, for the most part but there are some subtle and understandable divisions. Maybe, I just have not gotten used to how things work here – the usual office politics that will come with almost every job.
However, almost everyone will be leaving the unit before I do. That means that I will be seeing a lot of people coming and leaving – many changes in the supporting cast, if you will. So there is the chance that the dynamics could shift in my favour or stay against me.”
And next, from April 2017, ‘In My Head’:
“For now, there are only about two to three individuals in camp who I ‘trust.’ It being really easy to rub me the wrong way could be one reason for this low number. But I guess, there just is not that much in common to forge strong bonds over. And with everyone on their phones most of the time, there is barely any attempt at conversation to find common topics either.
Sure, they bond over playing the same mobile games. And so it would be a lot easier if I just downloaded this game and played along. But I told myself back in secondary school that I was not going to change just to fit in and I still want to keep that promise to myself. Call me stubborn or difficult but I am not going to do something that I would not normally do just to get by.”
From June 2017, ‘The First 365’:
“Because like I mentioned earlier, I have been dealing with not being able to connect with the people around me in camp.
I am beginning to understand it could be because I am expecting more than surface level connections from people who are likely not keen on making such connections – at least with me. But still I put in the effort and then start questioning what is wrong with myself when the effort is not reciprocated. I have also been noting the passing comments people have made to me about myself. And it is just exhausting when it’s
I feel misunderstood. And to be really honest, it is affecting me more than it should.”
From August 2017, a day before my 21st birthday, ’21 Before 21′:
“6. When people make you feel like they are tolerating you as opposed to appreciating you on a daily basis, it can be quite damaging to your morale and soul.”
A long one from September 2017, ‘Not That Deep’:
“Then it hit me.
I may have become too invested in some of these people I see five days a week, that I feel like I became a recurring character in my own life. In other words, if life was a reality show, I feel like I had subconsciously demoted myself to ‘friend of main cast member’ instead of actually being a part of the main cast. And that sucks.
I just could not seem to help how much I care about some of these people and what they think of me. And it is exhausting not knowing how much effort to put in with people when you do not know how they feel about you or how long they are actually going to stick around. I found myself overthinking even the simple things.
The truth is, I know that is not the way it should be. My mind – just like everyone else – tells me how I am being irrational. But my heart just did not seem to acknowledge or believe that…
I realise that as of right now, everything is actually cool. The way I have left things with everyone is actually pretty normal. It is just my high expectations that make me feel like things are bad.
It is really not that deep.“
And lastly, my most recent post after returning from Australia, ‘RESET. REVAMP. RELAX’:
“Throughout the week, I felt anxious about returning to camp the following week. I was not sure how everyone was going to receive me after not seeing me for two months. And granted, the first week back was a little rocky for me.
I felt a disconnect and a little resentment or coldness. But at the same time, being away made me care less. I reminded myself to be less invested in what the people at work think, say and do. So it all worked out, after a reset, I guess.”
I’m honestly amazed at how these excerpts give you an accurate representation of how I have felt over the past year and (almost) a half. And it really shows me the arc of my personal growth (and lack thereof at times…) as well.
I went from hoping things will be better to having one or two confidantes and not being able to connect with the rest to feeling bad about not being able to connect with the rest to being made to feel awful about not being able to connect with the rest to realising that I care too much and finally realising that they don’t matter.
So what did I feel as I started my month long break away from everyone at work?
As much as I cared less, there was a melancholic feeling about leaving everyone behind and ending this two year journey which gave me a sort of existential crisis.
I felt like I have nothing or rather, no one to show for the past one and a half years. I do not think I have made ‘lifelong friendships’ like most people do and there is no sense of a ‘Brotherhood’ that I am part of either.
And I wondered if it is my fault.
Most of the time, I resented the herd mentality that most people had adopted but there were also times where I wondered if I should have made more of an effort to fit in with that same herd.
On top of that, like I anticipated and hoped for in the first excerpt, the dynamics have been shifting in my favour in 2018. In January, I got to know some of the new guys who had been posted in to my platoon. We had a couple of things in common but what I appreciated the most is how they were willing to have conversations as opposed to playing mobiles games and being on their phones the whole time. Sure, they had conversations about things I knew nothing about at times – like Soccer – but I would then just politely leave the conversation or room.
And it was another plus that these newbies did their own thing instead of following the rest – who to be honest, were all following one person.
Honestly, I actually liked being around them that it feels like a cruel joke that God is playing on me, introducing them to me just as I am about to leave.
Yes, I know, I do feel silly for feeling this way because all I have been waiting for ever since I started my National Service is for this journey to end. So why am I feeling this way now? Why am I caring so much now?
I had written down all these thoughts that bothered me at the start of April hoping to publish the post within the first week of my break. I craved some sort of closure.
But certain things that people have done (or not done) over the past month has solidified how I feel about everything – so this is where the title of the post, comes in.
These. Are. Not. My. People.
In going back and forth, I have hovered over that idea but this time, I have landed on it.
I used to wonder how long these people will stick around in my life but I failed to realise that I have a say in that too. Actually, I have the only say in that.
There is so much frustration, disappointment and anger that I need to heal from once this journey ends. And in order to do that, I will need to rid my life – and social media – of some of these people.
But I do still have another five and a half working days before I can get to all that.
And I think I want to get through that and finish the journey before I say any more.