Tuesday, January 16, 2018

reasons to cut your hair short

Hello! Yes, it is I, your typical blogger, emerging from the underworld.

It has been 7 days since my last blog post and I just spent an entire week of not writing nor preparing any content whatsoever. I know, I know; grant me no excuse, I am a disgrace.

Anyway, earlier today, I went for a hair appointment because there's only 6 days until the big move and my God, who wants to spend $50 on a haircut in a foreign country? Not me. For several days, I contemplated on whether or not I should cut my hair short. After a lot of thinking and Pinterest-browsing, I decided on this lob cut, similar to one I got back in 2016. I was pleased with the results, then proceeded to go home, put some decent makeup on, and take some pictures on a windy Tuesday. Because I have a camera. And it allows me to do that. 

Changing your hair on a January makes it look like you're buying into the cliché "new year, new me" thing, I get it. But there are reasons why I can be such a short-hair-enthusiast; at any time of year, really.

it saves time.

Having shorter hair cuts your getting-ready time in half. Aside from styling (if you're into that), short hair is incredibly low-maintenance. It dries quicker, and is much more manageable. Also, blow drying now feels less like an intense arm workout. You're welcome.

it boosts your confidence and self-esteem.

This means no more hiding behind the length of your hair, trying to smartly cover your "problem areas". Learning to live with short hair means exposing more of yourself (not to be read out of context), and it helps you practice self-love and acceptance, even at a time where you look and feel different than before.

you wake up with your hair in place.

Long hair might be fun, but it's troublesome for spending hours in bed. With short hair, you don't have to wake up with 142 strands of hair plastered on the side of your face, nor twisted up all around your head, forming a messy helmet of tangled locks. Open your eyes, sit up, and ta-da. Hair falls into place, almost seamlessly. Like magic.

it forces you to work on your posture.

Not that something as insignificant as changing your hair can instantly improve your entire quality of life, but after switching to shorter hair, I felt more obligated to maintain a good posture. With a lot more outward exposure, I am more mindful of my body language and my sitting/standing posture, especially when interacting with others.

you are free to recklessly shake your head around like a madman.

Not much explanation on this one. Just- try it, I swear.

it changes you from the outside in.

I don't know what it is, but the change in appearance actually leads to a change in personality as well. Not only do you obtain more confidence, but people with short hair are identified as being more carefree, happy, and open-minded. The funny thing is that these things sort of become true, gradually, as you settle into the new look. These positive vibes just sort of slowly immerse into you, perhaps partly because you feel like a new person overall.


I'm not going to try and exaggerate because I know that my hair is not the shortest cut it's ever been either (that's another haircut yet to happen someday in the future), but more or less, I hope this encouraged you. By all means, go shorter than I did. Be braver than I was. And if you've only been considering it, then take this as a sign, or whatever. 

Even though our topic today revolves around hair (honestly, not the most important thing in the world to talk about), I do find makeovers to be symbolic of a certain life principle that I'm beginning to learn: It's brave and healthy to step out of comfort zones. 

Coco Chanel once said, "A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life." 

I don't know what her life was like when she said that but after reading this quote, I chose to firmly believe it. Right now, things are balancing on a razor blade. Change is coming and I can see it like tsunami waves forming on the horizon. It can feel a little helpless; like seeing it on the weather forecast, but having no time to run away from it. So instead, I stand on the shore. The waves can bring a lot of things, but I'll learn to swim before it kills me. 

If a woman cuts her hair and changes her life, then I should be halfway there. Change shouldn't scare me, because whatever happens in my life, I decide what that change does to me. I'm in charge of which direction it makes me turn to. I'm in charge of not letting it break me.

And if I'm being really honest,

I didn't need a haircut to tell me that.


To making decisions that you'll be proud of,

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

celebrate little achievements

I've been thinking a lot about the idea of "goals" and success, and how the whole January-1st-on-a-Monday situation has propelled us into this strange, whimsical start-of-the-year optimism. 

And the race to fulfill all the New Year's Resolutions begins.

Maybe you met with some people over the holidays and hey, someone just got engaged! Or a quick scroll through Instagram tells you about that promotion your friend just received. Not to mention the overly concerned relatives who are always a little too curious about your love life; as if we'd all die without a relationship status.

Be it comparison, peer/parental pressure, or by any other reason, everyone's been at that point in their lives where they feel like they haven't really achieved anything, have they? It's only natural, and I get it. Some 20-year-olds are still in uni, trying their best to make ends meet. But some 20-year-olds are married. Some other 20-year-olds own Google. (Probably.)

A lot can be said about "goals" and success, but the pattern is that it's always rather distant. Never quite within our reach yet. Consequently, we find ourselves stuck, thinking, I should've made it by now.


However, despite all that, I think we owe it to ourselves to take a short pause. As humans, we tend to become so focused on the areas of our lives where we lack, that we forget to reflect upon the progress that we've made.

Alright, so maybe we're not Superman-ing our way through life. Maybe we don't have our lives figured out at an age where we thought we would've. Jobs get boring, chores pile up, and we grow tired of chasing unfulfilled dreams. But sometimes, though, it's the smaller accomplishments that keep us going. However tiny or insignificant, there is joy in taking note of the little things that make us say, "hey, I did that!". It eventually helps us to be more appreciative and grateful for our lives right now. Below is an example of a list that helped me get started.

  1. Learning how to properly hold a baby. // You know those people who would see a newborn baby, then gladly reach their arms out 'cause they want to hold it? I am not one of those people. Where does the head go? Is this even right? Are my arms comfortable? It sends me into lowkey panic mode. Being the smallest child in the family, I never got to learn. Recently, though, I finally did! That is, learning how to hold my 2-month-old baby niece several times. It took a little practice (and some motherly tutorials from my sister), but I finally got the hang of it. I even successfully cradled her to sleep two different times. Not gonna brag, but watching her drift into sleep in my arms did make me feel like I deserve a gold medal. Because our house has been pretty hectic and some babysitting skills could really come in handy, it's moments like these that make me think hey, I might not be so bad of a babysitter after all. (Just kidding. Please don't start handing me your babies.)
  2. Learning new songs on the ukulele. // And my love for the ukulele prospers on. (I've found that some classics from Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley suit it pretty well.) Anyone who's tried learning a new instrument can relate to that utter happiness when you can feel your fingers getting used to playing the chords and becoming more fluent, and my new tiny renditions of Fly Me to the Moon have given me just that.
  3. Getting a start on my packing // I know I'm a person who likes to organize and stay on top of things, but people would be surprised to find out just how badly I can procrastinate. Packing is messy and tiring. In traveling, it's my least favorite part. But considering I'm about to not only travel, but move to another city, I had to start taking it a little more seriously this time. So I set a commitment to start last Thursday, and I did! And there are stacks of clothes laid out in my bedroom to serve as solid proof. 
  4. Allowing myself to have feelings. // Last but not least, sometimes our small achievements are ones that we experience on our own. How we've grown as human beings. Look back on the past 6-12 months, and you might find the little changes in yourself that have shaped you for the better into the person you are today; changes that may have gone unnoticed. Is it better anger management skills? Have you become more motivated? For me, it was the fact that I stopped my habit of supressing my emotions into a glass case. Now I've learned to sort of accept and navigate through the intensity of my feelings, instead of neglecting them.

True, we musn't become complacent when revelling in these small victories – this message isn't intended to give us allowance to let our dreams loose, give up, and succumb to being a lazy couch potato either – but I think that sometimes, we need to give ourselves a little more credit. If not for running a marathon or being a perfect mother or acing an international scholarship, then simply for trying. You can be kind to yourself without deflating yourself.

Let the gap between where you are and where you want to be to encourage you, and not intimidate you. Let's continually make sure that we're not just standing still, and embrace how we are constantly growing and pressing onward. And on that journey, let's not forget to rejoice in our small minutes of triumph, the signals of progress we were too busy to realize, and in the many tiny milestones we've reached along the way. 

On that note, I hereby declare 2018 as a year of celebrating life's little achievements. I highly suggest you try and start a list of your own. You can even keep and write into it all throughout the year, and read it to yourself once the next December ends. You might be surprised at how much you've done. We might not be "there" yet, but be glad;

we are no longer where we once were.


To little achievements,

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

why i like rainy days

pluviophile (n.)
a lover of rain; someone who finds joy and peace of mind during rainy days

Twenty days away from my departure and each day, I grow increasingly reminiscent. Over everything. The objects in my house, the laughter of my family, the silence of my bedroom, the sounds coming from my kitchen. Maybe once you listen to something repeatedly each day, even the noisy clatter of pots and pans and kitchen utensils start to sound like a harmony in formation.

The 2nd day of January, my Christmas decorations are still hanging, left untouched. The tree no longer lights up and the tinsel looks pathetically outdated. With the right light, they still glimmer, but displaying their red-and-green holiday cheer when the holidays are almost over, their festiveness now  only makes them look lame.

It's the first Tuesday of the year. I'm sitting in my living room, minutes until noon, when the sky had decided to unleash its melancholy. Initially I was reading a book; a story about someone who suffered amnesia. Yet in all the "joy and peace of mind" the rain seemingly brought, I couldn't concentrate. I looked up, and around, and outside, and then in. I realized I didn't want to read. I want to write.


It's raining cats and dogs outside, with a hailing wind that I'd feel every now and then as it makes its way through the doors and windows of my home. Water is falling rapidly, violently, on the pavement of my backyard. If the weather was a person, they must be mourning the loss of a loved one. Sad, angry, and distressed.

Twenty minutes pass. It's still raining, and I still love how it feels when the wind keeps finding their way to me. I started to wonder why I like rainy days so much.

I like how it's a signal of the sky giving in. Of the clouds holding too much inside of themselves that they couldn't help but pour it out. I never found clouds so relatable.

I also like how it makes the air that gusts through my living room smell like rain. I used to wonder why people like the "smell of rain" so much but lately, I've come to experience it myself. It's similar to walking through a forest. Damp, airy, misty, reminds you of tree bark and soil. I like that if you stand near an opening and close your eyes and let that smell of rain come with the wind to greet you, it'd be just like driving through a forest in the mountains. I like that in the comfort of my home, rain delivers to me experiences that make me picture as if I am elsewhere.

Sometimes, I also like to imagine rain as a venturer of great distances. How they've probably already poured over a number of towns aside from mine today. And how they might continue on their journey to the other direction and do their work on more cities ahead. I like imagining if we could travel with clouds. I often imagine how rain reaches those we couldn't.

Rainfall drenches everything under it in all its glory; every person and animal submits to it, we simply have no choice. It annoys the businessmen walking through the streets with a briefcase and no umbrella. It gives relief to farmers and joy to their children. It understands the sad and lonely, cooped up in the solitude of their bedrooms, glancing out the window with a head brimming with thoughts and hopeless dreams. In a way, the rain can be anything to anyone, everything to some, and nothing to some others.


I never understood pluviophiles despite being one myself. Falling in love with a weather that would ruin one's plans of a lovely walk in the park, or of taking their bicycle out to ride through the city. Finding peace indoors when the storm outside is anything but peaceful. Quieting ourselves to calmness as the downpour rages on.

The rain has now diminished itself to a light drizzle. But the sun hasn't peeked through yet. The air remains in place, motionless. The rain is finally gone and my heart seems to wish that it stayed a little longer. Silently, the leaves and branches of the trees make subtle motions, swinging gently as the air starts to clear up. In my head, they're waving goodbye to the gloomy grey clouds.

A "see you soon", if you will.


To embracing bad weather,

Monday, January 1, 2018

unspoken words, and soulmates | q&a

Happy new year!

A couple of days ago, I'd asked my followers to send me submissions for an upcoming blog post. See, as the year comes to a close, I find myself hunting for new content and material. So I urged them to send me anything they want; a story, a question, or any thought unspoken or unexpressed before 2017 ends. It was sort of a humble invitation to get them to speak up, or perhaps help them by coming up with some answers. Considering we are now in 2018 already, below are some of the results.

Disclaimer: This compilation was made in no particular order, only grouped into two; the questions, and confessions. The short lines at the center separate the submissions by the different individuals who sent them (so multiple questions in one segment means they came from one person.) Some of these have been translated and edited for clarity, but all of these will remain anonymous. 


"For once, I just want to know what it's like to be the 'nice' person. All my life, many seem to call me mean. When I'm looking for a group of reliable people, they call me mean and selfish. When I don't want to give them answers on a test, I'm mean and stingy. When I tell my friend they didn't do a good job, I'm mean. When I'm constructing event schedules, I'm mean again. Even when I'm not doing anything, or just commenting on something. Even worse, I'm exhausted of being called mean when I smile. They call my smile 'cynical' and 'fake'. What the hell? Not to mention the comments. The first impression is it's 'creepy because it's too friendly.' I'm wrong for being friendly. Even for smiling."


"'Facts don't care about your feelings.' This saying resonates well with me. Often times, humans introduce too much implicit bias, false representation, and untruthfulness. In my opinion, always find the truth first, then form a conclusion. Don't judge an idea or someone based on your initial flight of feeling. Humans can never accurately establish intent. Look objectively first, then subjectively."


"Never in life, have I ever thought of not looking forward to a new year. Seems so odd, on how I couldn't find that me who has always been excited for it. [...] As maybe some people had the best year of 2017, I have to say, maybe 2017 has not been one of the best years, but it has been a year to remember. That to become alive, sometimes after being on the clouds for long enough, to make life balanced, you just gotta go straight down to the dark valleys, just to tell you that you are human and life is well, life.. And not to try to always have an excellent life, because life is not a test. You get to have a break from it. I'm probably on that point, and I'm not sure if I could hold on to it any much longer, so I'm here, on my knees. Not knowing on how to do this, I'm placing my 2018 on His hands. Not knowing of the future, being in this.. I don't know what you call this period but people would usually call it the 'in-between', having all this heartache you might never explain to someone just because you know no one will understand even just for an ear to listen, I'm taking a breath, praying. Not all years should be good. but like an arrow, in order to race forward, you do need to take a little step back. And I guess my 2017 is that little step back, as I know it will become a year to remember."


"I broke up with my ex. Ada yang pergi, tapi ada yang datang juga."
(= something had gone, but something else had also come.)


"As an artist, the most valuable thing I learned this year is to have a pattern of work, in order to build better works."


"I forced myself to let go of someone whom I think might have been my person."


If friendship was an object, what would it be?
The best thing I can think of is a tree. As seasons change, some leaves are destined to fall off, and I think that in several friendships, I've learned that not every aspect of it is meant to last forever. When nurtured, a friendship can grow upwards and in all directions, becoming stronger each time. But when no longer fruitful, like all trees, we have every right to cut it down eventually.

If you were an object, what would you be?
This was a hard one, but the first thing that came to mind is a book. Not a story book, but a leather-bound journal with old, yellowed pages; some filled in with ink writings, some still completely blank. I consider myself an old soul that is nowhere near perfect, and from the outside, I look rather mediocre, "tired", or unexciting. It's when you open the journal and read what's inside, or when you're granted the privilege of writing into it, that meaning will start to surface.


What do you search for in life?
For such a profound question, I hope you bear with my simple answer. Personally, the first word that came to mind was "meaning." What I look for in life is meaning, really. A sense of purpose, and a fulfilled life. This doesn't mean riches or materialistic gain, but rather in how much of a positive impact I could bring, having a heart that is peaceful and content, and filled with the love and joy from the people I keep around me. I don't want my life to be overflowing, but just enough.


Do soulmates exist?
Albeit not always nor entirely, the naive, hopeful child in me still kind of believes in them. There's a certain point in your life where a person becomes a home and there are some connections you make to certain people that are too deep and complex to be described logically, so the "soulmate" theory seems suitable to fill in the blanks. I do, however, think that soulmates do not always take the form of spouses or significant others. I think a soulmate can be a sister, a roommate, or your best friend. It's just that society has morphed it into one specific context, which is romance, but I don't necessarily think it's limited to that. Whatever form they might take, though, once you know, you know.


I've always wondered; what do girls like you tend to like when it comes to guys?
You mean on the outside or inside?

Frankly, I don't know how to answer this on behalf of "girls like me", because I don't see myself as a "type" placed into a distinct category. I also think everyone is entitled to their own preferences. On the outside, the short version is I respect those who dress well, and have a nice smile. (For reference, I think The Amazing Spiderman's Peter Parker is basically the embodiment of everything I'd fall for.) But personality-wise, although I'm never interested in the most sociable or popular guy in the group, it's really a lot more difficult to put into words. Like I said before, once I know, I know. This is an uncomfortable question, so let's proceed.


What does a weekend mean to you?
Basically a chance to breathe. Like that pause you need to take after talking for too long.

Do you look forward to it?
I look forward to weekends, yeah! There's this slightly celebratory, relaxed, happy energy that kind of overtakes the atmosphere in a subtle way. It's almost like the sunny days are sunnier.

And what does the perfect weekend look like to you?
I like this question. Perfect weekend plans for me would be a weekend spent in a mountain cabin with my loved ones, or just a loved one. I picture a long-drive road trip, and polaroid photos, and a nice fireplace, and home-cooked meals, and a view to wake up to. That's probably my main "perfect weekend" aesthetic at the moment.


Thank you for the questions you've sent me, and for trusting me and giving me some of this pure, heartfelt material. Wishing everyone a good 2018.

See you when I see you.