Destruction Squad

The longing to fit in will make people do crazy things. From humiliating themselves, committing crimes to denying one’s beliefs. All of that sacrifice and for what? For a group of people to recognize you as one of their own? To be a part of “something bigger than myself?” What is your ultimate intention? It drives me crazy when I watch people go above and beyond to be a part of what they consider as the “in-group.”
Of course, I have experienced this and quite frankly disengaged myself from it before something bad happened. Take pledging for a sorority or fraternity as an example. The pledging process often encompasses long nights of “team building” activities which can go from “drinking your heart out” to “scavenger hunts.” I remember hiding a paper of “rules” in my undergarment simply because it had to be on me at all times. We have all seen one too many reports on pledgers who have died because they did something stupid. That made my “paper in bra” situation seem like child’s play.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the idea or sororities and fraternities, especially for what they claim to be. A family that sticks together, learns together and lives together. These organizations are great when it comes to finding the people who relates to you the most, making college life easier. Unfortunately, not anymore. Instead of relating to each other while retaining one’s identity, the pledging process often strip one’s identity only to replace it with the identity of the group. So much for “finding yourself” in college.
To me, that was something that I was not willing to participate. Around campus, you don’t see the person for who they are anymore. You recognize them by which sorority or fraternity that they are in. With that comes the stereotypes. “Oh that sorority is all about boys, so she must date a lot of boys,” or “Those guys are known for partying all night long, that is why our friend here looks like he is nursing a bad hangover,” when in reality, they are just assumptions. Those “assumptions” as we know it are dangerous when it comes to making friends.
I had my share of experience when a group of girls and I decided to start our own sorority. Needless to say, it did not end well. For what reason, it shall still be a mystery. I have theories, obviously, but thinking back, I am relieved that we did not make it. We were a diverse bunch. We were almost different in every way possible. We found that we did not fit into the “traditional” ideal sorority, not for lack of trying. We had this vision that whomever who wanted to join us did not have to be like us. They simply had to be with us. We wanted to celebrate individuality.
This is the problem with traditions and customs of a group. In order to be a part of it, you have to forsake our individuality. It is almost like becoming a soldier. You follow orders, period. In this case, you follow the traditions and cultures of the group, no matter how distasteful they may be. It could be my upbringing that has made me question my actions. One of the familiar phrases I would hear as I grew up were, “What are you going to do if your friend jumped off a bridge? Are you going to follow?”
My goal is not to discourage you from being a part of any group or organization. I simply ask that you remain cautious. I have known a few sororities and fraternities that have achieved and earned respect and loyalty. I also know a few that are on the path to destruction. The key is to be vigilant and to differentiate the bad from the good. Always hold on to your identity and never let anyone take that away from you. When you are calling the shots, you will be able to tell the right from wrong.

Dreams That Kill

Dreams will always be better than reality. Why? We can always control our dreams. Reality can be a little tricky. Actually, reality is a whole lot of tricky-ness. Reality, unlike dreams are hard to control. We have parents, friends, governments and nature that go against our wishes.

Instead of being a successful millionaire with a model wife, a mansion and a Ferrari, you are stuck with an average office job that pays most of the bills, a nagging wife, a small-ish apartment and a junk you call a car. Reality can be really unfair at times. Just ask everyone.

However, we do have a ray of sunshine in the midst of the darkness that is our reality. It is human nature to want more than we have. Greed runs deep in our DNA. We are never satisfied with what we have, even if what we have is more than we deserve to have. Therefore, even those with the best realities will never be satisfied because their dreams will always be better.

Now ain’t that a kick when you are already on the ground. Apologies, but my point still stands. Why expect reality to be better than you dream when it never will? Repeat after me: My reality will never be better than my dreams and if it does, I am dead. Congratulations, you have just accomplished the first level in “Mission Make Myself Happier.”

Next step is to evaluate your reality. Separate the elements in which you can control from the ones that you can’t. From there, make the necessary adjustments to the elements that you can control. Certain changes could very well change your outlook in life, no matter how small they are.

Don’t like how you dress? Switch them up! Try a new look. Get some advice from a fashionable friend. The better you feel outside, the better your insides would feel. How about jobs? If you really don’t like your job now and have the chance to get a better one, why not? You spend most of the day working, might as well do that and be happy.

For the elements that you can’t control, listen to the wise words of The Beatles, let it be. Mother nature raining on your parade, literally, let it be. Friend stood you up because their ex-husbands nephew’s fish died, let it be. Parents decide to go to Hawaii and not bring you along, let it be.

At night, dream. Be the King of that  European Kingdom, be the mermaid, be the billionaire but when you wake up, leave all that behind. Do not let the waters of the virtual world spill over into reality because if you do, there is no turning back. It is like entering a blackhole. There is no way out.

Men, It Is Time

Men, when was the last time that you looked over your shoulder as you walked down a street, afraid that someone might be following you? When was the last time you held your bag tightly across your chest wherever you went in fear of someone pulling it away? When was the last time you doubted if that girl you liked was a sexual offender? When was the last time you were afraid to reject the advances of another girl because you feared she might hurt you?
Now, I am not saying that all men don’t feel that way, but majority of you don’t. I do not blame you. In fact, women don’t blame men for any of the unfortunate circumstances that has befallen us. Believe me when I say that there are great men out there who are protectors and would do anything to protect women  from being hurt. However, that is not my point. My point is that sometimes, men see the intention in other men easier than a women can.
For example, you, a college student knows this one acquaintance of yours that verbally assaults his girlfriend. You have probably heard him call her names or maybe seen him shove her around. You know that his intention is bad, yet what do you do? Do you walk away and say “their relationship, their problem” or do you stand up and confront him about his behavior? Would you go out of your way to protect a girl that you did not know?
Another example, you are a father. You have a son. You overhear him talking about how he would continue to pester that girl that he likes until she would go out with him. Do you say “you do that son, don’t take no for an answer,” or do you say “if she says no, you leave her alone, am I clear?” Does it occur to you that if that girl was your daughter, you would want her crush’s father to protect her from his son?
I am not saying that women need a 24/7 protection detail from all men. Over the years, women have learnt many ways to protect ourselves from predators. We have learned to run, yell, kick, and scratch, but the truth is that the number of assaults and harassment are not decreasing. Predators will always find different ways to incapacitate women or overpower women. There is only so much we can do to protect ourselves.
What we need from men at this time is your cooperation. To all men, we need you to be on our side, fighting with us. We need you to be stand with us in this war. We need you to open your eyes, to see the danger that we see. We need you to stand up to other men whose intentions are malicious. We need to know that we are not alone in this fight. We need to know that you have our backs. We have been hurt for too long. Men, it is time we all put an end to it, together.

Scratch Those Gender Roles

I think no one would be surprised if they knew that I have already planned my wedding. Allow me to share. The reception will be inside a glass building so we can see the beauty of winter. A winter wedding. The colors are deep red and silver. Check out my Pinterest for more information.

As of now, I am still single and enjoying it. For as long as I can remember, growing up included growing up, getting a job and getting married. Sometimes, it seemed like getting married was more important than everything else.

Think about it. We were raised to be obedient, to learn how to take care of the house, to learn how to cook, and to learn how to care for the young. While we are doing that, the boys are out playing, learning and exploring.

That brings me to my point today. What if boys and girls were raised without gender roles? What if both boys and girls were taught to explore, learn and also take care of a home? Will they grow up to be different from us?

Gender roles were important in the past when men were the majority of people who hunted or worked. Women were “in charge” of the home and caregiving. Now, times are different. Both women and men work. This means that the way we raise our children should also be different.

In fact, now would be the time to teach and raise boys and girls the same way. Now wont  that make everything easier for everyone? No more “Why do I have to wash the dished but brother doesn’t need to?” or “Why can’t I play with dolls like sister does?” This is the time for boys and girls to be raised equally as it is for men and women to be treated equally.

The change would be resisted by many, especially the older generation. I do not blame them. Boys playing with dolls and girls playing with trucks, that is madness. Well, at least to them it is. Slowly but surely, the change will be accepted but we must take the first step towards a better future.

Women: We Come in All Sizes

Today was just amazing. The weather was nice, the sun was out and the city was buzzing. It was the perfect day for an outing. So that was exactly what I did.
However, going out shopping while unemployed is not a good idea. It was rather excruciating. Although, browsing through Forever 21 made it better. The clothes are way too small for someone like me. It is like the whole store was meant for kids. How sad.
When will they understand that beauty comes in all sizes? Not only it will increase business and subsequently increase profit, it will also include the whole population of women.
For me, the future would be better when clothing stores like H&M and Forever 21 sells clothing that goes from XXS to XXL. My dreams are so small sometime, but when you look at the big picture, it is not so small anymore.
We all understand that health comes first. We also know that getting from XXL to M requires time and effort. You can’t do that in a week. This brings me to my concern. Do you expect me and other women to go naked or seriously unfashionable during those hard months?
For one, losing weight is hard enough. Add on the haters that we all know and love, life is like hell. We deserve to look and feel beautiful on our journey to health and wellness. Wearing beautiful and fashionable clothes are a great incentive to losing weight and cultivating self-love.
Second, for those who are comfortable with how they look, they too deserve to look like a superstar! Let us stop this discrimination. Young girls deserve to grow up loving their bodies. The only way to do that is to surround them with women who love their bodies. We can’t do that when half the women in the world are not comfortable with what they wear.
The point is, we all deserve to look and feel beautiful. We deserve to wear the same fashionable clothing like our smaller sisters. We deserve to walk down the street and admire our reflection in the window. We deserve to love what we wear and be confident in it.


Music To My Ears

It seems that the one thing that was missing recently was music. I remember my days in Brickfields, KL, when I would walk to college. For about 10 minutes, I would be walking with earphones in my ear.

Today, I decided to do just that, go out and explore with my earphones in my ears. Ah, all the memories came back, hitting me like a truck!

Big Bang, one of my favorite K-pop bands had me going today. I almost danced! After that, I had some nice fried chicken. Although, KFC is not as good without chili sauce. Bummer, but the walk home made it all better.

That is the beauty of music. It brings back good memories. Sometimes, that is all we need at that time. Happiness is not supposed to be that permanent. That is why we have an array of emotions.

Tomorrow’s challenge for everyone! Find a song that brings back good memories and just bask in the happiness that it brings. You are most welcome!

Milestone Achieved

My hands shook a little as I held my certificate from the university. Finally, I have graduated (officially)! I almost cried.
Well, let’s start from the beginning. I have always doubted my abilities. I wasn’t always as confident as I am today. You may think, “What? That is not true!” You are partially right. I do not act that way but inside, things are different than what they seem. Also, I am good at acting. If life did not work out, my plan is to go straight to Hollywood. True story.
In October of 2013, I started taking classes in SEGi. I was thrilled. I was finally a university student. The last stage before working. I was excited for the next four years. Thinking back, I wished I had spent more time studying and making friends. Thank God I did not have Netflix until last year.
These past four years have been amazing. The people I have met since day one of my degree has changed my life for the better. Friends back in Malaysia, you guys rock! Not only that, you guys have been my rock. Being so far from home, they have been my family. They are the ones I eat and laugh with. Those are the memories that I will cherish forever.
August 2016, I said goodbye to my home and friends and flew like a bird. My dream became a reality. Transferring to the Fayette campus changed my life forever. Here in the United States of America, I found my second home. The people here are amazing, the air here is different, and the weather is magnificent. Unfortunately, the food is better back home.
Fast forward to today when I got my certificate. It has been a long journey to success, one that I will be eternally grateful for. Education is a luxury and I intend on using what I have learned to give back to the community wherever I go. Last but not least, I thank God for giving me everything that I have and everything that I will have in the future. I could not have achieved everything I have without God’s grace.

You Too Will Bloom

All my life, all I remember is constantly comparing myself to this one person that is always one step ahead or one level ahead of me. In every stage of my life, there will always be that one person that I am constantly competing with. Obviously, no one knew. To everyone, Ann is just that “happy go lucky girl” that is always content with that she has.
Part of that is true. Thanks mum and dad for naming me Yi En which means “contented grace.” It is true, I do not need much to be content with life. As long as I get to do what I love and I have everything a basic human needs, I am content. Sometimes, I wish I was more driven. Maybe I could have achieved more.
Other times, I am just questioning. When will I bloom like her? When will I achieve success like him? When will I be able to stop wanting? Finally, I realized that just as the flower blooms at it’s own time, so will I. Up till now, I have no regrets on the timing of my successes and failures. It has made me who I am.
Maybe it is time for me to stop looking everywhere else and start looking within me. What can I do better? What do I love? What do I want to do with my life? Focus on myself blooming and not the other flower next to me. Time is too precious to waste on someone else because every moment spent of them are moments not spent on me.

Don’t Force Life

They say, “Don’t force love.” That is true. Another thing  we should not force is life. Sometimes, things are just not met to be no matter how much we want it to happen.

Just like how I really wanted this job and got the dreadful email that they have chosen someone else. Naturally, I was devastated. I proceeded to have lunch because only food can bring be back to the land of happiness.

Right as I took my first bite, I got a call from another job. They wanted a phone interview. I was thrilled! It is true when they say “When life closes a door, it opens a window somewhere.”

Although, there are some times where you need to fight for what you want. Fight but don’t force. There is a difference. Fight hard, but if your gut is telling you otherwise, then stop. Too much fighting can take the life out of you.

Instead, take life one step at a time. That will ensure that you enjoy every second of it. Taking two steps or more at a time is risky. You could fall down and be lower than where you started.

Life is short. Enjoy every moment. Let it flow, don’t force it. Set it free!

You Are Not What You Have

It started with a trip downtown to Target for a comforter. Just like any shopper, I walked in and instantly felt more alive than I did in the morning. Shopping malls can do that to a person. Someone ought to research why. For me, it was the sense that I could have it all. The possibility of “having it all” made me feel good. Who would not feel good if they had it all?

Knowing I was here on a mission to get a comforter, I made a beeline to the bedding section. In no time, I found what I was looking for and made necessary calculations in my head like a good Chinese. Once I made the perfect choice aka the cheapest one, I made another beeline to the cashier.

After exiting Target, my shopper radar alerted me to the many other shops in the area. I had to make a choice. Shop more or go home? I chose the latter. It seemed less painful for the future me. Then my tummy made a noise, like a whimper a child makes when he or she needs something. I stopped and looked around. Panda Express! I was thrilled and so was my tummy. That was a good decision.

In the train, I wondered to myself, why I felt the need to have it all. It reminded me of a friend I had that would spend money to buy a plain t-shirt with a brand name. As he said, it is a “plain and inexpensive black t-shirt”, but slap on the brand name and you have a “plain and expensive black t-shirt.”

I was baffled. He said that those who knew about street wear would understand. I thought to myself, why would I spend my hard earned money or in this case, my parent’s hard earned money to please strangers that I do not know? I would not make a difference to their lives or mine. There lies the epiphany to my question.

It is a vicious cycle. We value others by what they have and they in turn value us by what we have. That gives birth to the need to have it all and in result, be valued by others. Once I understood that, I said to myself, “Ann, the next time you look at someone or meet someone, know that their value is not in what they have but what they are.”