Not That Deep

Screen Shot 2017-10-01 at 12.28.34 am

It has not exactly been too long since my last post but I do feel like I have a lot to write about.

I have been in Rockhampton, away from family, friends and home for over a month – 34 days to be exact – for an overseas military exercise. And even though there is a lot to write about being out here itself, this post is about something that happened about a week after my 21st birthday – eight weeks ago.

As much as participating in this overseas military exercise was supposed to help take my mind off of everything and everyone that was bothering me back in Singapore, some situations and people out here do take me back to thinking about those same things every now and again.

Despite my many previous attempts, I just could not seem to find the best way to explain what happened and express how I feel without sounding petty and feeling like a victim.

A part of not being able to write about it might also be because I had not really figured out how I truly feel. But I think I have a better grasp of things now.

And my conscience will not allow me to write another post without addressing what happened – something about being honest with myself, I guess. So here goes…

In summary:

  • Someone I grew to trust and felt I had a connection with finally decided to tell me everything about me that bothers them after seven months of knowing me.
  • Some of these issues being me sexualizing everything, having a big ego and being arrogant.
  • They spoke on behalf of everyone else and so I challenged the idea that ‘everyone’ felt the same way.
  • We both then asked the other people that were around what issues they had with me.
  • And when no one seemed to have anything to say, the person then continued to encourage the rest to be honest and not worry about hurting my feelings.
  • Some of the others did join in, adding their two cents thinking the whole thing was a joke.
  • I agreed with some of the points brought up while also defending myself for the parts I disagreed with.
  • This incident made me feel alone – like no one had my back. I kept to myself for a couple of days and it was the lowest I have felt in a long time.
  • Over time, I made slight adjustments to my behavior and things seemed to be better.

So, now that you know what happened, let me tell you how I feel.

Firstly, to be fair, I did welcome the criticism thinking it was our usual passive-aggressive banter. So I am not vilifying the person who decided to be honest with me.

And let’s be clear – it was also not the criticism that hurt me. It was how and when the criticism was delivered to me – in front of a group and seven months after knowing me – that deeply hurt me.

In their defense, they acknowledged the fact that the way they did what they did – in front of a group – might not have been well thought out. They also reminded me that we have had similar conversations one-on-one but I did not seem to… Change?

Well, I have always been pretty clear about not changing who I am and how I am for anyone. Plus, I had not known they had a ‘real issue’ with me when they pointed out certain things when we were talking one-on-one. So I guess it was a miscommunication.

Secondly, it is also important to mention that out of the five people that were there the night of this ‘intervention’, two people have told me that they cannot be bothered to have any ‘issues’ with me and another apologized for adding his two cents – as a joke – after realizing that I felt hurt.

So the whole ‘everybody feels this way about you’ theory has been debunked.

Now, when I say that things got better, I mean things seemed better on the surface. Everyone interacted with me normally.

But internally, I still felt really hurt. And I am sure you would be too if you were in my shoes.

Before I got the confirmation that not everyone had the same issues with me, it felt like I had to walk on eggshells around everyone. I could not figure out why I felt so hurt by people that I have only known for seven months. And I also started to question if I was really the problem.

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…

Until now.

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 when I get back, the process of reintegrating myself into the platoon will really be the deciding factor as to how the rest of my seven months serving the nation will play out.

If it is easy, I guess I can continue working on the friendships. But hopefully this time, I will be doing that part time instead of giving it so much importance.

If it is tough, I will have to activate lone wolf mode and do my own thing.

At the end of the day, I just need to remember that it is not that deep.

But until I get back, I am going to make the most of the time I have left here in Rockhampton. I shall return as not a changed man but an evolved one.

PEACE OUT.

Advertisements

21 Before 21

Here are 21 thoughts I’m having right now before I turn 21. Don’t judge, they’re kind of random. 

1. I wish I didn’t feel as much. When you feel as much as I do, it’s hard to keep it all in. 

2. And when you are in an environment like I am, you end up letting it out to the wrong people. 

3. As I’m typing this, I’m listening to Alan Walker’s ‘Tired’ and I want to cry. 

4. But I can’t because there are people around in my bunk. I don’t really feel like talking to anyone. It’s been a long day, I feel emotional and I am tired. 

5. It’s not like anyone here understands me, anyway. 

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. 

7. How is it only Tuesday? 

8. I start off my days feeling so full of happiness and energy and positivity but by the end of it, I am drained. 

9. I met up with some Poly classmates-turned-friends yesterday. It’s funny and interesting how even though not everyone is able to make it each time, I get to see at least two or three different people every time we meet up.  

10. As we were hugging goodbye, I felt emotional. Some of them wished me a happy birthday in advance yesterday. I didn’t think they would remember. 

11. Speaking of my friends, I really miss them. And as much as I wish I could go back in time, I need to acknowledge the fact that we’re all doing our own thing with our own plans out in the real world and I need to remember that moving forward and progressing is a good thing. 

12. Sometimes I wish cameras were filming everything so my friends could see what exactly is happening on my National Service journey. Maybe I can’t convey everything I experience in words and so they don’t get how I exactly feel. 

13. I hope tomorrow is a good day. I don’t expect a lot. I just want it to be significantly less hectic than any day last week or this past week. 

14. My shaky hands are acting up. I’m not sure if it was hunger, my anxiety or something else. 

15. I have a little less than half an hour to finish up this list before getting back to work and I’m only two-thirds through. 

16. Australia is coming up. And I really hope it’s a break from all this hard work (I would like to think I’ve been doing in camp) and overthinking (I know I’ve been doing in camp).

17. I have a new episode of Bigg Boss Tamil to watch but I doubt I’ll have the time or energy to do so tonight. 

18. I wish I knew the time of my birth. That would be the official start of my birthday, no? 

19. I know I will bounce back from whatever I’m feeling right now. That’s just how I am. Especially since I’ll be working with someone who has little to nothing to do with why I am feeling the way I am right now – for three hours – I just have to be ‘normal.’ 

20. I have to be up early tomorrow though. But I’ll pay my dues. I believe in karma. And I don’t mean like bad things happening to bad people but more of good things happening to good people. 

21. Am I stuck up for thinking I’m a ‘good person’? 

This was an unexpected and spontaneous post. So until next time… 

PEACE OUT. 

The First 365

852119672_14816242538638597178.jpg

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.

852235066_12265838262151877453.jpg

#BAWSE.

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.

852233762_16115843539455434365.jpg

One of the only decent photos I snapped because Lilly was always overexposed.

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.

852237977_965191114491125930.jpg

One Bawse with two Bawses-In-Progress.

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,

PEACE OUT.

In My Head

852110236_13448670704630895532.jpgThe past three months have gone by pretty quickly and I love how it is already April. I did spend quite a lot of the time being in my head trying to figure things out. As much as I try to keep my sensitive and insecure moments to a minimum, sometimes I just cannot help myself.

But before I get to writing about those deeper moments – which are mostly in camp – I will start with the highlights from the weekends – when I am out of camp.

In February, I attended Jamie’s play, An Absolute Turkey and in March, Shaf’s play, The Illusionist. Now, I have told the both of them this – if our lives were a reality show, the ‘competition’ between the both of them over whose play is better would have been a driving force for drama the entire season. HAHA.

852115000_7199738903375841006

Post-Show Happiness Pt. 1

852106427_10438311968424328434

Post-Show Happiness Pt. 2

852120899_15357054719179011957

Post-Show Happiness Pt. 3

But no, in all seriousness, it was fun supporting the both of them. I feel like they both stepped out of their comfort zones – in different ways – and it made me proud, sitting there in the audience, watching them and being there with a flower or candy bouquet after the show. I hope to see them in action again soon.

The All In! Young Writers’ Festival was held in March too. I only attended one screening of a few short films including, I Love You More, a short film that I was involved in producing as part of a group project for a filmmaking module over a year ago.

852108574_14192373698975112955

Forgot to mention that they were both late.

852110661_15869003633612270152

But it’s okay, I forgive ya’ll.

It was nice that this project brought me, Dalene and Minyi back together a year later. (The other group members, Rachel, Sherlyn and Chels couldn’t make it.) I held off from re-watching the short film leading up to the screening because I thought that seeing it again after a long time during the screening would make it more ‘special.’ After the screening, we had lunch where we gave each other life updates and rehashed certain things that happened back during our three years in Poly. We also did some window shopping so it was some simple fun.

Later in March, I also attended a secondary school reunion with Azfar, Rosydi and Gina. It was hosted at one of our schoolmate’s house. Although I really appreciated the invite, I was hesitant and reluctant to attend from the get go. Secondary school just does not bring back the best of memories for me – I did not really fit in and back then it was quite a struggle. So it was a last minute decision to attend.

852119320_4124145708631707320

I think it has been close to two years since the four of us were last together?

852114250_12048155580142669337

I hope not another two years go by before we’re together again. *Glares at Gina*

Rosydi and Azfar could totally see how nervous I was on the bus to the reunion. And honestly, I would not have attended the reunion if they were not attending with me. I think it was just the uncertainty as to who was going to be there and how they were going to act that made me nervous. I knew Gina would be there too and since she has not been the easiest person to meet up with, seeing her there – though she showed up two hours late – was an added bonus.

The three of them were able to interact with these people that we had not seen in forever pretty easily but for me, it was awkward. Of course there was the typical army talk with the guys but none of the girls I used to be close to were there. (I believe that the invitations did not reach everyone… Oops.)

I also feel like I have evolved from who I used to be back in secondary school and so these people who did not really know me on a deeper level back then – to begin with – did not have much to say to me and likewise I did not have much to say to most of them either. After all, I was quite the wallflower for a bulk of those four years.

852113938_1162566524068694968

At least I won’t have to worry about FOMO now.

I cannot really say that I regret attending but at the same time, I cannot say I am glad I attended either.

And last night, I attended Fifth Harmony’s 7/27 Tour concert after buying the tickets way back in January. I was lucky that Khairul – a friend that I made during the two month Signals course after BMT – was willing to go with me.

852118299_2299274744562302279

Gotta thank the concert buddy for groovin’ along.

852113903_11124042982592393777852117102_574381747852835608852106225_9520362496492940591852120562_11529819706337012979

April may have only just started but this concert is most definitely a highlight. I found myself letting loose as I sang and danced my heart out. It was totally worth the wait and money and the girls were gorgeous! I felt really happy when Normani noticed and reciprocated my wave. If life was a reality show, attending this concert would have made for a perfect season finale.

In between all these key events, I think I have been doing an okay job at balancing my weekends with meet-ups and ‘me’ time. I think there was only one weekend where I contemplated between going out and staying home but I decided to go out anyway.

Life in camp has been generally alright. I tend to forget how lucky I am to have ended up in this camp and unit, in terms of workload and location. But finding my place and people, is still an issue.

A new batch of about 20 Signallers came in a month ago – a larger amount than expected. I took a genuine interest in getting to know most of them because we would have to decide who to keep with us after a two week ‘orientation’ programme – the rest would be posted out to different ‘departments’ within our unit. And since I would be working with whoever stays until next May when I leave, it was an important decision too.

We kept about a third of them. It was exciting having new people around. They were people who were easy to talk to and did work. But when you look at the big picture, the newbies did not exactly shake up the office dynamics like I had hoped.

For a start, I still feel like I lack a true confidante and ally in camp. You know, that one person that I can complain and vent to without worrying about what I said being repeated. And also the kind of person that I can make eye contact with and smile when something happens in the office because we both know that we are thinking the same thing.

I miss having that kind of connection with someone.

So I end up bottling things up in camp. Occasionally, I do let things slip because I can only hold so much in. But then I question if I should have said anything at all because I get asked if I have ‘anger issues’ or am told that I am ‘oversensitive.’

Do not get me wrong. I am still able to be myself in camp. I disturb and annoy almost everyone around me. And this is an indication that I have reached a certain level of comfort around these people. But there are different layers to every relationship and with these people, it is most definitely on the surface.

It doesn’t help that they do not really get me. I am a lot of things but these people know me best to be ‘annoying.’ I can own that but it does get exhausting when that seems to be the only word people associate you with – even if lightheartedly.

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.

There are also other things that have happened or been said that got the wheels in my head turning. But at the end of the day, I know I can’t let what people think, say or do affect my spirit. It is just hard to remember at times especially when there is no one in your environment to remind you of that.

So I am going to try to care less and not add up the nothings into something. I know it is not going to be easy and I will probably be in my head again by the end of the week – after all, it does keep me occupied. But I will be working on it. Whatever happens, happens.

Fifth Harmony sang in their song, ‘Brave Honest Beautiful’:

“Don’t go and waste your precious time with all that nonsense on your mind.”

And this reminder is why I feel like the Fifth Harmony concert is a perfect finale.

Until next time,

PEACE OUT.

A Quarter of a Third

852113959_5899589304930500450

January is over. That means that a quarter of the first third of 2017 is over. And I am completely fine with that.

2017 for me, is set to be a full – and rather stagnant – year of serving the nation. So I have been trying to set little milestones and create things to look forward to, to get through the year. And so far it has been working.

Somehow I have at least one ‘key’ event to look forward to over the next three months: Jamie’s play, An Absolute Turkey in February, All In! Young Writers Festival and Shaf’s play, The Illusionist in March and last but certainly not the least, Fifth Harmony’s 7/27 Tour concert in April. Add to this the plans yet to be made and I think the first third of 2017 is looking pretty good.

And not to forget all the TV shows and movies to look forward to each month. There are already five reality shows premiering in February and the Power Rangers movie is coming up in March. Having a new episode of Celebrity Big Brother UK to watch every day in January definitely had an impact on how I felt like the month flew by. So having all this daily entertainment will definitely help too.

giphy.gif

Of course, all these plans are only for the weekends. On the weekdays, I am still stuck in camp. I have been at my post-vocational training unit for over two months now. After two weeks undergoing a type of orientation programme in November and a laid-back time with not much to do in December, I was worried about how intense things would get starting from 2017. The people around me gave me the impression that things were going to get a lot busier so that fed my paranoia. And I guess the paranoia was justified because the first week of 2017 felt like a really long one.

But first, before the work week officially started, I had a reunion with my Poly friends. It is no secret that the new groups of people that I have encountered and met since enlisting only made me miss the comforting presence of the people around me during my three-year diploma course. So I missed them dearly and wanted to catch up with them.

The plan for a reunion originally surfaced back in November during a dinner with Jamie, Chels and Shaf. I was wondering if there should even be one since it seemed like everyone with the exception of myself has been able to see each other every now and then or have at least crossed paths since graduation. So my doubt was whether the reunion would be as special for everyone as it would be for me. But with a little encouragement from the girls, I decided to go ahead with attempting to plan the reunion.

Finding a day that accommodated everyone was the first obstacle. I was hoping to meet before 2016 ended so that it would be a Christmas gathering just like the last one (this might have also been me trying to get a Christmas tradition started.) However, we could not find a date that suited everyone so it got pushed to the first week of 2017, on the 2nd of January. Vera being able to host us at her place solved the problem of finding a suitable location. And for food we turned to Domino’s. So I guess everything sort of fell into place eventually.

852108513_9792403100504557071

EVERYONE looks great in this picture.

When the day finally came, we met up in two groups. After exchanging hugs, the first group of us (Hus, Alicia, Chels, Jamie, Shantel, Vera, Sam and myself) headed to Vera’s house where we took turns playing Exploding Kittens and another card game with poker cards (that I don’t remember the name of) while music was playing in the background. And later when the second group (Minyi, Nica, Dalene, Jes and Shaf) arrived, (and after exchanging hugs) I rushed us to take a picture because Jamie had to leave. We then introduced Exploding Kittens to the new arrivals until the pizza arrived (late). (I should also mention that I really missed these hugs)

We all sat around the table, eating for a couple of minutes until I started with a recount of the highlights (mention-worthy moments, people, complaints and complaints about people) in my life since graduation. And then we all went in a circle sharing the juicy moments from over the past seven months. Even if someone thought that they did not have anything juicy to share, we squeezed the juice out of them and I thought that was really nice. I felt like we were all genuinely interested and present, listening to each other without being on our phones and laughing not only at each other but together too. What more could I ask for from a reunion, right?

I left slightly earlier because I had to book in to camp that night and I did feel emotional – though I didn’t quite show it. It was probably the uncertainty as to when we were all going to be together again. It is only going to get harder for us to stick together, isn’t it? I hope we do though. It might not be a Christmas tradition but could a year-end reunion be a ‘thing’ for this group of friends? Only time will tell.

Now, back to serving the nation. On the Wednesday and Friday of the first week of January, I went ‘outfield’. ‘Outfield’ basically means doing what we do in camp or using our knowledge and skills out in the real world as a form of exercise. So this ‘outfield’ was a simulation exercise for an overseas exercise that was coming up – which I am not involved in but was brought along anyway for exposure and experience, I guess.

We travelled to the site on Tuesday night and had to sleep there overnight. And I was so unprepared for what was in store for me that night. The plan was to sleep in the OUV that we travelled there in but because of ‘technical difficulties’, we were left to sleep on safari beds… Until strong currents of wind made that difficult. It was so cold that night, we moved into one of those large tents where there were some extra benches for us to sleep on… Until it started raining really heavily. And since our benches were close to the opening of the tent, it was impossible to lay flat on the bench without getting wet. So, I sat on the end of the bench that was further away from the opening of the tent, trying to keep myself warm. It was pretty bad and I barely got any sleep.

During the day, I helped out when needed. Due to the nature of my job scope, my ‘outfield’ experiences are not as physically exhausting as what others might experience. But I guess you could say it was mentally exhausting waiting around when not needed and keeping track of all our equipment. I was literally counting down the minutes to the end of the day.

We travelled back to camp on Wednesday night and then left for the outfield site again on Thursday night. This time, we were able to sleep in the OUV so that was better. When we returned to camp on Friday at midnight, I was able to go home.

One of my Sergeants (who was also on site with me) told me that this would probably be the most tiring ‘outfield’ I would have to go through. So I am glad that it is out of the way.

And it was not all that bad. I met some new people and got to know others better. 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.

As for the work load back at camp, I would say it has been manageable thus far. My practical way of doings things might come across as me being lazy. So whenever that happens, I find myself having to do some damage control.

Since I will be spending the rest of my National Service at this unit, I have plenty of time to get used to how things work here. Whatever happens, I am taking it one day at a time.

Other highlights:

852120330_9716797209616723472

The end of my Christmas weekend was spent annoying these two

852115919_9874890691062281484

Tried Marble Slab for the first time

852107468_4839608728820747132

New Year’s Eve Eve was spent sleeping over at Chels’

852113903_12208099870208665250

Games. Food. Drinks. Conversations.

852108081_13085804747389472011

Guest appearance by Eden

852113464_9245023255570586642

Did some outlet mall shopping and airport visiting on New Year’s Eve with the dudes.

852121929_8914547565978045883

Spontaneously caught up with Hus mid-January where he also served as my one-for-one Starbucks buddy

852114985_13559590077780496797

Chels’ friends from two different points in her life met up again

852106113_5469151603365616833

Interesting choice of drinks and conversation topics

Until next time,

PEACE OUT.

More Goodbyes Than Hellos

852115253_10436605789124802825.jpg

As 2016 is coming to a close, I am realising that it has been a year with more ‘official’ exits than entrances – more goodbyes than hellos.

Granted, most of these goodbyes were not really ‘goodbye forever’… They were mostly ‘see you later.’ But it is still upsetting that that is just how life works – like a revolving door with people entering and leaving all the time.

I know, I know… It has always been this way. Why am I being dramatic like its a new revelation? Well maybe because it has become more evident this year.

From my internship to graduation to basic military training (BMT) and the most recent vocational training, I have had to say goodbye to many different groups of people over the year. Some were easier than others cough BMT cough but I still wish that I did not have to officially say goodbye to that many groups of people… In less than a year.  It certainly does not feel normal especially for a creature of habit like myself.

Now, I am not writing about this to dwell on it but rather because I wanted to acknowledge the feeling and thought. Now that I have done that I can move on to telling you about the eight weeks of vocational training that I underwent from mid-September to mid-November.

But first, after BMT ended, I had a week and a half-long break. I used that time to regroup and reorganise, catch up with friends and family and of course, laze at home with daily doses of reality TV and sitcoms – same ol’, same ol’.

But it was also during this short break that I finally started the process of revamping my room. I had a light blue and gold aesthetic in mind and so the first step was naturally to paint my dull purple walls blue. My Mum was kind enough to help me and we managed to finish it in a day.

The end-result turned out better than I expected. The blue gave the room a sort of natural-reflective glow when light shines in through the window. And my room definitely felt fresher. It was also one of the rare times that I actually followed through on one of my impulses so that was nice too.

Over the next few weekends I continued the room revamping process by printing polaroids and putting them up in photo frames. As of right now, the room is still lacking gold decor and a couple of things lying around need to be either removed or upgraded. I plan on taking my time to complete the revamping process as I only have my weekends to spare. At the very least, it will serve as a creative outlet for me over the weekends – a break from the daily mundane military activities.

851516824_5860226118939987035.jpg

Printed polaroids of people who inspire me (And yes, that includes the Kardashian/Jenner women)

852110898_175150109222364209.jpg

This little area on my wall is unofficially known as my ‘Inspiration Station’

852107831_17674793883216008095.jpg

Also framed up polaroids of pictures I took at WWE Live in Singapore last year. It was a memorable night.

852118027_15291479936121447745.jpg

Before

852111032_7047469983885441683.jpg

After (To be honest, I didn’t really know what I was doing)

The morning of the Friday before the break ended was when everyone found out which vocation, camp and unit they got posted to. Now, most people have a rough idea of what vocation they want after BMT. As for me, I had little to no knowledge on the different vocations.

I knew I had no chance of going to command school – I had not expressed interest. So that was one less possibility I had to worry about. For the most part, I was not feeling nervous. I was feeling hopeful. Hopeful for something decent and reasonable compared to BMT. So I was satisfied to find out that my vocation would be Signals.

Back in BMT, my buddy who was a Signals regular, had given me the impression that the Signals job scope was more technical than physical. Upon further Googling, I learnt that a Signaller basically ensures that communication is possible during times of war – using antennas, radios, satellites, etc. And most people on forums also felt that the eight week vocational training I was about to start was pretty relaxed. So with all this gathered information, I felt pretty calm.

I remember this weird feeling I had during the first two days at the new camp surrounded by new people. Every single person I met reminded me of someone I already knew – either from BMT or school. It felt like no one was original but rather just rip-offs. I wondered if I had reached the maximum capacity of new people I could meet in a year. But soon, I started seeing people for who they were instead of comparing them to people I already knew.

Now, two months later, I am happy to say that there are a couple of cool people that I plan on keeping in touch with. I connected with people thanks to Marvel comics, being able to appreciate the Kardashians and shared opinions on people and situations in camp. I also met like-minded individuals who I connected with on a whole ‘nother level and I had conversations with them that I have never had before.

851516317_7594105695419382959.jpg

Nights Out No. 1

852112439_1426221345386055284.jpg

Nights Out No. 2

852110410_9224931150832629274.jpg

Nights Out No. 3

852115120_6581711445671978938.jpg

Nights Out No. 5 (No. 4 was with people who didn’t really take selfies)

With these people around, time spent in camp flew by pretty fast. It did not take me too long to adapt to this new lifestyle. We had a night out almost every week which allowed me to settle my cravings. Other times, we would order in discreetly.

Physical trainings were scheduled for only twice a week and they were pretty decent in intensity compared to BMT. I did not mind that our training schedule had our days filled with lessons as I definitely prefer studying compared to doing something physical – especially in the army.

This meant that our days often ended around three to four in the afternoon. And we had brought in card and board games like Scrabble, Cards Against Humanity, Exploding Kittens and Uno to pass time.

852117037_2160459404808999289.jpg

Sunday Folks Pt. 1 (Recently caught up with some of them over waffles and ice cream)

852106024_8169718388051046820.jpg

Sunday Folks Pt .2

852106995_16040315455958305865.jpg

Sunday Folks Pt. 3

852107637_7764683953286579503.jpg

Sunday Folks Pt. 4

You would think that it was all sunshine and rainbows but it was around the halfway mark when I felt my morale was really low. I got frustrated trying to understand the theories behind what we were being taught – it had to do with physics which for a media student like myself is so four years ago. There was quite a lot to memorise for weekly tests and I hated not understanding what I was trying to remember.

It is really damaging to your morale when you find yourself having to attempt things that you are not good at week after week. This feeling had probably been building up since the BMT days.

On top of that, I started to wonder if I had become too comfortable around my platoon mates that I started rubbing them the wrong way with my constant barrage of energy that might come across as annoying.

The dip in morale really made me miss the poly days and the people who came with that. I missed being creative. I missed working with a group of people to bring ideas to life. I missed being around people who I knew loved – or at least liked – me for who I am.

852112676_7868005623313446557.jpg

I was trying to find a picture that represented the ‘Poly Days’ and I found this on Facebook

852113775_7471657245042010351.jpg

But I ended up going with this picture on Instagram

But it all came down to me having to care a little less.

  1. Now that I am at my post-vocational training unit, I know that about 75% of what we learnt is irrelevant to my new unit.
  2. Those who mind don’t matter, those who matter don’t mind. Only time will tell who sticks around.

I do think that those two months of vocational training I underwent might just be the best two months of my National Service.

On book-in days, I only felt nervous about my Uber arriving on time instead of what the week ahead had in store for me. This is a huge contrast to the BMT days when I felt anxious every book-in day – from the morning at home until night in camp, when we could retreat to our bunks.

Now, I am at my post-vocational training unit. Things are… Same, same but different? It’s been three weeks but I still feel like I have not been around long enough to figure out how I feel about the way things work here. It is probably because December is not the busy period and so I am cautiously waiting for things to get hectic before I finalise how I feel. But of course, when I have it figured out, you know you can read all about it here.

Other highlights:

852118446_3511733223822563262.jpg

The cousins were all together again this Deepavali which is rare

852113492_15750837305238664765.jpg

Caught up with two people who made my internship a little easier by having lunch with me every now and then

852106731_10557885161718337801.jpg

Spontaneously watched Marvel’s Doctor Strange with Rosydi and Azfar one Saturday night

851516681_1300679006568122021.jpg

Caught Disney’s Moana with Shaf before meeting Jamie and Chels for dinner and drinks

Until next time,

PEACE OUT.

P.S: I have tried inserting this portion into the post above but it just ruined the flow. When I started writing this post I was not expecting to reflect on the passing of a relative. It definitely adds a darker layer to this post so I decided to insert it at the end.

My uncle passed away this past week and the funeral was held yesterday. I was not very close to him but seeing the people you love cry, is heartbreaking. It definitely hurts to see the people you love hurting. At the same time, seeing how family came together and stayed strong at different points for each other was really beautiful and admirable.

Now, I am generally feeling okay. But the pessimist in me makes me worry by looking at the bigger picture. This is not the last funeral I am going to have to attend. Everyone is only getting older and death is an inevitable part of growing up and growing old. As an emotional person, the thought of losing loved ones is something that has kept me up on random nights. The optimist in me has yet to find a way to defeat the pessimist when it comes to dealing with ‘loss.’

 

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.