Running a Facebook Page.

Since 2014, I have been running a Facebook page called Humans of Sussex University (HOSU). This page was inspired by the, Humans of New York, Facebook page.

It began merely as a curious girl with a phone. I had no photography skills back then, and still to this day, do not possess any. However, I have always been a great story-teller, and loved to hear other people’s stories. What enchanted me the most about speaking to strangers, is never knowing what they will say next. Our emotions are vulnerable to the stories being shared, as we are presented with ambiguity. Listening to my friends’ life stories has always encouraged me to share them, (with permission of course), because they are simply amazing. There are so many unheard stories which are inspiring, heart-wrenching, hilarious, spontaneous, and all the other emotions under the sun.

I truly believe that everyone on earth has a story to share. They just need to be given the chance. This page provides the opportunity for many people to present to the world something which they have always wanted to share. All the stories are different, yet similar at the same time. It shows that we never truly know what each person is dealing with in their everyday lives. I think sharing stories is important to an empathetic society, one that accepts and allows our emotions to be felt and shown.

The ‘interview’ style that I undergo with each participant is nothing like an interview at all. In all honesty, it is more conversationalist. I like to make the participants feel comfortable, as if we were having a natural conversation. I would record the interview and allow the conversation to flow in whatever direction it goes. I do not prepare questions beforehand, but prefer for the conversation to be spontaneous.

Photography Exhibition

Back in March, I was approached by the Student Union at Sussex, asking if the team members of HOSU would like to contribute to One World Week. The aim of the week was to celebrate diversity by holding numerous events across campus, showcasing different cultures and being immersed and educated about each one. Of course, HOSU accepted this invitation.

I invited photographers from the Sussex Photography society to get involved with the project, by photographing our interviewees.

Above is a picture of my boyfriend and I, featured at the photography exhibition. It was attached with our story which goes as follows:

“I had my first kiss twenty-years of age. Compared to most, that is quite old. For myself, that was sooner than expected, as I was the type of person who vowed to never be in a relationship.

“One night we took a drive to a random place. We arrived at the beach in Seaford and watched the stars. I never felt so small, looking up and wondering about my place in the world. We spoke about everything. On the drive back, my friend confessed, “I love you.” From then on, we became a couple. I never knew the beauty in having your best friend and significant other being from one soul.

“People say that a relationship changes a person. It changed me in the best way. I am constantly in the presence of the kindest and most loving person I have ever met. He taught me how to live in the present moment and love it. With our generation’s view on love, we are often quite cynical and afraid to love or even show it, because people often perceive it as a weakness. My attitude has changed towards love, it is not a weakness at all but a strength. I am no longer afraid to admit that I am in love.

“Simba [our dog] is an example of how a relationship can change you. Before. I detested animals. As soon as my boyfriend introduced me to Simba, I was in love. Simba taught me how to be patient and affectionate. Animals are not given enough credit for their kind nature. Her cuddles give me life. I receive so much love from them that I cannot help but feel as if I am the luckiest person in the world.”

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I have a great sense of pride and joy in this Facebook page. It is not at a level I would like it to be, but it is definitely going in the right direction. It is much harder than it looks, running a Facebook page. You can never predict how the content of your page will be received, and people’s engagement with it rise and fall everyday.

To those who are interested in doing something like this, I will say that you must be committed to your craft. You have to be invested in it, even if those who help you, come and go all the time. You need to have faith and confidence in your abilities. This is coming from someone who has no photography skills, started off with no camera but a camera phone – because I could not afford a DSLR camera, and yet still created a photography and story-telling page.

Go out there and do you.

 

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Graduation | Before the Celebrations

On Thursday 26th July 2018, I graduated from the University of Sussex with a BA (Hons) in English Literature, with a study abroad year.

For many reasons, my final year became the most difficult year of my degree. I was extremely close to giving up and pulling out from university. I truly believed that I could no longer go on. It was mentally draining and emotionally challenging. Yet, through the hard times, my friends and family were there to support me.

My Mother

My mother deserves all the praise and honour in this universe. She is my inspiration, the anchor that steadies me amongst the roaring waves, and my wings that allow me to soar into the sky. Due to her wisdom, love, and patience, I was able to graduate. My mother never pushed me into doing anything that I did not want. Instead, she spoke with kindness and understanding, being emphatic to my situation.

My love for literature all began with my mother, who gave me a book when I was nine. We were sitting on the train to school and that was the moment which laid out my path. Therefore, my degree truly belongs to my mother.

My Soul Mate

Where do I begin? My partner has been the most loving, supportive, uplifting and precious soul throughout my journey. During times when I was unable to look after myself, he took care of me. When I could not concentrate on my work, he would sit and study with me. When my faith in God was diminishing, he would sit and pray with me. This man deserves nothing but an abundance of blessings for the way he carried me through my degree, let alone working through his own degree. He took good care of my emotional state, physical health, and overall well-being.

He has witnessed my ups and downs throughout my final year, never leaving my side for an easy way out. Instead, he became committed to me and our degrees, striving for success and happiness. At his age, he has shown how maturity is not exclusive to certain ages, that men are capable of expressing their emotions and being strong whilst showing it, as well as demonstrating that love is able to fight through every challenge that comes our way.

Many people contributed to my success story. So the achievement is not mine alone. My friends and family have supported me throughout my entire journey, witnessed my ups and downs, and finally, the success. I am blessed to say that I shall be doing a Master’s in Creative and Critical Writing, with aid given to me through the Sussex Graduate Scholarship. Reflecting back on my journey, I realised the importance of having a supportive network of people around me, faith in Jesus and faith in myself, and to always love, no matter what happens. Reminder, to always trust in Jesus, even when it seems that life is going against me, to walk with Him and know that I will be okay.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”

~ Isaiah 43:2 (ESV)

What I Have Learnt From My Four Year Degree.

1. Mental health is just as important as physical health.

Do not neglect your mental well-being. Too often, students are being left feeling lonely and isolated, because they are unable to speak about their troubles out loud. As a result, some have even being diagnosed with mental health issues due to the stress of education and personal lives. This is why it is important for us to support one another, as we do not know the struggles other people are dealing with in their lives.

2. Rest breaks are necessary.

Having time away from your work is important for it to progress, ironically. When I focused too much on my work constantly, it clouded my view on how it would be received. Being able to come back to my work later with a new lens allowed me to pick out my mistakes and correct them, as well as identify my strong points and work on it.

3. Knowing when to ask for help.

A lot of people find it difficult to ask for help, whether that be work related, or just generally mundane needs. I wish I asked for help in my degree earlier, not just from my fellow classmates, but also tutors as well as the university services. When I did ask, a burden was lifted. Asking for help does not hurt anyone.

4. Your perspective can change a few years later.

Things that I believed at the start of my degree have either been shattered, changed, or developed. It is okay to not hold the same perspective that you once did a few years ago. We learn and experience new things, which contributes to our full grasp of life as we know it. I am not the same person now compared to when I was eighteen years of age. So it would make sense that my perspective on life would change, and that is okay. It does not make me a dishonest person for allowing them to evolve, only a person with agency to grow with them.

5. Time is important.

These four years have by far, been the most challenging, but rewarding years of my life. It may not seem like a long time in the grand scheme of things, but even a single minute shouldn’t be wasted. I wish I used my time better, working on developing my skills and hobbies when I did have free time. It’s difficult to go through life with no regrets, and one of mine is wasting time. Nonetheless, I’m still growing into the woman I hope to one day become, and will try my best to use my time effectively.

6. The difference between working hard and working smart.

I was fully convinced that if I put in a solid eight hours a day towards studying, then I should gain that back with results. That is not the case. I eventually realised that those eight hours were pointless if I wasn’t learning effectively. You could achieve more in two hours studying the right things, as opposed to ten hours focusing on topics which are not that useful. Know the difference.

7. Living in our time.

Putting things into perspective, I realise that my fellow classmates and I will change the world, or even just change our own worlds, no matter how big or small. My generation is constantly being slanted by the media for our lifestyle, beliefs and choices. In all honesty, I do not understand the negativity, especially in relations to education. We choose to fight for easy access to education for EVERYONE who chooses to pursue this path. Yet, we are portrayed as selfish and demanding. Regardless, I think it is important to represent our place in history positively, and so we should live by our choices instead of having the older generation negate our experience of life.

8. Moving forward at our own pace.

When I decided to go on a year abroad in Thailand to study and travel, I was extremely happy but nervous, too. I came back one year later with friends who have already graduated, engaged, employed in a new job, and essentially just moving forward with their lives. This made me feel as if I was a step behind, having one more year to complete my degree. However, I later realised that I wasn’t. I was merely moving at my own pace, which is completely fine. I needed to focus on my own path instead of being worried about what others were thinking.

9. The importance and privilege of having access to education.

I am truly blessed to have had the opportunity to study at one of the best institutions in the UK and the world. The University of Sussex will always have a special place in my heart. Growing up in a working-class area, many students at my school were never expected to make it far, in terms of education. A few even dropped out of school altogether before completing their GCSEs. I am one of the lucky few to have gone further and onto a degree. It made me sad to see wasted potential in students who were never given the chance, where no one believed in their abilities, and society labelled them as failures. I cannot leave behind my roots, and will continue to speak up about my experience and the experiences of those students who were neglected by the education system, and fight in any way that I can to make education accessible for people like them, if that is the path they want to take.

10. Family is everything.

No matter what my results might be, my family will always be with me. I will never leave my family behind or trade them for a new life at university. At every stage and every moment of my degree, my family were there for me. I am truly grateful to them for being the reason I am able to graduate and pursue my dreams.

Feel Your Emotions

I have struggled dealing with my emotions all my life, specifically, those of sadness and melancholy. I could never find a way to express them in a way that allowed me to feel alleviated and liberated. It resulted in me building up these emotions and having what I would call “explosions” once in a while. This is not healthy, and nor was it fair on those around me who had to witness it.

I think one of the main reasons why I failed at expressing these emotions successfully, is due to the negative stigma surrounded by the idea of emotions.

Not a Weakness

Many people in society believe that expressing one’s emotions as a sign of weakness. This is something we must fight against. If we are unable to exercise the way we feel, then it will produce unwanted behaviours.

Why is the world sugar-coating our emotions? In an ideal world, everyone would be happy 24/7. But that is not reality. Acknowledging that we feel down sometimes should not be deemed as a weakness. It is truth. It is strength when we can be genuine about our feelings.

Empathy

Society is made up of people who are unable to express their emotions, because of the way they are conditioned to believe that emotions are not a good thing. As a result, we have many cynical individuals, and those who lack empathy to other people’s situation. If the members of society are taught that their emotions are invalid, then of course, society will create people who fail at expressing their struggles and are unable to relate to others. Initially, we are taught to look down upon people who show more than one type of emotion.

How did we get to this?!

We need to teach one another that expressing one’s emotion is OKAY! It teaches us about empathy, love, and truth.

Unfortunately, the consequences of teaching people that they should not express their emotions, results in emotional instability, and in extreme cases, mental illnesses. We need to take our emotions seriously.

Strength and Courage

It takes a lot of strength and courage to show one’s emotion to others. It shows a lot of love when we can help those seeking a way to exercise their feelings in an effective way. Support and understanding is the first step in the right direction for us to help one another.

There is nothing wrong with expressing your emotions. Not at all. Allow it to give you the time to feel those feelings, and then move on. Emotions must not be rushed, they must be felt, acknowledged and then released.

We must learn to feel our emotions without letting it consume us.

Feel your emotions.

Just Do You

I adore this saying, “Just Do You.”

To some people, it may seem self-centred and self-absorbed. I disagree. Simply because it focuses on the pronoun “you” , it does not invoke the idea of utter disregard for others. In order to help others, one must be able to help themselves, first.

I believe that this statement applied to certain situations, can be proven to be useful and enlightening.

It has been a year of learning, and I am still on this journey. I have met wonderful people from all over the world, and those close to home. However, it has also been a year where my attempts at finally being the Unapologetically Rosie I one day wish to be, was challenged by my own sense of worth, identity and insecurities.

I am human. I have struggles, I fall, I learn, and try to rise again. 

It was a year of travelling, trying new things, gaining experience, making friends, loving old ones, and building a brighter future for myself – whilst enjoying the present moment.

Not everything will always go smoothly as planned. Along the way, we are met with adversity.

People. The ones who love you unconditionally, with unfailing support, and willing to tell you the truth, no matter how much it may hurt just to protect you, are the people I will hold dearly.

However, there are others. The ones who you thought were the ones mentioned above, but somehow have an issue with the things you do, who you are, and what you look like. Yet, even acquaintances and strangers who I barely knew, had an issue.

I was consumed by the idea that I must no longer be myself. Something is wrong with me. I was enjoying myself too much whilst travelling, maybe I should not have done this. I was learning so much in my classes, perhaps I should not have shared what I have learned and my opinions on it. I was celebrating the way I looked, perhaps I should hide it.

It did not please many people, that I was journeying on a path that helped me to do something wonderful. Seeing the world, getting an education, making friends, and eventually feeling comfortable in my body.

In my life, I notice this trend. Whenever I am doing well for myself, the negative opinions of others attempt to strike me down.

If that made them feel bad, it would mean I made them feel bad, and therefore I am a bad person?

I am a bad person.

Constantly, I repeated this to myself. I am a bad person. I did not deserve to do the things I did, nor see the things I saw.

Finally, I spoke to my loved ones about what happened and how I was feeling. I was received with wisdom, love and kindness.

Not everyone will like you, even the ones who pretend to. Opinions given by those speaking with jealousy, slander, narcissism, ignorance and unkindness, are the ones that need to be ignored. It is difficult when those opinions seem to be the loudest from the crowd.

Never apologise for making happy memories. Never apologise for trying something new. Never apologise for the things that have been given to you. Never apologise for your good intentions. Never apologise for sharing knowledge. Never apologise for being you.

Of course, I still do apologise – but I am trying to take it one step at a time to finally focus on my own path, with no worries about what others may think.

For those who choose to rain on the parade of others, just stop it. You are worth more than that, and can exercise your time and energy into something better. If you just focused on your own path, you would not feel the need to attempt to take other people down with your negativity.

Let it go and move on.

Just do you, means to focus on your life. It means you must learn to do something for yourself and not worry about other people. Take control and responsibility of yourself. No one will do that for you, so why allow the negative opinions of others deter you from your own greatness?

This is for everyone:

Just Do You!

A Tale of a Long Distance Relationship

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.

– Laozi

I rarely post about my relationship online, but when I do, I post enough so people are aware that I am in a relationship, though not too much so that others are also IN my relationship. There is a difference between privacy and secrecy, and I wanted to establish that for myself. However, for the past year, I have been in a long distance relationship (LDR) and I thought that my experience of it could be shared with others who are going through the same thing, about to, or wanted to know more about what a LDR entails.

[Background information, this is my first ever relationship.] Blushes in embarrassment.

waiting

Being in a different place was difficult enough, but also a different time zone (6/7 hours difference to be exact) was trying at times. Nonetheless, despite all this, I came to realise that a LDR is not like what the movies portrayed it to be. It was not something completely heart-crushing, that you thought about breaking-up whenever you were unable to physically be next to the other person, and then end up separated. No, not at all. It made me fall even more in love with the man who showed how committed he was to me, who was willing to wait for my return, who devoted his heart into this relationship, into us.

I think a relationship should consist of a physical and emotional bond. Not just romantic relationships, but any relationship, even friendship. The ability to physically and emotionally be supportive and loving in our words, actions, and feelings. But that is not possible in a LDR. So we had to learn how to rely on each other’s soul to keep the relationship alive. Without the physical contact of seeing one another – which had to be stripped away – we were left with our personalities, our interests, likes and dislikes, and our minds and memories. It was a big challenge, without a doubt, but I knew that this distance would help set the foundations for our relationship, knowing and trusting in God to deliver us.

I had to learn to love from afar. Even though I wanted to be the one to physically support my partner when he needed me, to be there with him to celebrate his achievements, and just exist in each other’s presence, I knew my choices would prohibit me to do so.

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It was the little things we did for one another, that played a contributing factor in keeping us together. We said good morning and goodnight, everyday. We sent letters, small gifts, texted, Skyped, and called. We played online games, encouraged one another in our studies – by being study buddies – even though we studied different degrees. We tried our best to be what they other person needed in each moment.

In all relationships, you have to be selfless. This is very true for a LDR. You have to be thoughtful, understanding and supportive. Patience is key. Truth. It is about how much effort and love you are willing to invest into your relationship that makes it seem almost effortless to maintain. Of course it was hard at times, because I did not have my best friend around to do all the things we did, when back in England. He has always been a supportive best friend AND boyfriend. He wanted me to take chances in life, just like this study abroad year. However, I still felt so guilty for leaving him behind, as I jetted off to many different countries without him. I felt that I was responsible for his loneliness, for the absence, for making him wait, for making his first serious relationship become a long distance relationship.

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This is also an appreciation post.

My love, I have so many reasons to give thanks to you:

  1. Thank you for taking a chance on our relationship, knowing that we would have to spend the first year of it apart.
  2. Thank you for arranging a rose to be waiting outside my bedroom door on Valentine’s day,  with the help of my housemate.
  3. Thank you for sending me my favourite British snacks to munch on!
  4. Thank you for going to sleep late, just to say good morning to me, knowing that you will be exhausted the next day.
  5. Thank you for sending me endless selfies upon request, so that I felt like I was with you, each and everyday.
  6. Thank you for encouraging me to try new things, especially with flying to different countries across Asia.
  7. Thank you for being my doctor when I was ill, drastically researching ways for me to recover from the different illnesses I had, such as the fever, chest infection, and diarrhoea (too much information!)
  8. Thank you for your letters, postcards, and gifts that you sent to me, knowing that it was expensive alone just sending them (I will repay you, somehow).
  9. Thank you for my bouquet of roses to be placed in my room for our anniversary.
  10. Thank you for loving me, and proving that not all LDR results in a break-up.

I have more to thank you for…but these will have to do, for now.

People are so black and white when it comes to relationships in general, thinking that it is about giving and taking. It is about trusting, challenging, encouraging, faithfulness, loyalty, understanding, commitment, and above all, love.

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I can love, because He loved me first. Jesus is the one who holds our relationship together, and I cannot post this, without giving thanks to Him. Love conquers all, and I am blessed, SO BLESSED, to not only love, but to also BE loved in return.

The saying, “right person, wrong time,” mingled itself amongst my thoughts. Why now, when I am about to leave? Why now, when I will be in another country? Why now, when I will be on another continent? Yet, I realised that with the right person, it will never be the wrong time. God’s timing is perfect. We both were meant to meet one another at that moment in our lives, because it helped us to reflect on how much we wanted to invest into our relationship. I did not know if it was a wise decision to enter my first EVER relationship, as a long distance one. I prayed a lot over this, and I trusted my heart and Christ, that as long as I had faith in Him, myself, and my boyfriend, this would be one of the best decisions I would ever make, to love.

It certainly was worth the wait, worth the distance, and worth the time, because it revealed that WE are worthy of loving one another.

This LDR tested whether we were truly and faithfully committed to one another, and deserving of each other. The distance made me appreciate everything I have in England. It made me fall in love with my country, family, friends, boyfriend, and my church, all over again.

[BUSTED: I informed my boyfriend that I would be extending my time in Asia for an additional one month period, in order to travel. Therefore, he thinks I will be back in the middle of August. Little does he know, it is a lie. He shall know soon enough when I am back!]

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”

(1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

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See you very soon, my pancake.

X

Songkran

Songkran is Thailand’s New Year’s festival, celebrated on the 13th April each year. I was lucky enough to experience Songkran this year, in Bangkok, as I went to Khao San Road to celebrate it with my housemates. I will share my experience of Songkran.

Many wonderful things happen on Songkran, and I managed to witness a few of the events. Firstly, Songkran is essentially like a water festival, where water is thrown onto everyone, regardless of where you are, and what you are doing. Many places hold water fights, and people will bring along their water guns and other water devices to celebrate. The water is used as a metaphor for cleansing oneself from the past, and to start new. In addition, I saw people bringing along baby powder mixed with water, and they would walk on by as they touched people with it. However, I was unsure whether it was a sign to symbolise something, or just additional fun amongst the new year.

Everyone has a genuine smile upon their faces, and they will wish you a happy new year, even if they do not know you. It was literally the biggest water fight in the world. Do not bring any valuables with you, unless you want it to get wet, or if you have a waterproof bag. Even then, it is not enough! Water comes from every direction, and it is just a joy to be amongst the festivities. Unfortunately, I cannot comment about the other events held on Songkran, because I was unable to witness it all. This post does not do any justice for how amazing Songkran truly is! (I guess you will all have to experience it for yourself!)

I highly recommend everyone adding Songkran onto their bucket list, because it is an experience of a lifetime.

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Now, on to the outfit. It is a custom to wear a flowery type of pattern on Songkran, and so this was my attempt.

  1. Sunglasses – purchased in Malaysia at an unknown store, for an unknown price (sorry for my bad memory!)
  2. Choker – purchased in Bangkok for around the price of 100 Baht (just an estimation)
  3. Off-the-shoulder top – the top came with a matching head tie (which I decided to wear on my thigh as a gun holder), and was bought for the price of 200 Baht at the market stall in Central Plaza, Salaya
  4. Shorts – I bought it a year ago on eBay, and I am sorry to say again, I do not remember the price for it

(Sorry for being so useless and forgetful about the price of each item and where I purchased them from!)

“Comparison is the Thief of Joy”

“Comparison is the thief of Joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt

In life, it is difficult to not compare ourselves to people around us. We compare ourselves to our friends, our co-workers, our family members, and even people in the media. Even if we choose not to compare ourselves to others, there will always be people who will do that for us, and remind us of that. It is a vicious cycle.

“Comparison is the thief of joy,” and recently I have seen this statement evolve in my life. I am just like everyone else. I most commonly compare myself to my classmates and peers. It has left me feeling dejected about myself and my life. I see my friends doing amazing things, excelling academically, opening up their own businesses, and even starting up their home. And perhaps the most artificial comparison, I even compare our looks.

Sometimes, I feel like a working class girl, playing a middle class game.

However, I realised that I was not being fair to them or myself. Of course, I was extremely happy for them, because they worked hard to get to where they are. Yet, I also need to remind myself that if I was in their position and had their opportunities, I would probably do just as well as them, whatever “well” means, not trying to claim that their efforts are simply a result of their socioeconomic class. Nonetheless, we are different people, and my differences has led me to where they are, despite not having the same start in life and opportunities that my friends had. I should remind myself that I am just as good as them, no better, no worse. I should be happy for them, as well as myself.

Instead of comparing ourselves, we should be praising our efforts, for our situation is unique to us. In addition, we need to empower one another, and support each other in our endeavours. This life is too short to be envious over other people. We need to remember that we are all at different stages of our lives, and we all have different backgrounds and opportunities. Otherwise, we will never know joy if we are constantly focusing on how other people are doing, and ignoring our own lives.

There is no love in jealousy, only bitterness.

Love your neighbours, and love yourself.

Racism: More Than a Black and White Issue

This post has been influenced by the BBC’s televised interview with Robert Kelly and his family, during the discussion concerning North and South Korea. It led me to reflect more on my own experience, as well as the experience of other people I know, when it comes to racism.

BBC Broadcast

The video sparked debates about whether Jung-a Kim was the nanny or the mother of the children in the video. People claim that thinking Mrs Kelly was a nanny was just stereotyping, not racism. However, they have based their stereotypes on her ethnicity. Is this a form of mild racism? To me, it is the equivalent of assuming all Mexicans are drug dealers, or that those who practice Islam are terrorists, which is not true! (Those who say you cannot be racist when it comes to Islam, I beg to differ. People do not stereotype white Muslims as much as non-white Muslims. Therefore, if a person chooses to stereotype a particular ethnic group of Muslims, that is racism).

Let me ask a question. If it was a white woman who entered Robert Kelly’s study room in the same manner as Jung-a Kim did, would people have assumed that she was the nanny?

It was very admirable of Mrs Kelly to dismiss the accusations of her being a nanny, so that others could simply enjoy the clip and move on. However, I do not believe that dealing with racism should be done by ignoring it. How are we supposed to progress if we cannot address the issue at hand? This may appear like a minor incident, but situations like this do occur on a large scale. For instance, racial profiling is an extreme example of what happens when an individual is judged based on their racial identity. Small incidents, like this one, can always lead to a larger one, with society believing it to be acceptable to judge a person based on their race.

Casual Racism

Racism against East Asians tend to be a form of casual racism that is invoked into society as socially acceptable. Mocking their accents, the way they dress, their customs, as well as their facial features, has become part of the common culture of “joking”. People dismiss racism altogether in these scenarios, because they claim that a “joke” cannot be a form of racism. In addition, if you argue against that statement, other people will claim that you are too sensitive. Asking if our name is “Ching Chong”, as well as slanting your eyes with your fingers, is racism. I do not understand how degrading someone based on their ethnicity, is highly amusing? This is not an appreciation of their culture, but rather, a mocking of it.

Beauty and the Beast

On another note, I went to watch the live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast when it was released, with my friends. After we watched it, I asked my friend, what did he think of the movie? He informed me that he enjoyed it, but wished there was more diversity in the movie. I was thinking, but there was? He meant not simply black and white actors, Asians too. I realised that for a movie that was promoting diversity in its production, it was not truly promoting diversity at all. (But this is another matter to discuss another time).

Study Abroad

Studying abroad in Thailand for seven months so far, I have witnessed this Western idea taken place amongst a few international students, as well as tourists in Thailand. They want to visit Asia, without having to deal with Asians. They have no desire to actually be involved with getting to know other Thai students, and so create their own separate group. But then they have the cheek to question why Thai students always stay in a group with other Thai students, when they are doing the same with foreign students. (Obviously, there is more to this situation that I myself do not know about).

Understanding

Where do Asians fit within the concept of racism? Why is our experience of racism ignored? Why are our issues made to be seen as less important? Of course, the Asian experience of racism is more varied than what I have spoken about. It is more complex than that.

I am not trying to claim that one group experience of racism is greater than another. I am trying to acknowledge that a form of casual racism exists towards the Asian community. I am not trying to make every issue a race issue. But when racial issues do occur, I cannot ignore it, whoever it is towards. Racism should not be just a black and white issue. It should be a people issue.

Unfortunately, I cannot speak on behalf of other ethnic minorities who experience racism, because I have never been in their position to understand what they have been through. However, I would like to know more about their stories. Nonetheless, racism should be a concern for EVERYONE. Something for us to address, educate on, and solve together.

Friendship

In life, you will encounter many people. Some of those people were meant to stay, and others were meant to leave. Some you will learn from, and others you will teach. You will have friends for-right-now, and friends for life. Whoever they are, make sure you love them and be kind.

I am very blessed to have a group of friends who are fiercely loyal, extremely loving, and all incredible in their own way. Not to brag, but my friends are full of talent, ambitious, intelligent, courageous, faithful, daring, and great blessings in my life.

Unfortunately, I have not been good with communicating with them, due to my busy life, and essentially, laziness. From this, stemmed awkwardness and I realised that if I wanted to remain friends with them, I needed to make an effort or I would lose them. One of the best things for a strong friendship, is honesty. I was holding back a lot of what I wanted to say, fearing that I would hurt someone. However, that is not healthy for any friendship. We all must understand that communication is key, but so is listening to each other’s opinion. By talking with my friends, our friendship kept getting stronger, and I was glad. Something that we should all do with our friends (and those we do not call friends too):

  1. Be Honest
  2. Be Loving
  3. Be Loyal
  4. Be Compassionate
  5. Be Kind

If you cannot talk to your friends about the good, the bad, and the ugly, are they even your friends? Are you even theirs?

In friendship, no one is a burden, and YOU most definitely are not a burden to me.

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The Far Away Friends

Now, these friends, they LITERALLY are far away. I have been lucky enough to be good friends with many people across the globe. However, I have made two special friends, a darling in the USA, and a sweetheart living in France. These are the friends I speak to once in awhile, and I know that, even though we may not be in  constant contact or be able to cross paths with day-in-day-out, we shall remain friends. They had a significant impact on me, during a part of my life when I had to experience change. These are the friends who helped those changes bearable.

This also includes my secondary school friends, who are all now at different universities, or working, and still smashing life!

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The Ones Who Left

Theses friends were always meant to leave my life. They served their purpose and I realised – now looking back – the only way for any of us to move on and into the future, was by letting go. I learned a lot from these former friends. I learned about who I wanted to be, and that was, I no longer wanted to be the person I was, when with them. Although, without them, I would not be the person that I am today, and I can’t thank them enough for opening my eyes and making me wake-up before it was too late. Of course, sometimes I would like to know how they are doing with their lives, but I do not think I will ever know. So with these friends, it is best to say goodbye and, in the words of Walter Disney, “Keep Moving Forward.”

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Childhood Friends

Meeting each other so early in life, and still being connected, is an absolute honour. My girls are absolutely amazing. Be jealous. These are the friends who know WAY too much about you, and have witnessed enough of your life to write an embarrassing book documenting it all! Goodness Gracious. Nonetheless, you know that there will always be a special place in your heart for them, and that even when difficulties arise, you were meant to be friends forever. (Sorry, you’re stuck with me *gives a cheeky smirk*).

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Family

One of the best gifts in life, is being able to call your family members, your friends. My mother and sisters are true gifts from God Himself. Before anything else, they are my family first, but I have the privilege to also call them my friends. They make me laugh, they make me cry, and they make me feel loved, more than I deserve.

And The Rest…

You have many different types of friends, and perhaps you have not worked out the purpose of them being in your life just yet, but in the end, you know that you love them all.

Friends are gifts, so make sure you cherish each and every one of them. Look after them, and they will look after you. Soon you will realise that, even though life may be hard, it is less harder with your friends around to support you.

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” – Proverbs 17:17