Where Do I Even Begin? Pt. 2


Alright it’s finally time to write about how I feel about the army. My previous post should have given you a very brief summary of what I have to say. I will try to keep this post short and sweet as I do not have many pictures to accompany the text due to the no in-camp photos policy. (And just for the record, I was not planning such a big gap between part 1 and 2… It just happened.)

I was hoping to be a wallflower throughout my army journey. I just wanted to be in the background. You could say it was my strategy. Why? Because it did not take me too long to figure out that the army never has and never will be my thing. In other words, I just did not have any ambition in the army.

Going to command school and becoming a commander might be prestigious and a productive way to spend the two years for most but for me, it was not going to mean anything. So I tried my best not to stand out for any good or bad reasons. But my plan went down the drain when everyone in my platoon started knowing me as the guy with the same name as the Platoon Sergeant.

Having not passed my physical fitness test prior to my enlistment, I had an extra two months of physical training before the basic military training (BMT) phase began. So in total, I went through four months of training. The physical training phase which included running, conditioning circuits, strength training and gym sessions reminded me a lot of The Biggest Loser.

Even though I started my journey having a long list of worries, the first week made me realise that it was not being able to cope with the intensity of physical trainings that I was most worried about. However, that was not much of a problem as the training was progressive. As the weeks passed, I not only lost weight but I felt healthier and fitter and eventually I passed my physical fitness test too. 

These extra two months also meant that activities were more spaced out over the whole four months as compared to the training the enhanced batch of recruits (those who passed their fitness test prior to their enlistment) have to go through in their two months. I remember one of my section mates complaining that the two extra months was a waste of time and that he would have worked harder to pass his fitness test if he could go back in time. But I disagree. The two extra months really gave me more time to adapt to the change in environment.

This new environment I was forced to be in – five days a week – was a pretty negative one. With heavy emphasis on discipline and regimentation, there was a lot of yelling and punishments when standards and expectations were not met. Even when we were not getting punished, people would speculate that something bad was about to happen. And other times, there would be constant talk about feeling ‘shagged.’ 

As for me, I tried to keep the complaining to a minimum in camp – I preferred to save it for my friends and family on the outside. I felt that such negativity could spread very easily and I wanted no part of it. It was not who I am. Things were bad enough as they were and I really did not feel like we had to add on to it with our paranoia and whining. I chose to be hopeful and optimistic. But granted, it was tough to keep it up. 

It was around week four that I start to doubt the practicality of my positivity. Am I just being foolish and silly? What exactly was I trying to achieve? I remember talking to Shaf about this and she gave me simple advice that I plan to live by for the rest of my life. 

“You being positive is the only thing that will get you through without damaging you as a person.” 

I felt as though this simple advice was catered specially for me because being positive is something that I would like to think I am known for. It reminded me that I was doing the right thing and the people that know me, know that sometimes reassurance is all I need to keep on going. So I did just that. But just as I was beginning to adapt the BMT phase began in week eight. 

BMT gave me something new to worry about each week. Every week introduced a different aspect of being a soldier. From rifles to hand grenades to the standard obstacle course and of course, field camp, these were all things I had to check off the to-do list. There was definitely a lot of uncertainty. I had to remind myself every now and again that worrying was not going to change anything. So as much worrying as I did, eventually I got through it all.

Like the obstacle course and field camp, for example. Both these things reminded me of Survivor. Stumbling through the course for the third or fourth time was what triggered me to begin writing my previous post. It was a day before my birthday and having to take on the balancing beam and apex ladder despite my fear of heights had me feeling extra anxious. Even though I passed both obstacles by ‘cheating’ – using my hands to help me – I felt really upset after. It might have been a combination of things that were going on that day – I struggled to swim during swim lesson that day like always because I was afraid to get my feet off the ground for more than half a second. I was also feeling emotional about spending my birthday in camp. I was so upset that I started tearing up as I walked back with Jim and Shan – two of the people I was closest to in camp. 

“Im so sick of being scared of everything. I couldn’t swim earlier and I can’t do this now.”

That’s what I told them as they walked with me while I was crying. They knew how nervous I felt about taking on the balancing beam and apex ladder. So naturally, they told me not to be too hard on myself. I really appreciated their support – they even waited by the sidelines for me to finish the course. But it took me a while to pull myself together after that. 

I did some thinking that night and I told myself that I have come a long way. I told myself that I had to give myself some credit for always pushing through. Up until that point – even up until the present day – I have never fallen out from participating in an activity in the army. So I might have been scared and I might not have done as well as everyone else but I tried. 

And this made me realise that many of my victories over the past four months came in the form of just tackling whatever is thrown my way. Many of my victories came in the form of just trying. I definitely wasn’t the best at anything over the four months – other than maybe cleaning bird shit off of our bunk corridor (being a corridor cleaner was my role on the duty roster) and memorising the names of everyone in my platoon (a challenge that was issued by one of our Sergeants to the whole platoon that I voluntarily took on) – but that was okay. The fact that I stumbled through it and made it to the other side knowing how miserable I felt at various points is satisfactory amazing. I am proud of myself.

“Just remember everyone goes through the same shit and you will feel better.” 

That’s exactly what one of my lecturers told me when he asked me how I was coping with my national service. And it makes sense because the people around you are one of the factors that make or break your experiences.

Sharing living quarters with 15 very different individuals has definitely been an interesting experience – almost like Big Brother. 

Meet Section One


For those who don’t know, you sleep in a bunk with your section – which is usually a quarter of the platoon you belong to. The size of a section or platoon varies but my section was made up of 16 people. It’s natural for you to stick to these people because well, they are almost always around. And because of that same reason, these people are also the ones very likely to see you at your worst. 

As for me, I tended to be ‘anti-social’ because I really cherished the peace and quiet I get away from everyone in camp. You barely get any alone time and the only real private space we had access to is a toilet cubicle. So while most people were sitting around in the middle of the bunk socialising and using their phones, I preferred to lay on my bed – which was in a corner – and listen to music. (I know it’s not exactly ‘quiet’ if I’m listening to music but I think you get what I’m trying to say – I just wanted to get away from all the army talk or well, talk in general.)

Don’t get me wrong, I did talk to people and make friends. I definitely made more of an effort once I had more or less adapted to my new environment. I tried getting to know everyone. I would go from bunk to bunk talking to people. But after a while, I just got tired.

I did find two people who I could talk to about almost anything. My buddy, Jim and my section mate, Shan. These two definitely made the four months a little easier by providing me with the mental and emotional support that I needed. 

Meet Jim

Jim and I were opposites from day one. But like Jim would say, this meant that our strengths made up for each other’s weaknesses. He was the messy one who left things lying around and did things last minute while I was the one who rushed to get things done way ahead of time. He was the more social one who is almost always in a conversation laughing and joking around with people while I preferred my peace and quiet. He was more carefree and go with the flow while I wanted to have everything planned and figured out. I’m sure we pissed each other off every now and then but we were always there for there each other when it mattered. 

Meet Shan

Then we have Shan. It was easy for us to click because we shared the same sentiments about serving the nation and we were both from the media field as well. Shan knew more about me than anyone else in camp because I felt comfortable enough to confide in him and I would like to think he felt the same way too. We would uber home together every book out and we spent quite a lot of time together in camp. I will always remember the laughs we had because it was laughing that took my mind off the things that were bothering me. 

Of course, as much as the people inside camp were a factor in my experience so were my friends and family on the outside. It was tough having only two days a week to spend with friends and family and of course, I had to balance it with my TV shows and ‘me’ time too. As though I didn’t already cherish them enough, this experience made me appreciate them so much more. Sometimes knowing I will get to see them at the end of the week is the only thing that helped me get through – even up to the very last day during the 24 KM route march.

POP Pt. 1

POP Pt. 2

 

POP Pt. 3

About halfway through when I was beginning to feel the exhaustion, I started to think what my friends and family would tell me to encourage me if they were walking by my side. It made me emotional and if I was a little less tired and on my own, I’m sure I would have started crying . 

Even during field camp, the tears started streaming down my face when we received our letters from home – and it was only day three! Knowing they were proud of me and that I will get to see them the following week gave me strength. 

 So there you have it. A summary of what went down over the four months. I filtered out the most relevant incidents and moments to give you something as close to the whole story as possible. But of course there are things I left out because it was hard enough trying to find a way to make this post flow naturally. If you are curious, let me know and I’ll spill the cold tea – because it’s old. 

 Until next time, 

PEACE OUT. 

Where Do I Even Begin? Pt. 1

Going three months without updating my blog might seem like I have abandoned it completely especially when I do have mention-worthy experiences to write about and things to reflect upon. For example, I didn’t write about the tiny things I wished to accomplish and managed to accomplish during the last few weeks before my enlistment. Neither did I write about the two graduation trips that I went on back in May to Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. And I also haven’t exactly said much about my army journey even though it started 16 weeks ago.Yet every time I started writing a new blog post, the same two reasons would stop me.

  1. Lack of free time meant not having enough time to blog which in turn led to me feeling like whatever happened before my enlistment was no longer relevant and timely, with every week that passed.
  2. I didn’t want it to seem like I have transformed into a product of my current (forced) environment by writing about my army experiences. I know I don’t have a choice and a part of me admires and respects the people who have accepted or embraced their current circumstance and decided to make the most of their time here but at the same time I also resent them for giving in and changing to fit the mould so easily. However, I can’t control how they think and what they do. I just know that for now, I am still pretty resistant to certain aspects of this experience and I did not want the army to be the only thing I had left to talk about. I do not want these two years to have a role in defining who I am. Because the army has never been and will never be my ‘thing.’ Now, whether this resistance is working in my favour or not is something I’ll ponder over with you later. (In Pt. 2, probably)

With that being said, I was sitting around in my bunk after completing (or at least attempting) one of the obstacles in the standard obstacle course that I had been nervous about for three weeks when I felt an urge to write and translate my thoughts and emotions into words. And that’s what brought me here.

It would make most sense for me to go in a chronological order. So before I tell you what the past 16 weeks have been like, let’s go back to April & May – the weeks leading up to my enlistment. The list of things I wanted to do were pretty simple.

  • Meet up and spend time with anyone I would normally hang out with. (Including family, of course)
  • Attempt to prepare myself physically – and thereby, mentally – for my enlistment.
  • Laze at home and watch TV shows.
  • Try not to worry about my impending enlistment with every week that passed.

I managed to accomplish the first point – including the people who were usually hard to get a hold of. For example, my younger cousins who I used to have sleepovers with my at my Aunt’s and one of my close secondary school friends, Gina. The cousins have become increasingly busy with school as they grow up and Gina on the other hand is always either working or having other plans. Thereby, it felt good to meet up and spend time with them while I still could fit myself into their schedule. Add visiting my grandparents to that list and it just made me feel more complete as I checked these people off my mental checklist of people I wanted to see before my enlistment.

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A short sleepover with the younger cousins.

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Caught up with Gina over Bingsu and window shopping.

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I’ve only ever tried  Nunsongyee’s Cheesecake Bingsu so I decided to try an Oreo Bingsu this time.

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It was alright. Nunsongyee’s Cheesecake Bingsu is still my favourite though!

  • Meet up and spend time with anyone I would normally hang out with. (Including family, of course)
  • Attempt to prepare myself physically – and thereby, mentally – for my enlistment.
  • Laze at home and watch TV shows.
  • Try not to worry about my impending enlistment with every week that passed.

Now, I know the second and third points might contradict one another but I think I found a way to make it work. I tried to run every two days and then take a break on the third. It was pretty difficult to stick to this routine so I had to include a couple of cheat days too. I didn’t exactly feel fitter from all the exercise – especially since my running timing fluctuated regardless of how often I ran – but the effort I put in was what made me feel better and more prepared.

  • Meet up and spend time with anyone I would normally hang out with. (Including family, of course)
  • Attempt to prepare myself physically – and thereby, mentally – for my enlistment.
  • Laze at home and watch TV shows.
  • Try not to worry about my impending enlistment with every week that passed.

On the other hand, point four was pretty difficult to follow through with. I adopted this habit of feeling progressively worried or down as the day turned to night. It was just the realisation that yet another day had passed which meant I was a day closer to my enlistment. And you can imagine how this feeling only worsened with every week that passed. It was bitter sweet because me dreading time flying by made me have mixed feelings about my graduation trips too. Because looking forward to my graduation trips meant looking forward to the week or two before my enlistment.

I remember speaking to my Brother – who lately has been great at helping me worry less whenever I present him with something that’s bothering me – about this and he told me to enjoy the trips without thinking about my enlistment. Simple advice? Yes. But it might have been the reassurance that what I was feeling is justified that made me feel better.

Because I’m sure from the outside looking in, I might come across dramatic with all this talk about wanting to spend time with people while I still can and dreading enlistment. It’s not like I’m travelling overseas and never coming back nor have I been sentenced to life imprisonment. But if you actually know me, you would know that I have been worried about this next phase for the longest time. It just represents a lot of change to me. (More on that later, I guess)

As I accomplished these tiny things on my to-do list, time flew by and eventually it was time for my first graduation trip.

On some of my favourite reality shows like Shahs of Sunset and The Real Housewives, the cast goes on at least one trip every season. (I assume the producers love these trips as when people are forced to spend time together, it’s never smooth sailing – especially when the ‘people’ are reality TV personalities.) So that’s what I actually compared my graduation trips to – without the drama, of course. My graduation trips occupied the week and a half before my enlistment – with my graduation falling right smack in the middle. Thereby, I knew these trips would serve as one last hurrah with my closest friends before it became harder for us to meet as often as we used to.

The #BKKBabes 7D6N trip to Bangkok (just incase the hashtag wasn’t clear enough) with Shafna, Jamie and Chelsea was the first trip. A lot of planning went into the trip. We had conflicting ideas when it came to activities – the cultural, nature-ish side and the shop ’til you drop in the city side. And we also had to overcome a few obstacles like work schedules and my impending enlistment before everything fell into place. As for me, I was looking forward to the shopping as well as living in an Airbnb apartment with the girls for six nights.

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This has to be one of my favourite pictures from the trip.

 Highlight of the Trip: I want to say that all the shopping we did were highlight-worthy since I was there for the shopping but visiting True Love Cafe with Chelsea would be the main highlight because it was something different that I enjoyed. When Chels first presented me with this idea, I was pretty reluctant. I’ve always feared getting bitten by cats and dogs which is exactly why I hadn’t visited any cat or dog cafes up until True Love. It turned out to be a pretty zen environment and I managed to hang out with a couple of huskies and a shih tzu named ‘Momo’ who was quite the diva.

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#PreBKKBabesTexts Pt. 1

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They were so excited and fluffy!

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We had to have the bowl with ice cubes so they would come to us.

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I remember Chels laughing at how I am being side-eyed in this picture.

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The slice of cake and drink were an added bonus for me.

Best Buy: A navy blue cap with the letter ‘A’ on the front, simply because of how much I have used it lately. I remember telling Shaf two months in advance of our trip that I was looking for a cap with an ‘A’ on it and we decided that Bangkok was our best bet. I wanted ‘A’ because it’s the first letter of my name and it gives the cap a little character without being over the top.

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#PreBKKBabesTexts Pt. 2

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This is what the cap actually looks like. 

Most Dramatic Moment: There was one night when we had drinks at the Blue Sky Rooftop Bar. The pricing of the drinks and snacks wasn’t as pretty as the view from the top. We contemplated leaving but I’m glad we didn’t because we ended up opening up about things that not everyone at the table knew. It got a little emotional too and I think that’s why I’m calling it ‘dramatic’ – not in a mean way but because this wouldn’t have happened if the environment and situation was different.

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“It’s easy to get to the top when you have good people by your side.” Pt. 1

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Of course, Chels had to ruin the picture of my drink.

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Selfie from the top Pt. 1

The trip confirmed that I prefer shopping as opposed to experiencing the culture when travelling. It was a memorable trip and I am thankful that Jamie and Chelsea had their cameras so that we pretty pictures to look back at.

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Another one of my favourite pictures from the trip.

Our flight back was the night before our graduation. I remember my Brother picking me up at the airport and me unpacking and resetting everything in my room before getting some rest. Graduation was meaningful because it marked the official ending of my DTVM chapter. Added bonuses were me being able to see everyone again – much like a reunion show on reality TV shows – and also getting some recognition for all the hard work over the past three years in the form of an award. My parents came down and so did Rosydi and Azfar – the two close friends from secondary school that I was travelling to KL with.

Back together again less than 12 hours later. I remember us surprising Shaf with a Kylie Jenner lip kit. Jamie and Chels had to do all the coordinating with the seller while we in BKK and Shaf had no clue.

I think I will print this out as a polaroid.

It was a pretty interesting experiencing working with these seven people in the CASS Club.

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They got me a broccoli as my graduation flower. Thanks guys!

 The 4D3N KL trip had lesser planning as compared to the BKK trip or at least I wasn’t that involved in the planning as Azfar handled most of it. I was pretty reluctant to go on this trip especially since my enlistment was a week away. But I have no regrets as KL turned out to be better than I expected it to be.

Highlight of the Trip: Visiting the KL Tower would be a highlight because of the sky box. It reminded me of the Willis Tower in Chicago which I remember seeing on TV. I did have to do a little conquering of my fear of heights since the base of the sky box was see-through too. But surprisingly, it was also a really great place for pictures.

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“It’s easy to get to the top when you have good people by your side.” Pt. 2

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Here’s another picture of what my cap looks like. And yes, those are ice cream cones on my socks.

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Gotta spread my wings and fly away.

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Selfie from the top Pt. 2

 

Best Buy: I have been searching book stores for both of Andy Cohen’s books. You probably have never heard of Andy. He’s basically the guy behind The Real Housewives and he has his own talk show titled, Watch What Happens Live! and a radio show too. So I guess you could say he is one of my inspirations as I would love to be doing what he is doing. That is why I have been searching for physical copies of his books even though I have already read eBook versions of them. And I managed to find his first book, ‘Most Talkative: Stories from the Front Line of Pop Culture.’ It was pretty pricey but I think cheaper than ordering it online (considering the shipping cost.)

Most Dramatic Moment: Riding an ATV was really scary. It was literally an uphill battle and at one point, the instructor even asked me if I wanted to continue or ride with him instead because I was struggling so much. I think at least two of our vehicles broke down at different points which meant we had to wait for a replacement vehicle to be driven up to where we were stranded. It also started raining halfway through. That was when Azfar and I contemplated ending the journey there and returning back. But we decided to continue. I also remember Azfar and Rosydi being stuck pretty far back and the instructor having to drive back to check on them. This meant I was left alone in the middle of nowhere, waiting for five to ten minutes. The return journey was a lot easier probably because it was downhill. As much as I dreaded it while it was happening, I’m glad I rode the ATV because now I can say that I have done it. But if you asked me if I would do it again, I would say, ‘Once is enough.’ (I should also mention that my pants tore at some point during the ATV riding and I only realised it back at the hotel. R.I.P my olive green pants)

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I felt so ‘bro’ riding this ATV. (And the colour of my ATV matches my tee!)

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Candid Shot.

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At the rest point after what felt like a really long uphill ride.

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With the instructor.

Now, that you have heard about everything that happened prior to my enlistment, I can’t wait to tell you about what the past 16 weeks in the army have been like. Coincidentally, the first chapter in my army journey ends in three days with my graduation parade coming this Wednesday. So when better to reflect then at the end. Stay tuned!

Until next time,

PEACE OUT.

The Dreaded Next Chapter Pt. 2

I’ve told you everything you need to know about my internship. And you already know about some of the post-internship decisions I had to make. So this post is more about the things that are going to happen – whether I like it or not – before the current chapter closes and the next one begins.

Picking up from where I left off, I started tearing when I read the date on my enlistment letter because I was feeling a mix of fear and sadness. I was afraid of the unknown. And I was also upset that I had just two months before everything changed for two whole years. I revealed the news to some friends and I also told my Dad about it. However, it was the chat I had with my older brother that night that gave me a renewed confidence that I will be just fine. My brother basically answered any question I had, based on his experience. He told me to break up the two years into smaller portions and that made me realise that for now, all I need to worry about is the first two weeks of confinement because after that, at least I should be able to head home every weekend – unless there’s a twist.

I’ve been trying to prepare myself mentally and physically but it hasn’t exactly been easy. I feel conflicted between spending the two months working out as opposed to lazing around while I can. So far, I would like to think I’ve been doing an alright job at balancing both. And I hope that keeping that up or doing better will make me feel more confident and comfortable in the days leading up to my enlistment.

I’ve always known that it’s not going to be easy and that’s why I’ve been dreading it. I mean I’ve never been the fittest and it’s going to be tough keeping my emotions in check. But I do look forward to seeing myself change for the better throughout the next two years. I just hope that I don’t lose what my friends call, a ‘killer’ smile in the process.

“I’m stronger than you think and tougher than I know.”

The next thing that is going to happen whether I like it or not is graduation. And before the graduation ceremony was the graduation show – DTVM Awards – which literally happened two days ago. It’s a tradition for every class to put up a performance at the DTVM Awards. In Year 1, my class put on a skit. In Year 2, we hosted a game. And now, in Year 3, we filmed a music video parody. Although, I was initially against the idea of filming a music video because of the amount of time and energy we would have to invest into it, I’m glad we ended up pulling through. Because looking back, it wasn’t just a music video that we created, it was memories too. I can’t wait for us to look back at both the music video and blooper reel in years to come and cry and laugh in equal measure.

“If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.”

– Jim Valvano

It was during the process of filming the music video that I started to wonder how anything else that is to come can possibly top the people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had over the past three years. I’ve laughed, I’ve thought and I’ve cried over the past three years enough to feel complete. And I definitely feel like DTVM is something special that I will always have with me.

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The cast of the music video in our #Kidzania outfits. (Missing Shantel, Sam and Eunice)

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#ThugLife selfie.

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#Flannel selfie.

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#BusinessFormal selfie.

I was expecting to cry during the video montage of the past three years, at the DTVM Awards but it was taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture that got me emotional.

“And yes, I know we all love each other but the fact is the glue that holds high school friendships together is high school. Being around each other everyday, seeing each other in the halls, whenever something is up we don’t have to do any work to talk to our friends about it; they’re right there. As soon as it takes effort, we get lazy and then we forget and then we just move on. I don’t want to fade away.”

– Tina Cohen Chang (Glee)

The recycled quote above sums up my sentiments perfectly. Over the three years, we have all found our immediate circle of friends. And I’m sure we’ll all do a great job at keeping in touch with the people within that immediate circle. What saddens me is the thought that we won’t make the same effort to keep in touch with the people outside that circle who we still consider our friends.

I know we went six months without seeing each other everyday during our internships. And that little gathering we had in the middle for Christmas felt special, for that reason. And now every time we see each other, it doesn’t really feel like anything has changed other than time having passed by and us knowing that graduation is approaching. All I’m hoping for is that we try to keep the bond that we now share even if we get busy and even if it isn’t as convenient as it once used to be and even if we have new friends to fill that void.

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I want to walk down a real red carpet with these people.

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The #ILoveYouMore Team.

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The #WeAreTheMob Team.

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With Shaf, Chels and Jamie. (I hope the official photos turned out better.)

I want to be there in the future, to hear about the new TV show they’re developing or about the cover story of their magazine or about a event I can attend to show my support. I know it will take some time for all of us to get there given that we will have to spend three to four years in University or three to four years climbing up that hierarchy in this industry but I know we’ll get there.

I still have some time before my enlistment and I’m sure I’m bound to feel nervous the closer I get to it. There are a couple of tiny things I wish to accomplish before I enlist. I will try my best to use my time productively while still allocating time for lazing around and doing nothing. It’s going to be just fine. I’ll be just fine.

“The best use of imagination is creativity. The worst use of imagination is anxiety.”

– Deepak Chopra

Until next time,

PEACE OUT.

 

The Dreaded Next Chapter Pt. 1

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Since I last wrote a blog post, my internship ended, I contemplated extending my stay at my internship company, figured out university applications, received my National Service enlistment letter and participated in my final production as a DTVM student.

Let’s go in chronological order, starting with the end of my internship.

The last few weeks of my internship wasn’t any different than before. I still had transcriptions to complete and documents to scan for the main project I was attached to but the to-do list was getting shorter and shorter as my final week was approaching.

On days where I was not needed at the office, I was needed to help out on shoot for another project. I must say that I am glad I got the chance to work on both projects. It allowed me to compare certain aspects of TV production as the size of the crew and my job scope for each project was slightly different. But of course, on my final few days, the things I had to complete for both projects came to a head. There was so many things to settle and I thought back to what one of my friendly colleagues told me.

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A selfie taken after the shoot with friendly production crew members.

“People like us will never have an easy last day. We’re too responsible.”

I didn’t believe her at the time but it turned out to be true. I don’t mean to flatter myself but I have to give myself some credit for always providing a certain quality to the work that I am tasked with. So it took longer than expected but eventually I managed to complete everything.

With that being said, I have to thank the friendly colleagues who made my 22-week internship easier. They treated me like one of their own and made me feel so much more comfortable at work. During my final week, they treated me to a farewell meal and in return, I wrote them cards as my humble way of thanking them for everything. I owe them a lot more than just cards and I hope that I will be able to give back to them somehow, some way, in the future.

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Here are the friendly colleagues who made my time so much easier.

As cliche as it may sound, I definitely feel like I have grown from the internship experience . It was not easy having to adapt to the ‘real world.’ I even felt uncomfortable and uneasy at times. But like The Biggest Loser host, Bob Harper, said, “I think that growth happens when you are at your most uncomfortable.”

Now, before I could close this internship chapter for good, I was presented with an offer to prolong the chapter – at the very least – until the end of May. I considered the offer because the project was something I thought I would enjoy working on. I discussed it with family, friends and colleagues and ultimately chose to do what I felt was best for me – taking the break that I have earned.

I have been looking forward to this break forever and I would be sabotaging myself by committing to another three months of work with only a two week break in-between the end of my internship and the start of the new project.

I felt good about my decision for about 36 hours into my break until I noticed everyone around me either working or extending their internship or knowing exactly what their next step was going to be. It made me start looking for something too. I estimated my enlistment date to fall in August and that meant I would have at least a six-month break. I could see myself chilling at home for about two to three months but finding a job after that would leave me yet another small window to rest before enlisting. Eventually I just told myself to take a chill pill and surprisingly, this was one of the times I actually listened to myself. And I am so glad I did as it turns out I am not enlisting in August. (More on that later.)

Starting my internship two weeks earlier than everyone else meant I finished my internship two weeks earlier. I think these two weeks were crucial for me to figure out my university applications. One of my closest friends from secondary school, Azfar, has been urging me to think about it forever but I always put it off. Thereby, these two weeks came in handy for me to figure it out and actually complete the application process – which was pretty tedious. I ended up applying for NUS’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) as well as NTU’s Communication Studies as my top choices.

I attended the NTU Open House hoping to be excited by the prospects of studying there (just like when I attended the SP Open House) but it turned out to be pretty dull. After sitting through three talks, I didn’t even want to attend the NUS Open House, the following weekend. As of right now, I am still leaning towards NTU but there is one important factor to consider and I’ll worry about it when the time comes. (Oh and thanks Azfar for helping me out when I was bugging you to help me check everything. I really appreciate it!)

Now, moving on to National Service. I was out with Chelsea and Shafna after watching Zootopia when I received a text from Rosydi about how he received his enlistment letter. When I found out that he was enlisting in May, the wheels in my head started turning. I couldn’t wait to return home to check my letter box, just so I could clear any anxiety I had about my enlistment. Ideally, I would open the letter box to nothing that was addressed to me but of course, when I checked my letter box, there it was.

I still had a little hope. My enlistment date could still be much later than May, right? So I dashed to my room and slowly opened the letter to find out I was enlisting on May 18 2016.

It wasn’t long before tears started streaming down my face.

(I’m ending this instalment of “The Dreaded Next Chapter” here because I’ve gone beyond 1000 words and this is Minutes with Aravind not Hours with Aravind. But I think I ended it at a pretty dramatic cliffhanger, eh?)

Until next time,

PEACE OUT.

Coping & Adapting

I was about to continue marathoning episodes of either How To Get Away With Murder or Keeping Up With The Kardashians (so technically, I would be Catching Up With The Kardashians) when I received a WordPress notification thanks to Nica who followed my blog with her new blog.

I realised it had been quite a while since I read up on what my peers have been up to. And it didn’t take too long for me to read up because only two of them had actually updated their blogs since I last checked. But yes, after reading Nica’s blog post about her resolutions for 2016, I felt motivated and inspired to craft a post myself.

I haven’t really given much thought to what I’m going to do different this year so I’ll just give an update on what’s been going on.

Life as an intern has been pretty stagnant with the exception of the sudden lows that occur when I mess up or make certain discoveries about how things work in this industry. I recently finished reading The Devil Wears Prada after a friend recommended the movie to me – knowing how I felt about being an intern – and an article on MTV.com recommended the book because, “One of the your first internships or jobs is bound to feel like it’s destroying you as it builds your resume. Read this and realize you’re not alone.”

Although I thought I wouldn’t be able to finish the book when I started reading the first few pages (there were way too many fashion terms), I am so glad that I gave the book a chance because it definitely helped me better cope with my internship. There were subtle similarities between how the protagonist, Andrea Sachs felt and how I feel sometimes when it comes to work. That slight relatability made me feel better.

Sidenote: And now that I’ve completed The Devil Wears Prada, I need to find another book to read. I was debating between MockingjayCrazy Rich Asians, Actors Anonymous or if I should continue following Andrea Sachs’ journey in Revenge Wears Prada. I definitely need a book to read as a productive use of time on the journey to work and back home from work.

To be honest, at this point, after how everything has played out, I just feel so over it. I don’t think anything amazing is going to happen over the next five weeks of my internship – not that anything amazing has happened over the past 19 weeks. Just the same ol’ same ol’.

Anyway, something else mention-worthy is the Christmas gathering with my Poly friends that felt pretty special. Of course, we missed a few people like Jesleen, Sherlyn and Eunice but it was nice sitting around sharing stories, talking and laughing. It was similar to how we would congregate at the CASS tables during our breaks in-between lessons – just that this time, we didn’t exactly have assignments to be thinking about nor were we distracted by our laptops and phones (for the most part). Sure, some of us had the fact that there was work the next day on our minds but I would like to think we all missed each other’s presence enough to be as present as possible during this gathering.

I hope to see some of them this coming Saturday when helping out at the SP Open House. I am already looking forward to it and I’m hoping this will keep me motivated to get through yet another week.

I have just another five weeks to go before this internship chapter ends. It’s going to be okay… Right?

Until next time,

PEACE OUT.

“I think life is just a big con.”

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“One day, Sabine just said to Hector, ‘I think life is just a big con.’

Startled, Hector asked, ‘What do you mean?’ (That was what he always said when he hadn’t been listening properly the first time.)

‘Well, you’re born, and straight away you have to rush about, go to school, and then work, have children, and then your parents die and then before you know it you get old and die too.'”

–    Hector Finds Time by François Lelord

It is important to me, for me to have time to do the things I love and enjoy even when I am ‘not supposed to’ have the time. These things include spending time with friends and family, getting my daily dose of reality TV and sitcoms, reading and sometimes even lying around doing nothing.

I understand that time is not one of the luxuries of life but it saddens me that we all have a whole bunch of things to do that we keep jumping from one thing to the next as the list keeps piling on and on. I guess, I have always been aware of how fast time is passing by but this book that I started reading recently, the past few months and the thought of the uncertain future have just given me a whole lot more to think about. That is why I decided that it is finally time to write a blog post to sort of help clear my mind.

It has been nine weeks since my internship at a production company started and after a slow start, the past few weeks have been passing by pretty quickly. I think week nine is the most comfortable I have felt at work – thanks to some friendly colleagues. But what I am trying to point out is that it took me nine weeks to adapt to this new environment and before I know it, there is going to be another change in environment and I am totally unprepared for the next change.

I have had my fair share of ups and downs the past nine weeks. There were times when I was extra anxious when tasked with something new or when I realised I had messed up. I was trying so hard not to make mistakes that I failed to realise that this is the time for me to make mistakes and learn from them. I would call that ‘revelation’ a turning point as I have been feeling less anxious ever since. (Keyword: less)

As uncomfortable as I feel at times, I give myself credit for going out of my comfort zone. I might complain and disagree with how certain things are done but I am learning from the experience. I mean, I do need to find something to write about in my logbook and surprisingly this requirement has been helping me filter out lessons that I have learnt each week.

“I am in the TV industry but I have no time to watch TV.”

The above quote was something a colleague said in a casual conversation. At first, I did not make much of it but soon enough, it got the wheels in my head turning. It made me wonder if this is really what I want to do. I know… I know… this is such a cliche thought at this point which is exactly why I am not too worried about ‘the future’. My plan is just to see how the rest of my internship goes, talk to people, get their opinion and do some research myself to help me figure things out. (If you’re reading this and you can relate, then let me just tell you that I am sure we will find our place and solve the puzzle eventually. No rush.)

Don’t get me wrong, I knew what I was signing up for when I picked ‘production’ for my internship – ‘long hours, no sleep and constant work’. I am aware that the way I work may not be ideal for me to be interning at a production company but I just believed and I still believe that there are more ways than one to get things done. However, being at the bottom of the hierarchy, I totally understand that I can’t have things my way. So, at the end of the day, if this is really what I want to do, I promise you that I will put in the work and slowly but surely climb up that damn ladder.

“My fear of heights won’t stop me from climbing the ladder of success.”

Until next time,

PEACE OUT.

“Okay the only way I can describe it is…

“Okay the only way I can describe it is… It’s like I am walking through a forest… the whole time. And for the most part, it’s fine, it can be beautiful, peaceful even but you always know that at some point, you are going to come across these parts of the forest that we don’t recognise – dark corners that you didn’t know were there but well you always kinda knew they were coming. Does that make sense? And that’s when the world gets scary and that’s when you can lose your way. But because I’ve got great mates and people who make me strong and remind me that well even when I hit those dark parts of the forest that I’ve just gotta keep walking. Just keep walking and I’ll be okay… I’ll be scared… But I’ll be okay.”

– Rachel Earl (My Mad Fat Diary)

With literally just a week left before this school semester comes to end, I am having mixed feelings. This semester, just like any other semester, has had its ups and downs but what makes this semester different is that it would be the last semester spent in school. I guess I’m just anxious about what comes next. There is a lot of uncertainty. I knew that the time would come eventually but there has always been a buffer period which has been getting shorter and shorter, every time I think about this chapter ending.

I know change can be a good thing. It keeps things fresh and exciting. However, it has always been difficult for me to deal with and accept change even though I’ve experienced it plenty of times. But like Rachel Earl said, “I’ll be scared… But I’ll be okay.”