Dear Dani: Thanks for the letters!

I’m not one who scorns technology and gets nostalgic about doing things the traditional way such as reading paperbacks and writing on Rosetta stones. However, I do miss one thing: writing letters, which sounds weird because I never actually do it back then. I wasn’t born early enough for the culture nor did I have friends to send them to anyway.

So you can imagine my excitement when I got your scribbles on those two pieces of notebook-ripped papers. I was squealing with joy! I read it once and I read it twice. It felt so refreshing to read something heartfelt that were longer than the usual one-two liners on Whatsapp or Facebook message. It is the best Christmas gift that I could wish for.

So thank you, Dani. You made me blush again, like that one time where I said “Wadapp” on Facebook and you replied with “Yes MK my love!” and I went awwwww. I love terms of endearments, so thank you for putting me in that circle of trusted friends that you use terms of endearments with.

I wish more friendships were like ours, where we could just spot a cool person miles away, establish mutual admiration of each other, then proceed with the hard discussions.

Dear Dani: All or nothing

Often times I find myself caught between two extremes. Either I do it all, or nothing at all.

Either I try really hard to be a good person, or give up upon the first sin that I commit. Either I’m feeling at the top of the world for my independence, or I beat myself up upon the first sign of attachment. Either I deliver all of my work on time, or get very demotivated whenever I missed a deadline.

On a larger scale, this causes a lot of unhappiness because what I aspire to be is at the opposite end of the spectrum from what I currently am. And the gap would never be closed up as every time I fail, I feel like I have to start from scratch again.

I got to do away with this kind of perfectionist thinking.

Wait, even that statement sounds perfectionist, darn it.

Dear Dani: Do you remember your first memory?

To me, it was that time where I was sitting on the kitchen table, with a book and a pencil in my hand. Mom was somewhere at the back doing her kitchen stuff. I remember feeling safe because she was always around. This was pretty much my entire childhood too, because I was painfully shy as a kid and would always stay inside the house.

I also remember that one time where dad bathed me. He only did it once or twice I think, but every evening I was kinda hoping that he would walk into the bathroom and bathe me again.

Dear Dani: I’m happy

This is pretty much a bimbotic and self-indulgent post (not like this blog has been anything else), but hey I just want to have some written evidence that I haven’t been all doom and gloom. And I want to tell you about some of the people that I love, cause that makes me happy.

I have a good friend called Yee Eng, and she mattered a great deal to me when I was in the non-profit. She was actually very Chinese-ed (not that that’s a bad thing), which is to say that I didn’t necessarily connect to her intellectually as much as I did with Diana. However, I still fell in love because of her kindness. Just being around her felt like a blessing.

Anyway, she just got legally married and this brought an immense wave of happiness flooding onto me. I couldn’t help smiling looking at her wedding ring photo.

Then there’s Pao, I’ve told you how important she is to me. Not only that she’s kind and she makes me feel comfortable being around her, but she also allows me to love her. She’s frank with what troubles her and what makes her happy, and I try to provide her with companion, assistance, and gifts in any way that I can. It means a lot to me, being able to do that to someone I love.

Then there are my housemates, Nguyen and Wafiq. They are… home, you know.

I had dinner with a friend the other day. We hardly met before, but we’ve known of each other for about 5 years. However, that night might have been the first time that I saw her really talked, really laughed, really made herself vulnerable.

Which got me thinking, I don’t think I’ll ever be alone. Even if I were to be a single, 70 year-old hippie, even if all of my friends would be married with kids, even if Marianne would be busy that particular week and couldn’t hang out – I would always be surrounded by an abundance of good people, and an abundance of love.

We’ll never be alone.

Dear Dani: I’m ready to let go

In case you didn’t know, Hex is the Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, Queen of the Andals and of the First Men. Every year, ordinary citizens traveled in herds in order to see her and receive her blessings.

So did I, when Hex invited me for a little chit-chat after seeing how pissed my face might have looked in recent days. I told her everything, recited all the words I had been keeping in my head with tears rolling down my cheek.

And just like that, I felt a wave of relief.

This bitterness, this feeling of being unappreciated, and this feeling of being treated unfairly were all The Little Things. The Actual Main Thing is I need to extend my growth either by concentrating on the craft or by searching for an account that I could be passionate about which this place can provide me with neither. I guess it’s a good thing they are in deep shit too, so I don’t have to make the tough decision.

Still, when I leave, I would only have good memories of this place. I would remember how principal Hex and Sue Lin were to my early days; I would remember how I found home among Pao, Kay, Elaine, Beat, and all of them with kind hearts; I would remember how I came to love, love, love my suit, designers, and clients.

I am ready to let go, Dani.

With the girl, too. I made mistakes, but I also did my very best to do the right thing. I have asked for forgiveness from her, from God, and now I’m asking forgiveness from myself. I’m ready to let go, Dani.

And hopefully after this we could start talking about fun things, for a change.


Dear Dani: They are watching us

While I am always aware that this blog is a public personal space and literally everyone have access to my inner thoughts, I forgot that sometimes it could have an emo streak that might not be favourable to a prospective employer, friend, or romantic partner if they were to read it for the first time. I can only pray that they would withhold their judgement and realize that I can actually be an enjoyable person to have around as well… if they scroll down deep enough. Like, really deep.

There has always been a strong urge within me be as honest and transparent as possible – not just because it’s easier – but also in the hope that I could extend my hand to anyone who needs to relate to a mutual struggle, to tell them they’re not alone.

Not to mention that honesty makes for a strong friendship, especially when you meet a person who’s just like yourself. I experienced that with my friend Marianne, I experienced that with you too, Dani – all of us are a bunch of NFPs. And it was extremely exhilarating, each time, to connect with another human being.

Okay lah this post doesn’t really have a unifying theme, I’m going to go to bed. Talk to you soon.

Dear Dani: I don’t know why I exist

Excuse me Dani while I keep bothering you with my tales of woes cause it has been a time of woes lately. Other than the day job that at least keep me distracted from thinking about The Hard Truths, I’m not motivated to do anything else cause I don’t see the point.

I haven’t watched any new series since Black Mirror (not that there’s any other shows that could compete), I have left my Titan Quest’s character stuck at level 25 in Babylon, I kinda stopped halfway through The Sandman cause it’s pretty hard to understand Neil Gaiman’s works anyway, so many biblical references.

I don’t think I would ever resort to killing myself cause I have never been that severely depressed, in fact I’m not depressed at all right now. No strong emotions. No joy, sadness, or anger. Just an indefinite malaise, the ultimate indifference.

I am aware of the less fortunate. Families are fleeing Syria, Rohingyas are treated badly (could there be hope now that Suu Kyi has won?), someone somewhere is in the back of the car, with duct tapes all over their mouth. Real issues. Unlike mine  first world, white people’s problems.

Even in Malaysia’s context, no, even in my immediate circle, my friends have it way worse than me. With families to take care of, loss of someone they care for, real heartbreaks.

But how does that invalidate whatever it is that I’m going through right now? Am I denied of my rights to experience human emotions so I can heal because some people have it worse? That other people’s struggles should make me feel better instead? That’s stupid. Why would you compare. You don’t discount happiness just because others have it better, do you.

And I’ve been trying to be a good person too. A fully functional human being. I take care of whatever limited responsibilities that I have. I was, and always there, for my friends. I try to give back to the world in any crippling way that I could contribute, cause the ultimate misery is if I’m here in this earth for no other purpose than taking up space and oxygen.

We are so tiny. Do you know how small an atom is? If neutron is a size of a golf ball, then atom would be a size of the entire stadium, with most of everything else composed of nothingness. In the grand scheme of the universe, we are gazillion times way smaller than that atom, or that neutron.

Yet I do believe that every single atom matters.

Dear Dani: On career and self worth

I might have told you that I’m leaving in about a month or so. What I haven’t told you is that during the past seven and a half years of my career, I have changed over five different organisations (not including a one-time P.A. job at the UN, three-month part time gig at Starbucks, and a two-week stint as a magician’s assistant – in which I had to be a pair of legs).

“Why are you such a slut?” You might say. Hey, come on now, no slut shaming here. A person who decides to have many casual sexual partners might have their own reason to do so, do empathize.

What are we talking about again.

Oh ya, career-hopping. Before the agency, the reason why I jumped through so many places was because of the stifled growth. I tried so long and so hard to make it as a technical person – I was a programmer then sysadmin then one-leg-kick-all IT macai – but did not succeed. I didn’t regret my time in any of those places as I managed to meet countless amazing individuals (in YouthAsia, Groupon, even JomSocial; but ESPECIALLY Teach For Malaysia where the amount of intense and overachieving young professionals over there made me feel that I wasn’t the smartest one in the room for a change).

While I did grew so much emotionally, intellectually and spiritually (due to the people), my career was stuck in a rut, and that was detrimental to my happiness. It was quite pathetic to acknowledge that my job defined almost the entirety of my self-worth, but I was what I was.

Don’t get me wrong (<— haha I hate this cliché, let’s kill it, kill it with fire), I do take pride in what I did, still. My technical game was strong, but they were so niche yet so wide apart that they never really fit into a job scope.

Enter the agency, where I made the overdue decision of shifting into the creative line, and it has been immensely rewarding ever since. For once, I enjoyed what I did AND was good at AND  contributed to the organisation. For once, all these emotional intensity was channelled into something productive (unlike in IT where the only emotional release was directed towards me during connection outage, to the point where I grew alerted at every shout of “INTERNET!” that I almost thought that that was my middle name – Muhammad Internet Khairul).

For once, I felt like I have a voice, my voice. I could be new, unpolished, and grammatically flawed in this industry but my voice is my voice, and you could never find anything like it elsewhere. (Not you Dani but the rhetorical you.)

Not to mention, being a Creative already fits my long-practised Bohemian lifestyle! No longer I have to feel guilty of watching too many shows, playing too many video games, or reading too many comic books because they all ended back into the creative pot.

Hence why with all regrets, I have to end my journey here in the agency, mostly just because of money. There is A LOT  to like about this place – the people, the culture, even the accounts (yes, I do love my accounts and my clients, a luxury many people could only wish for as they lay awake at 3 dreading Mondays) – but not the cashflow/financial management fuckups.

I wish I could have stayed longer. There is much to give to this place. Do you know how low-maintenance and self-sufficient I am, being able to work with none to minimal guidance or supervision? Do you know how excellent my analytical thinking is? Do you know how I have all these extra skills and actual experiences (SEO, media buying, online marketing) that could save your staff a lot of hours figuring things out from cluelessness? I guess you don’t cause you could only see my slight delay in delivery and lack of self-organisation, and that the accounts I’m in aren’t sexy enough to warrant deserving attention. (Again, not you as in Dani.)

Ninja edit: Speaking of self-sufficiency, it’s a crying shame that I had to fight for what I deserve all by myself just because no senior was assigned to me, while other people always have someone backing them up. What was the deal with that, man.

But hey, it is what it is. Since I’m not really helping some kids somewhere get better education and instead merely making people buy more, I might as well get some extrinsic motivation. The game is the game.

It has been a very pleasant journey – especially with my fellow team of a Suit and designers – that has come to an end. For that I say so long, and thanks for all the fish!

P/S: I have never actually finished HG2G but I’ve been known to recycle pop culture references to score cool points. Forgive me for I am a mere poser.

P/S: Except for The Wire. I finished the entire five seasons and it is the greatest TV show of all time, next to it being Louie and RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Dear Dani: Part II

Just to make it clear, when I said that I got my heart broken over a girl, it doesn’t mean that she broke my heart, but the circumstances that happened involving her that broke my heart.

I mean, it was not like I fell for her or something. It was more of a conscious decision to be with someone because at that point in my life, I was mature and emotionally stable enough to be able to provide for a person, and together we could enrich each other’s life, helping each other grow. I didn’t subscribe to the classic Jerry Maguire’s line of completing each other, because even without each other we were still two sufficient individuals. But with the combined force of us together, we could create greater good than what we could’ve done separately. You know, the-whole-is-greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts kinda thing.

It was very logical and not at all romantic, I know. It was the idealistic part of me. (Is cynical idealist even possible? That sounds like the worst combination ever).

I don’t know why I need to justify this though. Perhaps because it’s kinda uncool to get caught up over a girl. I have always been an advocate of unconditional love and platonic relationship, I’m supposed to be above this cliché.

Dear Dani

I’m writing on my physical journal right now before transferring it over to this blog so I won’t get too caught up on spelling and grammatical structures. Because writing is hard.

Okay, how does this work again? I’m addressing your name in this entry so this is a letter to you of some sort but we only know of each other quite recently meaning there isn’t much context yet hence I can’t jump straight to this story of how I got my heart kinda broken over a girl.

But I’m gonna do that anyway because this is my blog AND YOU’RE NOT MY MOM DON’T TELL ME WHATTODO.

So yeah, I got my heart kinda broken over a girl. It’s not because of her though, but merely of a circumstance that involved her. Suffice to say that I was unwise and stupid in my behaviours and I regret it in my every waking hour.

But it’s K. We live and we learn.

Other than that, as you know, I’m leaving the workplace (so long you suckersss). I’m gonna miss two things: 1) Sitting next to Pao, 2) Working with my Suit, Cindy. Besides that I’m pretty much excited over the prospect of freelancing and having more control over my time.

I am a little bit concerned, however, of loneliness. Loneliness can be so suffocating. There was a time in my life where I was so proud of my independence and solitude. There were days where I told myself that even if I were to be single by the end of my days, I would be just fine (because of the abundance of love around). But today is not one of those days.

Well that gets dark all of a sudden. I’ll write to you again Dani, on this public personal space.