After all the defining moments of the past year, I’m still here. I lived in 2019, probably the first year I ever truly did. I was conscious, my eyes freshly opened as I make way to the beginning of my being. For years, one question constantly burned in my head. Written in my diary several times and sometimes in pages of random notebooks, I asked myself.
How to be human?
I’m breathing everyday, interacting with people, doing my job, making mistakes and being clumsy at the littlest things – TYPICAL human. But I don’t feel like I am.
I always wonder how I should act to consider myself one. All the things I do are NORMAL, but it took some hard hit in the head to make me realize how the most basic happenings hold the greatest lessons on how to be human.
After a blow-by-blow attack of life, I picked a couple of evidences that proved that I am like most people, and I’m not losing my mind. Or maybe, we are all losing our shit but how are we to know if we’re all crazy?
Either way, here are some MUNDANE things I get to experience this year with a couple of hard-earned lessons.
First blow: Failing Myself
I failed an exam for Insurance Commission early 2019. It shouldn’t have been a big deal because I failed a lot of exams back in college but this one drove me into reflection on my recent efforts. I was in a lot of pressure because the exams cost quite a sum of money and my recruiter then expects me to pass both. I remember how disappointed I was after receiving the news, I even wrote an essay to understand how I felt.
Strong girls. I wonder how they cope. Do they waste their moment at the corner McDonalds like I do? Panicking, almost crying but firmly saying to myself, “You’ll get through this, you’ll do better next time.” But boy, I never do. I keep on failing these past years; I kept on disappointing myself that I’m already making a pity card for myself. – Excerpt from A Memoir of a Dramatic Potato
I did overreact and got so demotivated back then but I’m the only one to blame for thinking that I could pass the exam through luck and little effort.
I’ve only come to realize after that even LUCK requires real WORK these days.
No one’s keeping a list of my mistakes but I am proud of myself for owning up to them. I took the IC exam again and passed. (Pride can taste sweet at times!) I was going to call it a waste of effort because I didn’t pursue being a Financial Advisor but the lessons were worth it and I can always do it as a sideline.
PS: 100% going to fail at other things again!
How to be human when I fail?
Remind me to FACE the situation head on, accept things for what they are, salvage what I can and build from the ruins of my mistake. Good thing life allows us to try again and try harder. But of course, we can just not deal with it and get eaten up by anxiety and regret. F-U-N.
Second blow: Relationshits
Had a lot of firsts in 2019 and one first that didn’t last was dating another human. I’m not giving a lesson about dating because that’s on the list of my failures aka things I’m not good at. I just want to share a few reflections I gained from breaking my heart.
I used to write a lot of cringy and cheesy stories in WATTPAD. It’s different when you write based on your imagination. Love stories can be endless. I can fix things with words. Cakes and flowers turn up, apologies are easily accepted, and wounds, trauma and pain heal at the command of my hands.
But reality hit me right through the heart. Now, no matter how much I want to write what could’ve been, I couldn’t bear to let myself get stuck. This is no fiction. Funny story how the young and naïve me dreamed of meeting the love of my life, my first and last love. But love came with its complexities and I’m all for sucking it up until I realized that I didn’t even know what love is.
How to be human and love other human?
I have no answer yet. I have a few pieces to work on but I better be human and love myself first.
Third Blow: Okays are not okay
The concept of mental health, depression and anxiety are familiar strangers to me for so long. I lived a double-life. One was I, living my name – just being Joy, and another was the girl scared of going home to see a body hanged at the ceiling of the house because of a suicide attempt remark from a family member that inked itself on her mind.
After everything that happened, the craziest must be the fact that I considered most of it as normal. Looking and focusing on the bright side only blinded me from the fact that I haven’t been taking care of my self, mentally.
My father’s death in 2018 shifted my definition of what’s OKAY. I knew I wasn’t well, and all my okays were lies – a disservice to my feelings and myself for constantly downgrading the surge of my emotions as just another sad day.
When I know I was screaming inside, I smiled on the outside.
But I started listening to myself and to others. For a while, it became a comfort knowing that while I was crying alone, someone else was also struggling. Somewhere at the park, in her bedroom, or in the middle of the crowd, someone feels the same way I was.
I wasn’t alone in not being OKAY and it felt right not to be. I was so obsessed in acting like I was when it’s totally fine to express and assert what I feel inside.
Slowly, I learned to give myself a space to mourn, to be angry, to be happy. I didn’t know that the emotions that holds so much power against me can be processed by giving myself permission to just feel and breathe.
How to be human and be okay?
I guess my best answer is to allow yourself not to be okay, to give way for the days you are okay. Stop being haunted by memories; give each part of you a room to heal and to grow.
2019 has been a trip. It holds so many stories to tell and lessons to treasure in this lifetime. Out of my old and dusty diary and the new one with empty pages ready to be filled, it feels so right to be sharing these few stories out in the world to be a reminder that I truly lived in 2019.