Sunday thoughts

(I just want to mention that this isn’t a series, it’s just what I have swirling in my mind for today and I’ve been wanting to write/type something for the past few days!)

Also, enter my international giveaway over at : http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/7996e9f32/? 

So I have my weekly Violin classes on Sunday and this isn’t the first time I’ve picked up the violin!

I actually bought and picked up violin lessons when I was about 14, but I gave it up to lean piano instead (play by ear). Thank God I gave up violin that time, because I probably wasn’t ready and back then, the place that I went to, the teacher wasn’t great. He didn’t care to teach me properly and was always sloppy in his way of teaching.

So I stopped violin to play the piano and since I’ve always gone to private schools (they aren’t as expensive as people think), I learned how to ‘Play by ear’. But unfortunately for me, I didn’t manage to learn to play by ear.

So after stopping the piano (I was at level 3 and there were 4 levels) since my piano teacher was leaving (I had 3 teachers and I liked him the best), I left too. And after that, I signed up for violin classes at a school within walking distance of my house.

If I’m not wrong, I’ve been learning violin since I was 17, so it’s been 5-6 years!

And I never learned music because I wanted to be good. I was definitely liked it, of course (I was inspired by La Corda D’Oro – did anyone watch/read this manga too?), but it had always been a way for me to cope with my anxiety (since I never got it diagnosed, no therapy and no medicine).

Music has always helped, because in that moment, I don’t have to think about anything else, I just focus on the music, the instrument and trying to play the song.

My current violin teacher is definitely so much better. As a student I’m really quiet, but she doesn’t give up on me. And more importantly, she sees a lot of potential in me.

She doesn’t force me to practise (because she treats me like an adult) and really sees a ton of potential in me, which really helps! (Because if she didn’t believe in me, I would have given up a long time ago, I think.)

The violin is well known as one of the toughest instruments to master and I definitely agree!

My teacher has mentioned to me umpteen times that I actually should try to go for violin grade exams, and honestly, I want to too.

But then I always hear that voice in my head that tells me I’m not good enough. My teacher asked out of curiosity why I didn’t want to try the exams, and in my head, I already knew who the culprit was.

Anxiety.

There’s a healthy doubt and the unhealthy doubt. Mine is definitely the latter.

And it sucks, because I always end up looking down on myself and anything less than perfect is not acceptable.

I was definitely happy that my teacher saw my potential and honestly, I never saw my own potential in the violin either. I still think I suck at it.

My teacher definitely helped my esteem and tell me to think about it and when I casually mentioned it to my mum (I was definitely in a good mood after that), the first thing she said after that was “how are we going to afford a thousand dollar violin?”

And all long, I’ve always paid for things for my violin (even purchasing my current one). And honestly, despite both me and my sister not working, my family does actually earn quite a bit.

And I thought, as a parent, you would try to encourage your child to push themselves, to achieve more, but my parents want to drag me down instead and honestly that doesn’t help.

 

On a lighter note, what have you been up to this weekend and what will you be doing this week?

I’ve been reading a few books (and trying to get through my library books quickly). I really enjoyed The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White! Definitely check that out for a great Halloween read!

I’m currently watching the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and find it not bad! Definitely a little dark as well and great for Halloween!

And other than that, I’m mentally preparing myself for NaNoWriMo that starts on the 1st of November! I’m actually considering starting a few days early because my goal this time round is 75k words and that is insane because it means I would be writing EVERY DAY. The past few times, I usually had at least 2 or 3 days I could take a break. Or I might try to write more during the days, but I take a ton of time to write like 2.5k words (which is the base of each chapter).

So I’m a little conflicted!

But anyway, are you taking part in NaNoWriMo this year? If you are, let me know your schedule and how you’re doing!

LGBTQ+

Recently, in my home country (Singapore), a repeal has been requested and petitioned for Section 377A of the Penal Code (Singapore).

If you’re not sure what this law is, it is one that criminalises sex between mutually consenting adult men.

 

I am for the repealing and it’s okay if people have differing views, but I think the important thing is that we’re hearing each other out.

 

Honestly, I was never raised to be supportive of the LGBTQ+ community (Please don’t bash me yet! Hear me out!) and I just wanted to share my history as to why it happened that way and how I’ve learn to be accepting of it over the past 2 years!

Personally, I’m straight, but we’re all humans and in the end, love conquers all.

Okay, let me get started on my biography! 😂

I was raised in a strict Catholic household, my mother’s side is Catholic while my father’s side is Taoist. My father and mum worked it out but I don’t think my dad is considered Catholic.

My departed grandmother was an extremely strict Catholic and she would nag at my mum to send us for Catholicism classes, but she didn’t (and I’m thankful for). But when I was younger I still accompanied my parents to church diligently every Sunday. My aunt and uncles are pretty strict Catholics as well (there was the one post where I talked about my uncle and aunt being unhappy with my cousin dating a Christian guy, post here).

So if you aren’t sure, Catholics and Christians are really strict about being straight and all, so even mentioning the word ‘gay’ to them would spark outrage and horror.

When I was around 14, I was in secondary school and had followed my friends and enrolled in a Uniform Group which was Girls’ Brigade and at that time I didn’t know they were a Christian Uniform Group. But it was a life-changing experience because after that, I never ‘converted’ to Christianity, but my heart is and I identify myself as one.

Why I didn’t manage to convert was a mess of problems, there were a lot of unhealthy things going on with the pressurised friendships and people forcing me to do a lot of things I wasn’t comfortable with, like altar-call or lying to my parents that I was going out with my friends when I was actually going out to church with them. (I cut all those people off, but I still identify with the religion.)

(I think I’m going off topic, lol.)

Anyway, Christians are similar to Catholics in the aspect that the word ‘gay’ is a taboo. When I was that age, I was like seriously homophobic because we used to associate gays with negative things and now that I think about it, I feel really bad because I was immature back then and know better now.

When I was 18, I was in polytechnic and had my first encounter with people with mental illnesses (not relevant) and people who where LGBTQ+. Honestly, my first reaction was to run far away from them because that certain person wasn’t really sincerely nice (like you could tell it was a front).

So when was the time that I came to understand and warm up to the idea? During the time when I started seriously going back into YA books. Studies HAVE shown that people who read are more emphatic and I think that’s really true.

Initially, I struggled with the concept and everything about it, but over the 2 years after I graduated from my diploma and started bookstagramming and book blogging, I slowly learn to be more accepting and understanding. Coming from a strict Catholic background and transitioning to Christianity have never given me the chance or the possibility to open up and be emphatic to the cause and I’m thankful that reading has opened my eyes and made me more accepting.

Some good movies and books definitely helped! (Shoutout to Love, Simon!)

At the end of the day, we’re all humans and I think we all just want to be loved, and we all deserve to be loved, regardless of gender, age or anything else.

The 1 and 5 months I’ve spend binge reading has really taught me a lot of things, how to be more accepting and open-minded. I’ve learn to see people not from their appearance but for their souls. Like instead of how they look, I look at each person with a soul. And I think that simplifies a lot of things and maybe everyone should do that too.

I mean, we all should have our rights and it’s all our rights to fall in love with whoever we want.

There’s this very interesting thing I was reminded off when this post/topic was swirling around in my head. When I was studying for my film diploma, we had learned of ‘film genre’ and in the module was themes in film. I distinctively remembered remembered one theme that is still prominently used in books, movies, songs and everything that falls in the spectrum alike.

“Love conquers all.”

Now, they never mentioned it was “straight love” or “gay love” or anything else. This theme has no labels, no nothing. And that was why I think that it was perfect for this post. Because love does conquer all in the end.

Also, another interesting scene I remember, from the book-to-movie adaptation of Simon vs the homosapien agenda to Love, Simon when Simon comes out to his family.

That scene broke me (I went to rewatch it and it broke me again). And it made me think a lot. Especially if I were in the parent’s shoes and in the future (if I do get married and am not forever alone and have kids), if my child comes up to me and comes out to me, how would I respond?

It would break my heart if my child would ever think that I would love them less just because they identify with the LGBTQ+ community. (I literally started tearing up and I don’t even have a kid, guys. I’m as single as they come.) And I would never want to put my child through that because I knew what it was like growing up thinking I had to hide myself from the world.

That I wasn’t good enough because I didn’t want to conform. It would seriously suck if my child had to feel that way.

And I think that was the moment when I realised that it would suck for any other person out there, thinking that they don’t fit in. They have to take so much courage to come out, and it’s not like straight people come out and say, “Hey guys, guess what? I’m straight!”

It’s unfair and treating the LGBTQ+ community differently isn’t fair. If you’re going to claim that God will judge them and all, I just have one question in reply.

“How would you know?”

It’s not like God personally told it to you. It’s not like you’re perfect and God has nothing to judge you for.

We all have our fair shares of sins, but being in love is not one of them, and it should never be.

It’s heartbreaking to see the discrimination and honestly, I think all the LGBTQ+ community just wants to be understood, and accepted (And they shouldn’t have to fight so hard for something they deserve in the first place).

So I’m not pushing my opinions on the world, I think we should all take a step back and think about things before talking, because words hurt, A LOT. And the world is already such a sad and dreadful place, we shouldn’t tear each other down and make it worse.

Just remember, “Love conquers all.”

Beating myself up over mental illness

You know how a few months ago, I mentioned that I wanted to try out for the library job that I spotted and knew I would enjoy?

Well, I gave myself a ton of excuses and ended up not even trying to pursue it, meaning not even sending in my resume or even trying.

I’m not trying to blame my mental illness (anxiety), but I must say that it’s a really big factor.

It sucks that I know what I want, but the limitations stop me right there. A ton of people would say that “oh you know, it’s all in your head”, “It’s job pre-job jitters, everyone gets past that”, “You never know until you try”.

And it’s definitely easier said than done.

Mental illness has always been a difficult topic to talk about socially and I want so badly for this to change, but unfortunately, it’s a painfully slow process. Especially in a traditional and conservative country such as mine.

Mental illness is usually just brushed off and most people don’t think there’s anything wrong until something snaps in you.

But unfortunately for me, I’ve been trained from young to “conceal, don’t feel”, and that is why I always kinda seem distant to people. Since young I’ve learnt to hold my emotions in, that my emotions would be a burden to others, so I should keep all my demons to myself, and that was how I grew up and possibility one factor that contributed to my anxiety now.

I was always an outlet for someone else, since I keep to myself a lot and am pretty quiet, I’m a very good listener and I love trying to help people with their problems, and honestly, it sucks, because most of the time I end up being taken for granted. When someone is done ranting to me, I’m tossed to the side of the road and that’s the end of the story.

It’s been almost 2 years since I graduated from my diploma and I don’t have a job, never even tried applying for it. Why? It’s not because I don’t want to earn money and earn a living, it’s simply because I can’t.

It’s already out of the norm that I didn’t get a 9-5 job like the rest of my peers (who are living the time of their lives with money), but I also have suspected mental illness, and honestly I think life sucks.

Honestly, the only thing keeping me alive right now are books, my blog and blogging friends I’ve made over the internet.

And I let these thoughts get to me, that I’m not worth it, I don’t deserve to be here. And how easy it would be if everything just ended. But I know that there are things I want to accomplish and that’s what pushes me forward to the next day.

I knew my aspiration since a young age (12), I knew I wanted to be a writer and I knew I was born and placed here to write.

Writing just makes me not think of anything else, and that’s a big comfort in my brain that seems to be wired to overthink 24/7. Because a lot of times, a lot of things have failed me, but words, never.

And I do want to get help for my suspected anxiety, but I lack the courage. I let my fears overtake me and I just don’t know what to do or how to react. It’s easy to suspect something, but what if it’s confirmed and true?

I’ve been told by many people that ‘these things are in my head’, my friends, my ex, heck, even my parents have said that to me. And it sucks, because I know I’m drowning and I’m screaming until my lungs burn and yet they SEE me drowning but refuse to accept that I’m drowning.

I know, many people will ask me to simply talk to my parents, tell them how I feel, but it’s not that simple. As I mentioned earlier before, I’ve never been one to talk about emotions despite being so sensitive to everything.

Sometimes I wish that everyone else could read my thoughts instead, because that sure would have been easier than anything else.

Honestly, I’m not sure what I was supposed to be saying with this post, but I think it’s just more of me trying to get my feelings out there. Mental illness is a tough journey, especially if you don’t have support or people who understand what you’re going through and instead keep trying to force you to do things that you simply can’t.

But if you are going through what I am, please know that you aren’t alone and at least know that one person will stand by you even if you feel like the entire world is out to get you. (I’m talking about me😂)

Stay strong and keep fighting, because every part of you is worth it and don’t let anyone tell you you’re not.

Finding courage despite anxiety

Well, I went to my local library today because I had finished my stack of library books and wanted to borrow more. I was excited to see that they were going to put a moving ladder onto one side of the shelves!

I was mostly kind of annoyed at someone answering a call at the back of the shelves, probably trying to get a job and I kind of thought it was a sign.

Remember my most recent post titled ‘You aren’t your anything’? (Link here) I mainly talked about how uncomfortable I was about finding a job, not because I didn’t want to, but my anxiety always acted up the moment I just LOOK AT AN APPLICATION.

Well, I mean, it’s no big mystery that I LOVE books, like I even run a blog that talk about books, books probably take up 24/7 of my time.

So I had kept a tab open at a job at the library, but it was for an officer job, which meant that you had to speak to a ton of people and probably even do storytelling, which I was EXTREMELY hesitant about since my anxiety was already killing me. I decided to check out more of their jobs and was surprised to find that they were indeed hiring LIBRARIANS.

And I read through the job expectations and it fit me perfectly. Like I can’t believe people get paid to arrange and be around books ALL DAY. I would kill for that job.

The more I read on, the more I knew that this was for me, but was I the right fit for them?

As a librarian, you had to work shifts and I was planning on enrolling in part time studies (which meant that I could only work morning/afternoon shifts and I’m afraid that they wouldn’t take me in because of that) and I had violin lessons every sunday, which made me panic even more.

I even made a poll on twitter over here and the end of application date is on the 31st of August, which means that I’m running out of a lot of time. But I kinda really want this but my anxiety is acting up like crazy.

Like just by reading the application online sheet made my heart palpitate like crazy and my hands were shaking insanely while I was trying to take bookstagram photos.

I 50% decided that I wanted to do this but my anxiety is stopping me again. I was thinking of talking to my mum at night to ask her to help me with my application, but I’m worried that they would ask my sister to apply too (She doesn’t even read any novels and doesn’t even go to the library, yet everyone thinks that she is a reader and writer, do you understand how frustrated I am?)

So if you have any nice or encouraging messages, feel free to drop them in the comments!

I’ll be here, trying to calm myself down and decide whether I want this job or not, and whether I can find the strength in me to stop letting my anxiety stand in the way.

You aren’t your anything.

I fear my anxiety.

 

To be blatantly honest, I’m not even sure I have anxiety or depression.

Wait, just hear me out.

 

I’ve never gone to a psychologist to get evaluated and frankly, I actually rather do that instead of continuing on not confirming whether my anxiety and depression is true. But I’m afraid. Afraid of having to face this alone and spilling out my deepest darkest thoughts and secrets to a random stranger (face to face at that). Afraid to know that my mind is as dark as it seems and that my anxiety and depression hasn’t been all in my head.

Truthfully, although I’m scared, I do want to do it, but the anxiety itself is holding me back. What if I end up breaking down or crying to a total stranger? What if I get the confirmation and it’s not what I want to hear? And if I do get confirmation (I think like 60% will), how would I react to it and where do I go on with it?

 

It’s been a year and a half since I’ve graduated my Diploma and I’ll be blatantly honest, I never applied for any jobs. I have searched for them, but never sent in my resume or even called to ask or apply.

It isn’t that I don’t want to work, who the hell doesn’t want to get a job that they love and support themselves? Every time I try, I get shut down, by myself.

And to make matters worse, people in my family are definitely not helping. They question and keep talking to me to get a job, a 9-5 job and just do it to earn money, to be content with it. But I’m pretty sure it’s to save their own face and not for my own benefit. My parents don’t even care that I’m working on my book blog or that I’ve actually written 3 first drafts for novels. They don’t care for my dreams.

I’ve heard a saying that artistic people cannot be tied down to a 9-5 job, and I really agree. We can do it, definitely, but we will burn out faster than the rest. As an INFJ, I want to inspire and change lives, I want what I do to have real meaning, but you need so many qualifications for something like that, and that’s not fair.

These one and a half years, I’ve spent them reading, wallowing in self-doubt, writing, and I knew that I had to move, but I couldn’t.

It sucked seeing peers move on with their lives as though nothing is wrong and I’m still here, picking up the pieces of the damage that has been done to me years ago. It’s difficult when people keep questioning how my life is and whether or not I have a job or we should ‘catch up’. Most of these people are those that I cut off from my life completely because I knew they were all toxic.

It’s not that I’m saying that I’m not toxic, I probably am, but if you mix two poisons together, you only get a deadlier one and we’ll just have a Romeo and Juliet tragedy all over again.

Anxiety and depression sucks. And I went on about with my life, not knowing what it was until 10 years AFTER I had my first anxiety attack. I could still remember the night when I was 12 years old, I was crying over losing something I barely knew and I felt like I couldn’t breathe and was dying. That gut wrenching feeling that made me sick to my stomach.

It disappeared 1-2 years after that and reared it’s ugly head again when I was 15-17 years old. And I thought that was the worse part, that was when I had hit rock bottom. I was dealing with stress from schoolwork, friendship, relationship and even my family. I can’t even keep count of how many times I would cry myself to sleep during that period and waking up early the next morning to pretend nothing had happened as I went to meet my friends to take the bus to school. When they asked about my puffy eyes, I could get away with it by telling them I didn’t have enough sleep, and I was lying through my teeth every single time.

My relationship was so toxic I almost resorted to self-harming (like 2 shallow cuts that never drew blood, but left scars to this very day) , hoping that my blood would be able to save the downward spiral of the relationship, but I was left to pick up the cinders when the fire was done burning.

When I finally moved on to being 18-21 years old, I was sure that life couldn’t get worse, since I had hit my rock bottom well before then, right?

Wrong. I hit rock bottom then, dealing with stress of not being able to get good grades (despite doing well academically wise when I was 15-17), toxic friendships and group mates.

I broke down so many times and the two worse ones were when I literally sat in the bathroom, crying on the floor and consoling myself that things would get better. But they didn’t.

I learnt about anxiety and depression at this stage and suddenly I realised that all those weird palpitations, breathlessness, cold hands, stomach clenching, nausea, lack of appetite weren’t normal. I thought they were, since they had been with me for years. And I was so angry, why didn’t anyone tell me that they weren’t normal? (This is why schools, irregardless of country should educate people about mental health.)

I literally saw a friend break herself apart while trying to cope with anxiety and depression.

The sad thing was that when I told her about my symptoms, she told me that they were all in my head. As someone who was going through anxiety and depression, I was hoping that she would give me her two cents and insight.

I was never angry at her for gaslighting me, I just wished that she would have told me to get it checked out.

 

Now I’m 22 years old and am still suffering from those anxiety attacks. They come at random times, but they take a fragmented part of me every single time it happens. This week alone I’ve already had 3 attacks out of 4 days.

I just wished that I could save myself. I want gather the strength and I DO want to get evaluated, but I know that it’s going to be scary because I would have to do everything alone. And my attacks always come when I’m alone. I would make a ton of excuses in my head as to why I shouldn’t go. It’s too far. I probably have to lie to my parents to get out of the house to go there. I have to get my identification card from my mum (yes, my mum still keeps it and refuses to let me or my siblings carry our own, which I don’t understand, it’s our name on the card, right?)

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a long time, ever since I chatted with someone on twitter over acne and scars. She mentioned that someone pointed out that her acne made her look older. And me, having gone through people pointing out my acne and scars was furious to hear that.

My acne journey was almost as though as my mental health. 13-16yrs old, I had clear perfect skin, when I was 17, I started getting cystic acne and my ex would actually point them out and I hated being in my own skin so much.

It went on for a while before I went to a GP to get treatment and it worked, for a while. when I was 21, the acne returned because I was so stressed out by my final project, and my team mates weren’t helping when they constantly pointed it out. It was kinda their fault that my stress was increasing anyway. Recently the cystic acne has returned again and I’m just trying to keep them at bay. After the final project, I had learnt to put make up for a violin recital and I resorted to using concealer to cover up my acne and scars because I felt ugly.

But after getting Medicube’s red erasing cream (not a sponsored post, don’t worry), I actually stopped using concealer when I went out. Why? It was partially because the scars were reduced, but I had also learnt to love my scars. They were my battle scars and each and every one of them proved that I lived through something that made me bleed (literally, when I pricked the pimples).

I hated that most people were insensitive and that is probably why I’m so quiet. If you don’t have anything nice to say, you just shouldn’t say anything at all. More people should live by that rule.

But at the end of the day, you aren’t your anything.

You aren’t your anxiety. You aren’t your depression. You aren’t your acne. You aren’t your scars. You are not your mental illness.

You aren’t your anything.

You are you. A beautiful soul inhabiting a physical body.

The problem is that people are too focused on the physical body to appreciate the beautiful soul within. They see us for our scars, our mental illnesses, they see us for everything that can only be seen with the eyes. (Which is ironic because mental illnesses can’t even be seen).

We have to learn to see things with our souls and not our eyes.

Remember, you aren’t your anything.

You are you.

 

Take care of yourself,
Love,
Michelle (Firstbooklove)