Thank you

After a rock-climbing session with the colleagues, we took an obligatory group photo, shouting tee-effff-emm! (As if the shout would actually get into the photo). A random passerby asked, “Are you guys from Teach For Malaysia?”, and proceeded to shake our hands.

“Thank you for your work”, he said.

It was one of the most magical moments that you get working for this organization, no matter how rare, especially for non-teachers like us. An unexpected kindness.

Thank you stranger.

(On another note, I’m going to an advertising agency soon. I wonder if people would shake my hands saying, “Thank you for making me buy more…”)

Thank your sadness

A friend once joked that I might have the opposite case of Asperger’s syndrome. Instead of having difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, I overinteract socially and overcommunicate nonverbally. Do you like me? Are we cool? Have I done wrong? It’s as if I COULD FEEL EVERYTHING SO HELP ME GOD.

A joke is merely dramatization of truth, but there is indeed truth. It is true then, that I am emotionally sensitive. Sensitive comes from the word sense, and I’m saying that my emotional sense is highly receptive. I experience all ranges of emotions to a higher degree. Joy, love, fear, sadness, anger, jealousy. Even writing this very piece makes my hair stands, my eyes well up. But I bask in this state, it makes me feel like I’m entering some sort of fifth dimension trance that no drugs nor alcohol could ever induce.

There are the pleasurable kinds of emotions. Love, of course, is the greatest of them all. Not joy nor happiness, but love. I have a lot of love to give, and blessed with an abundance of love to receive. My most memorable moment last year was upon looking at my best friend’s engagement photo on my Facebook feed. I couldn’t contain the love inside. I kept looking at it. Her smile brought so much delight. I kept thanking God because I had to channel that gratitude somewhere. I couldn’t explain or rationalize how could someone else’s life experience that have totally nothing to do with me, could bring such magnitude of emotions. But it felt it, and it was more real than anything else.

Then there are the other kinds. Anger, hatred, jealousy, and all of their derivatives. In retrospect, I don’t think I am the worst person in the world. But my tingling emotional spidey sense convinced me otherwise. Even the slightest amount of negativity could send me to a downward spiral. If I were to see a successful peer on my social media timeline, I might feel a tinge of envy. But what’s worse is the amount of self-loathing I feel for feeling that way. There would be this imaginary dirty little substance I have in my chest that I wanted to take out. I would have an endless debate between me and myself, getting deeper into that dark, lonely place.

Now I want to tell you something important. Only recently that I have come upon the realization that–there are no good or bad emotions. They are just that, emotions, and every single one serves a purpose. Joy, happiness, even love, could exist only with the rest. They come in a package.

Sadness is the all-cleansing remedy. It brings me back to planet earth. It makes me reflect on myself and be aware of my interior state. A good cry once in a while releases all the muscle tensions away. Sadness is the defragmentation process for the soul.

Fear keeps me on my toes. It allows me to calmly assess the situation in times of panic and anxiety.

There are myriad of other emotions that I have still yet to understand. All this while I have been suppressing them, denying everything that makes a human. Now and again I kept making my own 7 Deadly Sins of qualities that I try hard to avoid. But emotions are merely the messenger of what is happening within. To ignore them is to run away from the truth, and as they pile up, sooner or later it will come back to haunt me.

So here is a promise to myself that from now on I will trust and attend to all of my emotions. I will observe, identify, and only then will I be able to let go.

Thank your sadness as much as you thank your joy and happiness. Thank your fears of getting into a new job. Thank your guilt of not spending enough time with the family. Thank your jealousy, worries, hatred, and anger. For only with all these emotions would you be able to live a whole and fulfilling life. For only with them you would be able to appreciate beauty.

Thank your sadness.

Bersangka baik

A friend once told me that I might have anti-Asperger’s syndrome. I don’t have difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication. Quite the opposite, I interact too much socially, communicate too much non-verbally. As if I COULD FEEL EVERYTHING. Do you like me? Are we cool? Have I done wrong?

This is not a sustainable way to live.

Being emotionally in touch, I don’t want to simply ‘feel less’ because that’s now how I am designed, it doesn’t suit my circuitry. Instead, I want to remind myself of a phrase in Bahasa I find to be the most apt: Bersangka baik.

‘Bersangka baik’ is the inclination to seek for good intentions in other people (with the exception of candy giving strangers). If I were to be out of touch with somebody, it doesn’t me that I am of a lesser importance, it doesn’t mean that I am forgotten. Everyone is living a life as vivid as mine, with thoughts that come across their worried minds, with desires to seek for fulfilments.

I choose to subscribe to the positive side of human nature, and naturally, they will come to me.

Mr White

Say hello to Mr White.

Mr White was found on Xinch’s yard a few days ago. Left by his mom. Accidentally hosed down, he was drenched and scared.

Mr White has a brother, a Bengal-like kitten with stripes across the back and spots below the tummy. Everyone was gushing over the brother on how playful, sociable and majestic he was. Poor Mr White didn’t get no love.

Mr White was protective of his brother. Every time Xinch took the brother out of the box, he would meow non-stop until he could see him again.

Mr White and his brother had to be separated. I took Mr White first, even though he was the underdog. Or undercat, if you may.

Mr White is in my home now. Sometimes he meows non-stop. Probably still scared, probably still looking for his brother.

I hope I can be your new brother, Mr White. I will love you like the little engine that could. Because. You. Are. My. First. Choice.

Time’s up

My time in TFM is up, I know it.

More than a year ago, I looked into this organisation because I needed a job. My part-time gig in Starbucks wasn’t paying me enough to live a comfortable life. So I applied for a recruitment position, because I wanted to do something different for a change (I even considered becoming an insurance agent, no kidding). Yet they took me in as IT, and I accepted it anyway for the money.

Fast forward now. Here I am staring at monitor with too many deep, dark thoughts inside my head, and I can’t stop them. My emotional condition might be something that I got to work on separately, but paired with a job that is not as fulfilling, it’s a recipe for disaster.

The people here are great. The most amazing bunch of young, high-achieving individuals I have ever been around with. Even sometimes when the air feels a bit too tense, it is because of the opinionated nature of everyone (unlike in Groupon where they gossip about petty, miserable things such who is making out with whom). They are giving all their sweat and tears for a noble cause. I feel blessed just to be given this opportunity to have know them.

But in terms of my career, TFM has done squat. Throughout the year I had learn a lot of soft skills that would better equip me to become a manager. But a manager is not what I imagine myself to be, and I don’t fancy all these soft skills. What I want to be is a craftsman, working mostly in solitary, perfecting my hard skills each and every single day, creating good arts.

So this is the call. I’m leaving. I’m giving myself a few more months so I can save enough money to go for an extended travel. When I’m back, I’ll throw myself into the creative line. That will give me enough time to start researching, planning, and applying for jobs.

Core Issue

God (or the universe, whichever you fancy) is fair. This I believe.

Every person is given a set of recurring struggles that they have to overcome. They may reappear throughout different stages in life, yet they are always the same. He never gives you more than you can handle.

To be aware of these struggles is the first step. More importantly, is to ask enough questions to find out what are the Core Issues. What makes you feel the way you do?

Once you have this Core Issue, you can turn it into something empowering. Please stay with me, as this is where I go very personal, exposing myself naked.

As a child, I have always been a crybaby. A by-product of being the youngest and only son for too long. Of being tiny, nerdy, and shunned by the archetypal boys club. Most of my time were alone, and most of them were spent inside my head.

I am not embarrassed by crying, even in my adult years. If anything, I take pride on being emotionally in-touch. Beautiful thing makes me cry. I cried for my newborn nephew, I cried the first time I set my foot in Japan. I even cried reading an IMDB review that manage to articulate something I couldn’t.

For me, the most beautiful thing is found in human relationship. Just stumbling upon an acquaintance is enough to make my day, no kidding. I have built deep and strong connection with many individuals, sharing the most of our hearts and soul. There is nothing more a heart could ever desire. I have my love tank filled.

Yet, the very same thing that makes me, breaks me. Every fall out in relationship is a huge blow. I couldn’t work, couldn’t function. I ruminate, not about that particular fall out anymore, but about my entire life stories. I am that 5 years-old boy again. Unwanted, unworthy, unloved.

This is where it hits me. If I ask myself enough questions on why I feel sad, it always ends up wit the same answer. Why do I invest so much in human connection? Why do I keep making list such as My Own 7 Deadly Sins, and loathing myself because of it?

All these are because I was trying as hard as I could, to keep myself away from that one feeling I fear the most: being unlovable.

All these while, I battled these struggles with the thought that I should love unconditionally. But that’s not being kind to myself. I gave it all to my friends. I deserve the same, from me.

So here I am, telling myself that – I can be loved. What if this one friendship doesn’t work out, would that make me unlovable? No, I can be loved. What if I feel angry, envious, and possessive again, would that make unlovable? No, I can be loved.

I don’t know if this new belief would work, really. But the long winter months are already here, and I got to prepare myself. The cold, deep, dark nights might make me shatter, but hell yea I’ll come out stronger.


‘Core Issue’ is just a jargon taught by my therapist, you could call it what you want. The essence is the same. If you have this huge demon in front of you that you don’t know how to deal with, it helps to identify it piece by piece. For every persona and character that you identify, the demon dissolves little by little, until what’s left of that it is actually yourself. The 5 year-old you. And he’s not a demon after all, just a child figuring his way into the world. Give him a hug, would you.

Also, it might help seeing a therapist, probably the best thing you could have ever done. Not because of the therapy itself, but the act to know yourself more.


“…why I am writing this book. To think. To understand. It just happens to be the way I’m made. I have to write things down to feel I fully comprehend them.” – Murakami, Norwegian Wood.



This is my footwear.

Not the one on the left, that one is a lovely pair of sandals worn by a lovely friend of mine. It’s the one on the right. That glossy, bright-colored abomination that looks like it comes straight out of Saturday Night Fever. Not that I would know, I have never actually watched Saturday Night Fever. But I’ve been told that my footwear looks like I’m ready to go for tap dancing, bowling, even a bullfighting arena.

But this is my footwear. There are many like it but this one is mine. Five years in the future I might get blackmailed by my atrocious taste in fashion, but not tonight. Tonight, my footwear and I are one. It’s us against the world. Together we own the street of KL. We run through a field endless possibilities, live a life dreamed by many but desired by few. We are awakened.

Okay that’s it. This post has no moral lesson or social commentary whatsoever. Good night.


Sometimes you don’t feel like going to a mall. Sometimes that hipster coffee shop is a little bit too expensive for this time of the month. Sometimes you just need to go to a… park.

I wanted to see a friend, so she suggested that we have a picnic. We took the train to KLCC and did a quick grocery shopping at Cold Storage. Wholegrain bread, feta cheese, and chicken ham – we were good to go. We stretched our back on the mat, basking under the sun. They say the sun is good for your hair, no wonder I have too much hair. Then we talked for hours, with me doing most of the talking. Sorry, friend.

It was a different kind of Sunday. Cheaper, simpler, with no Wifi.

This shall pass

I believe this shall pass.

This extended phase of feeling bad but you can’t pinpoint why. Knowing that you have all the good things in life doesn’t make it better, but guiltier. As if you don’t deserve to feel this pain when people out there are having real pain.

When it comes down, it all come down at once. These detestable qualities of yours, no one is as bad as you are. You don’t belong here, you have never belong anywhere. For so many years you have tried to get better. You just want to be a good person, a functioning member of the society. Cause if you can’t even do that, then there is no point of existing in this world in the first place, taking up air.

But I believe this shall pass, I do. I believe in it so much that I’ll punch this extended phase of feeling bad in the face, cut his balls, and throw it onto a moving truck.

Yee Eng and Khairul

Just dance

I have a mental list of things I want to learn in my lifetime, and dancing has always been on the top. Now I’m proud to say that last year, I have finally started and committed to it!

In all honesty, I am NOT good at dancing. My limbs are as stiff as Keanu Reeves, and the only steps I have never missed are on my partner’s foot. But there lies the beauty of learning for the sake of learning. You don’t start dancing to become a professional in no time, you don’t start dancing to impress anyone. You start dancing, because you love to dance.

This 2014, I plan to do more of it. So what do you say – shall we dance, Xin Xin & Yee Eng?