Girl, Graduated

Ever since the arrival of my parents in UK, I have been submerged in a perpetual trance of bizarreness, so much so that it sometimes makes me a bit anxious. It probably has to do with the strange collision of worlds pre- and post-university. Probably also has something to do with my approaching expiry date. Regardless, the past month took me out of my comfortable Manchester life and took me along for a whirlwind of a ride.

But coming back to Manchester, meeting all my friends again, and finally, graduating, brought some semblance of familiarity back, and I was really thankful for that. There is still an inherent melancholy interlaced within everything I do and everyone I see, since all of them point towards the direction of Leaving, but everything felt like a proper emotional closure, at least. The very concept of graduation means closure, after all.

Today was a day of rushing (in heels, at that) to do things, to meet people, to take photos. So it was only when I entered Whitworth Hall and took my seat before my graduation ceremony officially began that I started to feel the crushing weight of the weariness, and even more importantly, the magnitude of what was happening to me and to my life thus far.

I guess objectively, all milestones are what you make them to be, and graduation is one of them. And University of Manchester definitely made this milestone out to be one of much grandeur. There was an organ that made everything appear more dramatic, chancellors and heads of school clad in purple robes delivering motivational speeches, and finally, the donning of our graduation hats to symbolise the actual end of the three-year ride. Hitting the nail on the coffin, if you will.

It’s a bit unbelievable. No, I’m lying. It’s so incredibly unbelievable. I am way too exhausted to be eloquent right now, but it just feels way too surreal that I have finished all three years of law school in Manchester and am leaving it now. Am I happy to graduate? Yes. It’s an achievement to be proud of. Yet at the same time, it’s the underlying melancholy that confuses things. Curse my perpetual sentimentality forever. Things that do not need emotions should not be granted them, and yet here I am freely splashing my feelings over every single thing I can lay my hands on.

But an achievement it is, nonetheless, and how could any of this have been possible without the people around me, my family and friends? Because at the end of the day, these people are where all my emotions flow towards. My parents, who have literally been my unbending pillars of support since day one, who, despite all my tantrums and mood swings, still showed unconditional love and care which made me the person I am today. My friends from all phases of my life, but especially the ones that I have made during my university years, who, despite having no blood relations to me at all, still showed sincerity and genuineness in wanting to be my friend, helping me grow so much over the years and always being reliably there whenever I needed someone.

It’s moments like these that I wish emotions such as gratitude wasn’t such an abstract thing. I wish I could express them beyond mere words, at a time when these literary tools I possess that I wield so loyally and frequently on a daily basis, become obstacles instead.

And so I wish that you, every single person reading this, know how much I thank you, for being an impact in my 23 years of life up until now, no matter how major or minor. It’s moments like these when being alive feels that more wonderful with each breath I take.

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ghost

the suitcases are out. my things are in boxes again. everytime i look at a part of my room that used to be filled with books and clothes and see them empty instead now, my stomach starts to hurt just a little because now i can only imagine the ghost of where these things used to be. and if it’s already this bad when it comes to objects in the form of my belongings, what more people?

buildings that i used to pass by and streets that i used to walk on feel more and more precarious, and i know there is only so much that i can do to drink in my surroundings with my senses, but i want all of them imprinted so hard in my mind’s eye because i know there is no way to prevent the erosion of memory with time. i want the urgent immersion now, and i’m afraid of anything less.

there is nothing i can do to stop time, nor change the inevitability of what is coming, and thus i can only make a checklist of doing and saying everything that i want to do and say before leaving with no regrets. and then, and only then, can i allow my heart to mourn in peace before i pick myself up from leaving a significant part of my life behind, to start a brand new one.

blank walls

this is dramatic but at this point, everything is dramatic.

i woke up this morning with a foreign zest to start packing, and i thought that the easiest and most obvious place to start was by taking off all the posters and photos and postcards off my wall. everything really was fine until i was 50 percent done, blue tac remnants dotting my walls; i properly looked up and realised there were echoes by these surrounding blank walls, and felt my mental energy drain instantaneously at the reluctance of it all.

i was dismantling three years’ worth of familiarity, and tearing these away felt like i was ripping off my turtle’s shell that i call home.

i don’t think i quite know how to deal with this yet, so obviously i gave up on packing and played splatoon for the next ten hours.

i’m really sad and scared. i don’t want to feel as empty as these walls, but i feel like that day will come soon.

23bd

This year really passed by too quickly. It scares me so much how quickly time flies by.

When in the midst of things and with a crowd of people around, it’s usually easier to just suppress emotions without any problem. Almost doesn’t feel like I’m leaving sometimes because the act of departing is not being carried out instantaneously.

But it’s getting harder and harder to feel comforted by the thought of going home and returning to my room where I would have to be alone and deal with the suppressed thoughts and feelings clamouring to be heard the moment I close the door and severe any communication with the external world. I’ve said too many permanent goodbyes within this week alone but it doesn’t get any better each time.

But this isn’t supposed to be a post about leaving. It’s a post about my gratitude for the people I have met and gotten to know here for the past three years, how they all turned up to celebrate my turning older by a year yesterday with an outdoor barbecue. It’s also a post about my gratitude for all my friends and family, in Manchester or not, who had remembered and sent me well wishes on my special day. It’s a post about my gratitude for being alive in this enigmatic but ultimately wondrous world for 23 whole years, and for being loved by so many.

Thank you everyone, I love all of you.

my reflection in the window in front of me is a black mirror

when it’s late at night, and there’s almost a sense of deafening silence piercing the stagnant air like needle-like icebergs, or maybe iceberg-like needles. there’s a lull in the air that makes me feel detached from my surroundings in a disturbing way, like i could be the only soul existing in this humming astral plane.

idle days aren’t really idle, are they? when the sky turns dark and my slouch increases inwardly a few degrees more, wanting to be released from the captivity of tedious obligations but also fearing the mirage of freedom even more. there’s nowhere to run, really. there’s nothing i can do, except to meekly bow my head in submission to the cruel passage of time and the bristles that come with it, and hope that these wounds don’t leave scars at places where healing will be impossible.

sometime during this week or month or maybe even year, i was branded with an expiry date. it’s the most arduous form of torment upon one’s psych, but it is precisely this urgency that made me pledge to document this process as best as i can. i want to write more. at least this way, i won’t find myself losing these emotions that are important to me.

Our Sunset Over the Castle on the Hill

We only decided to go to Ed Sheeran’s Manchester show a week before the show itself. Over dinner. We got our tickets from Twickets and on the 24th of May, after our IP law paper, Ee Min, Yee Lin, Ash, Jia Yang, CC and I headed for Etihad Stadium.

Getting to the stadium proved to be an issue in itself at first. Manchester Metrolink had special security measures for an event day as big as Ed Sheeran’s concert apparently, and it took us about an hour of waiting time just to get on a tram, and we eventually only did so by forcefully squeezing our way into the absolutely jam-packed carriages. It was a highly uncomfortable 20-minute ride and you could see everyone audibly gasp for air the moment the tram doors opened upon arrival at Etihad.

Ed’s entrance onto the stage was…to be honest, quite befitting of his super humble character. No fanfare or anything fancy like that. He appeared, got on stage, and immediately started singing. A man who gets straight to the point.

Just gonna outright admit that the songs of his that I was most familiar with were entirely from his + album from eons ago, a distant phase of my life. It reminded me of driving in my car after freshly acquiring my license for the first time at 17, and gushing about his music with Irfan back in college. It felt quite surreal, like a clashing of worlds.

But I’m glad I got to make new memories to associate with his newer songs, in his actual literal presence at that.

Michelle’s People I’ve Watched Live List, updated:

Subject: a list of precedents, for your perusal

for someone who strongly abhors the very concept of change, by the cruel mechanics of fate or some poetic universal shit like that, you somehow find yourself hit by wave after wave of impending and inevitable change.

and at this crucial junction of your life, here is a reminder to yourself why, based on these very precedents of your own history, you will eventually be okay.

it seems way too far away now, but you entered secondary school alone. none of your friends from primary school ended up in the same school as you did. and despite the initial struggles you had, you still graduated fine. you were okay.

no one from your secondary school went to the same college as you did, either. you were luckier this time, and had a few old friends that you managed to reconnect with, 400km away from home. you made new friends too. it was one of the best periods of your life. you were okay.

university in manchester started out similarly rocky. you found yourself in intimidatingly foreign waters at first, but three years later, you’ve built a home away from home, together with all the friends you’ve made here. you were okay. you are okay.

in two months, another huge change will befall upon you again, a change that requires you to pack up three years’ worth of possessions and memories, and start a new life yet again in yet another huge city, away from the friends that you’ve made here yet again. but at this point, this change is no longer unique to you anymore. you are a hypothesis that has been proven through timely experiments conducted throughout your whole life, and that is why, your honour, based on the precedents listed above, it is only natural that the conclusion that the jury has come to is: you will be okay.