Sunday, February 11, 2018

Thoughts on Wedding customs

As I'm writing this, 45 minutes from now his parents are going to walk into my house to talk about welll.... me and him getting married.

I guess it's called "merisik" in Malay custom. Comes with its own sets of rules and regulations which I chose to mostly ignore much to the chagrin of my mum. But that's what I have come to realize as I'm journeying towards marriage and everything-- that there's so much rules surrounding everything, often with extra expenses that don't really make sense.

This is my biggest struggle as I come to realize moving forward. The fact that getting engaged means getting families involved in a big hullaballoo, when in actuality, it's just a promise for us to get married. We need rings, we need hantarans, need dewans. And I struggle to reconcile this with my personality which values practicality above all else. I guess this whole thing veers on the side of "much ado about nothing" more than I'd like.

Another aspect of a wedding custom that I find absolutely grating is the passivity expected from me, as the "bride-to-be" (shudders). I am expected to sit and look pretty as people all around decide what's good for me. How many people to invite, what to wear. As the "elders" talk about how to proceed etc. It is grating because as far as I can remember, I've always made my own decisions.

I was lucky to have gotten a free ride throughout college and did not struggle. I could provide for myself free from my parents' support. I moved 9000 miles away from home where I largely decided on things on my own. And now that I feel more adult than over- so adult in fact that I decided I'm ready to be married-- I am expected to revert back to this clueless 17 year old whose parents have to decide everything for? It's counter intuitive, and most of all patriarchal in a way that I was never used to, and hope to god that I will never have to get used to.

And of course, the fact that I'm forking out a significant amount of the money required to have all of these wedding things. I've never considered myself a girly girl, and I, particularly don't like doing delicate things that I perceive to provide little to no value for my wellbeing. I don't wear much makeup daily because it's too much of a hassle to wash my face every time I need to pray, I don't decorate my bedroom or make my bed because it's gonna get messy anyways, and I don't wear fancy stuff that I'm uncomfortable in. But yeah, practically everything that has to do with marriage custom is uncomfortable.

As I reconcile between making the "elders" happy and making myself happy, I think they will win out eventually. I just wish that as I look back at this time, I will not be overcame with regret that I wasn't more assertive. After all, as everyone has been reiterating, a wedding is once in a lifetime so I wish that I can find it in me to enjoy myself throughout this journey.


Thursday, January 18, 2018

Year in Review - 2017

I know I'm late to the game-- it's almost February, but who's really counting? I've abandoned this space for more than half the year in 2017 that no one is probably reading anymore.

2017 had been momentous, and I want to document it for my own future reference. I turned 22 in October, and I graduated from college in December.

Learned quite a few things amidst crippling anxiety and self-doubt. So what did I learn?

Being me is... taxing.

I wasn't always like this. In high school, I took things really easy only working hard when there's a deadline etc. In college, I didn't coast my way through. I tried my hardest and graduated with a 3.94 CGPA. I did 3 majors- Actuarial Science, International Business and International Relations with gave me 2 degrees from 2 schools.

It sounds fancy, and I'm proud of myself for soldiering through but my life was a constant chase. I was always looking at the next thing, never allowing myself a moment to be proud or to feel sure. I constantly feel like I'm not enough. While doing my dissertation to graduate, I couldn't allow myself to just feel happy that my 3 and a half years of double degrees are finally ending-- I was constantly stressed out about finding a job.

 I would go on a million interviews for jobs in Malaysia which I would get through to the final stage and would promptly be told that I don't qualify because I need to be in Malaysia for the final interview. That happened like 3 times, and it was so pointless. I soldiered on, went for interviews after interviews while working on my senior thesis and graduating. I didn't travel at all this semester-- all my breaks were spent on either schoolwork or interviewing.

It wasn't bad, I secured a job right after graduation but I would never find out if it was worth all the anxiety from rejections and from school. And knowing me, I would not change a thing if I could go back because I'm a freak.

I am still very much a pushover

I had an internship where I did all the petty work that everyone didn't want to do because I felt like I had to earn my keep. I was in a group project where I did all the work and everyone else did nothing. And it's the same story year after year. It's my biggest flaw and I don't think I will ever have the strength to change this about myself.

I'm an adult

Not all of it is bad, 2017 also brought me out of that limbo between adolescence and adulthood. The word marriage was uttered and although I almost fainted when it was first uttered, I'm beginning to be more open to it. There's a certain independence in being so close to someone that you want to build a life together. I started seeing the practical side of having a partner. You can pool your finances, become a team in doing things in life that you don't have the capacity to do alone, and I never have to drive myself anywhere.

It also feels so surreal that we are at this point in our relationship when we started out as two kids from different schools. We have grown so much, but he's still the only person I will tell everything to.

I need to take better care of myself

In 2017, I had a health-scare. I had to do a physical a few weeks ago and found out that my blood pressure was 200/110. Which is bad, by any measure. I thought I have hypertension at 22. It was such a sobering experience because damn, that's an old people disease.

Glad to report that I wasn't diagnosed with hypertension. It was actually anxiety. The stress about getting a job, graduating, moving halfway across the world and resettling into my childhood home, were too much (who would've thought?). Didn't help that I'm such a nervous person to begin with. My doctor had to prescribe me Xanax to get over my anxiety.

It was sobering because I never thought that my personality could take such a toll on my health. I'm so easily stressed out that it's a wonder how I ever made it out alive from college.


Saturday, April 1, 2017


These past few weeks, I have been on the warpath. I've been calling out indifference, inefficiencies and general apathy to unethical behaviours left and right. Now, I am not a saint. Sometimes, like many people, I tread the line between unethical and ethical in my decisions. But it saddens me how prevalent these behaviours are, especially when it involves responsibilities and money.

The worst part is, no one speaks up except for me. Everyone prefers to be in good graces and happy memories even when they disagree, leaving me to take all the heat. I don't mind the heat because I know I'm right. I know that you're not suppose to use the organization's money under flimsy pretenses when you wanted to use it for personal gain. I know that as general human beings, that we have the obligation to speak out against injustices. These are all simple everyday ethical considerations that I frankly feel deep antipathy for anyone who doesn't agree with these kinds of values.

The same people who find and bend the rules to use organization's money for personal gains are the firsts to call out the government for doing the very same thing. And you wonder why corruption is so prevalent in our society? There hasn't been a system in place to ensure transparency and accountability when those should be your utmost importance when you lead an organization. It is sad and annoying that this even has to be said. But this only happens in Malaysian groups (at least from what I have encountered). There are no consequences and everyone is entrenched in groupthink- agreeing with unethical behaviours because you're justifying it through your fucking agreement with each other instead of moral reasons. You can justify murder if you try hard enough blergh.

I am super disappointed and for the first time I think, I lost my cool in public. Speaking out and then getting shot down because no one else cares enough or finds it worthy to hold people accountable was too much. This is the rot that we have to deal with in everyday's society. This is how people think. How my peers think. I am disappointed for the people who make unethical decisions but more than that, I feel hopeless that there are so many good people around them who are so complacent to injustices and wrongful behaviour that they sit there silently even when they disagree. Some even told to let it go because it's happened. Fuck that. I'm not gonna let it go. I'm not gonna let someone who abuses their power off the hook just because he knows how to bullshit his way out of sticky situations. You can use all the flimsy excuses in the world but I can see through your fucking bullshit. The way that you speak about money and taking advantage of other people is frankly disgusting.

So yeah I am being super vulgar because I am super frustrated. I have now become the most hated person in this community but I don't give a fuck. They can say all they want about me but they can't say I'm wrong or I'm bringing it up because I have something to gain. I have nothing to gain. All I want is for people to understand that you can't run something to the ground, strip the organization to its parts and then justify it because you're gaining something out of it. Take responsibility for your failures, know that you should try hard  and apologize to all the people who trusted you. People give you amanah and you just disrespect it without a care in the world. So fuck that. And fuck you.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Eating clean and exercising

Who am I?!?!

I'd never thought I would do a post where I'm talking about living the healthy lifestyle. I guess one of the perks of getting older is confronting the fact that many of the things you thought matter when you're younger... just don't. 

I've never been naturally blessed with high metabolism. But I was skinny as a kid. Once I hit puberty, it went downhill from there. I've been a chubby girl since then. And I would have never admitted that if you asked about it 2 years ago. Body image is just something I steer clear from. I don't respond well when people talk about my body. Growing up in the culture that I'm used to, it gets pretty uncomfortable. Especially when a male relative comments on how much I've lost weight or gained weight. It's just that in my head space, something unacceptable. I feel like I'm being reduced to the numbers on my scale.

But I would be lying if I say it didn't affect me and how I perceive myself. At 9 years old, I was obsessing with how fat I've gotten. And I was still a child. I don't eat obscenely large amount of food, even now. And I can say that sincerely because my relatives would point out: "you don't each much, but you're so fat". Of course that affects me. When I was younger, I was hailed as being the "prettiest" of the bunch because I have really fair skin and hazel eyes and my face is round and my nose is pointier than most of my cousins or siblings'. And as I was growing up and put on extra weight, relatives would look at me and ask "what happened?" It stings. It still does. 

So I would go up and down in size. Ever since I was a child. Entering high school, once again I'm being confronted with my own body image. This time, to compete for the attention of the male species. I was 15 and single. I've never had a boyfriend. Never even talked to a boy because I was in an all-girls school. Meanwhile, my friends around me are being noticed by boys, except for me. And the only way I knew how to be better and prettier and worthier is by crash dieting. I remember during the end-year school break and a long stretch of time where I would literally lie in bed and not eat a thing for the whole day. And that would go on for days until my mum would notice how I'm not eating at all and force me to eat. I lost a lot of weight. And I was noticed by the male species. And I was "pretty" again. 

But I never knew what healthy is. When someone comments about my weight, they don't do it to get me to live a happy lifestyle. How do I know this? Because they were raving at how good I look when I'm literally starving myself. I lost a lot of hair because I just wasn't not eating or having my required vitamins. I would lock myself up because I just can't look at myself in the mirror long enough to get ready. I was scared of how I look or what food can do to me. That unhealthy relationship was soothed with the first "you look so thin" or "wow, you're so pretty" or "you're so slim, how did you do it?". Little by little, I started to like myself again because everyone seems to like me. 

And as I grow up, I realized that there are way more important thing that can consume my life. Such as where I'm furthering my studies. Or whether I'm moving 9000 miles away from home. And my body image falls to the back of my mind and became a mild annoyance unlike what it was before. I eventually gained back all the weight I've lost when I'm at heaviest. 

I would be lying if I say I'm happy about it or that I don't care. Because I do care. But it takes so much effort to care that I've taught myself how to be secure. How to like my body the way that it is. And I can still hear the snarky comments from my male classmates when they look at my older picture; "wow, you're so skinny back then. What happened?!" or "What did you do at home? Did you eat a lot? You seem heavier". And it stings just as bad as it stung before. But I don't internalize them anymore.

 I do not let those little snarky comments wound my self esteem. Because I know that my body or the way that I look means little compared to how people say my eyes sparkle when I smile. Or how I know all of these things that I could not have known in high school. Or even how these guys who would be quick to say that I'm fat would come to me to ask about their homework because I'm literally the only one who has the answer. My body was never a factor when I applied for internships this summer and managed to secure 3 offers from coveted audit firms and a research institute before March. I am more than what I look. And for what it's worth though, I actually like the way I look. 

Which is why I have managed to come to this point in my life where I'm concerned about being healthy. I'm concerned about exercising and I'm not doing it to see the numbers on the scale go down. I'm doing it so that I can sit upright for a long time without hurting my lower back. Or so that I can dangle my arm and not get tendonitis. I want to be strong so that I don't need my boyfriend to carry my groceries for me. None of those reasons include wanting to look good for the guys in my life. In fact, I wish they would shut up about my body because it has nothing to do with them.

So yeah, I'm still struggling. I like to eat rice. A lot of rice. And I like sweet tea and coffee. I'm recording this so that I will hold myself accountable. I will exercise and eat right so that I'm not bloated by the end of the day. So that I will not get hypertension by the time I'm 30. 

I am determined because I know it will be a long road ahead. I know that nothing will change overnight. But I know that my the end of the year, I will feel so much better. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Beauty and the Beast Hulla ballooo

The social media outburst against Disney's decisions to postpone indefinitely Beauty and the Beast's screenings in Malaysia was unfortunate and unwarranted. I am not here to argue the mechanics behind this decision: why, Disney did what it did, but rather what leads to the controversy in the first place.

I would argue that LPF's insistence that it will only allow the movie to screened without the scene depicting homosexuality really points to the larger issue of how homosexuality is viewed within the context of the Malaysian society. I don't want to argue one way or the other because I don't think my views on homosexuality are relevant in the larger scheme of things. However, I do want to point out the kind of inconsistencies and double standards that Malaysian institutions (LPF, religious bodies) and some citizenry have against specific issues.

Within the context of the Malaysian society, the normalization of LGBT communities are seen as sinful and unacceptable. This is not a secret. However, I do want to point out that rape, murder, backbiting, and adultery are all seen as sinful and unacceptable too. In fact, I would argue that rape, murder, backbiting and adultery are worse than being gay. There should not even be a comparison. But under artistic license, we are okay with the depictions of these sins. Some of them are not even being depicted in a negative light. Ombak Rindu comes to mind with its backwards interpretation of what rape is. For goodness sake, the female protagonist married her rapist to "halalkan" their sexual relations.

So who decides that being gay is more messed up than a Stockholm syndrome developed by a girl which led her to beg her rapist to marry her? Who decides that Harry Potter which tries to normalize witchcraft (sihir) is acceptable and being gay is not? Gay people exist, but I know a number of friends who have pre-marital sex. Both are vilified within the context of society, but only one invites the kind of frenzy and controversy we see surrounding the Beauty and the Beast. Also, Belle is in love with a beast, which is literally bestiality. And I have yet to hear any arguments against normalizing relations with animals...

I take issue with the kind of arbitrary nonsense that people are basing their values on. The quick answer is that homosexuality is treated differently in Malaysia because we have enough people at the top with support of religious bodies normalizing and vilifying this issue. The same kind of attention and energy somehow had not been directed to condemn real, systemic issues such as domestic abuse or even rape. Not many recoil at the thought that a movie is arguing marrying her rapist as her path to happily ever after. I for one think that it's absurd but I don't argue that we should ban Ombak Rindu. I accept that not everyone thinks the way that I do.

Here's what it comes down to: if we want to apply moral concept to everything in our society, we have to be unequivocal in our application. We have to be clear of the specific moral concepts that works for everyone in this nation. If not, the inconsistencies are glaring and we are perpetuating arbitrary codes of conduct that can easily be used to abuse minorities and people who don't agree with us.

There also comes another big problem. How do we regulate moral codes? How can we decide what is acceptable and what is not? Who are we to decide? I don't have the answer to that, and I suspect no one does. We can go down the path of Saudi Arabia where everyone has to abide to one specific code but I don't see the country as being exemplary by any know standards. And even their code is ridden with unavoidable inconsistencies that stem from human errors or just prejudice.

I would argue then that we should reject the kind of outdated traditionalist approach to society. If we can't objectify something, who decides the rules? Why are we so open to a system where a few people or segments of society have a say in what is acceptable?

I radical rethinking is needed to how we conduct ourselves. Now I'm not a self-important snob, so I will end by saying that this is my opinion and it's not popular. It's not unpopular too- they're just my conjectures.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017


I reject the notion that travelling is good for you  me.

Notice how I struck "you" and replaced it with "me"? Because it's not good for me. It causes me heart palpitations, back aches, sleep deprivation and chronic home sickness.

Now don't get me wrong, I do travel sometimes. I do enjoy looking at different places, getting my picture taken at world famous monuments but... it's a constant struggle. A struggle that as I am now well into my spring break (my last one, mind you) don't really associated with relaxation and refueling my energy for the rest of the school year.

I attribute it to my inability to chill out. I need to plan everything to the T. I have taken many personality tests and all of them told me what I already know: I have the lowest tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty. I will literally have heart palpitations if I'm thrown off my well-crafted plans. And being in a strange place, not knowing anyone there is the most ambiguous situation I can think of. I literally need to have an hour by hour itinerary of the places I will visit and then research how to get there. It takes me hours just to plan a 3 day trip. So no, although flying off to Europe might seem like a good idea at a whim, it causes me too many anxieties to ever think that it's worth it.

Not to mention that airports are literally the worst place to be. The American airports I mean. Going through security and immigration would never be tolerable for a hijab wearing gal such as myself.

I don't know the point of this post. I just know that I need to get over it. I don't ever feel like I'm losing out by not travelling. I honestly think that I've seen the world enough. I've been to 3 continents. More than 15 states in the US. I've been to the East Coast 3 times. Southeast once. Western and Central Europe once. And the Middle East loads of time. I don't know. I just don't feel excited or relaxed at the idea of travelling. I'd much rather watch a movie or a theater production.

I have a few days until school restarts. I will spend that time reading blogs, writing in my diary and doing Pop Pilates on YouTube lol.

P.S. I started the beginner's calendar 3 days ago. My muscles literally felt like they have been torn apart. I have yet to proceed to Day 2 because of the excruciating pain on my abdomen. I have no core strength that it would be funny if it wasn't so pathetic.

Monday, January 2, 2017

New Year

Well, I have one hour until it's the end of first January. I like to self reflect at the end of the year, just to see how far I've come and what I have going on for me.

I guess, professionally, I gained some new experiences. Led Malaysian Night, participated in Model Arab League, traveled to Boston and Orlando, ventured out of my comfort zone a little bit, had my first ever professional experience in a corporate setting.

I consistently feel underwhelmed by my achievements though. Maybe I wanted to do more. But I am in a good place, nevertheless. Pretty content, albeit a little bit stagnant.

I guess 2016 had been more geared towards developing personal relationships and regulating emotions. I am more ready to commit to long term relationships now. I have also felt stinging defeat and rejection, professionally and personally for perhaps the first time ever since I've been alive. I know it's kind of crazy to say that, but it's true.

All my life, I've had instant gratification although in my teen years I remember a lot of angst (but I was a teenager, that might have just been hormones). I was the top of my class through my primary school years. Going into secondary school, I ceased to care about my studies as much but always do well in things that I do want to do well in. I don't work as hard towards my academic in high school because I saw it as pointless and my results reflected that so I did not mind as much. But I got what I wanted for SPM and then a scholarship to the US. I am the first among my cousins and sibling to have studied abroad and am hailed as the "gifted" in my family and extended family. I know I am mediocre at best but when told your whole life that you're a special snowflake, you tend to fall for it haha. And it wasn't empty too. In many ways, I could see I was at least kind of special. Despite minimal efforts, I am always placed in the first class at my high school. Despite studying for only 3 months and sleeping consistently in classes, I managed to get straight As. It's been gratification after gratification.

But I resolved to be exceptional in university. I have been working really hard academically- more than I have ever worked my entire life. I took on different projects to polish my flat resume. And a lot of times, I have faced rejection too. Getting a B for a course I stayed up nights for. Getting only 1 interview from the countless internships that I have applied for. That's just some of it. And it stung. It brought me back to reality.

It stung so bad, I was on the verge of collapsing many times. But I also realized that I am strong enough to persevere. Giving up was never in my vocabulary even when I thought I could not go on any longer. Whenever I get knock down, I cry a lot. I remember being a leaked pipe, unable to stop myself from tearing up at public spaces that I have to hide behind my study table to tell myself to pull it together. I've felt the lowest of low, but I came back swinging. I count my blessings and I talk about my experiences literally to anyone who would listen. And then I take on new challenges like travelling to Boston with a group of people I barely knew to debate about Middle Eastern politics. Who would've thought that I would ever do that??? I certainly didn't.

My personal relationship took a hit too. Someone who I thought was a sure thing before hurt me in ways I never thought possible. But instead of holding a vengeance, I reflected too. And I realized that nothing happened in a vacuum. And although this might sound Stockholm-ish, I have my share of blame in how the situation deteriorated. Once I've realized that, it became easier to fix things instead of throwing away what's broken. And we came back stronger too. I became happier and commitment became less scary.

I guess, I could look back at 2016 and say that it's a shitty year. It's tumultuous, unstable and extreme. I lost my grandmother whom I was very close to. But I would be lying. 2016 had to happen so that I could be where I am right now. Idk if 2017 will be as mind boggling but I finally feel like I am growing up and am journeying on a new phase in my adulthood. Hopefully this trend will continue. And if there are more hardships to endure? I don't mind a bit because I always seem stronger by the end of it.