Girl, Graduated

Ever since the arrival of my parents in UK, I have been submerged in a perpetual trance of bizarreness, so much so that it sometimes makes me a bit anxious. It probably has to do with the strange collision of worlds pre- and post-university. Probably also has something to do with my approaching expiry date. Regardless, the past month took me out of my comfortable Manchester life and took me along for a whirlwind of a ride.

But coming back to Manchester, meeting all my friends again, and finally, graduating, brought some semblance of familiarity back, and I was really thankful for that. There is still an inherent melancholy interlaced within everything I do and everyone I see, since all of them point towards the direction of Leaving, but everything felt like a proper emotional closure, at least. The very concept of graduation means closure, after all.

Today was a day of rushing (in heels, at that) to do things, to meet people, to take photos. So it was only when I entered Whitworth Hall and took my seat before my graduation ceremony officially began that I started to feel the crushing weight of the weariness, and even more importantly, the magnitude of what was happening to me and to my life thus far.

I guess objectively, all milestones are what you make them to be, and graduation is one of them. And University of Manchester definitely made this milestone out to be one of much grandeur. There was an organ that made everything appear more dramatic, chancellors and heads of school clad in purple robes delivering motivational speeches, and finally, the donning of our graduation hats to symbolise the actual end of the three-year ride. Hitting the nail on the coffin, if you will.

It’s a bit unbelievable. No, I’m lying. It’s so incredibly unbelievable. I am way too exhausted to be eloquent right now, but it just feels way too surreal that I have finished all three years of law school in Manchester and am leaving it now. Am I happy to graduate? Yes. It’s an achievement to be proud of. Yet at the same time, it’s the underlying melancholy that confuses things. Curse my perpetual sentimentality forever. Things that do not need emotions should not be granted them, and yet here I am freely splashing my feelings over every single thing I can lay my hands on.

But an achievement it is, nonetheless, and how could any of this have been possible without the people around me, my family and friends? Because at the end of the day, these people are where all my emotions flow towards. My parents, who have literally been my unbending pillars of support since day one, who, despite all my tantrums and mood swings, still showed unconditional love and care which made me the person I am today. My friends from all phases of my life, but especially the ones that I have made during my university years, who, despite having no blood relations to me at all, still showed sincerity and genuineness in wanting to be my friend, helping me grow so much over the years and always being reliably there whenever I needed someone.

It’s moments like these that I wish emotions such as gratitude wasn’t such an abstract thing. I wish I could express them beyond mere words, at a time when these literary tools I possess that I wield so loyally and frequently on a daily basis, become obstacles instead.

And so I wish that you, every single person reading this, know how much I thank you, for being an impact in my 23 years of life up until now, no matter how major or minor. It’s moments like these when being alive feels that more wonderful with each breath I take.

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The End Is Nigh

Miss MC said in class today, “The biggest lie told by mankind is ‘I won’t record this down because I will be able to remember it in the future’.” And she’s right. Not writing anywhere about everything that’s happened for the past few months will come around and bite me in the ass someday, I’m sure of it. Most likely when A Levels end and I’m lying on my bed feeling sad and pitiful for myself while listening to a repeating playlist of songs I’ve listened to during these three semesters. And then a tiny thought would probably snake into my brain cells and feed me with You feel that? That’s the feeling of slowly forgetting everything you did during sem 3 that you didn’t write about because you were too lazy/sad/afraid etc and I hope you’re happy now! I hope you’re happy with desperately clinging onto measly half-forgotten memories and pathetically consuming them day by day like a drug addict with a dwindling cocaine supply! 

And that’s why I’m here, attempting to salvage as best I can what I have left here in Sunway with some of the best people I have ever met in my life. And doing so would require delving deeply into that cut-off corner of my brain which has accumulated all these nostalgias and memories and secretions of gastric juices in my gut that I have adamantly coerced myself into, well, cutting off for the time being because as I’d told Harris: 1) There’s nothing I can do about it and 2) It seemed wiser and more appropriate to busy myself with the 487392847923432 things I have to do at the current moment such as preparing for A2 and uni applications etc. But because I can already vividly foresee that ‘me crying pathetically on my bed back at home in Alor Setar while listening to nostalgic music’ image in my mind (and perhaps even feel the slivers of melancholy seeping into my pores), I don’t want to regret not doing anything while I still can before I leave this place for good.

I made similar blogposts before leaving high school, but that feeling of leaving can’t even begin to compare to what I’m feeling or will feel on the last day of college (which is next week) (and then A2 exams end on 25 Nov). I mentioned in a vlog once the contrast between high school life and college life, one of the more significant differences being how I’ve found a second family in my closest friends (and also lecturers) and how much I felt like I’ve belonged, finally, to a group of people whom I feel so comfortable around, how easily I fit into the mould of the puzzle made up of my motley crew of friends. The first few months of college saw me crying everytime I had to leave home to come back here; the second half of the 1.5 years saw me crying everytime I had to leave home to come back here, and also when I had to leave here to go back home. It was a lose-lose situation (or win-win, if you’re optimistic), and it sucked. Transitioning sucks. Moving on sucks. I know leaving is essential to welcome the next best thing in our lives, but god, please, allow me to just wallow in my own misery over leaving this place and the people I love dearly just this once.

I know this is a blogpost better written with a maximum impact perhaps on the last day of school or exams and I just tweeted that but I feel like my current emotions and words would seem rather invalid if I waited to publish them in the future. And that’s exactly how fleeting all of this is: what I feel now might not be the same as what I might feel in the future. I remember after coming back from MCYDS in 2011, I was so deep in emotions and nostalgia for the next week or so that I couldn’t stop writing notes and blogposts about it. And now, three years later, I read back on my emotional blogposts and I cannot seem to find a relatable link to the emotions I was feeling so intensely back then. And it scares me so much. The prospect of forgetting or losing touch with what I had here in the future makes me so frightened, because how could I? After everything we’ve been through together? We can reassure ourselves in the current moment how we’d always remember to keep in touch and never forget each other, but the future is unpredictable, and the people we might turn out to become even more so. But while this is a proliferating fear of mine, I like to think what I’ve established with my friends here is fortified enough to withstand the passing of time and the influx of new experiences and memories (so cheesy, minta maaf). There’s nothing wrong in turning to optimism sometimes. But then again, drifting apart is only normal in human nature, and even if that does happen, it still doesn’t invalidate our past experiences and moments together, and that’s one of the most wonderful things in the world, because memories live forever in our minds and in physical objects such as writings and photographs regardless of how things can change in the present, that is, until we die and objects depreciate, but I have little care for being immortalized forever for generations to come, I only care to be immortalized among the people I know and love, and that really is enough for me.

I can’t really remember what I’ve done for the past few weeks (how fickle the mind is!) except the general ominous feeling of being burdened by LNAT and mock exam results and writing my personal statement and submitting uni applications. But I’m glad and grateful that these bouts of stress and anxiety were punctuated by occasional road trips to good food places and even the National Science Museum in Bellyn’s silver Viva, and also just generally hanging out with the gang and classmates in college, and also my housemates in SMR. For all my constant whining and self-pitying, where I am right now isn’t a bad place to be in. In fact, if I were to just put aside my habitual pessimism and negative feelings for a day, I’d really see how fortunate I actually am. Staying stagnant in this current phase where we are right now probably seems like the most enticing idea at the moment.

Today, during Econs class, Miss Cherilyn gave each of us a For Fun Certificate congratulating us on “graduating” from A Levels, and also a video which I posted above, a slideshow of pictures of all of us throughout the entire 1.5 years to the song of Rascal Flatt’s My Wish. We watched it on the projector in the NWG classroom. I didn’t cry, mostly because of the cut-off, but I could feel the hollow feeling in both my chest and my gut growing in size, expanding gradually and counting down the days to my departure. And the worst part of all of this is how there is literally nothing I can do about it. Anxiety has taught me how to deal with my problems head-on effectively immediately, but there is no solution to this. This is a passage everyone must go through. And I can fight and struggle internally as much as I want to like what I do everytime before I board a plane, but just like everytime I do board the plane, I will go through with it, and it will feel like the worst withdrawal ever. But life goes on.

There is much more to be written, but I feel it only fair that they are written in much more detail when this phase of our lives closes to an end. Till then, I leave you this phony quote by Holden Caulfield: “I’ve left schools and places I didn’t even know I was leaving them.”

I AM NOW A FORM FIVE GRADUATE

Yesterday was my school’s graduation day for all Form Five students, and I was already up by 6 that morning to get ready for it. It was the first (and probably the last) time I’ve ever made such an effort to look good for a school event, because I had my hair curled and also (gasp!) put on make-up. Not to mention the fact that I wore heels to school. I’d broken all my appearance principles in mere minutes. Way to grow up, Michelle.

I drove to school (in flats which I brought along just in case, of course) and then met up with the 5S gang along with Anum, Lela and Beneh before putting on our graduation robes and entering the hall, where about 20 tables were set up for all the graduates and parents who turned up.

After the headmistress and the VIPs gave their speeches, all the graduates (it feels so weird to say that instead of “Form Fives”) went up the stage to claim their attendance certificates.

And then it was time for all the Asmarians’ favourite hobby: eat.

The ceremony ended at around 11 AM and a photo frenzy session ensued.

The graduates in the hall (Credit to Beneh)
(From left to right) Aida, Laiyy, Sian Jo, Cui Lin, yours truly, Mas, Ilia, Farah and Ama
Beneh and yours truly in graduation robes
Laiyy and yours truly (Credit to Laiyy)

 

Yours truly and Mas (Credit to Laiyy)
Sian Jo, Cui Lin and yours truly (Credit to Laiyy)
Afiqah, Aqilah and yours truly (Credit to Beneh)
Chew Jie and yours truly (Credit to Beneh)
Nado and yours truly (Credit to Beneh)
Beneh and yours truly (Credit to Beneh)
Nadlut and yours truly (Credit to Lela)
Beneh, yours truly, Lela and Anum (Credit to Lela)
The Asmarian graduates (Credit to Laiyy)

And then came the best part: after the photo session, I drove Beneh, Anum, Aina and Lela to Domino’s Pizza at Jalan Pegawai for another eating session. It was the first time I was driving my friends somewhere which wasn’t tuition and it was great and scary and wonderful and frightening but overall, unbelievably adventurous and we couldn’t help but feel a tad bit rebellious (despite the fact that everyone had already informed everyone’s parents about the trip) as we put my pro driving skills (pro as in problematic and not professional) to the test while singing along to One Direction at the top of our lungs.

It wasn’t until I got home that I realised what it reminded me of: it reminded me of Paper Towns, after Q graduated and headed for an immediate road trip to search for Margo. As my friends spewed out the words “officially graduated” in the car, I knew this was the ultimate mark we were making to the world as official Form Five graduates of the year.

At Domino’s, we awaited Nado’s arrival by her dad’s car (since my car couldn’t fit more than four passengers) while eating and guess who we bumped into at Domino’s? Cikgu Rohana and Cikgu Kartina. It was a very unicorn-ish moment…momentarily ruined by Diana and Nado’s prank call from school. Just kidding, although it did make me anxious until Nado arrived and admitted she was playing with us. I mean, anyone would be scared if an unknown number called you and started to cry? Right?

Credit to Lela

Beneh, Anum, Aina and yours truly (Credit to Lela)
Beneh, Nado, Anum, Aina and yours truly (Credit to Lela)
PIZZA (Credit to Lela)

And then I dropped everyone home before heading home myself. It was one of the best adventures I’ve ever had.

Today, just this evening, we had our annual prefects’ party at New Regent Hotel but this time around, it wasn’t us who were busy preparing for the seniors because we were the seniors this time, and it’s a very strange thing to think about considering how we’ve been doing this for years now and suddenly we’re the centre of attention.

And centre of attention we were because we were greeted like celebrities as soon as we entered the room. But I think the highlight of the event was the surprise photo board filled with photos of all the seniors, taken from Facebook and Twitter profiles without our knowledge. So you can imagine our surprise when we found photos taken just yesterday during graduation and also at Domino’s. There were even photos of us in Form Two!

And then it was time to eat (when is it ever time to not eat?) and the food was fantastic accompanied by hilarious performances by the juniors.

Um
Surprise photo board #1
Surprise photo board #2 (Can you spot the grad and Domino’s pics at the bottom)
Thira and yours truly, or in Thira’s words: “Mrs Harry Styles (both)”
Beneh and yours truly
Beneh, yours truly and Lela, taken with Lela’s polaroid camera
Group photo!
Lovely gifts from the juniors

The party ended way too soon and I know everyone felt the same because we were given multiple reminders by the hotel people to evacuate as quickly as possible since they had to use the hall soon.

I hereby would like to thank all the juniors for throwing such a great bash and creating such wonderful memories for us to remember for a long time to come after we’ve left school. Great job, guys.

Two events in a row has left me quite exhausted, but one thought has never left my mind which is the fact that all of this means that I’m leaving school very, very soon. Wow. It still hasn’t quite made sense to me yet. Even this blog was started while I was in high school. Well, Careful Confessions, you are witnessing one of the most important milestones of my life.