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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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.

Lit teacher 

I went to teach refugee kids last week Saturday, and it was such a life changing experience. I went in there, with no teaching experience other than memories of teaching my cousins and friends during Alevels. Thanks to Hari, who nudged me with a “go on – teach” and nothing much else – I did. I stood up infront of all 9 kids with a marker in my trembling hands and introduced myself after they all stood up to greet us “Good Morning Teacher”. 

They all just stared at me after that. Each beady eyes, blinked right at me after every few seconds. Waiting for a direction, waiting for a command. I realised being a teacher requires a lot of thinking at the top of your toes moment. I stood there with Khadijah (we were in it together), began with a long “Sooooo……. we’re studying English today”. Slight lift in tone stretching the end syllable, questioning my own command. One of the students gave us the book they use, and we flipped by a random page and thought okay this seems simple let’s start with this. That was my teaching plan. #litteacher. Get it ??? Lit – literature but lit??? I bet they would’ve laughed.. 

After skipping pages and teaching 3 chapters of English and fractions for maths, the kids kept asking if they’ll see me next week. I WAS SO TOUCHED. They wanted to see me again. Or maybe the just wanted to know what week to skip.. Nonetheless, it was so satisfying when they said “I got it.” Especially when they started with arched eyebrows, scratching their head with their pencil. I tried to apply as much psychology as I could – Vygotsky’s Scalfolding methods. Methods of teaching ADHD kids (even though they weren’t, it’s just to keep their focus on me) and operant conditioning (Skinner). 

I’ve always found it selfish to not share your knowledge. It was an honor to be able to teach these children, and share the slight percentage of knowledge that I have. Generally, I’m a blabber mouth, to the point that if I learnt something new I would tell the first person I see after that and pass on the knowledge. Not necessarily teaching, but I always have this need to tell – OTHER PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW THIS TOO! Kinda feeling. Trust me, after 33 months of my blabber to Amirul, he can graduate with a Psychology Degree too once I’m done. 

These children’s age varies from 12 to 14 years old, mostly from Myanmar. And they’re learning primary 3 up to primary 6 work. It’s upsetting, they have so much potential just not equal opportunity as others. Everyone deserves the right to education. Being brought up in a family where education plays a huge role – (my dad working for the higher education sector in the government). My dad has always taught me the importance of knowledge. It’s the only thing you have that no one else can take away from you. And for others to not have the same opportunity to acquire knowledge as I have ? Makes me grateful for my upbringing and the opportunities I’ve been handed on a silver platter. These kids, they pay RM 20 ringgit per month, for this education and which frankly should be free. Education should be free and to all. But for this foundation called Blue Skies, to gather volunteers every Saturday – our efforts are just a stepping stone.

 My dad has been working for decades in the higher education, and day by day I hear and see people complain about the Malaysian Education System – the local universities standards not being of quality. The lack in facilities, and complaints about lecturers being boring. The main aim of the government is to provide opportunities for all the children in Malaysia to be able to attend higher education. Education for all, no matter the social status, and opportunity. Everything else is secondary.

Let’s leave with a note my dad once advised my brother when he first got Mi’qael – the most important thing you have to provide for your children, is their education. It’s an investment for their future. Start up the bank account, the moment the child is born and you won’t regret it.