up on melancholy hill there’s a plastic tree

By a twist of fate (something that has happened a lot lately), I found myself invited to a party at Opal Gardens by friends I’d only just made within the week. There’s little I would say no to nowadays; there’s only so little time I have left in Manchester anyway.

Conversations that night went off on all sorts of tangents in Francesco’s tiny living room filled with 12 of us, and at some point, after having quite a bit too drink, I found myself talking about MBTI personalities with Farah and got excited upon finding out that she’s also an INFP, which spun into discussions about, “Do you think you’ve changed since your first year?”

I was prompted by Farah to write about my answer here on my blog:

Since the start of this academic year, I’ve generally refrained from writing much about…anything, really, on here. Reasons include extreme busyness, awareness that self-centric posts might be annoying to some, and a newfound fear of making public my emotions and thought processes based on current life events. I hate being dishonest and insincere, so instead of lying and hiding, I’d rather not write at all.

The same feeling still applies currently, but I’ve got a writing itch so let’s see how far it’ll carry me.

My number one motto/mindset for this year, as aforementioned, is to graduate from Manchester in six months without any regrets of not doing the things that I want to do. And thus, this sense of urgency, as well as the motivation to do more things and meet more people that has been cultivated over the past two years, provided me with seemingly endless courage to do things that I would never have been brave enough to do last year or two years ago.

This makes me pretty satisfied and happy. Some days, I allow myself the luxury and narcissism to measure my own progress since first year and pat myself on the back for coming so far. But, and I told Farah this too, somewhat incoherently, I still can’t seem to eradicate all skepticism towards my own measurement because after all, external validation has always been a deciding factor for what I believe is right or wrong. So where that stands, I am still wholly unsure since it’s not exactly common policy for you to go up to your friends and ask, “Do you think I’ve changed?” Still, it’s a nice achievement to think about in the shower.

Having coerced myself into this mindset for the past two months and thus experiencing twist after twist of fate, I’ve also managed to experience fleeting moments where a tiny thought would suddenly pop into my head, “Hmm, this is exactly what I’d always wanted”, remembering nights spent alone in my room crying and wondering what’s wrong with me that I couldn’t get the things I wanted, but now being able to barely ruminate on these worries and finding myself in situations that I’ve craved for years ago, almost imperceptibly. I mentioned in my previous post that these moments leave me feeling so intoxicated, at finding myself closing the gap between craving and achieving.

I’m not gonna lie, it feels weird! It’s so different. My life currently is so different from first and second year but I keep on going so I don’t allow myself to get too weirded out by this weirdness and hesitate. I’m afraid that if I stop, I’ll recoil back into comfort and regret again so I just keep going on, keep making plans, keep saying yes, keep keeping busy until I feel so far away from the fears of yesterday. Make no mistake, I’m not free from fear’s grasp, but I instinctively push myself to sprint away faster before I’m rooted to the ground, unable to do anything.

There’s no point denying that I’m still hiding a lot. This blog has turned from my ultimate emotion-vomit outlet to a highly public and fragile precipice that I have to handle with utmost care. But it’s better than nothing. Sitting here currently, in the Learning Commons yet again, I’m struck by how everything and everyone existing in my life currently are consistent reminders of how little time I have left here, urging me to drink in my surroundings more, to sprint more, until I reach a point that I’m satisfied enough to say that my third year in university was the best year I’ve had yet.

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Michelle Teoh

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

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