Convalescence

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I remember I was reading This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald when I chanced upon the word convalescence. The chapter was titled “Experiments in Convalescence” and it talked about the protagonist Amory Blaine’s recovery from a broken heart. I actually found it quite self-indulgent to be honest — and I didn’t enjoy the book all that much… but I had to push through it, albeit VERY reluctantly, because I had selected it for my H3 research paper, which dealt with the overarching notion of an individual’s self-consciousness in his or her coming-of-age.

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Anyway, I didn’t really enjoy This Side of Paradise even though I recognised that the existential questions Amory Blaine (and Esther Greenwood from The Bell Jar, and Stephen Daedalus from A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man) faced remained wholly universal and timeless. It is precisely the idea of self-consciousness that drove their motivations and their actions I was attempting to examine. Even though it may not exactly be the most rational — after all, it was the authors’ biographies veneered with elements of fictionality– it made me realise how inexorably apt it was for myself as an individual, as well.

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We often ask ourselves… how do we recover? How do we convalesce? It comes by differently for different people, and I do this by pushing myself to try the things I’ve never done before in attempt to rid myself of stagnancy, and at the same time hold on to the things and people that are wonderfully and comfortingly familiar.

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I’ve realised that the critical individual tends not to recognise their worth. When someone has been passed over once, twice, thrice,– and even though they’ve been hurt & hurt again they seem to be the common denominator and therefore self-blame hereafter comes into play.

I am definitely no stranger to questioning my own value, my purpose and my worth in this place. I’ve placed my worth in what I thought were my ultimate panaceas — myself, my closest friends & family, my faith. And even though some of these facets stay staunchly convicted to me, I find that I stray here & there all too often. At this juncture I tend to question myself — am I afraid of this constancy? After all, I pride myself on being able to adapt to changes because I believe no one should stay stagnant. I believe that things can always be better, be better, be better. But should they?

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However, I’ve come to realise that this motivation of always trying to be better can also be my hubris. Even though I firmly believe in the infinite potential of the self, contentment must similarly be reached. I’ve noticed that I derive the greatest satisfaction in achieving the end goal — so much so that I always forget to enjoy the journey & the corresponding processes it took for me to get there.

Similarly, convalescence is a journey. Yes, it is a slow, trudging one — but still a fundamental journey for myself (and everyone else) nevertheless. And I will take it from here, be forgiving, and focus on the present instead of being primed of what lies ahead.

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And I will always try to do life with a smile. :-)

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

— Proverbs 4:23

I’m grateful to God for all things, and grateful that I have had the privilege to experience all the strange and beautiful twists and turns and straight roads and bumps and ups and downs!! And in the same vein I’m so thankful I reread Mitch Albom’s Have a Little Faith because once again it showed me how faith at its very essence is simple and loving and kind, and I find that it is precisely these three values I must focus on — and not the politics religion tends to be associated with.

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I usually take ages to write a post here because I always feel like I have to prove something to myself with every single entry penned. The resultant effect is usually… no post because I tend to not want to overload this space (and to me, this is a perfectly preserved and curated space with only well… intellectual thoughts) with my mindless drivel and frivolous observations. But I think I may want to change it now — a personal blog is but a space for one to pen down her honesty, and I haven’t been doing that since a good five months ago.

Wow. Five months. A lot of things have changed since then. The greatest change is that I’ve transferred from Yale-NUS College to NUS Business School. Quite an unorthodox decision and a very, very, very difficult one at that. I spent my summer pondering over the pros and the cons and really delving into the very crux of why I felt like this wasn’t the place for me. I will probably write a post on that, soon — and I hope nobody gets offended HAHA because it was purely a personal (and I guess to that effect an academic one) decision.

That being said, I have to do my readings before my lecture at UTown (wow, actually travelling to classes!!!! It’s a brand new thing that I for some reason enjoy because it puts some physical and mental distance between academics and hall life — something YNC didn’t quite afford and I’ve come to realise it’s something I need) so I’ll leave this post here for now. Will probably come back here and update!

So on a summer’s day waves collect, overbalance, and fall; collect and fall; and the whole world seems to be saying “that is all” more and more ponderously, until even the heart in the body which lies in the sun on the beach says too, That is all. Fear no more, says the heart. Fear no more, says the heart, committing its burden to some sea, which sighs collectively for all sorrows, and renews, begins, collects, lets fall.

again, a stream of consciousness

i really should be doing more preparatory work for my next class right now, but i feel a sudden urge to let it go and let my words flow from the innermost crevices of my mind and being.

i write this post with an outward sense of calm, confident in my abilities to grapple with most things that get tossed into my path without forewarning or caution. how people still believe in me during times i doubt myself the most. the happy surprise when i manage to get the things i don’t deserve.

the things i don’t deserve.

i feel, for the most part, i have always gotten the things i never quite deserved. things include: the friends i make, my college decision, the things i give my heart to. of course, the more devout of my friends would attribute it to the grace of God and nudge at me gently, prodding me to give praise and thanks when it’s due, and i guess it is through this omnipotent being from which i draw strength when i am lacking. however, why is it that it is only when i get them only then i realise… it really isn’t what i need, at all?

what can i say to that? i don’t even know what i need. i do know what i want — at least at this singular point in time — but how do we quantify what we need when we are frankly infinitely minute in the grander scheme of the universe? i feel that this is my greatest conundrum with my faith. we always have to attribute something — good or bad — to God’s plan. when things don’t go well — oh, we’re meant for better things, and He knows best. when things go well — oh, thank God. is it possible (and i ask this without moral judgement or a heavy heart) to let things just be?

this quandary truly frustrates me, and makes me ache with every fibre of my being, top down and bottom up. how do we know? i know, faith is putting (un)suspended belief in places you’re unsure of, in the things you don’t see. but to what extent, and to what end?

once someone told me i was stronger than i thought i was. how do you know? frankly, i think it’s amazing people can see the goodness in the self that we so sadly miss. how do i know i’m missing the things i’m missing?

the pragmatic side of myself would tell me to chill, and go with the flow. what does that even mean – do i let the good things pass me by, and just take where the tide takes me? i find that difficult to do. i want to grasp at the things i know will make me happy and make my life better. i want to do the best i can and be bold at knowing what’s good for me, and running for that relentlessly.

speaking of running, i should do it more often. i always run alone now, and i like it that way. my happiest tuesday & wednesday night combination would be the immense sense of relief after ending classes, having dinner, light reading / class prep, then going for a long run, and supper with a friend afterwards.

i feel like i’ve finally reached a new state in my college life where i do feel better with being alone and… independent, i guess. previously someone was always looking out for me, and i found that i depended a lot of that goodness. of course, as circumstances are always in a Herculean flux, i have to adapt myself along to the best of my abilities. funnily enough, i feel happier and more secure in this new freedom, the flexible schedule, the freed-up emotional well i found myself trapped in all too often initially, and i found myself better at being there for others. i find that i like being alone. this is quite strange, because throughout my schooling / brief interning life i was perpetually surrounded by my closest friends, and i guess that is a subtle dependency is a way… hm. i’ll get round to thinking about this.

which is one of the reasons why i’m slightly scared of being in Beijing. the loneliness. the knowledge that everyone precious to me is back here in Singapore. but ah, we’ll cross the bridge when we get there. working out accommodations is already quite troublesome, hahaha. but i look forward to it. :-)

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Mar 2016 / an update

I haven’t been on this space for a long time, not since 2015 ended. And oddly enough while most of my life has been constant, many things have changed. I yearn so much to lean on various constancies, but perhaps inwardly I crave for movement and disruption and change and grow through them.

Semester 2 has been surprisingly okay, and I’ve been doing decent despite not putting in as much effort. I’ve taken a more relaxed stance towards my academics and channelling my energies into reading other things instead, and it seems like it’s been paying off in more ways than one. I’ve also withdrawn most of my commitments, and I’m only playing netball now. But I do believe it’s really what I want — this semester has been for me a semester of undefined crossroads and decisions made / or am making, and while I dislike how nothing is set in stone, it’s enabling me to take a less cautious step towards everything I do.

Letting go has been a common theme so far this year, and I can’t really decide if it’s good or bad. Whether is letting go and letting God (a concept I am honestly still struggling with), or letting go of the things you thought you couldn’t live without, or letting people decide your future academic and career choices (it’s such a scary thing to realise that everything you might want to be is hinged upon that administration, but then I acknowledge that it’s a common societal discontent)… at the dusk of it all (almost) nothing lies within the realm of your control. And effort, as I’ve come to realise, is important but hardly determinate.

I’ve been running a lot more, and for longer distances too. I’m really really enjoying it.

I’ve also gotten an internship placement this summer, and will be flying off to Beijing for two months! So that’s one thing I’m really excited about because I never really thought I’d be able to get it. But I’m quite pleased. :-) :-) So many things, great and little, to be grateful about.

I’ll be turning twenty next week. It’s funny how I don’t feel much about that, and while hitting the big two-o is attached with all the usual conundrums of growing up and its pains, ascribed with adult responsibilities and a preparatory step towards the 21st… I don’t know. I think the greatest thing so far I’ve realised is that I’ve become exponentially less idealistic, and am very much of a pragmatist now. I feel that it’s very very very much reflected in my writing, and well… I don’t know how to feel about that. But perhaps it is this descend from my initial idealism that would be a certain turning point towards how I should govern my life.

 

re:me / an anthology

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Last semester I found myself losing a semblance of who I wanted be. I found myself in the fast race towards something I couldn’t put a finger on, and I found myself lost in the midst of new landscapes, new people, new knowledge, all things new new new moving so quick and I couldn’t find a way to slow down, pick up my pen, and just write down what was happening. I did try, as evidenced by several sloppily penned entries on this WordPress. But I wanted to do something different, I guess, so here it is.

re:me is an ongoing diary-thing detailing things I’ve been thinking and wanting to write about. It’s really just a journal of thoughts and possibilities, and I find that it helps with this (self-absorbed, heh) bildungsroman as I trudge through college life. It’s definitely not the most well-written because I aim to write in a loose (but structured, does it make sense?) stream of consciousness kind of style and that means translating whatever occurs to me at that moment, right there and then. This is also the first time I’m putting things like that online because I’m always a little insecure about my writing, so here goes nothing.

Here’s the post, and the rest will be up whenever on lievesun (highly dependent on my college schedule and social life, or lack thereof.).

2015

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I’m finding it increasingly difficult to put words in places they should be, or grapple with them in a way that best and accurately reflects my experience throughout the trajectory of this year. I guess that is indeed one thing I want to try to fulfill — my personal narrative made universal in the sense that I can transcend these precious things beyond myself in a manner that ensures its self-preservation placed in the grander scheme of what once was.

A great deal of things happened this year, some good and some bad. But as all things in life, we win some and we lose some. I am not going to begin comparing what I’ve went through with what others, for I know I am incredibly lucky and I want to continue counting my blessings. I know that there’s so many things to be grateful for, it is only by taking a little step back and understanding your insignificance in this abstract concept we call life in the universe, it is then we realize what we have — little or too much — is beautiful.

But how? I don’t even have to mention the great deal of loss and tragedy that encapsulated much of this year. I don’t even have to string these poignant morphemes of loss, cause and effect, because I do not have the right to. And I don’t claim otherwise. But I believe in the little strands of good and bad, right and wrong, the sense of morality and heavy weight of the love and the world.

I’m sitting in a little cafe with white wooden furnitures and full-glass windows, and there’s so much natural light streaming through. A light, a sheet of incandescence, a small indication of hope. People passing by, smiles on their faces and shared inside jokes. Angus and Julia Stone playing, quiet and reverent and calm and peaceful. We all know of the axiom detailing the intrinsic complex nature of a single arbitrary person that walks past us – and it’s quite incredible to think of the huge and immense-beyond-belief coalescence of narratives one can have in a single room.

At this juncture we would all be tempted to write down our new year resolutions, and I am no different. The notion of a blank lucidity and a white empty space appeals greatly to me. The happy chance to begin anew. My inclination towards this chance manifests in small, viable ways – changing my hair, decluttering my room to feel some semblance of lightness, rereading old letters and surprising myself with how much I’ve seemed to change from back then. All that being said, though, I realize all I really want to achieve is to be more in touch with my authentic Self. Though it’s on the verge of sounding vaguely new age, I do believe it’s really the most important quality a person can have – by disregarding various external influences and stimuli and staying staunchly to who we want to be, and taking active steps to get there.

Maybe that’s what each year is about. Resoundingly finding our authentic Self and living our lives through that. Taking one day as a place for renewal and keeping in touch with what we really yearn for in this life. Taking small baby steps of faith that what you love will lead you where you’re supposed to be, staunch and safe.