Friday, 25 April 2014

Dear Diary

I was in Ipoh last weekend and on my last night there, I decided to go through some storage boxes filled with stuff from my uni days. During that process, I found an old diary of mine which I had during my 3rd year of university.

Flicking through the pages made me laugh and smile so much even though most of my entries were laced with stress, worries and frustration. University wasn't a complete joy ride for me but fret not, there were definitely happy times.

Although my diary is private, I love reading it to people I trust. All my entries are written in so much detail that it actually sounds like a page out of a novel—this is something my close friends tell me. Sometimes they tell me they wish I could write in their diaries for them! Haha.

My sister and I took turns reading out entries from our diaries to each other. It was so late at night and because we sleep in the same room as our little brother (sibling tradition), we did it in the bathroom so we wouldn't wake our brother up.
The next day when I was back in KL, I went over to my best friend's house and she read me entries from her old diaries. I'm predicting a new tradition in the making!
I think the best way to move on with our lives is to acknowledge how far we've come and laugh at all our past (bad) experiences; the ones we once thought we'd never get over. Bitter experiences always seem so insignificant as the years go by.

That's the best part of having a diary—being able to see how much you've overcome during the span of your lifetime. Without writing your experiences down, it's hard to remind yourself where you once were and where you're heading. 

These are some of the diaries I've from the ages of 14 onwards (2005 until now). 
'Emo is not punk'?? I don't even know what I was thinking. What does that even mean?? That pretty pink diary was plain when I bought it but my 14-year-old self decided to ruin it with decorations that scream out teen angst. 

I've had a diary ever since I was 5. My mother's always encouraged me to write about my daily experiences and it helps that the cartoon characters I liked as a kid always had a diary. Anyone else watched 'As Told By Ginger'?? 
My love for writing stems from having a diary. I love archiving my thoughts, feelings and experiences into a book—it's like owning a time machine; it gives you the chance to visit your past whenever you want to.

It's also liberating having a space where I can be completely honest and express my emotions. A place where I can immortalise some of the darkest and happiest moments of my life. 

In some ways, a diary is like having someone you can constantly talk to without boring them to death. People can get tired of deep and long conversations but when you're writing your heart and soul onto paper, the conversation doesn't end unless YOU want it to.

>>> to be continued in Dear Diary Pt 2

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Do I just watch...?

You know when you've had an extremely bad experience with someone? Or, if you're 'friends' with them but you know for a fact that, that person is trouble with a capital T? 

Then somehow, the universe decides it's a good idea to introduce Trouble with someone you know and all you can do is just stand there, helplessly watching something horrible unfold...

I think the world is getting smaller and smaller. I've switched schools a few times in my youth and somehow that hasn't stopped my once separate circle of friends from forming one big circle. 

That comes with some pros and cons, of course. One of the cons being certain no-good individuals befriending people you know. Thing is, you never want to risk looking like the one who's poking in other people's businesses and spreading lies.

Tell me, what CAN one do when such things happen? 

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Of Leadership & Teamwork

If I asked you to picture a leader in your head, chances are, you already know someone who fits the bill. You already know why they have what it takes to lead the pack. There's something about them that exudes the essence of a leader.

At the back of your mind, you've probably compared yourself to them as well. 'Well, I'm not like them. I can't possibly lead.' I've always admired confident people; those who're never afraid to speak up and at times, even be silly in front of everyone.

At the Helen Storrow seminar, participants were asked to list out characteristics of a good leader. Most of us felt that being compassionate and approachable were as important as being confident and assertive.

We were also taught the different styles of leadership. Turns out, different situations require different types of leadership. We're often quick to think that being assertive (or bossy!) is an effective way of leading.

WRONG. Many work-place situations actually require good communication, the exchange of ideas and every team member being appreciated. Good leadership and teamwork go hand in hand. A leader without a pack is just a tyrant, basically.
One of the key things I learnt about leadership from the seminar is that there really is no fixed mould for a good leader. Good leaders come and go in history and they all had different ways of leading the crowd.

But the most important thing a leader can do is touch the hearts of others. 
A leader has greater influence over people when they are respected. Respect is earned. Therefore values such as integrity, sincerity and compassion are not separate from leadership.

From my experience, I've the utmost respect for passionate people. Those who truly love what they do. Somehow, it's those that inject love into what they do that have their values and morals in check. Don't just be a leader, be a GOOD GREAT one. 

A great leader will never fail to inspire the next generation of leaders. Think about that. 

>> More on 'Being A Leader' here. <<
>> Blog posts on the Helen Storrow seminar. <<

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.