change, part ii

i had a sort-of midlife crisis circa march/april last year that i never really told anyone about. made a longass video about it but never got around to editing and/or uploading it because a) it was really longass and b) like i said i was busy having a sort-of midlife crisis. but basically in a nutshell that month-long period saw me constantly carrying around a ten-tonne weight in my stomach, looking around at the successes and achievements by friends and family and feeling like every minute i spent not volunteering for a samaritan cause or meeting new people at a social event or i don’t know, rescuing a baby from a burning building was time wasted. this also didn’t go well with my ingrained doctrine of experiencing university years as the Best Years of My Life, because i wasn’t even doing anything in the first place to make that a possibility.

many of the people i’ve met here in manchester told me over the course of the past few months that i’ve changed, and i agree. i’ve changed considerably from the person i was in my first academic year, precisely because i was so incredibly unhappy with my first year life that it absolutely frightens me to think about the mere prospect of returning to that life again, a life of idleness and passiveness that made me feel even more minute and impactless than i already felt. i couldn’t stand another year of that. so much that you could even say i was desperate for action, for stimuli, for every damn thing you can throw my way and by god, i will take it. so many things still make me scared and anxious, but after having lived a year of tiptoeing around the edges because of this precise fear and anxiety and emerging from that routine of extreme safety and comfort a dissatisfied and unhappy person, i realised sometimes fear can be a small price to pay in return for the wide array of brand new things the world has to offer. i only have less than two years left (tentatively) in the UK, if i just let all this time pass by me without doing anything substantial, i know, without a single doubt, that i’ll be writhing in agonised regret less than two years from now for not seizing every opportunity i could get while they were still within reach.

from september 2016 up till now, i’ve been consistently climbing a mountain without looking down (because if i did so i’d probably stop and give up from the height). and now, standing where i am, it’s a bit difficult to see clearly my point of origin. it’s been such a rapid climb too, that i hardly get the chance to pause and take a respite, to look back and reflect on all the progress i’d made and take notes on it. so currently what i possess is this huge gap between who i was and who i am now, and frankly it’s a bit disorientating. my mind blanks out every so often; it’s a bit difficult to introspect when you’ve gone so long without it, but it doesn’t feel at all right if you don’t do it, like you’re not actually gaining anything from it. the accumulation of “i’ll jot this down and think about it later” has somehow just spilled over overwhelmingly in the process that even recalling past experiences takes immense brainpower, even more so when your mental elasticity has hardened and slowed everything down. this is not a problem, really. in fact, not thinking so much was an aspiration of mine for years. but it all just feels very weird when i no longer have the time to sit down and write for myself, to examine and inspect every single detail of my life occurrences obsessively. i used to be so in touch with my emotions and thoughts that piecing them together was second nature to me. in contrast, doing the same thing now requires an active effort. it makes me think. if i’ve lost that ability, what else do i have left within me?

in the end, fear still underlies all this. why else would i start getting so jittery when i look back at old blogposts and find that i am unable to stir the same emotions within myself as when i wrote them? straying away from something you’ve always found to be familiar can be world-shatteringly scary i suppose, but this is no less than what i’d been trying to accomplish since i came back to manchester, just that in the process of Not Being First Year Michelle Again i’d also consciously and subconsciously picked up several other things too. this is all too abstract for me to lay out in a non-nonsensical way but i’m convincing myself that it’s better than nothing. i want to write more. i need to write purely and solely for myself again, because it’s been too long since i’ve done that.

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Michelle Teoh

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

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