Since my last post, I reached the halfway point in my National Service journey, attended Lilly Singh’s, How To Be A Bawse Tour and have officially began the preparation for an upcoming overseas exercise to Australia.
First, completing 50 percent of my National Service means it has been one full year since I enlisted. And as much as the celebration of this ‘milestone’ can be diminished by bringing up the fact that I have another whole year to serve – I cannot help but feel proud of myself for getting through the first 365.
I do not want to go too much into the details of how I am feeling and why – I think I should save that for when I actually reach the finishing line. But I will say that it feels kind of surreal that it has been one whole year. On the 18th of May (the date I enlisted), I even messaged Shan and Jim – two of my buddies from BMT – that we met exactly one year ago.
I feel like I have been coping and getting through this phase of my life by making the most of my weekends. And I will continue to do just that. Especially now since I am starting to feel a disconnect between myself and the people around me in camp – the importance of the people outside of camp has become more apparent (but more on that later.)
Next, Lilly Singh a.k.a iiSuperwomanii is one of the few Youtubers I actually follow. Most of her videos are relatable and funny. And after watching her documentary, A Trip to Unicorn Island, I gained a lot of respect for how hard she works. And she does inspire me to work just as hard.
So when I found out she was making a stop in Singapore to promote her book, I was initially most excited for Shaf cause she is a huge fan. And knowing that the UFC and WWE were coming to Singapore as well, I already mentally prioritised those two events over Bawse. But then the people I was supposed to attend WWE Live with pulled out and I realised that I actually did not know any other UFC fans so all signs pointed me towards Bawse. And having attended the show with Shaf, I have no regrets.
The event was on a Wednesday, the 24th of May – right in the middle of one of the worst weeks I have had in a while. I was down with a fusion of fever, flu, sore throat and headache that week. I did not want to report sick in camp because I valued my no MC (or medical status) streak up to that point. So I basically turned to Strepsils and Panadol, both of which only temporarily soothed me. (Long story short, I ended up caving in and visiting the Medical Centre in camp on Friday, that week, and the Medical Officer diagnosed with me ‘Upper Respiratory Tract Infection’ and I did not receive an MC or status. Later that day, I coughed up some thick phlegm (twice) that I deduced had been responsible for my sore throat and I started feeling better over the weekend after taking my meds.)
So Bawse was exactly the mid-week pick-me-up that I needed. Everyone who bought a ticket to the show got a copy of the book – which I thought was a brilliant way to sell the book. (Is that how all book tour shows work?) The book not only looks pretty with colourful pictures but feels good with it’s hardback cover and school textbook-like pages. And with all the positivity and wisdom across its pages – I am glad I have my own copy of it.
While waiting for the show to start, me and Shaf observed that there were many brown people around – including brown Moms who were there with their children too. It was sweet.
But then the show started, and the fans were screaming and cheering after every sentence Lilly spoke. And the people at the front standing up – blocking the view of the people behind them – started this chain reaction of people standing up until Lilly told everyone not to waste their energy standing. I literally shouted, ‘Thank you!’ when Lilly said that which prompted a Mom sitting in front of me to look back at me with an awkward smile. So I guess me and Shaf found the ‘over-excited’ fans annoying.
But other than that… It was fun, funny and inspirational.
Now, only a few people actually know that I am partaking in an upcoming overseas exercise. I had not mentioned it previously because I did not know much of the details and my participation was not confirmed. And I know, participating in this contradicts my whole concept of wanting to be a wallflower during my National Service. So I was trying to justify it to myself. But it sort of just happened because I did not want to say no to the opportunity.
Now that it has been confirmed, I can share what I know.
I will be away in Rockhampton, Queensland from end-August to mid-October – a little less than two months with a group of about twenty to thirty people – only one person I already knew.
From what I understand, my purpose there is to help set up and man relevant radio equipment at remote locations, in three to four day shifts and other times manage the drawing and returning of store equipment.
Of course, I had my reservations from the first time I entertained the idea of participating. Being in a foreign country away from close friends and family for a relatively long period of time is going to be a challenge and I can already foresee at least one emotional meltdown. But the pros of going on this trip definitely outweigh the cons.
And I have already made comparisons between the different aspects of this trip and reality shows to make it fun for myself. If life was a reality show, this would be like filming a spin-off – with new people in a new setting.
Leading up to the exercise, I had to report to another camp to learn how to use relevant equipment, clean and then pack them neatly into shipping containers. It took about two weeks and during that time, I got to know some of the people I will be travelling with. I loved observing the group dynamics. But some people will be only going for the first frame, others the second frame and the rest – like myself – will be there for both. So the group dynamics will be different when we are actually there.
I have also given thought to how going on this exercise means people in camp will get used to not having me around. Having to reintegrate myself into the platoon after being away for two months is definitely one of my irrational concerns. 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
almost always negative.
I feel misunderstood. And to be really honest, it is affecting me more than it should. I would say I have been myself. I use jokes as a way to break the ice which usually works out fine. But then when I continue to do so when there is no ice left to melt, I end up coming across ‘mean’ or ‘annoying’ – this is something that I am only just acknowledging as I am writing it.
It has been quite the struggle not having ‘that one person.’ So maybe going on this trip would be just the break I needed?
In other news:
Birthdays, birthdays and more birthdays.
Shaf, Jamie and I celebrated Chelsea’s birthday with lunch and dessert before we explored the Bugis/Raffles City area taking polaroids. It reminded me of some of the challenges they had on Asia’s Next Top Model. We definitely need to do that again. We presented Chels with a ‘Art of Mass Effect‘ book and I am glad she liked it.
Shantel came back from the UK recently and so I joined in on the plan with Jesleen, Sam, Minyi, Shaf, Jamie and Chels to surprise her on her Birthday at her house. We bought balloons and the bus trip over with all the balloons was quite hilarious. The surprise was a success, there were tears and hugs. After we spent dinner grilling Shantel and Sam (mostly Sam) about their lives, we played burning bridges while having some drinks.
Sydi and I celebrated Azfar’s birthday with dinner and dessert. We got him a Sprezza Box – which is basically a subscription box for Men’s fashion and grooming accessories. We knew there was the possibility that Azfar might end up not liking any of the five to seven items in the box but we took our chances. Sydi wanted to get him a bag but we could not agree on a bag… Until, Azfar told me on a train ride about three bags he had his eyes on – I swear, I could not tell if he was dropping last minute hints. So I passed the info on to Sydi and we agreed on a bag.
Speaking of Sydi, he recently commissioned after nine months. I am really proud of how far he has come. I believe that the worst part of his NS journey is over but he is pretty skeptical. Regardless, I know that he will pull through no matter what is thrown in his way.
There was also an alumni gathering at school for all DTVM students. I felt extra awkward at this event. There were just too many layers to things that were happening. There were the friends you came with (Nica, Minyi, Jamie, Shaf and Chels), the people you actually want to catch up with, the people you say ‘Hi’ or ‘Bye’ to, to be polite and then the lecturers. It was chaotic but it was very reality TV chaotic. Like we were all having our own side bars because we all had our own connections to the different people in the room and there was indeed quite a lot to discuss or at least catch up on.
I also recently caught up with Yamunah and Ili. It has been quite sometime since we headed out. And this time more than ever before, I acknowledged this feeling of ‘it’s us versus the world’ which made me feel at ease.
In conclusion, I know that everything that is bothering me right now will not be a problem in 10 months when I complete my NS. But I do not want to spend every day looking forward to that. I want to be able to make my weekdays count too. And in order to do that, I either have to find a way to connect with the people around me in camp OR I have to learn how to be content with doing my own thing and being on my own.
It is going take me a while to figure things out but hey, if it takes shorter than 10 months, then great, I will have a little time to make the most of whatever time is left. And if it takes longer then 10 months then great, I would not have to worry about it anymore.
Until next time,