To live or to life.

I always get inspired most to write when I actually have assignments due. But these are the times I actually think the most about life. Yknow Life? Like why do we invest so much time for a future that is not definite? Why do we lead a life where its such a rarity to do something you actually love? Why is life like that? Who made it that way? And why do all of us conform?

I was debating these questions in my head in a long train ride back from London to Nottingham. After an eventful Easter break where I delved myself to living. I took a long deep breath of life, and let go of all responsibilities. We’re still lucky, you and I (assuming that you’re students as well), we get long breaks of holidays, mid sem break, exam break – we get it all. In Malaysia we’re lucky enough to have a hella lot of public holidays. But what is it about life that makes it so hard to live sometimes? Why can’t everyday be a holiday? Why wasn’t life fixed that way? Weren’t humans the one creating societal routines? Maybe I’m just going waaaay deep into this, but it made me realise the importance of having a future career that would make me happy. That wouldn’t be such a drag or a task to wake up to. Not necessarily a holiday everyday, but enough for me not to want to quit.

I haven’t really been motivated to do work, or study. I was so goal oriented in Pre U and so determined, I don’t know where that all went. Was it a short term goal that I had? Was my motivation only external rather than internal? Amirul calls it the Second Year Syndrome. It’s when your motivation is at a slow decline, and you consider dropping out due to forgetting the purpose of why you’re taking the degree. It’s exactly what I’m feeling! (not the dropping out part I would be slaughtered by my parents). I forgot the purpose of studying Psychology. I haven’t seen the wider picture, I don’t have a set goal of what I want to do with my degree. I mean there’s so many routes you can take. Let’s list the options.

  1. Continue to Masters (which is still an open field) I can either :
    1. focus on Special Education Needs
    2. focus on Autism or Down Syndrome
    3. focus on developmental psychology
    4. study for marketing (I’ve always been interested in marketing )
    5. counselling?
  2. be a researcher in Malaysia
  3. Work in HR?
  4. Work in Marketing?
  5. Find a route to becoming a psychiatrist or a psychologist

I don’t know which I should take. The easy route is HR or marketing. But I want something bigger than that, I want a purpose in life. To help others, an individual or a group of people on a greater scale – thats why I took on Psychology. All of this vision was blurred away and hidden behind the pile of assignments and revision I had to do. I need to find that intrinsic motivation that got lost along the way. I want to make a difference – that how I want to mark my life. It doesn’t have to be big, start small maybe it’ll grow. But with how Malaysia fails to see the importance of mental health, I aim to change that. I want to do so much, I want to help so much. But one by one Alina. Let’s graduate first. Pray for me.

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Selfish almost.

Sometimes I’m so focused on my own personal growth I don’t notice the growth that’s surrounding me. Once we immerse ourselves in our minds, we become selfish almost – more accurately egocentric. Who can blame us? We only feel how we feel, we only know what we think and we can only imagine what others are going through. Is that selfish of us? To function as we’re meant to function? To live our life for ourself, is that selfish? These are the questions I’ve been asking myself lately.

To start, I’ve been growing to see life in a more egocentric point of view. I’ve been focused on my own goals, and my own journey that I don’t think even think about other people. I use to believe this focus I had was great, the right kind of focus (Jangan pijak tepi kain orang kinda focus yknow). But this way of life that I’ve immersed myself in drowned me whole. I only care about me, me, me. Mostly focused on my personal growth that I fail to realise the growth of those close to me – My parents. It took me to stand behind an old couple struggling to go up the stairs of the tube to realise that my parents are growing too. To see a recent photo of them from what I used to know, to realise their hair are getting greyer and their wrinkles are setting deeper.

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Have you ever felt like time stops around you? When I was younger and I would always be asked how old I am by aunties and uncles and I would always be aware of my age, and know how to answer correctly. However, when teachers or anyone else ask me how old my mom was I would say 43 years old for 3-4 consecutive years. I would do the same with my sister. I would tell people she was 16 for years. This serves as the earliest evidence of egocentric behaviour from myself. I wouldn’t notice other people’s growth as I would with my own growth. Though we would celebrate my mom’s birthday every year, it just doesn’t register to me that she too grows old. Especially when you’re growing so fast and each year is such a huge step, what is 43 compared to 44 right? You get me? Looking at old photo albums, I only notice difference in appearance when it’s half a decade apart. But looking at my old photo albums, I can see the difference within months of the pictures taken. Who would know you better than yourself right? There’s nothing wrong with that.

But now to see the growth that I’ve missed of my parents because I was so self centred, it’s something I can’t take back. We’re all aware that our parents’ observe and document our growth; they know every firsts, and everything you’ve done. They can map out each scar, and tell each story. They were there for your whole life, and we came only half way through theirs. What scars can we map out? What stories can we tell? How well do we actually know our parents? But while we’re growing to achieve our own personal goals we shouldn’t lose touch with the growth of our parents and those surrounding us. Time doesn’t stop around us, I know that by now. Time goes on whether we like it or not and time with our parents, are ticking whether we realise it or not. You’re not the only one growing, they’re growing too. With their own personal milestone like, my dad retired last year and my mom started wearing the hijab. They’re growing and we should just be there to observe and document in any way we can while time continues to tick.

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International Women’s Day

I know International’s Women’s Day has passed (March 8th), but I didn’t have time to write this post. I just wanted to share the women that has inspired me and continue to inspire me. These women are those who should be celebrated for their remarkable achievements, never to be undermined. This list represents only the few of the many women that had fought for themselves, for women, and for the rest of the world. These women have made a difference in the world, and personally in my world. I hope they can inspire you too, to know that being a woman is not a disadvantage but instead, an advantage.

 

  1. Malala Yousafzai

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Do I even have to explain why ? She was 15 when she survived a shot in the head by a Taliban gunman. She was 17 when she won a Nobel Peace Prize for fighting for children’s rights. She’s an advocate for girls’ right for education, while some parts of the world take it for granted. Malala demonstrates that it doesn’t matter where you come from or how old you are. Little changes can grow to bigger changes as long as it starts from you.

2. Reese Wetherspoon

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Being an amazing lead to many of my favourite movies, Reese Witherspoon inspires on and off camera. She doesn’t waste the power that she has. Have you heard of the Time’s Up Movement? Yeap, this chick right here. She lead the Time’s Up Movement. Reese and a few of her friend’s started spreading it between them then the rest of the world. She wasn’t ashamed to stand up for herself, she was brave enough to speak the truth. This encouraged other women in the industry too. This exemplary movement and unity is a strong force not only impacting the industry but the rest of the world. We stand together as women, as a force. We are not meant to be objectified, we are not meant to sexualised just because we are women. Time’s up. 

Here’s a video of her that inspired me: Ambition is not a dirty word. 

 

3. Ellen Degeneres

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Need I say more? Gorgeous at 60, spreads joy and kindness, she glows inside and out. Ellen Degeneres is the modern day Mother Theresa. Reuniting loved ones, and surprising guests and changes lives on a daily. She knows what to do with the money she has. I pray that she never retires – The Ellen Degeneres Show has given me and the rest of the world so much happiness it’s unbelievable. “Money can’t bring happiness” they say. It can if you’re giving it away. It can if you are spending your money how Ellen has spent hers.

4. Amal Clooney

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Beauty with Brains. She is known for being George Clooney’s wife – when she is so much more than that. She has made a name for herself even before she was a Clooney. Amal is a Human Rights lawyer, graduated from Oxford University and NYU. In 2016 she and her husband founded the Clooney Foundation for Justice to offer help and support to war victims. This foundation provides support in education for the children and also aims to help the refugee find a place where they could call home. How are women still not ruling the world?

5. Yasmin Ahmad

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I went to her gallery last year and her presence was lingered in every corner of the room. For those who don’t know, Yasmin Ahmad was a famous film director in Malaysia (I personally believe to be the best). Malaysia is a pretty conservative country, stuck in their old school ways. And Yasmin made Malaysian Movies that has pushed boundaries; exploring taboo topics such as sex, faith and inter-racial relationships. With her movies she has cracked opened the minds of many Malaysians. She has brought our society forward with just art, and entertainment. Her voice was loud and clear, every message was received. Why we love Yasmin? Every movie of hers, every documentary, and every Raya Advert has touched us. She simply taught us that we shouldn’t be afraid to think what we think. We’re not wrong if others simply don’t agree with us. We’re just different. She was definitely different, and Malaysia wasn’t ready for her.

6. Rihanna

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I don’t even have time to list all her achievements, but let me name a few: her music career, Fenty Beauty, and the fact that she’s a walking goddess. Bad Gal RiRi caught my attention since the first time she was blasted on every TV with her music video Pon the Replay (I think). I remember thinking, ehh she’s the same colour as me. Since then, I have loved everything she’s done.

Let’s start with Fenty Beauty. She dropped the bomb with her 40 shades of foundation. This is such a small move that promoted diversity. It was simply the acknowledgement that women of other colour (other than the basic 6 shade in other make up lines) exist. That they matter and should be included in business demographics and not be listed as ‘others’. This simple acknowledgement was celebrated making it the best make up line of 2017.

Another reason why I Rihanna is on the list: Harvard Humanitarian of the Year 2017. She is involved in 24 charities, and has her own foundation called Clara Lionel Foundation. In dedication to her grandparents (Clara and Lionel). To simplify “you don’t have to be rich to be a philanthropist.” Here’s a video of her speech at Harvard.

7. Meghan Markle

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A soon to be princess, an actress, and an activist. I’ll simply show a video of how she inspired me (not only as Rachel Zane).

 

8. Vivy Yusof

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Which Malaysian girl doesn’t look up to Vivy Yusuf? C’mon, co-founder of multimillionaire company, mother of two adorable kids, blogger/vlogger, and many more. She is the walking “goals”. I mean there’s a lot of be inspired by, straight As all her life (she did her SPM and A levels at the same time WHAT), graduated from LSE, owns her own TV show, but what I’m most intrigued by is what she embodies. Vivy goes against the stereotypical Malaysian woman, she’s not a stay at home mom that cooks and cleans for the house. She is an idol to many for a reason – she makes her own money. She made her business FashionValet and Duck known worldwide – her vision was bigger, bigger than Malaysia. Vivy wanted to put Malaysia on the map. Making all Malaysians proud, setting the standard for all the girls out there. Get what you want, don’t wait for someone else to get it for you.

You can read more about her from her own blog : http://www.proudduck.com

 

9. The women of the real

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They’re a breath of fresh air. This TV show talks about the real issues of the world, and the lack of diversity presented in the media. They represent everyone – even asian y’all (You see Ms Jeannie Mai). You know how hard that is? To see an asian lady on TV not in Asia but in America. We all know Hollywood conquers television, which makes it hard for girls like me to relate. Across the world, I grew up watching cartoons that were only about white girls who had blonde hair and blue eyes. I grew up being taught that that was “pretty”. Even in Asia, light skin is admired – people walk in sunlight with an umbrella shielding them from getting tan. Tan skin like mine was not ideal. But now, I have learnt to define my own beauty. Having a show like this is a great step for the industry – so my future daughter won’t grow up wanting to be something she’s not. To love something she already has, and to grow up defining her own “pretty”.

10. My Mom

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But who are we all without our mothers? My mom wasn’t the traditional Asian wife. She wasn’t quiet, submissive, or timid. She was unapologetic of who she is. She taught me what it was to be strong; that being strong isn’t just about physical strength. It’s about standing your ground. Don’t ever have anyone walk all over you. To speak your mind, and not to change your values or who you are for others. I remember her best when she was working, she would send me to school, pick me up for lunch bring me back to her office, and we would go home at night time. She demonstrated that working wasn’t just for men, that you can have your own career too. Just because you’re a woman doesn’t mean you have to stay home and cook. Although, she did cook and clean the house too. You can do it all. Women were made to do it all.

 

I believe that women have always ruled the world. We were just under appreciated, and undermined. As Riri posted on her instagram, International Women’s Day was yesterday, tomorrow, and the day after and the day after. Sorry not sorry. 2018, we will do as we want, and be who we want. There is no limit, and no one to tell you you can’t do it because you’re a girl.  Flip your hair, and show them that you can. You define yourself; despite your gender, despite the world.

Happy International Women’s Day!

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Balancing Life

Life has been heavy for me. I am taking too much load than I can actually carry, but it’s making me feel productive, makes me feel like I’m doing life right. I haven’t had the time to blog, because I haven’t had the time to even reflect on life. This is the update of how 2018 has been so far – ALL THE WAY IN MARCH. Great job Alina.

In the span of 3 months, I have…

  • Done my first sem exam of year 2 and also gotten the results back!
  • Got a job as a waitress at a Korean Restaurant in my area (Anyeong!)
  • Training to teach primary kids introduction to Psychology
  • been working on my Lab reports and Essays (sighhhh)
  • finished watching all the episodes of The Good Place (highly recommended guys) and Queer Eye
  • Been missing waaaaay too many morning classes – thank god for lecture recordings
  • Been jotting down my day in a diary everyday
  • Visit Sheffield for the Sheffield Malaysian Games
  • Made great new friends from class
  • build an ugly snowman
  • went to London only once since I was there last in Jan!!!! So proud of myself.
  • participate in experiments for extra cash

I barely have time for myself lately. I’m really trying to push this productivity streak but i know that my limit is a 4 day full  (11am – 6pm) productive day. My fuel runs out and then I just binge watch TV shows. With all these tasks I haven’t realised how fast time flies until now as I’m writing this up. I only have 3 more months here ! Then I’m flying back for my sisters wedding and final year in Malaysia. 😦 Nicolle and I have been talking about balancing grades and soaking up all the experience of the exchange. I barely have a balance diet, how am I meant to balance life holistically?! Sometimes I feel like I can only do one at a time.

I believe in the triad of life – Mind, Body and Soul. It’s honestly so hard for me to balance them all. I have been focusing on my mind most lately, I have been doing things that exercises the brain. Constantly gaining knowledge, focused so much doing work and studying this year. I neglected my body. I eat food thats fast to grab when I’m on campus (dem panini’s tho.) It’s never a wholesome diet, I’ve shift my perspective of food to be something to fuel my energy now rather than something to enjoy. I have that little of time.

Going down to London for the weekend was me readjusting my triad – and focusing on my soul. Do something for your soul, something to keep you happy. I don’t know bout everyone else, but when I’m upset my whole system crashes. I really follow my emotions which is a bad habit. But when there’s a tsunami of sadness crashing over me – system failure. I would just stay in bed all day long, I would eat only at 4pm and not even do anything but watch puppy videos on Instagram. I refuelled my soul but also burnt a hole in my wallet. (I’m a very impulsive character, if I crave something best believe Imma buy it even though it’s gonna cost me 3 meals. I just spoilt myself with all the things I was craving that I couldn’t get in Nottingham) Made me really happy though.

After the load of work is settled is Easter Break, I’m really excited for that. I hope to catch up on all my work and also go on holiday if my wallet allows me too (pray for me guy). Funny how I really wanted to go back when I was here at first, and now I really don’t want to. Time flies so fast when you’re focusing on day to day tasks. So yeah guys, balance your life. Find your priority – mind, body or soul. Because mine is Soul. If I’m unhappy or not at peace – crashed system. So you do you boo, find your balance.

In 2017

 

I learnt a lot about gratitude this year. To be grateful, is to look at what you have instead of what you do not. I’ve been really grateful for a lot of things in my life, from the simplest thing of having all 4 limbs attached to having the opportunity to move to the UK for my studies. I’m grateful. In Islam, Allah said be grateful and I will give you more. I believe I was drowned in blessings this year. Although it was still a challenging year. I had a lot of things stripped away from me, mainly my home and my comfort. However, that was the catalyst that taught me to be grateful. That’s what taught me to look at all the things I have instead of all the things I did not have. So this final blogpost of the year is a list of things I’m grateful for.

 

I’m grateful for …

 

1. My skin clearing up from acne. Having a full face of acne was really challenging. It ruined my self confidence and really affected how I saw myself. It made me focus on who I was inside instead of how I look like. Although I’m grateful for clear skin, I’m also grateful that I experienced acne, it really emphasised the saying that beauty comes from within for me.

 

2. My family, my parents first and foremost. For sending me off to the UK and settling me in too. For spending their money just for me to experience studying abroad. Be real, they get nothing out of this! They could’ve spent that money on a vacation or anything else that’s more worth while. It demonstrated to me that the love parents have for their children is not only selfless, but full of sacrifices. And not to forget my sister, who has been the nicest to me ever in life – for giving me pep talk through my breakdowns and pushing me to venture out and grow.

 

3. The challenges I faced this year. I’m thankful for all the shit that came my way that forced me to grow. Without being pushed, excused me..SHOVED ( to be exact ) out my comfort zone, I wouldn’t have grown as much as I have this year.

 

4. My health. My community service experience during summer holidays truly taught me to be grateful for what I was born with. For the things I’ve always taken for granted and never thanked god for having. You never know when they can be taken from you, yknow? So I’m thankful for having these blessings for as long as I have.

 

5. The Boys and the leechers of Beeston. I’ve never spoken bout the boys (and Nina) in Nottingham that has taken care of me and reminded me of home while I’ve been here. They made nasi lemak to cure my homesick and more importantly they opened their home to me. Made me feel like I have a family here. To Mario, Hamzah, Haziq, Jack, Mag and Alif (not to forget Nina). Thank you for being family and making me feel like I’m at home.

 

6. The people at home. For never losing touch, and always being there for me no matter the timezone. The late night calls, 5 am FaceTime. Sometimes the accompanying me to walk back home at night calls. The good news and bad news call. Thank you for using technology in the most beneficial way.

 

7. Amirul. To have grown with me, and to continue to grow with me in the future. I can’t thank God enough for giving me you.

 

I want to end 2017, with a massive final Alhamdulillah for every little blessing and unspoken prayers answered.

Character Development

I’ve always screamed “I’m a strong, independent woman. I can do it myself !” This was just referring to carrying a lot of groceries bag to the house from the car because to go back was for losers. Ammirite? I would always joke about it. I took it as a joke, calling myself strong and independent and a WOMAN. I’m a child. Let’s be real. I’m learning to realise that. So that’s step 1.

 

When I turned 21, I felt young. I felt like I have my whole life ahead of me. Funny, because I was dreading the official premier to adulthood the whole of my 20th year. I’ve always thought I was growing up when I was paying for rent myself. I thought I was growing up when I started to drive myself around. I didn’t realise, all these were just the first few milestones of many more. But I wasn’t grown up here *points at head*. I’ve been told that I was wise, but really tho, I’m not. I’ve just realise, a whole new aspect to explore.

 

Let’s say my life is like a book, I realise my character lacks development. I want my character development to be as strong as Rachel’s from Friends. From being a clueless baby to independent and successful. I’ve been stationary in my growth for a long time. I can’t say I haven’t grown, I have. Just not dramatically enough, and also not independently. I’ve grown with the people I’ve surrounded myself with. My friends, and my family. Decisions were never 100 percent my own, there were always external factors that I had to take into considerations – mostly the permission of my parents. #asiankidprobs. I thought I knew myself very well, to a certain extent I did. I knew what I liked and did not like. But I just stayed in my comfort zone though. I would never do anything that would completely push me off the edge of my comfort zone. I wouldn’t try anything new without analysing them first, and consulting with my other half or my friends who knew me well. They would go “oh no you wouldn’t like it.” and I would be swayed by what they say and not do it. My self identity was defined by who I was hanging out with and, how they described me was how I would describe myself. I had no sense of independence at all.

 

Being completely alone, and placed in a completely different scene feels like a blank canvas almost. I can splash any colour, and write anything. The fact that I’m only here for a year, makes me want to make a mess! I want to define who I am as I wish, by myself and for myself and definitely not for anyone else, nor is it to fit anyone else’s expectations of me. I’m here to explore my options. Try new things and keep the ones I already know I love. My sister keeps giving me a Pep talk about being alone – “Mak and Ayah raised you well enough to be strong.” True. They did. So next time I’m saying “I’m a strong, independent woman.” I’m gonna fucking mean it.

Bravery 

I grew up watching Disney movies and Harry Potter and without a doubt most of the time, the main characters were brave (Except for Ron Weasley obviously). Growing up with all these characters, I could never relate. C’mon I did the quiz which Harry Potter house are you, I was put in Hufflepuff !!! Even watching Jennifer Lawrence shoot at arrow right at that Apple, made me shriek. I have no drop of bravery in me. I blame my parents. It’s just not in my blood. My parents have always taught me to avoid the situations, be careful rather than be brave. Fair enough, they want me to survive long enough to be brave one day, right? That’s what I think anyways. It’s not like I have a dragon to fight anytime soon in my life, or compete in the hunger games to survive.

I’m trying this bravery thing out and a movie quote keeps ringing in my ear. All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage and I promise you something great will come of it. One of my favourite movies – We Bought A Zoo.


I had a period of time where I’d say yes to everything, and gave everything a shot. Then something really bad happened !

 


After that, I learnt that maybe saying yes to everything and giving everything “a shoot” wasn’t the best thing to do. My phobia for snakes got even worse, I can’t see a picture of one without having nightmares about them. I don’t take that much risks anymore – saying yes to them when they asked me to stand on stage was a risk okay! I didn’t know what was going to happen. What were they going to do to me ? What animal was going to be handed to me ? I remember thinking it would be a bird for some reason. But the hell not! It wasn’t. IT WAS A MASSIVE BLOODY SNAKE. It was quite hard after that – to say yes blindly.
Though my life doesn’t require dragon slaying or saving the country for the pride of my family. Life does require a bit a bravery. Even the littlest things, because sometimes the things on the other side can bring you so much joy and is probably worth the risk – like getting to take a picture of the llama first. So inhale courage and exhale fear.