Sunday, 13 April 2014

A safe place PT. 2

... this post makes more sense if you read Part 1

Girl guiding has proven me that who you choose to surround yourself with matters. The people you choose to be around can either lift you higher or drag you lower and lower.

When Our Chalet emailed me saying my application was successful, I was pretty shocked. ME, seriously?? Confession: I was also pretty nervous. I'm such a newbie to guiding and OhMyGod, they're going to make me talk in front of everyone!!

But amidst the worrying and irrational thoughts, I managed to knock some sense into myself. I've been SO good with my 2014 resolution to overcome anything that scares me, why stop now? 

I'm glad I ignored the silly voices inside my head because had I done otherwise, I would have missed out on a chance to meet all the wonderful participants I had the privilege of befriending and working with. 
Aside from gaining tons of knowledge on leadership and the environment from the seminar, I really did learn a lot more about myself. I honestly couldn't have done it without the other Girl Guides who pointed out my strengths.

Although constructive criticism is healthy; you can't get far without encouragement. Sometimes encouragement has to come from you but when it comes from you AND the people around you, you're pushed to different heights!
I think us youngsters are surrounded by a lot of negativity these days; there are more voices telling us we can't it as opposed to YES YOU CAN. I also can't help but notice a culture of complaining and doing nothing amongst social media users. 

Face it, social media is part of our daily lives. First thing I do when I wake up is check my twitter feed and more than often it's just tweets on how much people dislike so and so. Complaints; never solutions. Negativity; hardly any optimism or neutral views. 

Spending a week with a bunch of young women who are positive and proactive was the breath of fresh air I needed. I love that there are young women out there with the same aspirations as me! 
Guiding taught me that there are more things that bind us people together than there are that separates us. The desire for a better world is more universal than you think; it really doesn't matter where you're from.

My advice to girls who are as introverted and sick of negativity as me, surround yourself with optimistic and non-judgmental people. If you search for good people or rather, the good IN people, you'll surely find a safe place to be yourself.  :)

... yes, there are more Helen Storrow seminar related posts to come.

Friday, 11 April 2014

A safe place

Muscles get stronger as a result of our body facing resistance on a constant basis. It's a way for our body to adapt to the opposing force it faces. Like our muscles, we grow stronger from challenges.

Challenges condition us to be tougher and more resilient; it's an automatic process. But even muscles need rest. Constant resistance paired with inadequate rest and nutrition will just leave a person exhausted and weak.

Ask any doctor and they'll tell you that little sleep and an unhealthy diet are a recipe for disaster. I think the younger generation today face a lot of challenges never previously faced by former generations—at least not at such a young age.

Teachers/parents demand good grades. Their peers expect them to act and look a certain way. The media tells them they've to look a certain way to be attractive. If that wasn't enough; society gives them their own set of rules, too.

Growing up for me, I was always trying very hard to be comfortable with myself. I tried to be ok with my looks, my low self-esteem and the fact that I rather read and draw all day instead of having every bit of me analyzed by people who don't even know the first thing about me!

I tried hard to be confident but I never felt as if I was in a safe environment to be myself, let alone make mistakes.

Without mistakes; you don't learn. I did the only thing which I thought would save me from the critique of the mean kids at school and the passing comments at family gatherings—I avoided EVERYTHING. Even things which I knew I'd love if I became good at it. My self-doubt developed into anxiety; something I brought with me to sixth form and uni.
In uni, I met people of a different kind. Viciously competitive and somewhat nicer. I made a handful of very supportive friends (who later became my housemates) and together we became each other's rock. We were a family.

Uni ended too soon but I returned to Malaysia with a very different mindset. My housemates and I made a pact; 2014 was all about taking risks. I was SO ready to get out there and try out new things. I made a vow I wasn't going to chicken out of anything.

One of my biggest fears? Talking in front of a group of strangers. Heck, even talking to a stranger. Girl guiding actually gave me a chance to do public speaking. I still get extremely lightheaded before I've to talk/present in front of a group of people but I think my journalism degree taught me to put on a brave face even if I wasn't.

Girl guiding however, gave me that chance to do what I needed to do to improve on myself without the unsympathetic grading system. It gave me the positive reinforcement which I did not get much of throughout my experience in school or uni...

... to be continued.

...I'll tie this in with the Helen Storrow Seminar, I promise.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Women Leaders

It's been AGES since I've updated my blog but I've a very good excuse. I just came back from a seminar in Switzerland and before then, I was very busy preparing for it. I do apologise for the long wait but I'm beyond excited to share every single detail of my trip.

First thing's first, I attended the 9th Helen Storrow seminar; a leadership/environmental programme which takes in a max. of 40 participants each time. They usually don't take in more than 2 from each member organisation (country). Also, you have to be a girl guide or girl scout to qualify.

Their tagline is "Young women leading for a greener future." It's an intensive programme that helps develop your leadership skills while providing you with the knowledge/skills that you'll need when fighting for change: campaigning methods, change management, fund development, etc.

The flags below represent each country the participants were from. Spot Malaysia!
We had to wait a couple of days for all the snow to melt for us to take a decent group picture. All the girl guides/scouts were dressed in their uniform for the group photo. The ladies at the very front row were the facilitators and planning team members.
During the course of the seminar, participants were grouped into different patrols.

The patrol which I had the utmost privilege of working with:
From left: Norway, Ireland, Denmark, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Tanzania and Hong Kong.

Each patrol had members from each region: Western hemisphere, Asia Pacific, Africa region and Arab region. It was a privilege working with each and every one of them because I honestly can't remember the last time I was in a room with so many positive young women who just want a better world as much as I do!
We also got the chance to work closely with participants within our own regions. 
Asia Pacific | From left: Singapore, Maldives, Hong Kong, Malaysia (yay me), Japan and Sri Lanka. Missing is Australia.

I'm so glad a good friend of mine from Girl Guides urged me to try my luck in applying for this seminar. I must confess, I was pretty nervous about the whole thing because I'm not great at dealing with new people but all the girls I met were just so supportive and non-judgmental.

Joining Girl Guides Association of Malaysia has got to be one of the greatest decisions I made after graduating. I've met some really amazing women and young girls in the process and I've been doing some pretty awesome things. You really do feel part of a positive force when you're a girl guide!

More on the Helen Storrow Seminar in my next post...