Gradual Gradient

Dear readers,

It’s been a while. And I say that because the past posts arguably since I got here have been more inclined towards reporting what I’ve been doing and where I’ve been than anything else and it just feels really weirdly detached. They feel more like necessary obligations — which, I’m not griping about because it’s not like I’m writing them involuntarily, but rather that they feel quite one-dimensional. This is very ironic; before coming here, I told myself to write less about emotions/feelings because it was all I could write about during A Levels and then after that but now that I don’t have the time to do so (lol) it feels odd and out of character. This blog has seen and recorded so many thoughts and emotions over the years, allowing me to look back at them and recall the thought processes I’d initiated and the emotional spectrums I’d ridden on. And I want to be able to do the same during my university years.

I mentioned this in my Blackpool post — that my first year of university has finally come to an end. Wow. I honestly don’t know what to say other than that. I can’t say it flew by really quickly, because at times it felt like everything was moving by laggardly, but at the same time I am also in disbelief that I’m one-third through university. I survived these nine months in a university in Manchester. If I properly sit myself down to think about this more clearly, it would just feel incredibly surreal. Like without a doubt, when I go back to Malaysia, the past year would feel like nothing but a dream to me.

But it isn’t, and the proof lies in the fact that so many things have changed. My hair has grown so that it looks more like a pudding head than the blonde bob I had on my first day in UK. I also apparently like K-pop now. I can now give an analysed answer if a friend asks me, “If someone kicks me and I kick them back, does that count as self-defence and will I be excused” that is if they’re willing to stick around to hear the entire tedious process of it. I also like to think I’m somewhat better at cooking, which is frankly not saying a lot because being better at cooking when I previously couldn’t cook at all just means that at least the food is edible now. I’ve also grown to be less afraid in various aspects — going places alone and doing things by myself is one of the more pronounced ones, but I’ve also discovered that learning to (for lack of a less clichéd word) open up and not closing myself off from the rest of the world out of fear and reluctance takes a certain kind of courage too. When I first came here, I was wary about every single thing, afraid of doing anything that would end up wounding my sensitive feelings, my frail self-esteem, and a foolproof method of preventing that is to just clamp down on the existence of connections that would enable an open path for direct or indirect assaults. And I can’t say I didn’t succeed, during the first few months, but it didn’t take long for me to realise that it was a scheme designated for a backfire. Osho said, “No relationship can truly grow if you go on holding back. If you remain clever and go on safeguarding and protecting yourself, only personalities meet, and the essential centers remain alone. Then only your mask is related, not you.” For a while, this resonated with me so much because even if I was doing what I thought to be the right thing, I was goddamn miserable because of that, and that was a cost too heavy to bear for the next months or even years. And that is why I am grateful that I have met people here who have allowed me room and space to grow, who, during my endeavours to take one step forward and several steps back, at least gave me the chances for my forward steps. It’s not a slope with a steep gradient, this learning process, but it’s a process, and I’m slowly learning the ropes of what it means to be a good person, a good friend to others, not just the friends I’ve made here but also the friends I already have and want to keep for a very long time.

In one of my previous posts in October, I said I hoped there would come a time when I am able to call this place home. I’m on my way there.

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Author: Michelle Teoh

21-year-old cynical Asian, book enthusiast and purveyor of fine sarcasm.

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