THE BRIGHT SIDE

Tokyo || 2013

Isn’t it crazy that just a few months ago, everything seemed so commonplace and mundane? This just goes to show how things can change in an instance. The normalcy of what we once knew — like a hug or a peck on the cheek — has suddenly become a life-changing act of potentially lethal circumstances. Going out for fun has become illegal and buying groceries is the only social interaction you will have if you ever step out of your house at all. Our very existence can only be preserved if you stay at home and limit all forms of human activity. So grim and morbid, don’t you think?

The beginning was difficult for me. Having to come to terms with the situation and accepting the unpredictability of what was unfolding was stressful. Personally, I don’t take any lack of control very well and if I had my way, I would like to have my ducks in a row. Don’t get me wrong, I love being at home — more so now than when I was younger. But I hate the restriction of not being able to go out for anything at all and have the liberty of taking my time with it. Plus when I come home, I have to shower and clean myself head-to-toe. That’s not even counting the fact that I have to wipe down everything else that has seen daylight with me on my little excursions.

The thing is, this tiny but powerful virus has taken away the semblance of what it means to live. Or has it?

We’ve heard the phrase “new normal” more times in the last 4 weeks than we have in our entire lifetimes. Come to think of it, do ever really have normal days? Things will go wrong when you least expect it anyway — with or without this virus. The only normal is abnormalities, like how the only constant is change. This bad situation is just another bad situation but with a higher degree of severity. It is part of the abnormality of life. Not quite a “new normal” but that’s just my two cents.

While difficult, I’ve learned to accept that I cannot control this and neither can you. That is just the reality of our current circumstances. Since the start of this movement control order, I haven’t been able to see my loved ones as much as I want to, which really took an emotional toll on me for the first 3 weeks. I thought I was going crazy. But then I told myself that it could be worse. Thanks to technology (and Apple), I get to FaceTime them which is better than nothing. Otherwise, I will truly go mad.

Despite all the bad, being isolated has some of its plus points. Staying at home has allowed me to have time to reflect on many things. It’s been hard to process a lot of the thoughts ruminating inside my head because time has become less of a commodity for me over the years. When I was a teenager, one of my coping mechanisms was to keep a journal. I used to carry one with me all the time but somehow I lost the habit due to the busyness of life. During my episode last year, I started carrying a journal again because it helped with my thought process and prevented me from imploding more often than necessary. While it’s not the end-all solution to my problems, it has been helping me stay mentally healthy.

With all my extra time, I’ve been able to get back in touch with my creative bones. The last time I thought about actually dressing up was in 2017 when I still had the energy to do fashion shoots with my photographer friends. While digging through my collection of clothes and bags one night (because I couldn’t sleep), I discovered so many items that I haven’t used in years — yes, it is also proof that I am an over-spender but are we here to judge each other? I don’t think so. Life is so short. I should dress up when I want to and not give two shits about what people think. It’s my mantra for the year anyway so I might as well get this fashion show on the bandwagon. But you might be wondering why not start now though? Well, for one, I don’t have anywhere to go and two, if I start dressing up at home every day I’ll have way too much laundry to deal with by the weekend so no thank you! I am still practical after all.

On the topic of tapping back to my creativity, I’ve also been spending a lot more time experimenting in the kitchen. My first passion is writing and a close second would be food. Think about it, am I really a Peranakan if I don’t love food? I mean, I made butter cream chicken one night and it turned out so good I was shell-shocked for a good hour even after dinner was over. That aside, I am now determined to learn all my favourite Peranakan recipes from my mum when this movement control order is over because I have been procrastinating for far too long!

Life has thrown its fair share of curveballs at me. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t handle them very well but there’s really too much ahead of me to be worrying about things that are beyond my control. I know that a lot of people have been picking up new hobbies or skills during this period but not everyone can handle that extra mental stress. Personally, it has made me feel like I’m not utilising my time as effectively as I should and seeing all these people on social media doing “great things” with their time does make me feel somewhat like I’m failing or falling behind in life. But hey, this happens with or without the virus. We just notice it more now because we all have nothing better to do at home. Maybe do yourself a favour and have a social media detox. I did one at the end of 2018 and it was great! Let me also remind you (and myself) that it’s your life and when all this is over, nobody is going to give you a pat on the back for making good butter cream chicken because at the root of it all, this is really a just coping mechanism for many. It does not have to be yours. Stop giving yourself unrealistic goals and achievements that you cannot accomplish. If waking up in the morning or being able to keep your plant alive is already considered an achievement for you then you do you boo.

The point is, I supposed until this is over, I’ll try to keep looking on the bright side and celebrate the small wins — like being able to write just one article in a span of 3 weeks (this one, in fact).

Also, did you also hear the joke about how the next generation of babies might be called the coronials? I thought it was brilliant!

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