Of darkness and light

Nights make us miss days.
Days make us miss nights.
The glaring sun makes us miss the calming full moon.
The soft hue of moonlight makes us miss the joyful frenzy of a sunny day.
Persian rugs, with its explosion of vivid colours make us miss the monochromatic Swedish mat.
The grey IKEA chair makes us miss the ornate Turkish divan from grandma’s home.

What is life but a series of darkness alternating with vivid, bright spectrums of light?
And darkness is not always bad, nor is light.

How did you feel this morning?

I personally think that the first five minutes after waking up is the most important part of my day.

Sometimes I wake up groggy after a long night, sometimes fresh and well-rested after a nice, deep sleep.

Sometimes I feel like a wreck.

But through it all, beneath the veneer of temporal feeling of grogginess or lapses of energetic feeling coming from having enough rest, one thing remains.

When I’m in a content phase, I have so much optimism over how my day will go.

When I’m content, I find a strong sense of purpose. I look forward to starting the day, no matter how sleep-deprived I am.

I might feel like a wreck, but I know things will get better. So I look forward to starting my day still.

That is why whenever I’m unsure of the state of life I am in at a particular moment, I’ll try go back to think of what I felt when I first started my day.

Because there were times when I felt disillusioned every morning.

There were times when I had to drag myself out of bed; to a job that I had to learn to tolerate. To face an inconsiderate boss that didn’t believe in me and my potential.

No matter how well-rested I was at that time, no matter how plush the bed I slept on; I woke up dreading to start the day.

I did not feel damn good in the morning, no matter how great the previous day was for me.

In retrospect, I think I was quite miserable.

***

So next time when you feel like you’re unsure if you’re doing the right thing with your life; try to think of how you started your day.

Did you dread it? Did you have to drag yourself out of home?

If you did, and it persisted, know that the time is probably right for a change. Get rid of the toxic elements that make your life miserable. Leave what dragged you down behind. Even if that means having slightly less money in the bank or less friends to call out for coffee with.

Start afresh, if you need to.

Nothing is worth feeling miserable every morning.

 

Speak soon,

FH

 

Equality is dignity.

On the International Women’s Day, let’s think of women out there, particularly those with stories that remind us why the Women’s Day is still relevant.

Let’s think of the:

  1. Girls who never got to realise their full potential just because their parents believed that they were not deserving of equal educational opportunities. After all, they were all destined for a life in the kitchen.
  2. Women who never got to feel sexual pleasure, because the culture they were apparently born into required their clitoris to be mutilated.
  3. Girls who dreamt to play football but never got to do so, because their parents didn’t want her to be “butch”.
  4. Women who had to live double lives, because their parents couldn’t accept that their daughters preferred not to don the hijab
  5. Single mothers who struggled to raise their kids alone, without much state support. In some societies, single mothers were even frowned upon. Some even thought that her predicament was a result of her own doing – “Siapa suruh tak pandai jaga suami?”.
  6. Girls who never got to choose who they’d spend their whole lives with, just because their parents believed that their families had complete control over the matter
  7. Girls who were forced into prostitution by their own families; only to end up being treated as pariahs of the society for the rest of their lives
  8. Ladies who still get nasty comments on Instagram commanding them to cover their arms and toes, because apparently their hijab wasn’t Islamic enough
  9. Housewives who dedicated their whole lives towards ensuring that their families were well taken care of, only to have some of us in the society view them as “less educated” or “less productive” than working women
  10. Ladies who wanted to wear the hijab to express their religious faith, only to have some bigots heckle at them at the subway
  11. Women who had to see their husbands marry a second wife without their permission, just because it was perfectly legal for the men to do so
  12. Transgender women who got arrested for wearing dresses and having their hair long, because apparently the state couldn’t allow their community to exist and thrive in peace
  13. Those smartest girls in their classes who could never be class monitors. They could only be deputies, because women weren’t allowed to rule over men.
  14. Successful gymnast, who trained long hours every day, only to get the netizens criticise her for not covering up during sports events.
  15. Women in some countries, who are still not allowed to leave home without their male guardian chaperoning them. These women are forever treated by the State like underage children. In one particular country, they can’t even drive.

There are three billion women out there, each with their own distinctive story. While not all women are heavily oppressed day in day out, it’s also important to note that there are still many out there, in many corners of the globe, who are.

Let’s remember them, and tell ourselves that change, if anything, should begin from all of us.

Stop making gender a factor in assessing a person’s worth. A person is more than his/her gender.

A person is a person

 

Speak soon,

FH

I guess I’m heading somewhere in May!

Submitted my 3-week leave application today and it was approved!

I guess I’m indeed heading somewhere in May.

Planning for trips keep me sane. The past few weeks hasn’t been the best of times.

Time to start booking!

*clues: 4 nations, 6 cities, Springtime!

 

Speak soon,

FH

Of Being Happy and Being Content

There are times when I feel like my life isn’t going the way it should be, when the cloud of inexplicable melancholy hangs over my head; casting the palpable sense of doubt over the direction my life is heading – am I heading toward the right direction in life, or have I steered too far from the path of happiness?

It may be triggered by the little things like the food at my favourite restaurant not tasting as delicious as it used to be, to the more serious stuff like friend suddenly thinking that it’s to their best interest not to be as close to me as they used to be.

But eating in my favourite restaurant should, by right, make me happy. Having a friend, for better or for worse, should make me happy too.

When something that should’ve been a source of my happiness becomes an impediment to which, it’s natural to ask myself, and do some self-reflection – Why are these things bothering me? Why am I unhappy because of these things that should’ve made me happy?

***

Perhaps there’s no rule for happiness. One can’t plan to be happy – no matter how much one does to make himself happy. Happiness isn’t an achievement. There’s not even a specific definition that dictates what happiness feels, or what it looks like.

Probably it’s time to tell myself that happiness shouldn’t be an end-goal. It shouldn’t be the only thing that matters. I shouldn’t do something only because I think it makes me happy. It doesn’t work that way.

Instead, I think I’ll try to do something that makes me feel content, and at ease. Who knows, from content, one becomes happy eventually. Effortless happy.

 

Speak soon,

FH

Friendship Beyond the “Drifting Away” Stage

Over the years, I crossed paths with many souls.

A little more than 800 of these souls ended up as my Facebook friends, a figure that I have yet to trim (in spite of the intention of doing so many times). Let’s condense this further: Of these Facebook friends, I probably physically met about a few dozen over the past 12 months. I keep regular, or weekly contact with maybe a handful.

This is when the definition of friendship itself gets interesting. How do you define friends? By the loosest definition, all of my Facebook friends are my “friends”. This is obviously putting a very low threshold to friendship.

How about defining friends as the people that I regularly meet over coffee or talk over Whatsapp with? If this is the case, maybe I only end up with having not more than 10 friends.

Well, truth is, there’s no strict definition of what a friendship should be made of.

Personally, I think that I have, over the years, developed the understanding that everyone has a lot of things that they have to deal with every single day. As we morph into different persons and grow out of the former state we were in (humans live in the state of permanent transiency anyway), our priorities shift. We graduate from college and enter the working world, with its new challenges. We shift work place to another company, with its new environment, demands and challenges. Some of us are married, some even have a kid or two to call their own. Our priorities shift.

With the shift of priorities often comes the “drifting away” stage. There’s a group of my friends that I used to meet up with once a week. This turned into once a month. Then once in a couple of months. Then occasionally.

Details aside, does “drifting away” means that one is not keen to keep his friendship? Not necessarily. Again, priorities change, so does the shape and form of the friendship. Because one is often surrounded by changing circumstances, it’s understandable that he would adapt himself to the situation he is in at the moment. This is fact of life. We are all malleable beings.

So to me, at the end of the day, when all is said and done, what really matters is how you keep your friends in your mind. Once you have the idea etched in your mind that someone is worthy of your long-term friendship and connection, nothing, not even time and distance, can ruin the bond that you have with that person. This is how I define friendship nowadays. I don’t need to see you every single week to remind myself that you are dear to me (well, a coffee session wouldn’t hurt, of course, but we live in a busy universe).

I understand if you don’t have as much time to spend with me as we used to.

But I want you to know that once you need me I am here. Once you need to talk, I am here. No awkwardness, no judgment, no patronising remarks, just myself, and my ears, ready to listen to your grouses, ready to say things as they are.

This is what real friendship is, to me. Not something that you need to be reminded of every single time, nor is it something that you need to physically commit to every week. It’s the conscious understanding that whatever happens, you have someone’s back, and someone has yours.

I’ll be here to support you, and that’s for sure.

 

Speak soon,

FH

Been five months!

It’s been close to five months since I last posted something here. Here’s a little summary of what I’ve been up to:

I was unemployed for one month plus. It was nice. I got to wake up at 10 every morning, went to popular brunch spots on on weekdays when tables would be easy to find, read a lot, play Cities: Skylines for hours on long, reconnect with some old friends, spent more time with my parents, met someone special 3 months ago, and of course, travelled spontaneously.

But after a while, I got bored and found myself in need of a larger sense of purpose, so I cut short my break and began job hunting. A couple of weeks into my hunt, I received a decent offer in a PR consulting firm, so I, with no formal PR experience to boot, took the leap of faith and jumped in. Began my new gig in July, and it’s been two eventful months ever since. I must say that I enjoy this job as it involves a lot of writing and public engagement; I love people, so I have no complaint about doing the latter. There are stressful periods, however, and life in the agency isn’t as glamorous as a lot of people think. It involves long hours and a lot of patience, as you have to deal with some really tough nuts to crack sometimes. Challenges notwithstanding, I can see myself being comfortable being in this industry in the long run.

On my travels, I managed to cover a number of places, some of which I had never been to previously. Here’s a map of where I’ve been to since April:

Places I've been to since April

I plan to write about some of my these cities in my subsequent posts. Stay tuned!

Speak soon,

FH