i’m just protecting my soul

sam "i know my songs are very depressing, BUT" smith, everyone

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

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existential five a.m.

i was hit with news of a potential drastic change in future plans this week that made my stomach drop in dread each time i think about it. and that was when i realised that maybe i’ve been immersed too high up among hedonistic clouds of freedom and recklessness for too long that something like this proved to be a rude awakening (read: crashing).

i didn’t like it. i don’t like it. i really, really don’t like it. i’m not prepared to leave, to return to a relatively more restricted environment, when i feel like there’s still a lot for me to discover out there, so many more people for me to meet. now that i’ve had a taste of how huge the world can be and how many possibilities and opportunities are actually within reach, i’m too afraid of having this wide, wide sky snatched away from under my nose and watch as i’m unnaturally forced back into a restricted mould of narrow-mindedness and a suffocating culture of limitations. i’m afraid of reverting back into a despicable version of myself filled with fear, anxiety and low self-esteem. it took me so long to crawl out into this skin that i’m currently comfortable and happy with, and i’m deathly terrified of losing all of this all over again.

but most importantly, i’m afraid of people that i’ve grown to love becoming mere memories, untouched and unreachable. which is ironic because this fear has followed me since years ago and is ultimately inevitable, a noble feat lost to the cruel and relentless passage of time.

新春快乐 (and yet spring is nowhere in sight)

     

Oooh it’s always so strange for me to return here after an extremely long writing drought. I get very antsy when words don’t flow out of me as smoothly as it usually does. The feeling is akin to losing my voice and being unable to communicate and interact with others.

Here’s a confession: in my pursuit to expand and learn and absorb as many life experiences as I could, there were times (especially since the beginning of third year) where I’d fallen pretty hard and didn’t really know the right way to get back on my feet. I’m sure this is a relatable feeling for most people. Days and weeks whizzed past like they were nothing significant, and the only way I could keep track of what I did or where I went was by recording my days in the calendar app. I wasn’t forgetting, I was just too obsessed with chasing after new stimuli every single waking second to dwell (too much) on what had happened, in certain aspects.

As a result, I was constantly disorientated, lost, anxious, of any current state of being I was in at the time. There were times when dread and anxiety kept me up at night and my appetite at bay. There were times when I felt like all I could ever be was the emotion of sadness. There were times when I would obsessively do a mental scan of pillars that could help fasten me sturdily onto the here and now of what was real and what was not but turn up zero; a convincing persuasion of my mental state that I was only truly alone in this world.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from the conversations I’ve had with some of my friends regarding my fears and emotions, it’s that these self-pity parties that I always throw for myself have a dangerous tendency to be blinding. Literally – blinding me from realising that I am not as empty as my nightmares dictate myself to be, that sometimes it can be easy to take certain things and people for granted in the presence of idealistically high expectations, and that there are some things and people that are just not worth the anguish I brew within myself.

You’ll never catch me verbally uttering the words “new year, new me”, but I’ve set benchmarks for myself based on that phrase three times now this year: the start of 2018, the start of my second semester, and now, Chinese New Year. This CNY, I want to leave behind all my regrets and inadequacies, want to focus my efforts instead on the things that do matter and the people who do care. The happiness I felt this morning when I headed for the CNY festival in Chinatown might be slightly sleep-deprivation-induced, but it was a feeling that told me everything was going to be okay, and that this joy was well-deserved. There need not be a deeper analysis of what is in front of me, it can just be.

These few days reminded me that there is a lot to be grateful for, and I am so, so grateful for my family and friends, without whom I couldn’t have possibly made it this far in life.

 

i still dream about the northern lights sometimes

i came back from iceland for a week to find out my houseplant had died.

at first i was in denial. it was a very hardy breed, this one, which used to be able to go on for days without water and still not brown around the edges of its leaves. when i came back, its bottom half was withered, but since the top half still showed signs of greenery, i continued watering it in hopes that it would be revived eventually.

but for some botanic reason that i couldn’t fathom, it still continued to wither, water filling up half the pot dish like a moat surrounding a castle. except this kingdom was dying. maybe i’m just bad at taking care of things. it was very ostentatious of me to assume that i can take care of another living specimen when i’m already doing a bad job taking care of myself.

but constantly looking at this dying plant next to my window feels more apt than ever in this bleak month of january. iceland already feels so far away, has been ever since i came back and realised how much work i have to do for midterms. and since then, it’s just been daily repetitions of obsessively going through my head the amount of time i have left for which and which subject, in addition to applying for bar school, worrying about the uncertainty of (maybe) staying back in the UK for another year, and constantly reminding myself to keep my emotions in check, around other people at least.

i don’t like that this period of slaving away in front of laptop screens and nose deep in textbooks is taking away from appreciating my remaining time left in uni. it’s very soul-draining to hyperfocus on something for such long periods of time, completely oblivious to my surroundings while time whizzes past without hesitation. by the time i hand in my last paper, january will already have been over. how the hell is that fair.

time feels so convoluted when you’re measuring them by pages and topics and subjects, trying to figure out how you can slot in time to eat. it barely feels real that just two weeks ago, i was in the backseat of our rented SUV in reykjavik, skeptical about yet another online tip on the appearance of northern lights but – it was real this time! after a week of driving out on barren icelandic highways with no streetlights present at all during ungodly hours of both the night and morning in various states of semi-slumber, we finally managed to catch the ever elusive aurora borealis, cold negative temperatures temporarily forgotten in the face of excitement. there was no way i could’ve written a better epilogue to our week-long trip in iceland.

but now the only elusive thing in my current circumstances is time, and it’s all i can do not to dwell on this deficiency too much to the point of breathlessness.

hm. i just watered my plant. maybe i’ll still try to save it after all.

comfort zones are all i talk about

Per tradition. It’s six hours to the end of the year.

This year I feel like all I’ve talked about on here is this year. So I’ll just say this: as soon as December 2017 started, I really, really didn’t want the year to be over. Because the arrival of 2018 means that I only have six months left of university in Manchester, and although my response would have vastly differed a mere two years ago, I only have reluctance towards leaving now. The first semester of my third year quite literally flew by; I’m sure the second one will, too.

It’s a bit difficult to look backwards now (mostly because I somehow retain very little memory of specific incidents and also because they all feel so unreachably far away), so next year, I want to continue stepping out of comfort zones and more and more into the skin of the type of person I want to be.

Happy new year everyone!

ワンオク イン マンチェスター

Confession: I only started listening to One Ok Rock a month prior, but when I found out Joe would be coming here all the way from Newcastle just to watch them live, I thought I might as well join her after managing to find some spare tickets on Twitter.

On Tuesday morning, Joe left for the SU as early as 8 in the morning to start queuing, but no one else came to form a proper queue until after lunch, and we joined the queue as numbers 5 and 6. Of all the Mancunian days to be outside in the freezing cold for a long period of time, it had to be the day that the temperature was well under 0 degree Celsius for the whole day. Honestly, Joe for MVP of the day for braving through almost six hours of the cold with the help of multiple Costa hot beverages and layers of winter clothes for our spot in the queue.

I had a lecture until 5PM so I rejoined the queue after that, taking turns with Joe to go home and change and grab a bite. Iasmina and Aya joined us shortly after that, and at 7PM sharp, we were released from the clutches of the savage cold and into the excitement that was watching One Ok Rock live with our own eyes!!!

I’ve been to lots of concerts and gigs, especially in the UK, so I think my statement is pretty legitimate when I say that OOR’s stage presence is the best I’ve ever seen. Right from the moment they appeared on stage, the energy never subsided (okay, except for ballads but even then, the hypnotic grip their performances had on us never faltered for one bit) and every single song was a solid ten out of ten. Vocals, guitar, bass, drums; it really was a performance which you can feel the members putting their 100% and more in, and so naturally, you can’t help but give in 100% too.

Also, special shoutout to Taka’s voice for being so ridiculously out of this mortal world. His live rendition of Take What You Want gave me literal goosebumps and at one point, I felt like his vocal performance was too sacred a moment to not be indulged in fully in that present moment that I stopped recording (which is saying quite a lot considering the endless dots of my Instagram stories) and just. Listened. And drank in that instant of being there, in the presence of good music, connected to the band on stage and also to everyone around me belting out lyrics that mean so much to everyone in the room.

I was told that OOR sold out stadiums in Japan and other Asian countries within seconds, so to be able to attend a rather intimate gig of theirs in the front rows of the 900-people capacity hall of Manchester Academy 2 all the way here in the UK sure made me feel like God was being generous in gifting me with luck that night.

The night ended way too soon and we were reluctant, so after the gig, we waited next to their tour bus in hopes of managing to catch a glimpse of them one last time before they leave Manchester for good. Tomoya somehow managed to pass by us unnoticed, and at some point, Taka appeared, during which I was too shocked and seized up to do anything except say “Hi” nervously when we made eye contact for a split second, and then he was gone.

My night ended the way most of my nights this year did: a super late dinner/supper at McDonald’s, and a good couple hours of reliving the concert back in my room with Joe before falling into a deeply satisfactory slumber.

Joe made a vlog:

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

just looking out on the day of another dream

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