January 8, 2017

2016 RECAP


Hello! I now it's already the 8th of January but I hope it's not too late to reflect on 2016 and highlight its greatest moments and the lessons I've learnt from it.

1. Appreciate the friends you have

This January alone, most of the people I am very close to and confide to the most are leaving me (sobs 😭😭😭). They've graduated last December and now, are ready to move on to a new phase in their lives (leaving me behind, of course). I've done so many things with them in 2016. I've hung out with them, shared things with them, explored new places with them, laughed with them, traveled with them and endured each others' lamest jokes together.

It's not like I'm not going to see them at all after this. I will, I really hope I will but things will be different since we'll have jobs and other obligations. It will not be the same like how it used to be. And that's one fact that I don't like but I have to face it.

I'm going to miss seeing these faces late night at the library and sharing a big halal snackpack together at the pantry. I'll miss the days where we'd talk about the most random things and share personal stuff over coffee (tea for me). These people have always had their faith in me in all the things I've done when I couldn't even believe in myself. They've been there for me during my highs and lows for a whole year, and now I've to go through another year without them.

I've learnt and shared so much from and with them. It's great to have a group of people that share the same views, have the same interest (almost) and am always down to help you when you need it the most. I not only got to know about them, I also got to know myself more because of the things we've done together. They have become my family here and they're definitely my "home away from home".

2. Travel as much as you can

In 2016, I've traveled to Sydney, Wollongong, Canberra, Melbourne (city area only), Whitsunday Island and other parts of Queensland. I think we can exclude Sydney because I didn't have the chance to properly walk around the city because I was occupied with MASA 2016.

Whitsunday Island almost didn't happen but thank God it did. It was a really short trip and if I could, I'd definitely would like to go there again, despite being the most expensive beach (and the most beautiful too!) I've ever been to. I have a post about my trip to Whitsunday Island but I have yet to complete it hehe. I'll try my best to finish it as soon as I can if you're interested to head there.

Melbourne was a dream come true because I FINALLY went on a roadtrip while I'm still here. The sky at night was beautiful! There were so many stars in the sky, it was amazing! We headed to Melbourne for GRADUAN's career fair and coincidentally, my interview for MAS Management Trainee Program was also in Melbourne. We drove to Melbourne from Brisbane and it took us 3 days. We rented an SUV and a motorhome. We had our driving turns and didn't sleep anywhere to rest. Let's just say it was continuous driving with occasional stops for breathtaking views, to eat or to freshen up. I didn't get a chance to get on the Great Ocean Road and see the 12 Apostles, etc. because we had to return our vehicles and the boys were already tired from driving 😢 But I'll be heading to Melbourne again this April and hopefully I'll get to do that. Oh, I also have a post about this but I've yet to finish it hehehe. I'm sorry! I'll post it up as soon as I can just in case you have any inquiries about the places we went to during this trip and how much it costed us.

We stopped by Canberra for a few hours for Floriade, a flower festival, and also to freshen up. Thank you to my friend, Demi, we had the chance to get a proper shower, proper thai dinner (it was so good!) and proper halal McD! We all bought cheeseburgers and whatnot before we head out from Canberra to Melbourne.

Travel because you get to see the beauty of the world. There are just so many things to be discovered (but why is money always stopping me? Ugh) and you'll never be tired of it. New places can take your breath away and who knows, you might discover a gem or two, too? Travel because you get to learn more about yourself. I learnt that I don't know how to pack light (I need my just-in-cases hehe) and that I don't like rushing to places at the very last minute (it gets me so anxious and in a bad mood).

3. Failing is OK

2016 was a bad year for me, academically and personally. Studying was never a big problem for me. But that wasn't the case for 2016.

I'm the "last minute" kind, but I don't do everything from scratch at the 11th hour. I would at least have a draft and have an idea about the things I will discuss in my essays. All I have to do is create proper sentences, make sure my essay flows smoothly and my thoughts are coherent throughout my essay.

I am also a "perfectionist" and "put really high expectations" in everything I do. All of my work has to reach a particular standard. Anything that doesn't fit in that standard is deemed as a failure.

As a result of these 3 very interesting combos, I suffered tremendously in my academics. I failed a semester and failed 2 more subjects in the last semester. I thought my usual method would work, but I also forgot that this time around, I have new obligations to fulfilled (coughs MASCA coughs). I was very stressed out because nothing was going the way I wanted it to be and that I've started to lose interest in International Relations. I don't know how to revive that passion anymore because I was so worked up.

I felt like the biggest failure ever. I was upset that everyone around me was doing perfectly fine while here I am, failing again and again.

The reason why I failed 6 subjects was because I didn't submit any of my major essays (which amounts up to 45%‒50% of the whole course grade). It's not like I didn't do any research or drafted it whatsoever. My essays were mostly 70% done or had another 500‒1000 words to go but I gave up towards the end. I attended tutorials, did my final exam but did not send in my major essays. In Semester 1, I was only 1%‒3% away to get a Band 3 for all 4 subjects. Yes, it was frustrating and I do regret for not sending the essays in but I really couldn't bring myself to finish it. If I did send it in, I might have just passed all of it. I know. But I really couldn't finish it all.

To be honest, I don't feel like I have the passion to study anymore. And it's not that I gave up entirely on International Relations. I love International Relations! It opened me up to a new realistic, cruel world. It showed me how humans are so greedy and selfish. And it also showed me how destructive we can be through our policies and laws despite having the best intentions. I love learning but I think I cannot stand the workload anymore. It may be too much for me.

But it's okay. I've had a year failing, but hopefully 2017 will be the year where I'll do great again. Now I know what works for me and what doesn't. And I know what are things that I should avoid to prevent myself from failing again. I'll try my best to not put really high expectations and I'll make sure I finish what I've started (and also my other 20+ drafts hehe). I mean, I do need a degree and I'm just a year away from graduating. I can't stop and give up on my dreams, just yet.

4. It's OK to question about things you don't understand

I am a very curious person. So when I want to know something, I'll go to the ends of the world (a.k.a. stalking or researching on the Internet) to satisfy my curiosity.

Living away from Malaysia and learning International Relations has made me become more curious about the world, in general. I question about religion, feminism, utilitarianism to name a few. Living away from my country allowed me to see my country from an outsider's point of view and it created a neutral side of me when it comes to justifying why certain countries act a certain way in a particular situation.

Maybe it's because of the culture or the mentality we were brought up with. Maybe it's because of our history or maybe it's for something better. We don't know. But we'll never know if we don't question and search for the answer.

My experience in Malaysia when talking about human rights or if God is really God was bad. Topics like these are something that's not deemed as appropriate. I remember a friend of mine asked me "you ni Islam ke tak?" when I asked him how is he able to put his faith in something he doesn't truly understand. Freedom to talk about religion is sort of restricted in Malaysia (unless you talk about it with the right people). You'll instantly get shut down when you start to question your religion and people will call you "murtad" or "kafir".

Here, I get to learn more about wars and humanitarian action and the many things that complicates it to achieve it's purest goal. I also get to share my views about my religion with a group of people that doesn't necessarily hold the same view as I do, but still managed to engage with me and answer every burning question I have. They don't need to have all the answers to my questions. It's okay if they can't answer too. Maybe it can be something we can learn together.

I had a lot of healthy discussions with regards to my faith and International Relations in general, in 2016 alone. I like discussions like this because it allows you to think, and at the same time makes you humble. It makes you realize how little your knowledge is compared to those more knowledgeable. Also, to me, to follow something blindly without really understanding is a waste of time. There are so many things that you don't know and all it needs is one question to open yourself up to a new world.

If you do know or stumble upon people like this, don't be scared to listen to their question(s). There is a reason why they asked. Perhaps the questions have been lingering around in their head for so long and they finally got the courage to ask. If you laugh at them or criticize them for having a "liberal" view or just questioning too much without wanting to really listen and reason, then you're at loss. People like this can make you understand better of what you already know. You can strengthen your belief and learn new things too. Not everything has to go one direction.

Don't be afraid to ask. If you're curious and you want to understand, ask. And make sure you ask the right people. Don't just ask people of the same group. Ask people from different groups so that you don't get a biased knowledge. Go out, ask and satisfy your curiosity.

To question and to reason brings you closer to understanding. And it's something that we unconsciously ignore everyday. Don't be afraid to ask. Don't be afraid to listen.

5. Do things you've been wanting to do but is scared of doing it

One regret of mine in 2016 is not vlogging or doing any make-up tutorial. At all.

I had a lot of requests from my friends to do an eyebrow tutorial but I'm so scared (and shy 😝) to be in front of the camera and record myself doing my brows. I don't know how my friends and other Youtubers can do it but I am scared. I do regret for not vlogging any of my trips although I brought my camera with me. I was just so scared that people would look at me weirdly.

I hope I'll get to vlog and do some makeup tutorials. It's something that I don't want to commit to but it does sound really fun. And it looks like it can keep me occupied.

Nevertheless, if you want to do something, go for it. If you want to bungee jump from the tallest building, go. If you want to confess to your crush, JUST GO UP TO THEM AND CONFESS! And make sure you say it right too (instead of blurting out "do you touch girls?" hehe 😛). Yeah you might face rejection or it might not be the way you wanted it to be but trust me when I say that you're not wasting anything if you go for it. The only thing you'll end up is regret for not doing it.

6. It's OK to ask for help and to talk about/share your problems

I have anxiety but it's not a critical one. Nonetheless, it had affected me badly.

Remember my 3 deathly combos? Perfectionist, last minute and high expectations. I also overthink and worry a lot. So, you can say that I was a complete mess inside.

Some time in July to August, I was really stressed out and burn out. By the end of Semester 1, I was burn out with the work I had. And there was no proper time for me to really relax some time in June‒August 2016. I was already crippling because I couldn't finish all 4 of my major essays, I had my finals (thank God I did well, I surprised myself too), I had to prepare for MASA 2016 (uhh stressful), and I had to prepare for Citra Malaysia 2016 right after MASA 2016.

Okay, by now some of you may think "oh those are just nothing compared to what I had been through/organised." Yes, it is true. But the thing that brought me down was because of the 4 lethal (you can exclude "last minute" and yes, over exaggeration here) traits I have. I put so much pressure on myself and I worried so much if everything fails. It came to a point where I got so anxious easily. And during the process, I lost my self confidence too. I wasn't optimistic. I got easily upset. I cried so much when I was alone.

My first panic attack was during Speakers Santai 2016. I was not that late, the second speaker was about to start with his speech. But when I walked into the room and I saw there were many people, I just chickened out. And I remember I started shaking and my tears started to fall. I didn't even know why I was crying but I couldn't stop myself from crying. Azmir tried to coerce me to come inside during the break but I was so scared to head inside. That night, I was so scared to see a lot of people, although it was mostly familiar faces.

From there, my attacks happened on a weekly basis and I don't realize what triggered me. I can talk to my roommate like normal and in a second, I'll start hyperventilating like crazy. I don't know how to breathe properly. I don't know how to block all the negative thoughts from my head. I don't how to make it stop. It'll take me around 15‒30 minutes just to get me breathing properly again. It's so hard to control your thoughts and block them out and not get an attack in public. I've always thought that people are going to look at me like I'm some crazy person craving for some attention if it happens in public. So far, I've never had a panic attack in public because if it did happen, that will be the death of me.

There were also many nights where I would rather not sleep because of the dreams I had. Most of my dreams were me being chased by somebody that's going to kill me. I'll wake up frightened in the middle of the night and hoping that I don't have to fall asleep again. Even if I sleep and I have those dreams, it has never made me feel that I had proper rest. I still feel tired. I'll have this uncomfortable feeling (the kind of feeling that you get when somebody scares you from behind) creeping on my back for hours or sometime, for days. My body feels tired from the stressful dream, it feels like my body was actually running in real life. It was just horrible. I remember telling my friend that I would rather not sleep because I still feel tired with all the nightmares I had.

Maybe I was overthinking too much. Maybe I was worrying over things too much that didn't need me to worry about so much. Maybe I pushed myself so hard to achieve the high standards I put on myself and when I failed to achieve it, I'll tear myself down. I think only the closest of my friends knew something was wrong but they never really pushed me to tell because they wanted to respect my privacy and space.

It came to a point where I had to see counselor because things weren't getting better. I had to see a counselor every 2 weeks (thank god for UQ's free 6 sessions!). Things got better. My counselor helped me so much in managing my stress and my anxiety. But there was this one period some time in October that I heard that people were talking about me. They thought that I was making it an excuse to fail and I was faking it all this time. And I remember I cried so much during counselling after I heard this because I got so scared to get out of the house and meet people. I locked myself up in the house for a week. I didn't want to see anyone. I felt that I couldn't trust anyone. I was so scared they would laugh at me. I got anxious and became negative all over again.

Then I started to share my worries a bit to my friends. And apparently, some did face the things I was going through. That provided me comfort, knowing that I'm not alone. I didn't tell my mom about this because I was scared my parents will get mad because I'm failing and all. I told them some time in November after contemplating about it for 3 months. I was scared they wouldn't accept my justification, but everything went fine.

All is fine now. I haven't had any panic attacks for 3 months now. And I hope I won't have anymore 😉 The attacks take so much of my energy, by the time it was over, I'm tired.

"Why didn't you mention about this before? Why won't you share it to everyone?

Because I just don't feel like I need to. I don't feel the need to come out and say that I have a problem. I'm not brave enough to do it.

I know some people still don't believe me, but it's okay. There's nothing I need to prove to you to make you stop laughing at me. Only the people who've seen it really knows how hard it is for me to overcome this. And it's okay if you're not able to understand. I've passed that point where I depended on someone's understanding to feel better. Because along the way, I learnt that I just need to learn to be happy even with the simplest things and stop overthinking too much. It's tough to do it but I'll take my baby steps in hopes that I'll become better and stronger.

I'm not writing this for sympathy. I'm writing this because it's therapeutic for me. I'm writing this to let it get off of my chest so that in the future, I don't get easily ticked off. I want to reflect and perhaps, pass on a tip or two if you're facing the same problems that I am facing. This part itself took so much of my strength to word it properly and hold back my tears. I don't like sharing this to the public because I don't think everyone should know about it. Besides, it's not really that awful. I know people who are having/have had worst than mine, but they don't make a drama out of it.

I'm so grateful for supportive family and friends. I do feel sorry because sometimes they don't know what to do when I have an attack other than making sure that I breathe properly and stay calm. But I'm so grateful for them for not betraying me at my weakest times and for always instilling my faith in me. I'm so grateful that they would listen, try their best to understand my struggle and help me overcome it. I'm so grateful to have a robust support system that I can lean on during my weakest times.

And that's the end of my really long 2016 recap! Told you it was long 😁 This is a really emotional post for me because I don't like to talk about my anxiety and this post does bring me back to the good times I had in 2016. Thank you so much for reading til the end. Your energy and time is highly appreciated! I hope you have a lovely day and a wonderful 2017!

Have a nice day 

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