Friends go and gone

“Friends come and go,” people say. As though friendship’s a conveyor belt, rolling off used items to make space for new ones.

I’m too sentimental for that kind of analogy. I can barely toss out a plushie toy from my primary school days without severe contemplation and several goodbyes. Some would say I’m teetering on the margins of insanity.

It’s not really that though. Whether it’s a beloved soft toy or a close friend, leaving is never an easy choice on my part. In the case of the latter, leaving rarely is my choice. It just happens. And as I make my way through my university degree, I find this fact growing alarmingly present, like a bruise or a mosquito bite: you never see it coming, but when it does come, you can’t help but feel irritated and frustrated that you didn’t notice the signs beforehand.

I’ve never been good at writing detached. A previous teacher of mines called my writing “melodramatic”, too overwhelmed by emotion, too theatrical to feel real. It was bitter criticism to swallow, but I’m glad I got a taste of that medicine. It reminded me that even in writing, I am too sentimental. Every word oozes, like mud. Every word feels like it’s having difficulty breathing, like it’s a pack horse carrying too much.

I wonder if the friends that I’ve grown distant from feel the same way. That I’m an extremely heavy load, and now, in their new school and their new life, I’ve become less of a rock that keeps them grounded and more of a burden.

Or maybe I’m overthinking all this. Maybe we never even notice the distance, and by the time we do, the space separating us is already too vast to patch up and we’re no longer sure where we once stood. Maybe distance’s like an asteroid, hurtling towards earth and our heads and we have nothing to do but to watch it collide.

It’s too easy to say “friends come and go”. The phrase misses too many steps. What use is a recipe that only shows you the ingredients and the finished product, with no instructions on what to do in between? 

I wish there were some way to stop this fear of losing. But like Donald Trump winning the presidential elections, we must work with what we’ve got and go on living, sentimental or not.

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Dear Me

I’ve been so incredibly busy over the past few days (thus, lack of posts… sorry!), no time for any breathing space. Today, I’m finally giving myself some.

As you may know, International Women’s Day is coming up very soon, and I’ve been noticing more of those #DearMe videos on YouTube, where you ‘write’ (or film?) a letter to your younger self, giving any advice, insights or words of inspiration you’ve accumulated over the years.

So here’s mine, written to my 12-year-old self.

*** *** ***

Dear me,

You’re a few weeks into high school, and already, you find yourself struggling. Struggling to remake yourself. Struggling with that foreign, incomprehensible word.

Friendship.

You’re surrounded by a whole group of these so-called ‘friends’… friends who don’t talk to you, who don’t ask for your opinion on anything, who don’t even share a single inside joke with you?

You’re afraid. You think they choose you as a last resort because of who you are – this boring, serious, overly shy girl whom no one will ever cast a second glance towards, who doesn’t even deserve the attention to be laughed at. You’re afraid of being invisible. And alone. You’re afraid to get out of bed every morning because you know it’s just going to be another day of fake smiles and words left unspoken.

I won’t tell you that real soon, the universe will miraculously answer your prayers and change your life for the better. That would be false hope. What I will tell you, however, is this: Nothing will ever really change until you be that change yourself.

It’s okay to be afraid. What’s not okay is if you let those fears overcome and define you. Remember: fearlessness isn’t about having zero fears; it’s about pushing forward despite those fears. So… just hang in there, okay?

Because down the road, you will meet these amazing people. They will embrace everything that is weird and special about you. They will know you better than you know yourself. All you’ll have to do is make eye contact with them, and they will understand exactly what you are trying to tell them. And then, there’ll be those days and nights when you’ll be walking and talking and laughing, and suddenly, you’ll understand.

Everything will make sense. That foreign, incomprehensible word will become your lifeline, your saviour.

I’m not going to lie to you and say that it’s going to be all rainbows and sunshine after that. You’ll still be faced with moments of doubt and loneliness; you’ll still be caught in messy dilemmas you can’t seem to escape.

You’ll still be struggling. Struggling to figure yourself out. Struggling to pursue your dreams in a practical manner. The truth is, one struggle will always be replaced by another – but you will have your friends, your family, yourself… and one day, you will realise that just because life’s a struggle, doesn’t mean you can’t dance your way through it. Life will never be perfect, but if you keep focusing on the bad, you will miss all the good.

And happiness? You may think that those people you hang out with are the ones who dictate your happiness. I’m telling you now: They aren’t. You are.

Stay brilliant. Stay brilliantly you.

x Katherine

Saying hello – it’s that simple

I’ve always been an introvert kind of person, and while I’ve been trying to improve my conversing skills, I still find that it takes me several deep breaths and internal pep talks (somewhere along the lines of ‘Come on Katherine, you can do this, no one’s gonna judge even if you do stumble through all your words and momentarily forget how to speak the English language.’) before I’m able to go up to the stranger and say ‘hi’. Part of me fears the prospect of me making an absolute fool out of myself; the other part of me fears the possibilities this two-letter word could open me up to – in particular, the possibility of having to reveal a part of myself in order to maintain the conversation and stop it from dwindling into the much-dreaded awkward silence. This might sound silly, but I feel like when I open myself up to someone, I am opening myself up to their scrutiny. I feel like I’m placing myself in this vulnerable position where I’m fragile like glass and any cruel word that escapes from their lips might just shatter me.

But a girl I was talking to a couple days ago (yes! she started off as a total stranger) told me that everything begins with a ‘hi’, and if you never dare to say a simple hello, who knows what possibilities you could be missing out on? Sure, every now and then, you might embarrass yourself so much that you just want the earth beneath you to swallow you up and save you from public humiliation. But sometimes, you might just meet that someone who is worth your time, who is worth all those times of embarrassment. Sometimes, that person you said a simple ‘hi’ to, might just turn out to be your best friend, your soulmate, someone whom you know will always have your back no matter what.

So next time, don’t deprive yourself of the chance to get to know others and to let others get to know you. Next time, just go up to that person, smile and say hello. It really is that simple.

Carving faces

It is strange
how,

in mirrors
I was carving out
a bust
and paused in ponder over
what the shaping of my eyes,
and what the colour of my eyes,
and what the longing in my eyes,
and chipped and chipped
till I was bruised in one
and broken in the other,

yet
in blindness
did a friendship’s open hand
draw me from the hardened mould
to lids above my cheek,
to contours of their oval form,
to curtains brimming past the edge,
and drew and drew
till lashes up, mirrors gone,
and I myself appeared –
here I stand, here I am.
I finally understand.

(c) 2015 Katho28

True friendship helped to summon the one person I’d always tried looking for but could never quite find or see – me.