why can i not conquer love

a) just vocalising it to my sister made me realise what an asshole i’ve been, but unfortunately that doesn’t make the feelings go away, just re-directs my anger inwards. how do i even begin to explain this sensitivity to exclusion… a few months ago i was planning to write a post about how nice it was to be years-deep into friendship, how all the petty drama and conflict just falls away- so much for that. it was a stupid thought anyway. people remain people and old issues don’t go away just because you ignore them. the awful thing is that I have no idea if there really is still a problem or if my insecurities are just making everything terrible and ascribing ulterior motives when there are none.

eta: 21 but feel like i’ve been sent back to kindergarten with this shit. the thing is!! i have talked to you about this in relation to other people before!! i’m sure you know that it’s not a great thing to do!!!!!!! i don’t know whats happening anymore…………

b) nearing the end of the night the last time i met my sc group, they started asking me if there were any boys in my life. i was at a complete loss of words for the first few minutes. i mean, after the immediate and automatic ‘no’, how could i explain it further? should I have? I would have thought it went without saying. didn’t they know how incredibly unlikely it is? how it wasn’t a priority or even a consideration for me? that i’m completely prepared for that to be the normal state of affairs?

but weirdly enough i didn’t hate it, and just went on to talk about eyecandy and shit. in that moment i think i realised what a thin line there is between inclusion and exclusion. how sometimes, in wanting to be sensitive and avoid topics that you think are touchy, in so doing you reinforce the perception that they shouldn’t talk about it and that they can’t talk to you about it. pretending everything is normal makes it easy only for the other person- which is why i was so taken aback when samuel was so willing to talk about his father to me when i offered consolation. i mean, of course take the cue from the other person, but it gets so tiring sometimes to have conversations that ignore so much about your identity or your worldview or whatever.

i think i’m only just realising that constantly pretending to hold views that i don’t and in so doing representing that i’m this whole other person is just encouraging me to dissociate. on thursday they asked us to do the stupid ‘tell us something interesting about yourself’ introduction thing and i was just thinking, why not lie through your teeth and say something that isn’t real? you’re not this person anyway. you’re not a person that can be here like this. if you’re going to fake it, might as well be thorough about it.

c) need so much to be around people that i trust myself to be around, i’m so fucking disconsolate lately. one thing that constantly disappoints me about being of adult age is that i’m no less able to control my emotions than i ever was.

eso es todo

1. trying to remake yourself is hard. reconsidering every action a second after you’ve initiated it, thinking over things you’d taken for granted up to that moment. i’ve been trying to be more confident and do things like looking at people walking towards me instead of staring off into the distance avidly to avoid their gaze; striking up conversations with people when I see them beyond the same hi/bye; continuing a conversation or turning a topic where i’d normally let it fall flat; sharing a little more about what i feel and what i’ve learnt. i dunno how successful it’s been, probably not very, but if i’m ever going to get to a healthy place where i can survive work-level interaction i’m gonna need practice. and honestly, for someone who claims to think that people are the most important part of life, i don’t show it much in terms of how i talk to people. I think it might stem from how i am as a person because i assume that people don’t want to interact unless they positively show that they do. kind of like how when you go into a shop you don’t want the staff to ask you if you need help… but that’s not universally true. i think that this says something about me, about how most times i kind of only want social interaction on my own terms, which can be informed by anything like my mood, who you are, the people we’re around. but the problem with that is that when you want to dictate the rules of engagement, you’re going to have to initiate. which i feel a lot of the time i’m too passive and unconfident to do. so something else to work on; either become more approachable or more assertive.

i am working on it. i think i’ve talked to more classmates the past week than i have in general- thank you dorothy. it’s bad to keep that kind of scorecard though- it implies that there’s some kind of quota to fulfill, an ideal number after which i can just stop. maybe one day i’ll see this as an end to itself.

2. one of my mods is groupwork-based and i’m the only girl in my team so i’ve been thinking a lot about differences in working style recently, especially after the women in law conference last semester. case in point: i got angry over one of my groupmate’s messages because i thought he was being passive-aggressive by saying that we shouldn’t expect to leave our next meeting at [the time that i had left a previous meeting early]. later i figured that he probably hadn’t meant it like that and that i had probably read too much into it. when i talked about it during lunch with dorothy yesterday we found ourselves ranting about it. she said that he should have thought about the implication of his words and been more careful about it, and that the idea that women are ‘too sensitive’ is annoying because particularity to nuance in interaction isn’t an inherently negative thing, and that it’s probably coded as such because it’s thought to or in fact does feature in most women’s interaction patterns. I was angry because we were socialised to be non-confrontational to operate in a society where assertive women are seen negatively and it seems ridiculous that the onus is now on women to adapt back instead of teaching men to be more emotionally sensitive, especially since the latter stereotype is still alive and well.

also i honestly had no idea if i was being heard by them or not. there was one issue where the other person refused to follow my advice even though i told him multiple times. he put it down to just wanting to finish as fast as possible (no innuendo pls), but i just wondered if it would have been the same if i had been another guy. it’s exhausting and frustrating, tbh- to constantly wonder if there’s something i could actually be working on, like if i could have justified myself more or explained a little better, or if it’s just because i was never going to match up in the first place.

3. the last few weeks have been pretty introspective, i think, in between classes and worrying about falling behind (which i absolutely am, why did i even bother hoping that i wouldn’t, it’s inevitable at this point). been thinking about pretty much every aspect of myself and my ideas that i thought i had accepted. but you can tell yourself a lot of things and it doesn’t make it true. it doesn’t even really mean you believe it. i’m going to have to negotiate that about myself now, kind of ping-pong off diametrically opposed conceptions and try to come to a healthy middle ground. (this is v evasive; i’ve been narrating the process but not the substantive outcome. i guess some things are still too tender to verbalise.)

4. there’s a moment, midway up the first slope we come to in the trail we normally take in botanic gardens, right after a thin copse of trees with a branch of leaves you have to duck if you’re more to the right of the path. it’s relatively early on so normally at that point i’m still breathing through my nose, but far enough away that if i push my speed at the beginning i start to feel a strain. up to that point there’s nothing really noticeable but a hint of pandan, but as you pass it there’s a sudden burst of vanilla. it’s inexplicable and almost always unexpected, but it’s delightful.

5. i might actually be better qualified to discuss general elections after doing some interest-driven but rather extraneous research into Singapore politics for our public law assignment. sadly i still have neither a snappy title or a thesis.

i do like rilke but

look, it’s only been a few posts and i’m already retreating to poetry and quotes to try and abstract my feelings. curiously different from how much i’ve been trying to verbalise them to myself the last few days but then i suppose this medium comes with many other associated risks. i have to keep working on it, and less on excuses on why i shy away from examining my own feelings. that was the entire reason i started a journal again…

new year’s resolutions

trying to be practical about resolutions this year: focusing on things I could actually get myself to do and that I might make demonstrable progress towards instead of, like, ‘stop procrastinating’- the timeliness of this post tells you as much about how committed i am to that goal, though i have been thinking about writing this ever since the year pushed over, probably. or ‘try harder’, which was last year’s resolution. still have no idea whether i achieved that or not: i’m leaning towards no, because i don’t think i felt the satisfaction that you get after working really hard at something and getting the result you wanted, only a curious sense of deflation in its place. i’m still wondering if that should be considered a conclusive sign of working hard, but that’s probably just me trying to rationalise my lack of effort. still though, i need to start focusing on other parts of my life that isn’t school. feel like i’ve been using school as a reason to justify not working on being a better person for way too long. life is larger than that; as should be my attention span.

1. cook more, at least one meal a week. that means conception, prep and execution- coming in 15 minutes before dinner to help mom stir-fry vegetables doesn’t count. extra points if it’s something new. as an absolute last resort, breakfast counts.

2. be more careful about other people’s feelings. talk in the car in the morning because you know mom feels uncomfortable and bored when it’s silent. tell her more about school and your life because she worries. mediate disputes or at least help to change the topic if you don’t want to get in the middle of it. ask everyone more questions. really want to hear the answer. stop thinking of and then dropping conversational threads because the moment has passed or you’re afraid to say it. it really doesn’t matter that much. if someone texts to talk don’t blow them off. send letters and do nice things for friends who are struggling. it doesn’t have to cure anything. it just has to remind them that you’re on their side. let ying jun tell you about whatever the fuck she wants and put on an interested face as she does it. it won’t fucking kill you. she’s twelve!! so many people are going to ignore what she has to say in the future. don’t be one of the first. those hurt the most. don’t let her become you. that’s the entire point of being older than anyone.

3. you KNOW what’s wrong with parasocial relationships. get past them. stop imagining what people you’ll never know are like and go talk to people that you actually could.

4. be more respectful. be more appreciative. greet people who are there in the room before you, don’t wait to be noticed. thank people for the work they do. leave comments on stuff you like.

5. write more. you end up considering more, processing more, and having more to look back on and think ‘wow, i wasn’t actually as stupid as i remember being when i was __.’

6. talk more to the people around you. find more things to talk to them about. consciously articulate your feelings more. it doesn’t necessarily have to be an exercise in self-involvedness- it can invite and encourage them to talk, because you’ve revealed yourself first. if you want people to share themselves with you, you have to share yourself as well. or alternatively: get better at recognising what those around you want from you.

7. be better than passive aggression and moodiness. let people know what’s going on and they’ll be so much more understanding about it.