What doing a pullup taught me about life

I’m a small girl, a weak girl. But pullups taught me incredibly much about life.
  1. THINKING IT IS IMPOSSIBLE. You start by believing it is incredibly ridiculous about the thought of ever crossing the bar. You watch videos and you’re like how do people manage to yank themselves up. It’s like life. Some of the most daunting things seem impossible and for a long time they will continue to do so. You watch people do and convince yourself you cant do it, you forget that God is the one who gives you the strength to do life, to finish that essay, to reach out to that person, to make peace with that family member. The thought of trying doesn’t cross your mind because you’ve internalised how hard it will be and you can never imagine it can be done.
  2. Growing the seeds of belief. Digging yourself out of your resigned state and starting to believe you may actually be able, one day, far away but possibly so. I watched fitness videos and I saw 16 year old girls, just like me do it and I thought wow maybe it’s because they tried and they definitely somewhere. It’s like how we see others do well because they trusted God for something and we’re like wow okay maybe it works. Seeing others try is faith provoking. So let me tell you that if you try, it creates a cycle where you inspire others (I’ll come back to this later). This part of the process is the hardest. It’s the hardest, it’s even harder than actually being on the bar. The battle isn’t so much physically but mentally, you need to convince yourself. This part no one can be a part of, it is all you that you need to convince yourself to go do what God wants you to do, or what you know you should but are just too afraid to try.
  3. Convinced? Stage three is where you start trying. You hang on the bar and you feel the weight of everything (your body weight + gravity) all on your arms/shoulders. When you start trying, the pressures don’t come just from inside you (your lack of belief) but also from the external. Everything will try to bring you down, the time won’t be right, you’ll be tired, people will reject and diss  what you thought were your good intentions and this makes you start to believe less as the days go. Worse part is the bar is so high, literally. You see standards set and you know the only standard you have is your own convictions and beliefs and yet you can’t help feeling small and inadequate. But you grip the bar anyway and that’s a start. Good on you.
  4. You keep pulling, against all the odds you pull. I pulled for months, I tried so long and I just couldn’t bring myself over the bar. I stopped for 2 years because I went back to stage 1. You’re gonna fail countless times, you’re gonna try until you’re exhausted. There’ll be days you sit there and cry because life has taken everything out of you, opportunities passed you by, you wasted some. You get rejected by companies you applied jobs for and passed the many stages of interviews only to fail at the final hurdle. Your parents don’t value you, your friends don’t either. You feel how tired you are and you get going deadlines work school family church social life everything just overwhelming,  crumbling on you. You want to give up.
  5. Helplines come. After all that time, my best friend told me to try using a resistance band. It reduces the weight you’re pulling so you can cross the bar easier. It worked wonders, not so much for my body but for my confidence. I actually crossed the bar. Life throws you helplines. Be wise and listen to them. They come in advice, scolding, hugs, many many forms, sometimes not forms you like. But listen. They make the difference between you succeeding and you failing. One more thing, don’t get super reliant on them. After a while I realised I could hit 10 pullups with the resistance band. When you’re going good with the helpline, it becomes time to get weaned off it.
  6. Crossing the bar? Stepping on the floor. Looking up. All the advice of everyone I’d talked to ringing in my ears, I grab the bar. I pullback my shoulders and I begin the pull, I clear half the distance between my head and the bar, and somewhere I hear half my mind tell me oh no you can’t, and another half just say go go go go. Who you listen to determines whether you cross because at this point (and actually the rest of the time) it’s not a physical thing, but mental. At the start you may have been physically weaker but there’s no reason to be now. I’ve trained. You too, you’ve come this far. Uttering a silent *God help me*, I listen to the half of my mind that tells me to go and I pull. And suddenly I’m clear of the bar. I see my chin cross it. And I finally understand what it is to succeed. It’s small but it’s a victory. It’s a personal victory from my fears. You too, you gotta listen to the side that tells you to just go and obey it. The helplines that pulled you along/up won’t be there forever. You’ll have to clear the bar on your own, your life and race is yours. You can train with people just like you can run life’s race with people but in the end your race is your own to brave through the nightmares, the doubts, fears and tears. But take heart, you will clear in His timing.
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Y3S1; All in a Semester’s work

Reflection
It’s been a while since I posted or wrote anything due to the sheer madness of deadlines and appointments every week. This was a painful semester because I changed a lot of things inside me. I let grades define me, and that stung real badly when everything started to crash terribly, all at once.  I used to pride myself that grades weren’t a priority but along the way I got lost in everything that was happening. I’m thankful that in this processing of digging myself out of the hole of self pity, I managed to find some basic self respect for the hard work I put in. I’m thankful for the people who kept reminding me, day in and day out, that I do my best and leave the rest to God and don’t tag my identity to my grades. And having said that, I’m also thankful to those who inspired change in me, who forced me to see the bigger picture. It’s very difficult to see the bigger picture when you’re stuck in the rat race, especially when you’re crying, dying, and struggling to pull yourself through. I reached the point where I convinced myself I was utterly stupid, incapable of coherent thought, as evidenced by the way I attempted to make arguments in the essays, all futile attempts. The confidence took a real beating.
It’s all better now, the pain for this time is starting to be that bit lessened, there’s finally some light at the end of the tunnel.
Thanksgiving
I’m thankful also to professors who cared more than just for grades or academics, professors who asked about whether I was doing okay, why I did not show up for class because I was just too afraid to face a new day of challenges when I could barely get over the previous one. Thank God for professors who ended emails with ‘P. S. KEEP GOING, none of us are good, or perfect, but we’ll all be learning together’. Seems cliché but when you’re really down and out and sitting in a puddle of self pity, you need to hear that.
I’m thankful for friends who told me to sleep, who bought me food, who texted me and took time off to help me when I couldn’t help myself. Most of the healing took place while I slept and woke the next day with a renewed sense of purpose. I’ll keep trying, again.
Esthertiq
Lastly, I changed distressdoodles to esthertiq. Distressdoodles was a coping mechanism for the near breakdowns and high levels of mental stress experienced in university, especially year 2. Over time I realised that it completed what it was created to do and that inspiration to draw was easier and easier to come by. Lettering became a skill and a part of me, that I became able to go from using this as a device to deal with stress to something I could use to collaborate with others and be useful to those around me, to encourage them through cards, to brighten and put a smile on someone’s face.
Reformation Day
I used to underestimate the power of what I have and who I was, with the power and grace of Christ, and then I used to fail because I relied on myself completely and I failed myself, but from today at least I’ll attempt to document  this change that started in me and I pray God help me see my identity isn’t pegged to my grades, or accomplishments or skills, but to Christ, for all the love He poured out for me that day on the cross at Calvary. Reformation day came and went and one tenet out of the others that Luther stood for was Sola Fide, that is Justification/Salvation by Faith. Faith in Jesus, not myself, not my work or my anything, but in and through Christ alone.

The saviour from amidst the darkness of the world

Wonder Woman (2017) introduces us to strong fierce Amazonian women who were created by Zeus to restore peace and stability to a war torn world. Set in the context of World War 1, which the film’s initials also stand for, besides Wonder Woman, the movie brings two worlds together to understand one truth: Love does bring redemption. Captain Steve Trevor crashes his plane into the waters of Themyscira while escaping from German authorities and is rescued by Diana, a young budding Amazonian. She begs him to bring her to this war front as she cannot bear to hear of women and children slaughtered. She fights, inspired others who do not have her physical superpowers and works in a team of 5 to defeat the enemy. She matures to understand the depth of humankind, the relationship between gods and man. Chris Pine plays partner protagonist to Prince and yet beautifully complements. The film ends with the war’s conclusion. A combination of Greek mythology – the gods relation to humankind, coupled with really badass fight scenes and fantastic graphics, this film is certainly a heart-stopping one.

Wonder Woman possesses both religious as well as feminist things and both do not have to contradict each other.

That’s perhaps why a very important first lesson taught in this movie is that it’s very important to gain understanding about what is not in your sphere/world because it brings maturity and growth. Steve and Diana both needed to understand things that were out of their comfort zone. Knowing something that is out of your comfort zone can be the most uncomfortable thing ever, it can even border on ridiculous. For Steve, this ‘magical place’ called Themyscira was the weirdest and most stupid thing ever, furthermore given the extreme idealism and straightforwardness of Diana to him in the context of the war. He shook his head, and then continued listening, until he realised it was true. He saw it with his own eyes and of course it would have been a major shock to him, but never once did he dismiss her claims. I was amazed at the way he handled her ‘one track mind’ and did not try to ‘mansplain’ the ‘real world’ to her. In Diana’s case, her mother didn’t want to tell her the truth because she was afraid that her daughter would be killed even faster. But the thing is, without the knowledge of the world outside Themyscira, there would be, as her mother said, a lot of things she would not know. (On a side note, I really appreciate how Diana’s mom just let her daughter go out there and experience it for herself. She didn’t try to teach it but as Diana’s aunt said – the best way the girl can defend herself is if she learnt to protect herself.) For Diana, it was a journey of growing up, a really steep one, to realise that all the foundations of truths she was brought up in and that Ares needs to be defeated to bring peace to the world are not entirely true and as simplistic as it appears to be. Her understanding of humankind, the darkness within them and gradual appreciation of love and hope deepens her character.

So, about the religious ideas/allusions in the movie…
Firstly, certain characters identify to religious figures, Diana as a Jesus/Savior figure and Ares as the devil. It is interesting that Diana tends to move in a vertical direction when she attacks and her last battle with Ares show her commanding power from on high to defeat the force on earth, paralleling Jesus defeat of the devil.
Secondly, the idea of redemption and that man are the ones who choose corruption and the path of wrongdoing strikes me as quintessentially Christian. It is interesting that Hippolyta tells Diana that the world doesn’t deserve her. Her raw passionate love, desire to save humanity from killing themselves and empathy sets her apart as a hero whose superpower seems to be that. I don’t deny she’s powerful because she can harness the Celestial powers like lightning or whatever it was. But her empathic heart seems to be the source of her exploits. Steve Trevor’s self sacrificial act to save the front from being exposed to the mustard gas and his last words to Diana, ‘I save today so you can save the earth tomorrow’ is very much reminiscent of Jesus saving mankind that they could be the saviors of others whose paths they cross. It made my heart ache when the camera zoomed in on Steve’s last moments before shooting the plane full of bombs and killing himself in the process, then cross cutting to the grief that wrecked Diana as she saw Steve die (and also think of Hippolyta letting Diana go and knowing she would never come back). Perhaps here we see visually the love of the Father (through different characters) im giving His only begotten Son for the World.

Thirdly, the interesting thing about this movie as I mentioned earlier is that it is not just a simple love versus hate battle. It is a nuanced question of whether human beings were bad by nature and how many of them realize their need for a savior, Ares mentions that he did not make the wars happen, he whispered thoughts and intentions into human ears but the doings were all of their own. This is a very Christian perspective. Many like to believe we are born good but here the movie reflects a different perspective.

There is also, an undeniable message about the power of women. My breath was stolen everytime any of the Amazonians threw themselves into a fight scene, it was wonderful to see such strength and confidence exude out from the characters onscreen. What an overwhelming and also breathtaking scene it was to behold Diana run across No Man’s land, aptly named as though no ‘male’ could cross it but it took a female to push past the boundary. Of course, it means no man’s land because no one could cross it but that’s just my take. I adored the way gender stereotypes went out the window. THANK YOU PATTY JENKINS, I am in awe at the raw power and strength of the women casted, stereotypes that were always associated with men were for once, not in play. It was funny to see a man awkward and afraid in the middle of a group of powerful females, but the greater thing for me here is not female power or men bashing or anything like this, it’s about equality. Men and woman alike can and do have the power, the desire, and the ability to make a change, to lead, to save the world, to understand others, to love. Emotions are not limited to one gender. Empathy is a great thing to have, we all should have more of it.

These combine into an idea that redemption is given to Man, using instruments of justice to execute the evil and bring back peace. In this case the instrument used is not a male as a lot of superhero movies are wont to do. It is not a one time thing, because World War 1 ended but as we all know it, there was World War 2, and yet for a brief moment, the world had respite thanks to (in this movie) the courage of a saviour who stepped up to exercise judgment when no one else would. It is a call for equality and also for honesty and to take action, whoever you may be, to stand up for what you believe. As Trevor told Diana, it is what you believe that defines you.

Picture credits here

I used to be afraid (now not so much) // My leadership journey in NUS so far

DISCLAIMER: This post is gonna be a reflection post on my leadership journey in NUS. It contains my experiences and mine only (it does not apply to everyone), neither is it a one size fits all kind of thing. Feel free to take the advice, but also know that it is from MY perspective.


I think I used to be afraid of position names. I still am, except, this time it comes with a sliver of courage, which is something experience (bad and good) gave me. I was afraid of position names because I used to think that it was a bad thing if I could be in a position and not have the ability to fulfil my role which would lead to letting people down. Slowly, as I took different positions, I realised that I not only was able to lead well in that role (thank you God!!) but I also surpassed my expectations in terms of what I was capable of. This is not to say that I didn’t fail. I freaked out countless times, especially with a fear of public speaking, I didn’t know how to phrase my words properly (I still have trouble with that), in that I do not know how to be diplomatic. I’m more of a get-the-job-done person, many times without considering the interpersonal relationships and dynamics of people that are intricately linked to the task at hand. Anyway, here’s a few lessons I learnt after taking on about 5-6 different leadership positions in Uni, from Subcomms to Secretary, I’ve kinda tried most stuff, including currently being the Project Director for Guardians.

  1. School is a safer and friendlier place to learn from your mistakes. I’ve always been very thankful for school. It’s the one place where you can screw up and have people actually teach you and tell you what went wrong without them having your head chopped after that. In the corporate world I’m sure that’s not just not the case, but also out there if you made a mistake, it could potentially cost like thousands or millions of dollars for the company. I guess I’m always thankful for mentors, seniors, people who give you advice especially with regards to leadership positions. I’m not saying you cannot get this out there in the working world, it is just that in school, it’s different, you can actually ask questions for things you don’t know with less politics, less people breathing down your neck, etc. It’s kinder, friendlier, of course this is not to say there aren’t politics, but, if you really hate it, you’re also free to leave an organization. I suppose it isn’t that simple to walk away from a job.
  2. Do things well in your term, give your best, LEAVE A LEGACY. You’re not gonna be serving in that term forever, pass on things well, don’t do a slipshod job. I get super annoyed every time people pass on stuff (whether materials, or their legacies) and it’s like crappy. Like a crappy event that was previously hosted, or a crappy attitude or whatever. Don’t do it halfheartedly, I mean you got elected/chosen/selected/whatever into that position because you said you wanted to do it, so do it, dammit. Do it well, don’t leave crap for people to pick up. Having said that, bad experience has also taught me that people will always leave their crap for you to pick up, then the onus is on you to create a good event, run a position well, do things to the best of your ability, then you (and your exco if you have one) will do well. I learnt this especially from my time in ODAC, the seniors did well, so well and there was so much that was learnt from them. My batch that served were tremendously talented as well as responsible and hardworking, they toiled super hard to create great events. I learnt much with them because I watched how they worked intelligently and honestly. So when we passed on everything to the next batch, they had much greatness to inherit (lol), no seriously, they inherited great things and we also made sure we attempted to select the best people so we could carry these things on. I’m still proud of them (hehe).
  3. Good communication is key. Be honest, yet tactful. I am still learning this. Two years, about 6-7 CCAs and I still have not mastered this art, yet I can say I have improved much. Communication breakdown tends to lead to failure. It seems very cliche to say this but seriously, a dearth of communication tends to lead to shit happening everywhere. Internal politics will result in external events failing, one cell believes they worked harder than the other cell, this results in crappy feelings and angst against another party, then leading to vendettas of people against other people, blah blah blah… I’ve gone through that and it wasn’t a pretty sight. So communicate, learn to air your feelings, sometimes it will be more painful than other times, especially if you’re on the side of blame, but I can say that it is better to deal with people telling you your mistakes in a straightforward and direct way than it is to deal with bitter feelings and unspoken tensions and fake diplomacy. Good communication also ensures people in the team know what is going on, they feel involved, not left out, and everyone wants to feel involved and part of the event/team.
  4. You need a good combination of diplomacy and efficiency. Usually you do this by combining the P/VP personalities, or at least in the Pres cell you should have a combination of both kinds. This means that you have to have task-oriented and people-oriented personalities. Too much of one either results in unhappy people while the job may be done, or happy people and no job done, or slow job done. Diplomacy is super important, you need someone who can talk to people, persuade, convince, and also elicit actions and responses from people, whether your fellow exco, participants, etc. Some people have both efficiency and diplomacy, like an individual I worked with and am friends with for two years. But others like me do not, I can really work but I don’t have as much skill/tactfulness in speaking to people. Have both personalities and those who lack part of the duo also sometimes do learn slowly. Having said that, it is not that these are the only two things needed in good leadership, but they are extremely crucial. Other factors however, do count.
  5. Learn the ropes of different roles in organizational stuff in NUS. Proposals, Admin, how to deal with OSA, how to book venues, how to email people using PDPA guidelines, how to handle addresses/a torrent of them especially in large(r) events, how to deal with manpower issues, logistics, catering services, vendors, marketing. Everyone of these usually is a different cell in a committee but it is good to get to know them. I think it is good that people try different things to learn. I joined logistics, admin, manpower, publicity, before I applied for VP role in a club. I think that’s very useful because it gives you finally a bird’s eye view over situations and in events you know where to get what done and how to get it done. It seems like a trivial job to print posters but there are things to learn there too. Ask questions, try different roles and learn from those who are in it already, it doesn’t hurt to learn more things and be able to help others who may suffer from the same problems in future. Also, knowing different cells and their roles actually makes you very marketable, it makes people want you because you know stuff and you can do stuff and even if you’re not doing it directly, they know you will be an asset to the club. Never hurts to be needed/wanted.
  6. Lastly, learn to deal with higher ups – whether OSA, CCA advisors, or even if you’re in a Subcomm, learn to deal with your pres cell. You need to learn to work under authority and with authority. Instead of feeling inferior, know your position and then excel in it, sometimes exceed expectations (haha). Make yourself an active and integral part of whatever you’re in. Learn to deal with higher-ups by befriending them and working with them, if you have issues with them, try and voice it out nicely (and if it doesn’t work, find another way out or ask for help/alternative suggestions). The higher-ups usually don’t cause trouble unless you do.

    Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to drop your comments/disagree. 🙂

Don’t despise the day of small things

little victories.jpg

It’s the little things that count, and this semester, I learnt to be proud of, and thankful for the smallest things. They’re little on their own but if you put them together, they’re not so little after all.

Here’s 25 little victories this semester:

  1. Being punctual for class. God knows how hard it was to (actually show up) and be punctual for class especially when the going got tough
  2. Attempting to eat healthier. (YAY!)
  3. Keeping coffee intake to ONE cup a day – for those people who say I am a coffee addict, now you know
  4. Not cabbing to school at all this semester. SAVING ALL THAT MONEY
  5. Learning how to save a few bucks a day
  6. Learning NOT to be guilty for being tired and then pushing myself doubly hard to deal with my weak, inefficient self.
  7. Planning essay submission such that it was one essay per week, not 5 per week (12/13).
  8. Walking away from friendships that caused me pain (congrats to me!)
  9. Shopping less
  10. Spending more time with my family, going home before 9pm almost every night.
  11. Doing more readings than last semester
  12. Doing readings not for assignments but for interest’s sake
  13. Gaining enough confidence to wear a midi dress (and other things that I thought was not my ‘type’ of attire).
  14. Maintaining my composure in tight situations and not lambasting people who I had issues against.
  15. Sleeping 6 hours (or more) a day (with the exception of one day in the semester)
  16. Finishing a notebook planner – like reaching the end of the book and not dumping it halfway
  17. Very actively participating in church stuff 🙂 yay
  18. Learning and honing a new skill/interest in watercolour
  19. Selling my own creations and learning to believe in the power of art and that I can make something that make people smile (thank you friends who have played a part in this)
  20. Making time for people who matter. Loving harder than ever.
  21. Being okay with being alone and happy on my own
  22. Drinking enough water (almost everyday)
  23. Reading my Bible almost everyday
  24. Hanging out more with my dad before he left for missions
  25. Quitting things that were not worth my time. and not being guilty for it.

How not to be always ‘broke’

This is written for broke college students. By broke, I mean 2.50 in your bank account kind of broke. That’s how bad it gets. One uber ride here ’cause you’re late and another expensive 10 bucks meal there and before you know it, you’re utterly down to your last dollar.

This cycle repeats every month until you get paid perhaps if you’re working part time or like a few hours a week which I’m sure is what a lot of us do. Wherever the money comes from, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that it’s kinda gone before we know it. Social media is filled with advertisements and we fall for it. It doesn’t help that Google or the bots that run the internet track what we see and later you see that Zalora dress turn up as an ad on your Facebook sidebar. It sucks.

Anyway so this is how I saved money because well, I needed to plan for an event and more importantly, I was really sick of being broke

  1. Firstly, make your own food. And if you can’t cook then get what you like to eat that’s really easily prepared. Well,  it depends on what you like to eat. You could boil potatoes, celery and chicken overnight in a slow cooker for stew which costs about $5 for everything. I’m good with oats. I grabbed a 1kg bag of rolled oats and another bag of oatmeal and dunked them both in a box, mixed them. I soaked a portion overnight every night and ate it with milk and whatever fruits I could find in the fridge. That and coffee, made breakfast. It lasted me till at least 1 to 2pm. Then I got a meal at school, about 4 bucks maximum. And then the next meal was dinner which I forced myself to go home for. So I spend 4 bucks a day on food outside. That’s a change from spending 10 bucks a day. That’s 6 dollars difference, in a week, that’s 42 bucks.

    (Other ideas include: boiled eggs (my friend says you can chill them overnight), macaroni and minced chicken with veg and fishball, put chicken stock for the soup, pasta salad, fried rice – where you empty the contents of your fridge’s leftovers into the frying pan, sandwiches – all sorts of them).

  1. I started going home earlier. Going home late means sleeping later and waking later. University for me doesn’t start till 10, so of course I don’t get up at 6. I didn’t have to at least. But I realised as above mentioned, that I saved cost on one meal by having dinner at home. That meant I was home by 8pm. After dinner, was work until about 11.30 and I went to bed earlier, and consequently woke up at 7 instead of the usual 8.30. That’s a whole hour and a half more to chill, make breakfast, shower, prep to go to school, check emails, roll around a bit more in bed if needed etc. That’s an hour an a half of money. Look, if you wake up quick and rush, you lose the chance to have breakfast and then you’re starving but you have to go to class so you dash out to class, grab something small along the way which doesn’t exactly fill you but it’s meant to last till lunch – waffles and a drink that’s about 2.50, repeat this 4 times and week and that’s 10 bucks extra. You saved 10 bucks a week by having breakfast at home. It’s a lifestyle thing.
  1. I stopped spending on small stuff. It looks small, it’s less than 10 bucks. But buy 10 $8 items and that’s $80 bucks, repeat that for 4 months and that’s $320 that could have been saved. I stopped buying small stuff I didn’t need and only got them cause they looked cute. That habit was bad and it was one of the biggest reasons I kept blowing money everywhere unnecessarily..
  2. Stop going to bazaars if you know you’re gonna spend. Don’t go. Don’t browse cause you’re sure to grab stuff. Unless your self control is amazing. Mine’s definitely not. Stay off Carousell, Zalora, Asos, Aliexpress, Ebay, Amazon and Taobao/Ezbuy…
  3. If transport is a big issue in spending try getting concession passes. It’s 85 for uni students for a month of unlimited tapping (bus and train). Applying for a concession cards costs $23 and can be done at selected Transitlink offices!
  1. Have a coin box. It’s so primary school but it’s not a bad idea. Dump your coins in at the end of the day. It clears your wallet and makes your future self few dollars richer. Any savings program can’t be a bad thing. If you have many two dollar notes, put one inside. You’ll thank yourself later. I did that for a year. I got 100 bucks out of it.

 

That’s about all. Start small. It actually feels really nice seeing more money in your bank as you go along.

Mid-semester update 

The last time I posted something it was December. It’s half of Sem 2 now and it’s been nothing short of a roller coaster ride as always. The first two weeks of the semester I struggled deeply with inner lack of motivation as I hauled myself back up from the pits of the effects of a bad result sheet last Sem. It was tough and exhausting beyond measure, seeing that I’m someone who gains my drive and motivation from within though it’s mostly externalized. It wasn’t a mere struggle but also a journey. I discovered the importance of rest and repose. Not just for the body but also for the mind. I think I went much deeper into painting and art, creating new designs because I was very stressed. As the weeks rolled on I saw myself running away from people more and more and I started to question whether there was something actually wrong with me because I never ran away from people. Church was literally the only place of refuge I found, where I could feel rested and not feel anxious and tense. I treasured church and the community so much more as I dealt with constant problems at home and in school. 

One thing I kept alive from my new year resolution was to do QT. Thank God it’s still going on. I mean it’s March right and everyone probably still can maintain a modicum of their new year resolution but I’m really thankful for the grace to sustain it. I’ve been kept by it, kept focused, resolved and steady. Though I nearly collapsed internally not a few times, God really kept me up through people and in ways I never expected. 

I’m going deeper into my modules. I really enjoy some of the mods and readings from them. There’s also the bad part where I realised I really can’t stand some mods but I have to do them anyway. That’s when I really pray for grace and patience. So it’s a learning experience.

One of the other things that kept my attention was also the weekly Bible studies I either had to give or partner with someone to give. It took up a large portion of my thinking time and stayed in my head a lot. Someone told me recently about objectives and how I should think about them when considering Bible studies and specific audiences. I think I learnt a lot about myself as well an in evangelising and speaking to other people. 

In other matters, there’s still a lot of things to pray and worry about in some way or another. But a friend of mine was reading Philippians and it comforted her much. This morning too in my QT, psalm 59 the last verse mentioned that God is my Defence and the God of my mercy. It comforts and brings strength to think not on how I should solve my own problems but that God goes before us, if we are faithful and follow His Word. 

Typing this while going for an exam is rather healing. Well… Might as well since the train is stuck at Bishan and it’s raining outside. Good reflection weather 😉 

Studyblrs; what are they?

I started on this journey in Year 2 Sem 1 because truth be told, I was attracted to the aesthetic side of it. It was much later that I appreciated everything else alongside the aesthetic. I’ve always been a stationery and notebook hoarder and it is a pain for anyone who follows me to Muji to see me croon over the pens in all their varying colours and shades.

So here are some common questions when people hear about ‘Studyblr’s.

1. What is a studyblr?

You know this microblogging site Tumblr? Tumblr (currently owned by Yahoo) – is home to many communities of different interests – football (and the different clubs), Marvel, DC, Doctor Who, etc. So some of these communities incorporate the end of the word ‘Tumblr’ into their community. Studyblrs are therefore a combination of a community of people who love studying/learning/school and are on Tumblr – there you go, Study-blr!

2. Who are the people on Studyblr(s)?

There are all sorts of people on Tumblr who have blogs on studying and nice notes etc etc. The age ranges from high school to postgrad studies. The community is home to many who love studying – literally. We are (a little too) obsessed with making nice notes, bullet journaling (which will be discussed in another post), and sharing resources. People are generally very nice and welcoming and it is no surprise that the community has grown very fast. Personal style is very encouraged and people are often bouncing ideas off each other which creates a very diverse and yet original environment.

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3. What’s so good about it?

A lot of things – there’s a community of people who understand you, the worries of 3am late nights and school problems, you get people who are amazing enough to create resources (we call them printables!) and others who create a collation of bases of resources (also known as #masterposts), you pick up languages and learn where and how to study them online, there’s 100++ different note taking styles which you can adapt as your own, tips and tricks on productivity, reminders to take breaks, be nice to yourself and not murder yourself studying, and so many more. It sets up a very nice place to be a student in and you learn from other people how to improve yourself academically and even otherwise. Best of all, you make new friends. Here are some screenshots.

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Just a screenshot of what you find when you google ‘masterpost studyblr’

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here’s a screenshot of free printables from @theorganizedstudent

4. What do you need to do to be part of the community?

All you need, really, is to start a tumblog – and follow people – find people, search for ‘studyblr’ and follow according to your fancy. If you don’t know how to use Tumblr, it is simple. Go to tumblr.com, sign up and then follow the instructions onscreen. Maybe start with a first post introducing yourself and let people know what you do and what you’re interested in. Then go reblog some posts, like some posts that you fancy and maybe go talk to people very PM or comment on some posts. Slowly ease yourself into the community.

All it takes is to start with your first post. Then you’ll get in slowly.
The most important thing to note is that – your pictures and posts DO NOT have to be like everyone else’s. They may all look roughly similar – cup of coffee, notes, laptop, scattered stationery… but actually everyone has their style. I personally like to post pictures of nice word headings I did and stuff.

5. You’ll see certain common stationery that tends to pop up in more than a few posts, and they’re actually used by quite a few people because they’re good. Here’s a list,

  • Mildliners by Zebra
  • Muji plain pens – 0.38 and 0.5
  • Sharpies
  • Tombow Pentel Touch Sign Pen – it’s a brush pen if you like fancy header.

The point of studyblrs are to encourage good studying habits – taking nice notes, bullet journaling, good time management and more. You can always start today! 🙂

6. Recommend me blogs to follow!

Here are some:
http://theorganisedstudent.tumblr.com/
http://hexaneandheels.tumblr.com/
http://hermionegoals.tumblr.com/
http://studyshu.tumblr.com/

There are others but here are 3 starters.

Personally I have enjoyed the time in the community very much and I look forward to new studyblrs being set up and people introducing themselves. It’s very nice to see ideas being shared on such a platform and it’s a very positive thing to have students from all over the world collaborating and sharing ideas and motivating each other!
Here’s a shoutout to my Singapore studyblr friends – @literaturistic @motivatedmeepguin @studyshu

Enjoy yourself, and PM me if you have any questions or think I can help you in any way!
Also, visit my studyblr here 🙂

Credits: Most pictures are not mine, they belong to the rightful owners and creators on tumblr.

 

 

Suffocated

Some nights you feel suffocated, you feel overwhelmed by the weight of the world, you feel like you cannot do it anymore, you feel choked because there are too many things going on and you want to run away from it all. You have so many deadlines and you have no idea what to do with all of them so you just try and run away, but even when you run away, some things just stay in your head, the monsters under the bed that bite at you when you try and close your eyes and sleep. You cannot understand why you feel this way. Try and fight the pain but it comes back, in full force. The tears come rushing in spurts because you don’t know how to fight it anymore, you fight battles every day, in every place you go, at home, at school, with others because you care about them, and above all, in your head, your heart. the battle rages on fierce and doesn’t seem to let you go, it grips you, like tentacles, clawing at the very edges of your sanity. Try as you may, it’s not going to let you go. Through all this you want to scream, it reaches the point where you cannot even breathe because you just want to give up. God, please help. and if the pain is not taken away in Your will, please give me strength, sanity and grace upon grace. I trust You, God.

Doctor Strange review

 So I caught Marvel Studios Doctor Strange in cinemas today. What a load of CGI to begin with. Generally, it was pretty decent, with the sort of quality expected from Marvel movies, if you’re a fan you’d know that another of the 6 Infinity gems was also part of the movie and post credits scene feature none other than Thor. I enjoyed the experience mostly because it brought together certain pertinent themes – time, human nature, and the question of evil against good (if you can even draw such a binary after watching the film), and also the public good versus the private sphere. Just felt like I needed to comment on the film after watching it.

Short summary: Cumberbatch is a doctor – DOCTOR Strange (he refuses to be called anything else, ‘Not Mister, DOCTOR Strange’) who loses his hands in a car accident and does everything to get back the use of them only to find out that they are all useless. He goes into the dumps until he goes East to find for a treatment and ends up in this place called Kamar-Taj where he gets at first thrown out by the Ancient One because he’s a sciency arrogant dude who cannot get the mystic of faith. Later she takes him back and he becomes not just a very bright student but he ends up discovering way more than he should – for someone as new to the arts as he is. He ends up aiding in the battle to protect the 3 Sanctums which shield the world against other forces and comes into possible conflict with one of his trainers, Master Mordo and another villain like character – Kaecilius, all three being former students to the Ancient One.

Now to the comments: it’s very long, you’ve been warned.

Time is relative. At least that’s what the movie tells you, it puts time as something controllable by terrestrial and extra-terrestrial beings – introducing ideas of time reversal, distinctly different and hierarchical dimensions of time with links to space, reflection and the past. The idea of time is played with so much in the movie that you have to pause and think for a bit before coming to terms with what you just saw. The ability for one to reverse time and redo certain things, make things right or in a way change one’s actions is also dealt with in the movie. The past certainly comes back to haunt the present as characters deal with issues of their past causing them to seek for a higher power which elevates them into a different dimension which allows them to control who they are and what they can do for themselves and for the world (if they wish to). It also defies the logic of eternity, as at one point it seems that Strange can control time with the Eye, hinting to a powerful force that is able to bend humans and other forces into submission, with the infinite time loop. The reflective goodbye speech of the Ancient one causes one to wonder how human beings can go through the mad pace of life each day without pausing to consider the beauty of it thereof.

Everyone has a story to tell. Human nature is a very interesting issue. You don’t see a clear binary between the good hero and the evil villain anymore. In this case it is different from normal ‘avengers’ movies because it seems as though each character’s different sides are portrayed in a way that doesn’t create them as one dimensional. Even characters with smaller roles have this too. Pangborn was selfish, but so was Strange. Why then was the former punished by Mordo but not the latter? The issue brought to the fore is that – all men for themselves – and really all men do seek for their own good. Be it the Ancient One, or Strange. They may claim to seek the good of the world – to protect the sanctums – but in the end they all seek that one goal of immortality. The line between good and evil is blurred and this makes the film so much more human and relatable, it associates viewers with the struggles characters face in attempting to decide whether they would choose to use the power they get for themselves or not.

I really loved the portrayal of Strange as desperate, pleading and just pathetic, when he realised his hands would not function anymore. It really begs the question of how far would you go to fulfil your utmost dream, and he wanted his hands back because work was his life. Most people went to the Ancient One for healing and some became detractors like Kaecilius. Some people may identify with Kaecilius, doing some research on his character’s history – like Strange he came to the Ancient One in hope that he would reunite with the wife and child he lost. He got disillusioned that the Ancient One was not showing him what everything and was hiding something so he went off on his own to find a way to break down all the dimensions and merge them – to make the world a simpler place perhaps, and to get to where he wanted to get to. In that sense he doesn’t seem like a terrible character, like every other one, he had a past. So he’s not your typical bad guy and leaves many questions unanswered.

Then there’s Mordo – who’s set up as the villain. He’s a very different villain. He doesn’t spit fire or throw stuff at people, as perhaps typical villains do, visually he barely looks the part. But perhaps he’s the dark mysterious one. The question I asked at the end of the film was, is he now gonna be part of the Dark dimension? The question I should have asked – is he already part of it? But he doesn’t agree with Strange, or the Ancient One. He upholds the Laws of Nature and goes according to how he thinks the cosmos is supposed to run. He frowns on Strange’s time bending acts – even if it is clearly for the greater good. He shows a lot more control than expected for a villain and that’s very interesting. He’s also a strange (hehe) villain because he shows much depth and empathy both in educating Strange in the laws of magic as well as care for the innocent civilians. His morality seems to show strongly and it is thus hard for me to call him a villain. At first I thought he was merely a control character in the Strange-Kaecilius battle but slowly I began to realise it would be exactly his character that would be in opposition to Strange’s. Not much is mentioned in this film in my opinion, but I await with bated breath for the next movie!

Having said all that, this film does not deny one of the enjoyment of pure Marvel styled battles and portals opening and closing… it’s funny how they have to teach Strange to open portals, that part was like – science vs faith. Science in that Strange’s a doctor and he thinks these magic stuff are all bullcrap until he’s thrown out of his body by the Ancient One (wew that slow-mo scene and all that dazzle of lights and galaxy sparkle though) versus faith and ‘surrender’ of his ego – and all his preconceived knowledge, to be able to work magic.

There’s a lot of funny in the movie too – Rachel McAdams confused looks throughout the movie make me crack up, plus Cumberbatch’s silly dissing comments do well to keep the viewer highly entertained, at least at the start before the movie starts accelerating to more intense issues.

Okay I feel like I’m writing another essay so this has got to stop somewhere because I could really go on further about this character breakdown and stuff. This was fun to write.

picture credits here (it’s a nice wallpaper tbh)