The only way I know how to describe the start of my third year is: uncertain. Even now, so much uncertainty, instability, which is rather vertigo-inducing considering how I’ve already spent the last two years in Manchester, so it doesn’t make sense that I have so much doubt over my final year here. I was writing in my journal on my Istanbul-Manchester flight, and my closing paragraph was, “In a nutshell, I’m greatly uncertain about my third year. I’m not as pessimistic or indifferent as my first year, nor as optimistic or excited as my second, but I only wish this year to be one of no regrets.”

And I guess this uncertainty can be mildly attributed to the fact that after last year, I felt as if I’ve exhausted myself of all options and opportunities to do the things I want that will lead me to be the person that I want to be. If that makes sense? Objectively, I know that I’m not revolutionarily out of my comfort zone to do the things that scare me in order to better myself, but at the same time I’m just at a point in my life where I’m so exhausted. To the extent that sometimes I feel like I’m merely deceiving myself as to thinking I’m even getting anywhere, and this thought process is so pessimistically familiar that I fear the tendrils of despair that are telling me to give up because no matter how hard I try, I take one look at other people, scroll through social media, and already I feel like I’ve failed yet again.

Always so many self-induced expectations and obligations, that at one point, I realised that my personality is just: “What kind of person are you?” “Anything you want me to be.”

Because, it dawned on me horrifically when I woke up one night at 4am to pee (ungodly hours of the day that just sort of triggers epiphanies within yourself), I prioritise pleasing other people over pleasing myself by being…myself. Because when you’re like me, chronically running low on self-esteem after years of fearing isolation and loneliness, the only validation and approval of my own existence that matters is when it’s external, ie from the people around me. I once wrote something a few years back along the lines of, “one’s existence is really wholly dependent on the perceptions of others”, and listen, I was actually talking about the Neon Genesis Evangelion anime but apparently, somewhere along the way, I’d invested my entire cognisance in that notion.

And, like, I know this is pretty much “TLDR, I need constant approval and affection from other people so feed me with them please” which I’m not even going to lie to myself by denying it, but it’s gotten to the point that my entire fundamental reasoning mechanism of deciding what is intrinsically right or wrong hinges on what other people think is right or wrong, a subconscious lens to view the world that leaves me an empty shell of no essence. No beliefs or opinions of my own, because I’m so desperate for human connections that I would rather trade them for external validation. I don’t know what I’m doing, I really don’t. I don’t think this is the right way to live, because I know I wouldn’t want my friends to live like this, either, but like I said, I’m so unstable on my feet that I can no longer tell what is really right or wrong. And this frightens me so, so much because I’m fucking 22 years old and I’m graduating in a year, yet I’ve never felt so hopeless in all the 22 years I’ve lived. I didn’t use to be like this; I don’t know what happened along the way.

Already I know I’m still going to end this post with, “I’m still going to keep on trying nonetheless” and that’s not a lie, but giving up can be a very tempting idea when you’ve had so many false hopes and expectations that you kinda wanna scream “SOMETHING GOOD SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED BY NOW!!!!!”

But. Well. I’m still going to keep on trying nonetheless.

Published by

Michelle Teoh

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

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