1 August 2017:
New beginnings?A few days ago, I attended a meet-up organised by a senior of the university course I’m starting in September. Apart from one or two of them, this was the first time that I am seeing the rest of them, even my fellow batchmates.
The meet-up went well and I’m glad to have spent my afternoon (and night) with them. It was informative yet fun, which was a good mix. More importantly, I’m just glad that I was able to truly enjoy myself in the process.
For those who didn’t know, I was a student councillor back in secondary school. Apart from our disciplinary roles, it also meant that we organised various school events, of which the most important one would be orientation.
During my three years as a councillor, I was orientation group leader twice (I think, or at least a facilitator). Of course there were also other events throughout the year, like Open House. In all of these events, human interaction was unavoidable.
Organising orientation meant getting to know juniors. Helping out during other activities meant interacting with other students or even their parents. In all of these events, I would say that I definitely enjoyed myself.
Apart from that, as a student councillor, we also had leadership camps organised for us, or sometimes ones that we organised for our own junior councillors. Again, this meant lots of activities and fun (of course with inner leadership lessons).
To be honest, I really did enjoy my time as a student councillor. Yes there were certain downtimes but overall it was a great experience.
Yet from time to time, I did feel very empty. I think I mentioned it in previous posts, back when I was experiencing it there and then. As part of my role, it is true that I got to interact with a great number of people (non-councillors).
I got to know these people, but after an event ends, it was as if they just carried on with their lives. We end up saying hi-bye and no more than that, or worse still, as if we didn’t know each other at all.
I guess this is a brutal ‘life lesson’ or whatever it’s called, that not everyone will become friends or will stay as friends. Just that at that time, I was quite affected by it from time to time.
In junior college, I initially joined house committee. This was like students’ council, except that it was more on the activities and execution, while students’ council was more for policy and planning.
Again, this meant more interaction with the student body at large. I was definitely all right with that, since I did have prior experience. I did worry about the whole ‘emptiness’ thing, but just decided to try anyway.
Eventually, I withdrew from house committee. This had nothing to do with the above reasons, though. I was worried about the commitment level expected (since there were lots of activities) and felt more inclined to pursue drama, which I did.
So, I ended up being in just one CCA. I’ve said it many times and I’ll say it again, but yes I truly enjoyed my time in drama. There was lots of fun, lots of good, hard work put in. Overall I think I benefitted greatly from the two years in drama.
But because I was in drama (and not house committee), I ended up interacting with much lesser fellow students. Apart from my classmates, I only mixed with my CCA mates. Unlike secondary school, I had way lesser acquaintances.
Actually, at that point, I never realised how little people I know (and interact with) till I think after JC ended. I was looking back and realised that I truly only know that many people, out of the whole cohort.
Of course there’s nothing wrong with that; I’d rather have a few genuine and close friends than many distant friends. As a result, however, I became more socially withdrawn. Because my social circle was much smaller than usual, I became more introverted.
As mentioned earlier, in secondary school I had no issues talking to strangers (students) for the first time. In JC, however, I started to ‘close up’; I never really did talk to others apart from my classmates and CCA mates.
Then came NS.
BMT was all right, getting to know many other guys, from quite different backgrounds. I truly appreciated the company, especially within my section. We still haven’t met up in a while since then, though.
But after BMT was not so all right. I was struggling with SCS and the section wasn’t as bonded as in BMT. Especially in pro term (which I dropped out of); towards the end, it was almost each for himself.
After that I began my ‘office life’ in NS. I covered the toxicity of it all already in past posts, so I’m not going to go over that again. But basically the experiences I had during the whole time made me even more withdrawn.
That position was very unique as it was a ‘lonely’ leadership position amongst what are supposed to be colleagues – obviously friendships were not formed during that period, in fact probably broken.
So yes, after all that, I become even more withdrawn than ever. Recently when attending a friend’s birthday party V was mentioning that there was a period of time in which I basically ‘lost contact’ with the rest of them.
Indeed, it was a very bad move, but I retreated from existing friends into solitude. Of course, I’m glad that this is no longer the case and I’m back in contact with them. It does show, however, how shitty the whole situation was back then.
To begin with, not everyone can get along with my character and my personality. Friends have labelled me ‘annoying’, ‘weird’ and other things, but of course I’m glad that despite that, they still choose to stay with me.
So I am always apprehensive when dealing with new people, ever since all that happened. People usually open up and blossom over the years, but for me it seemed like the reverse. No doubt it was worrying.
Back in NS, I knew this person – he who must not be named – and I genuinely thought that this would be a really good friend of mine. Again, with the backdrop of all that toxicity, I thought that finally I could have a genuine, long-lasting friend.
We generally shared the same likes and dislikes, and appreciated each other’s humour. But it was not to be; our friendship deteriorated drastically within less than 3 months (if I remember correctly). Towards the end I remember asking about the state of things.
Side note: before I continue, I would say that I am not blameless in the whole affair. I did take some missteps to contribute to the breakdown as well. Just in case anyone reads this and thinks that I am solely blaming HWMNBN.
I forgot his exact words, but he basically mentioned about how actually, sometimes he doesn’t feel like talking, but since I did, he responds out of politeness. And because I didn’t know that, I would continue.
Which he would continue too, time and again, out of politeness. Until one day it became too much and he decided to put a stop completely. I can’t say for sure if this was just BS, or if this was truly what he was going through.
I will give the benefit of the doubt, though, since he seems to be the type that cares for people in general. Because of that, however, I thought – what if others actually felt the same, just that only he voiced out so far?
Before anyone accuses me of victim complex (which I am sorely against), I would say that I am not trying to portray myself as a victim and blaming everyone else. Because as I mentioned, along the way I was the one who did wrong.
I think I may have been a little too generous (read: draggy) with the details to support my point. Basically, I became more and more socially withdrawn since junior college days. Why am I only really talking about it now, though?
Because in about a month’s time, I will be starting university. I will be meeting many more new people, possibly making more friends along the way. And I do worry if my past experiences will impede my social interactions.
Before starting university, I will be attending orientation camps organised by the seniors. There are two, catering to different groups, of which I am in both. (Does that even make sense?)
Anyway, so I am slightly worried about how the camp will be like. Although I have participated and even organised quite a few camps in the past, that was so long ago, and without all the mess that later ensued.
Camps basically mean to play games and have fun and let loose. I honestly hope I will be able to do that. Of course it also means that there’ll be ice-breaking and self-introductions, which I dislike because I really can’t come up with facts about myself on the spot.
(And I really don’t fancy purposely preparing facts just for this purpose.)
Camps also make me nervous because I have little to no social life. This translates to me being left out – not on purpose – from a lot of topics. I’m not into football (which lots of guys are), I don’t watch the latest shows (like GoT) and I don’t particularly like English music.
So yes, I do worry that I will be left out (as I have before) from conversations. Not because people deliberately exclude me, but just that I am unable to engage with the topic. And of course this, after a while, may then lead to further distance.
I’m not saying that I will purposely read up and pretend to fancy things like football, of which I truly have no interest in. As much as I fear being left out, I think it’s equally stupid to create a pretence of oneself (cough, influencers, cough).
At this point, I really don’t know how things will go, I just hope that I will be able to truly participate and enjoy myself throughout the whole time. I’m expecting moments of ‘down time’ but hopefully that’s a minimum.
Some people have asked if I’m looking forward to starting school and all. I guess I would say yes, I finally got into my desired course and it’s definitely good to be starting something new when the time comes.
At the same time I also worry that history repeats itself, and I’ll go through other toxic relationships again. I think one encounter is awful enough; please no second time.
All these (worries, insecurities, etc.) is why I was also slightly apprehensive about the meet-up that just past, even though it wasn’t even a camp. I’m just really glad that those that I met are really nice (so far, at least).
Quite a number of them come from the same junior college, hence they have a lot of mutual friends and can connect with each other better. Of course I can’t blame them for that; it’s just an observation I made.
Most importantly no matter what school they come from, I just hope that I will be able to interact successfully with (more of) them and go back to my secondary school self, way more extroverted and open to others.
‘Successfully’ not in the conventional sense of meeting objectives, which would make my interaction sound very calculated. Instead what I meant is not being left out like before, not feeling awkward and all.
I am still nowhere near my past extroverted self, but I will be giving it a try in the coming weeks. Hope everything works out well.
25 July 2017:
Health is more than wealth.I think the phrase ‘health is wealth’ is so well-known that it’s become a cliché of sorts. Yet I never realised how accurate it was, until I was threatened with a health scare recently.
All my life, I would say that I am fortunate enough to have been fairly healthy. I do fall sick, but these are usually the flu, and it happened just before exam period. I guess it was my body’s way of highlighting stress.
Of course, as always, I would recover from the flu. The journey to recovery differed, some involved more nose-blowing than others. But I still recovered. In fact, I guess the flu is a very common and bearable illness to have, as long as it isn’t the serious type.
Then I got an ear infection, twice, in fact. In both cases, these stemmed from a yet-to-recover bout of flu, which travelled up into my ear and caused an infection there. It was painful (and slightly alarming), but not exactly terrifying.
(Although the first time it happened, I was still in secondary school and the pain woke me from my sleep. Not knowing what it was certainly made me panic. Going to the doctor’s at 3+ in the morning wasn’t enjoyable.)
Despite all that, I’ve never suffered from any major illness, and of course I’m very thankful for that. So it certainly shocked me when I discovered a pimple on my upper gum, which didn’t seem like a good thing.
Strictly speaking I first noticed the pimple when I put my finger on my gum and felt around whilst eating fruits. (Not very hygienic at all, I know.) But actually prior to that, I already felt pain when I touched my face at the spot.
Just that at that time, I thought it was more of a bruise (i.e. something to do with my skin / muscle) and didn’t really care about it. And since I didn’t end up touching that spot often during the day, I pretty much ignored it.
After realising the pimple, though, I went to do a search. Of course, as many memes have rightful pointed out, self-diagnosis via the internet obviously cannot replace a trained physician or a dentist. Still, I wanted answers.
Based on what I searched, it seemed to me that the most likely cause was that the pimple was actually a periodontal abscess. If so, this indicates I had severe gum disease, with the infection reaching all the way into my nerves and bones or whatever else.
Hence, according to various websites, the abscess was pus being separated out. But the website also mentioned various other symptoms, which included tooth pain, swelling of the gum, bleeding, etc.
I didn’t have any of those symptoms, though. That, and the fact that I obviously have no dental training, led me to ask D, my friend who’s studying dentistry. D was very helpful and patient with me, answering my questions.
She even roped in a friend for a ‘second opinion’. (Of course I do realise that they are both dental students hence will not hold them liable for anything, just that it’s good to have advice from a more credible source.)
Basically D was saying that, based on what I mentioned alone, it does seem like it. The worst-case scenario was that I had to do a root canal treatment. As for the fact that it’s painless, D said that some cases are asymptomatic hence pain (or lack of) doesn’t count.
This of course alarmed me a great deal. It was terrifying to think that I could potentially be suffering from a severe gum infection, one which required a root canal. To be honest I’ve previously head of the term before but never really knew what it meant.
To add on, the treatment costs a lot. Based on what I could find online, it would typically be at least $500, which is definitely not a small sum indeed. So yes, to put it simply, bad health = lost wealth.
After one sleepless night where I constantly asked myself if / how it could’ve been so bad, I booked a dentist appointment.
Long story short, after getting checked by the dentist, she mentioned that this wasn’t a periodontal abscess and that I do not have severe gum disease. She said it was probably more of an ulcer that occurred when I somehow scraped my gum.
That seemed unlikely, since I barely touched that spot on my gum to begin with. But, if anything, I was just more than happy for it to be an ulcer only. Sure enough it has since subsided, as if it was never there before.
I paid for the dental appointment, but it was definitely cheaper than a root canal would have cost me.
Through this health scare, I honestly understood how anxious and afraid patients may feel, especially those about to receive test results (like cancer biopsies). For a sudden, you feel so very helpless, since things were pretty much beyond your control.
Some people turn to religion as a result; to each his own. But this also shows that health is really so much more than wealth. Of course wealth is probably able to get someone the best doctors, the best treatment, etc.
But sometimes some medical conditions just cannot be treated (fully), even if wealth wasn’t a limiting factor. What more for those who are financially challenged? In fact, a vicious circle then forms.
Bad health -> unable to work -> lowered income -> unable to afford better drugs / treatment -> condition worsens -> worse health . . . Truly this sucks, but then again there really isn’t a quick fix for such cases.
And of course, beyond the monetary side of things, bad health also means lower quality of life. Again, this is beyond wealth; money cannot buy away pain and suffering.
Hence for once I truly see the importance of maintaining one’s health. This may sound very pretentious, almost as if plucked from some health education textbook, but it’s true. So many aspects of our lives are affected by bad health.
Also it would seem like, in our midst to enjoy life’s desires and pleasures, people tend to neglect their health. Which is ironic, since health is previously what’s needed to sustain life.
Before I sound holier than thou, I will readily admit that I too neglect my health and I’m definitely not proud of it. Back in NS, I frequently slept past midnight, especially (if I remember correctly) the last few months.
I would’ve blamed it on my insomnia, but then it may probably have been my sleeping late that triggered the insomnia after all, starting a vicious circle. And what did I do when I slept late? Very unproductive, unconstructive things.
Most of the time, I ended up watching videos on Youtube; some were educational, others mostly weren’t. Still, this wasn’t a good enough justification for sleeping late. There were a few times where I spent the time talking with the duty personnel, even some Enciks.
I wouldn’t say those times were totally wasted; some conversations were pretty thought-provoking and interesting. (Not everyone in army is stupid, okay? Some Enciks sound stupid but are actually very wise.)
But of course these meant that I usually slept past midnight; my latest was (I think) 2 a.m. The next morning, I wake at 7, latest would be 7.15 a.m. And off I went for a new day of work. In the end, though, I end up becoming very sleepy at 2 p.m. or so.
The good thing about my office was that it was adjacent to the duty rest room, hence I could always pop over for a quick nap. Of course this wasn’t allowed officially. Yet, because of this ‘arrangement’, I never really felt it was an issue.
At the same time as all these, however, I started falling sick rather frequently. Not sure if I mentioned it in previous posts during that period of time, but I was sick almost once every two months.
And since each time it took me about 2 – 3 weeks to recover, to others it seemed like I was perpetually sick. I even remember my Encik asking me about it once, and I even told him (funny enough) ‘No, I recovered and fell sick again.’
So yes, in retrospect, I guess you could say that my health was in pretty bad shape. And it wasn’t even because I had some disease; I just wasn’t taking care of myself. Ironic right? Some people beg for good health while others (like me) waste away theirs.
I guess I have digressed pretty far away from my original point; time to come back. Ultimately health is oh so important, and it took me a slight health scare to realise how much I took it for granted previously.
By the way I truly am grateful towards D for helping me out. Love you! (in a non-romantic way)