Tag Archives: Rants

The Meeting

Last night, I attended a meeting within a local professional body.

I am unfamiliar with their structure.

Unfamiliar with their relations, their dynamics with each other.

I have never worked with any of them before.

I’ve not even stepped into my role as one of them.

I’m still establishing my identity as one.

Still searching for that part of me which is sure that she will be a good one.

I was looking at them, and thinking that they are nice, committed people, but also wondering how deep could our relationship go, remembering the fact that we are just connected professionally, after all.

And because of all that unfamiliarity, I was Quiet.

I think what was most disappointing was me thinking that it’d be ok for me to be quiet this once.

Thinking that they’d accept me being myself this once, because it was my first time after all.

But the prick came when, at the end of the meeting, when we were closing by answering a question and going around in a circle, the nice chair of the meeting quipped to me: “You’ve been so quiet!”

And suddenly all other eyes in the room were on me.

Deer in headlights mode on.

And I remember feeling disappointed, thinking: “Not here, too?”

But I guess Life has been a pretty good teacher, and I’ve found myself in enough situations like that to know how to react and respond.

So I simply smiled, put on my Teacher voice, and responded to the question which we were discussing.

Everyone laughed at something I said, and the moment passed.

 

But the process sure felt like it took out a lot of me.

 

Sounds like a few more hours of solitude is in order.

It’s Over

My thoughts after the whole extravaganza:

Oh my goodness. it’s finally over. The parade, the red and white, the singing, oh my goodness the singing. I’m so glad it’s over.

I didn’t think I did anything meaningful. And I felt stupid for worrying over something as non-meaningful as that. And I did it all anyway, despite the worry. The fake enthusiasm, the singing, the rallying, the big wide smiles all the way.

Maybe I’m not happy because I feel I have done something which wasn’t true to myself.

At least it’s over.

At the risk of sounding self absorbed and indulgent, I think my Self deserves a little encouraging affirmation, so here goes:

Well done! Well done for giving it your all despite thinking that it might not have been the most meaningful thing to spend your time and energy on. Well done for encouraging the students who didn’t feel entirely comfortable and for pulling them into the spirit of things. Well done for placing your self-consciousness aside, at least for awhile. You may not have wanted to do it, if given a choice, but you did it all the same. This shows that you are reliable, flexible and adaptable in the face of challenges. You truly are, you truly can be. Now, go seek out all the solitude you want. You deserve it 🙂

The “Someday” Trap

A conversation with a close friend recently got me thinking about the extents one would go for meaning.

There are people in this world who find meaning in making sacrifices for the greater good, staying on in environments they may find draining and tiring, just so they can feel the satisfaction of making a difference in an institution, with people they care about and work closely with.

There are also people in this world who cannot imagine being in their shoes, choosing instead to pursue meaning on their own terms, seeking to be separated from an environment they find stifling, regardless of the rewards the system and institution may grant to keep people inside.

As someone who (currently) belongs to the latter camp, I tried to understand why my friend from the former would want to make sacrifices like that. To delay her own aspirations so that she can make “lasting impacts” in her institution, so that she can leave a “legacy” in the programs she heads, so that she can pass her work on to a “successor”.

The conclusion I came to was that it is not for me to judge how different people form meaning out of different things and circumstances. Perhaps I am the self-centered one, the one unwilling to make personal sacrifices for the greater good, masking my selfishness under the guise of “seeking personal meaning”.

I just hope that we haven’t fallen into the “someday” trap, the mindset that “someday I’ll do what I want, once I have accomplished this, and that …”
I hope, for the sake of my friend, that these sacrifices for the “lasting impact”s and “legacy”s are truly meaningful and worth it.

The Fight Within

It was a physical fight – Boy1 was wielding the broom, Boy2 was furiously using his legs, kicking to defend himself and attack his attacker.

Their fight was stopped.

Mine began.

“Why are they behaving this way?”

“Don’t they know what’s right and wrong?”

“Why don’t they get it?”

“Have all we spoke about in class been for nothing?”

“Why am I so affected by this?”

“Why am I feeling emotional over this small matter?”

“There’s been worse things.”

“Your class isn’t the worst, please. There are other worse students out there.”

“Why doesn’t anyone understand that I’m trying to prevent them from becoming those worse students?”

“You need to be fierce with them.”

“This one already fierce leh.”

“You ok?”

“It’s ok.”

“It’s ok to feel emotion.”

“It’s ok to feel.”

“It’s ok to show emotion.”

“It’s ok.”

“You care too much.”

“Why do I care so much?”

“I don’t intend to stay on.”

“After this sem, 2 and a half years more.”

“I wish I had done something differently.”

“I’m sorry to call you about this.”

“You don’t have to be ashamed about feeling.”

“Appreciate your emotions.”

“They’re what make us human.”

“It’s ok to not be ok.”

Is it?

Inside Out

The “Rebel” in me says: Don’t do anything more than necessary. Especially when it only serves to accentuate another portfolio. Or only to show off. Or to demonstrate a capability the world could do without. Don’t stress over the small things that others can worry about. Take care of your well-being, because you still have a long way to go. Look at the big picture and see that by not sweating the small stuff you are allowing yourself more energy to run the whole distance without burning out. Let them do what they want, you don’t have to play by their rules. Protect and strengthen your inner resources for the work that really matters to you.

The Rebel is complemented by the Zen One, the one who says: You can feel that you don’t want to be here, that you don’t want to work in this system for the rest of your life, but you owe it to the 40 souls that come in every lesson – you owe it to them to be fully present, to give your best, to see their beauty, feel their pain, experience life to its fullest in that 1hr and 10minutes with them.

It is my hope that these 2 sides will continue to be developed evenly and complementarily.

The World is Not A Wish-Granting Factory

In my mind, I envisioned coming back to the relatively clean and neat kitchen, the spacious hall, the peace and quiet, with house mates who make as little sounds as I do, or maybe even less, or at most.. just slightly more.

Well, after an 8-hour plane ride, I realise that to not be the case. Not only has the hall been made more cramped with a newly-installed game console, but the sink was piled with undone dishes (from the night before, because they had not woken up when I arrived!), the table had crumbs (I do not wish to know how long they have been there), and the dustbin lids left OPENED. I was shocked, traumatized. I actually worked hard to leave the common areas clean! You mean there are people in this world who do not believe in that?! I tried to breathe, but found it really hard to be calm (hence my numerous rants on messaging apps).

Thankfully, the people in question made some effort to make the environment more livable, after my comment of “Er… It’s a little messy, isn’t it?” Though there is still much room for improvement. Also, I can spot other areas in which future conflicts can/will arise if nothing is done at this stage. I can only pray for strength to tide through this year. Then again… This might be a good thing after all – I won’t feel so sad to leave when it’s time to go.

The world is not a wish-granting factory – it is our rigorous training ground. And only those who can take the training become better and stronger people. May I resolve to be such a person.

“I Can’t Work With Normal Kids Anymore”

Imagine my relief, when I blurted this line out, and Y, a wonderful therapist whom I greatly respect and adore, echoed my sentiments and told me that she could totally understand.

“I used to get so frustrated with normal kids as well”, she said. “I’d look at them and think – you have everything you’ll ever need and yet you are not cherishing it. There are kids who have so little, born disabled… and yet they are trying so hard” (I almost started tearing when I heard her say that).

“Yes! I felt that way even before I came here, and now I feel that even more strongly.”

R, who was nearby, also agreed, saying that once you’ve gotten a taste of therapeutic work, it’s hard to go back to whatever we were doing, because it will naturally seem so much more meaningless (he was from the corporate world, imagine that!).

And indeed, I do feel that most of the things I’ve done before has been pretty meaningless. Not all, but most.

Because when you’ve seen how a non-verbal person can communicate through singing and smiling, when you’ve seen a so-called intellectually disabled young woman reach out and give you a high-five in the middle of our drumming improvisation, when you’ve felt the hands of a 4-year old with autism stretch out and hold your arm and bring your fingers to the piano, laughing as she plays the piano through your hands, and then reach out to touch your hair and say your name in a loud clear voice… How can one go back?

How can I go back to the system where days are spent rushing through syllabus, where fancy lesson packages are prepared with no time to carry them out, where obedience and silence are order of the day, where countless events and excursions and enrichment activities are carried out not because they are truly beneficial, but because KPIs need to be met, because portfolios need to be beefed up, because people need to look good on paper.

I just want to pull my hair in despair when I think about it.

As much as I am living in the present and getting the most I can out of this amazing experience, I know that this too shall pass. And then… what?

Money

If I say I didn’t join Teaching for the money, I would be lying. Of course the money played a part in me signing on the dotted line. We need to survive, after all. We have parents counting on us. We have desires we want to fulfill. Like travel. And all those blogshop clothes. And the prospect of being paid while studying something I am passionate about seemed so very enticing when I was 16 (It still is).

But I also strongly believe that the money alone should not be the determining factor. Because if it is, sooner or later you would start comparing yourself with others who earn more. Or with those who appear to do less but are getting the same pay.  And that, is the surefire way to make yourself unhappy.

If we use money to measure happiness, we will never have enough of both.

Just felt the need to say that.

On Smoke and Fire Alarms

This is something I’ve been wanting rant about for awhile.

The smoke alarms here. In Australia. Are seriously freaky.

My introduction to them came in the second week I was here. On a quiet Tuesday evening, when I was settling into my room after dinner, enjoying the silence I had gotten used to over the past few days.

Suddenly –

A loud wailing noise from the ceiling in my room.

That was when I realised they had installed a speaker up there (Seriously, why do they need intercom speakers in every single little room, as if we can’t hear it if it’s in the hall, as loud as it is?!).

Then –

“EMERGENCY! EVACUATE NOW! EMERGENCY! EVACUATE NOW!”

I was scared – for lack of a better word – shitless.

I clamored around my room like a headless chicken for a few seconds, before grabbing my phone and passport and running out. My heart felt like it had shriveled up and was just crouching in a corner of my body, too scared to move.

The first signs of it being a false alarm occurred to me when I noticed that the people who lived above us were not rushing down like they were supposed to. They, apparently, had seen their fair share of false alarms (Unlike me).

Then, at the common room, people were murmuring about how it’s probably just another false alarm, and somebody is going to get fined for getting the fire truck down when there’s no fire.

All this time, the siren was still going on, and the voice, computerized and mechanical, was still going on about evacuating. It was deeply unsettling.

Finally, the trucks came, confirmed that there was no fire, the sirens were stopped (finally) and we returned to our rooms.

I was very much shaken, and no longer viewed the silence of the night as something comforting, but now as a suspicious, filmsy scaffolding which could give way at any time.

Just a few days ago, I was sitting in my room, doing some readings, when the intercom cackled to life again. I jumped and felt my muscles freeze up.

“Residents”, the voice began, loud, harsh and distorted. I opened my door and made to go outside to check if this was another false alarm, my heart beating wildly from the initial shock.

“This is a sound test. Test. Test.”

Then the intercom went off.

I sank into my chair and took many deep deep breaths.

Seriously. They cannot keep doing this to me. I feel like my life has already been shortened by 2 years, and I’ve only been here less than 2 months! It’s gotten so bad that I now approach the silence of each night with more apprehension than before, when I used to welcome the peace and quiet. Now it just feels like something is waiting to happen. To pounce on us in the dark.

 

So I’ve been trying to rationalize my thinking to help myself get over this fear.

The reason why I’m afraid is because I’m attached to life. My belongings, my existence. I am afraid of getting into a disaster which could endanger my life. I don’t want to die. And as we all know, attachment is the cause of suffering. If I could live with detachment, fully knowing that even my next breath is not in my hands, then I would not be so fearful.

Also, I need to learn how to respond, not react. Responding requires you to do just what need to be done at that moment. Reacting holds an emotional component. Because I am attached to my life, I react with emotion, and feel fear. If I’m able to cultivate detachment and simply respond as the situation calls for it, I’d simply be responding, and fear need not be involved. 

Easier said than done, I know. But at least I’ve got my game plan mapped out. Respond, not react. Be detached, and fear won’t have a place.

Take a deep breath, and live on.

Just Another Lesson

Perhaps I need to get used to the idea

That  I don’t always need people to be pleased with me,

For me to be contented with myself.

I don’t always need to hear affirmation and praise,

For me to accept that I have done to the best of my ability.

I also need to understand that doing the right thing,

May not be the most popular thing,

And we will not always be able to please everyone.

A lesson as ageless as time, yet a trap I find myself constantly falling into, day after day.

And the lessons of life continue.