dear diary...

Reflections in the Jacuzzi

Usually, after a swim in the pool, I would head over to the jacuzzi and just sit there clear-minded and relaxed, enjoying every jet of water as it massages my back.

Today was different. Every stream of water jetting against my skin felt just like a variant of the emotions surging within me — disappointment, frustration and sadness. I sat there, like a crestfallen child who had just been told that the drawing she’s been working on the whole night before was trash. My vision, initially trained on following the congregation and dissipation of the clusters of bubbles, blurred out eventually as my mind lapsed into yet another round of self-chastisement and blame. I lifted my left hand and allowed it to be supported by the bubbling water, only to watch it sink a few moments later with its own weight. I observed its beige gradually get absorbed and fused into the blueness of the tiled floor of the pool.

It probably sounds so stupid, but I have never felt more heartbroken before. Not even after I lost my first love. And this agonising feeling I’m feeling right now and since 10am today was due to nothing more than 3 digits.

3.61. I blinked. Once. Twice. I proceeded to refresh the screen a few more times. No, it had to be wrong, it CAN’T be 3.16. I refused to believe the score before my eyes. I can’t possibly be that lousy. A few agonising moments later, it dawned on me that I had no other choice but to accept that 3-digit score, that my hope of getting at least a 4.0 was nugatory, evanescent, just like the bubbles that were gone as soon as they were formed in the jacuzzi.

Come on, it’s just 3 digits, it’s just a score and nothing more. Move on like you always have. Stop dwelling on it, it can’t be changed anyway. You are more than that surely. Don’t let it fester and develop into a self-fulfilling prophecy. SUCK. IT. UP.

Yes, I know, I get it. It’s stupid, to allow your self-worth, self-esteem and value rest upon these 3 digits. It’s stupid to be dwelling on it even 4 hours past the time it was released to me. It’s stupid to be so caught up in what’s already been written when my only option now is to keep moving forward, to relentlessly trudge towards the end of the tunnel.

But surely, I am entitled to what I am feeling right now, aren’t I? Is it so wrong to feel upset and disappointed at myself, at having fallen short of my expectations? Is it that bad if I wanted to dwell in these emotions, if I wanted to be all whiny and annoying and selfishly wallow in my own sadness? I don’t want to suck it up, I don’t want to just stoically move on and on and on like I always have. I want to soak in the heartache. More than ever before, I want to cherish this pain and anguish as I wilfully think back to what I could have done better, and I will make sure the emotional distress this “failure” has caused me is deeply etched in my subconscious as a reminder, and later, something to be resurfaced and celebrated along with the pride and pleasure of achievement. Because the sweetness and joy of victory and success will never be as sweet and joyous as when one has once experienced the bitterness and regret of failure.

There are no crests without the troughs. There are no highs without the lows.

It sucks that even after claiming that I am in here for the joy of learning, and learning for the sake of learning, I have to admit that I still seek a sort of validation through grades. However, I do recognise that this toxic habit of making a huge share of my self-worth a function of my academic achievements is one that has been drilled into my psyche since the start of my education and one that I should definitely rethink.

end of catharsis.

dear diary...

Romantic Grocery List

Since young, I have been confronted with societal ideals of the kind of men I should be dating, and resultantly, marrying. They were subtle back then, appearing in the form of male protagonists in superhero movies, television shows and comic books. Some of them weren’t even human in form, but the fact they they prevailed at the end of the day appeals to me. I had known, that I wanted a hero, someone who can save me from all my problems as much as cure the world of its diseases, someone who can tirelessly give me all the material and emotional comfort that I crave.

Then in my teens, and as the societally approved dating age range approached, discussions about our ideal “types” of guys began to surface frequently, often being a hot topic among close friends. My group of friends was no exception. One day, someone initiated the discussion and I found myself running through a grocery list of things I want and envision to be consumed in the next few weeks, except that this list wasn’t about vegetables and ready-made food, it was about a human being, one that I forsee myself being attached to.

He is to be tall, have a matching sense of humour, attractive (a lean physique, and nice facial features)… I had ran out of things to say. As embarrassment visibly spread across my cheeks, I scrambled for other traits previously spoken by my friends and made them seem like I had included them in my list as well. Ambitious, financially stable, chivalrous, responsible… Having averted a small crisis, I was contented with myself and did not put much thought afterwards about the traits that I had just listed about my “dream guy”.

In college, after dating a few people, I realised that my list was futile, useless. It consisted of mere conjectures, of fantasies, an idea of romantic connection inspired by the unrealistic expectations driven into our young innocent minds by TV dramas and Hollywood Rom-coms. It has never felt the ground of reality. In reality, when I am attracted to someone, when I’m in love with someone, I don’t actually tick off all the traits that I had listed on my “grocery list on romance”. I love them without a reason, I love them for everything they are and everything they are not. In reality, “a good sense of humour” is as ambiguous as hell — someone could be funny but in an abrasive way, someone else could be good at cracking intellectual jokes but anything beyond that his jokes induce more of a cringe than a guffaw, nonetheless they are all compartmentalised under the trait “good sense of humour”. Sometimes, you find yourself in love with a guy who is not fantastic looking but makes it up in his character and how he treats you when he’s with you. Sometimes, you may be attracted to someone who’s not doing so well financially and is in a phase of limbo in his life. In all, human attraction is way more complex and unpredictable than just simply a fully checked list of traits, or a block of code that you type into a program expecting a desired end outcome.

When you are attracted to someone, you abandon whatever criteria or yardsticks you previously held. You like them for being them, even if they don’t perfectly fit the mould that you’ve constructed for them. You will find yourself loving how your hands fit perfectly together, how his touch could warm you even in the coldest nights, how he would run to the McDonald’s a couple of bus stops away just to get you McSpicy when you’re a whiny mess complaining of hunger, you’ll appreciate his courage even if his peck on your lips or cheek was sloppy, you’ll find yourself wanting to share with him every intimate secret about yourself, you’ll find yourself letting your guard down for once in a long time, because there’s nothing and no one to guard yourself from anyway.

dear diary...

A Friday Night 

It’s a Friday, the end of a hectic week, the metaphorical comma in the middle of a college semester.

That Friday night, we sat on the cusp of spring break, brimming with the hope of more moments spent together, of more memories of each other.

But you had to leave. You had to leave so early in the week and return just before the madness begins. I couldn’t help but think the universe had conspired against us. But loving you would mean wishing the best for you, to support you in the things you love, even if it means distance, even if it means time away from each other, or two longing hearts across the continents.

It was a quiet night. Most people were out — clubbing, waiting for their flight at the airport or hanging out downtown. We sat on the stone bench next to each other, leaving a small gap between us, as if to signal caution and respect for each other’s space, evidently the signs of a couple still in the infant stages of love. We talked, I whined a lot, sighed at the speed at which time has past, sighed at how quickly were growing up, at how in a blink of any eye we’ll soon be finding jobs, tossed into the ocean that is adulthood. I looked up at the ocean of stars above us, the sky a deep mysterious blue with overtones of black. The chilly wind flirted with my hair and caressed my skin, making me yearn for some warmth. I shot you a cursory glance hoping that I didn’t get caught in the act. Oh how I yearn for your embrace on such a breezy spring night. I just couldn’t find the words to say it nor the courage to lift my arms. You seemed deep in thought, your kind eyes afixed on something afar, oblivious to the tempest of emotions stirring within me nor my desire to hold you close and never let you go.

As I’m writing this, you’re on your way to the airport. I write with a reminiscing and slightly melancholic heart, clinging on to the memory of your hug, a hug that has been so long overdue but one that spoke most directly to me. In that instant when my head collided with your chest, I heard you beat the rhythm of promise, of love.