16 – A lot has been going on [Let’s Be Honest]

 Again, I haven’t written in a while and I was going to apologise for it, but instead I’m just going to tell you that a lot has been going on lately. 

     No, it’s not the Final Year at University started and I have so much other things happening whilst trying to start writing my thesis excuse – which to be fair can be applicable to my life because I haven’t started writing my thesis *YAY*. Muddled with that is a sense of hopelessness I’ve been feeling for a very long while: it feels as though nothing great is happening in my life; that everything (including myself) is falling apart; that I’m not able to finish and successfully complete my studies; that the road is so bleak that I’m almost certain I’m going to be doing something I don’t like – and the list goes on. 

     I think the most frustrating part about all of this is not that I feel this way, even though it’s not a wonderful experience feeling like this. The most difficult part of it all underneath this dirt pile of emotions is the knowledge that life isn’t this way: I know that everything will fall in to place; I am going to recover from heartbreak and will love myself because I am worthy of such things. But it’s like I’m constantly wearing glasses with small and black lenses: seeing things through a negative and narrow perspective: and it’s taking a toll on my mental health, my passions and hobbies, and also my relationship with people and with God. 

     At this point of the blog, I usually write about what I can do in such situations, but instead I am going to share some photos I found myself, and others which friends sent me to help me feel better. And after compiling them, I should prioritise reading them more often and taking them seriously.

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     I don’t know what is going to happen in a year’s time, but I know that life isn’t all that bad: it’s just taking time to forgive myself, believe in myself and adjust to a better pair of glasses.

     Here’s to myself getting through these circumstances, and here’s to you getting through life: whoever you are, whatever you’re going through! I hope you can find the above pictures helpful.

     And it’s back to reality to start writing my thesis. Happy reading.

Mer. xx


 

 

 

 

 

 

15 – Letting Go [Let’s Talk About It]

     Apologies for not writing in a long while: Summer has indeed been a hectic one >< but as it’s reaching its final moments, I am grateful for the things I’ve got to experience 🙂 in the Salesian community as a volunteer; with my friends who stuck by my side through thick and thin, and through so much more. Despite this good chaos, Summer has given me more time to face my problems, challenge myself and learn throughout the process – and I’ve been learning a thing or three about letting go: more specifically, letting go of people who were once significant in my life.  

     Letting go does have a ring to it: sounds like the most freeing activity to do for yourself. Although  IT CAN be the case, it has possibly been the most emotionally taxing experience for me to go through. And yes, it has also involved numerous arguments with my brain not to think about those people, several battles with my heart to stop dwelling in negative and self-pity emotions and countless spontaneous bursts of crying. 

     It is no fun cutting ties from anyone you know for various reasons. It is less fun cutting ties permanently from someone you potentially saw yourself talking to for years to come. It’s tough (and emotionally excruciating) realising that people who have once meant so much to you are now people you used to know, and seeing them in public is a painful and personal reminder that they’re to be acknowledged as strangers at all times. Nope, it’s definitely no fun – but I’m realising that it’s best to focus on why you’re doing so, rather that focusing on whom you’re letting go.  

     The first lesson I’m learning is that it’s an opportunity to learn how to put myself first.  I have a very bad habit of placing everyone else before me, and specifically put people who couldn’t give an eyelash about me on pedestals because they have influenced my life positively for a short while. But wasting my mental and emotional energy to keep people who clearly seem better off without me has been tiring, and I am realising I could transfer that energy I use chasing after them to self-care, and hopefully one day, I could love myself properly. 

     Another lesson I’m still accepting is that those people who are better off without me have the right to feel that way. It’s useless being angry because they were the first to cut ties from me. I wish I’d known why they do it in the first place, but it could ultimately be for good reasons, and no one is to judge them or their decisions. Thankfully, they are indirectly allowing space for actually significant people to enter your life, and they no longer have the permission to play around with your feelings. Also, if caring about them didn’t bring them back in the first place, then surely anger will only distance them further and will only make you feel bitter. 

      The final [and perhaps the hardest but most important thing] I am learning whilst letting go is that I’ve ultimately done nothing wrong. Most of the time, I do apologise whenever I realise I might have hurt someone through my own words or actions, but I’ve noticed that sometimes even after doing so, friendships and relationships aren’t meant to happen in the first place. And it’s not because I posses an innate disposition to desist people away from me;  it’s not because I’ve done something wrong which forced them to cut ties from me; and it’s certainly not because I have something faulty with who I am. I still like to be known as the genuine, caring and loving girl, and I should no longer keep perceiving myself as the cause of such unfortunate endings.  

     Life throws situations at us which 90% percent of the time we cannot grasp what happened and why it did. I wish I had the answers to both questions, but wondering about them refrains us from living life with people who should matter to us. And to those whom I’m letting go of –  I thank you for your influence in my life, and I wish nothing but happiness for you. But it’s now time to shift attention towards those who put the effort to stay in my life; and towards myself and my own needs. It’s about time I start loving myself wholeheartedly!


 

 

14 – Belgium: Seizing the Moment and Life’s Second Chances.

     I’m writing this on an airplaine, with less than an hour away from landing in Belgium: or also known as possibly one of my most favourite countries to visit yet 😄 and it’s probably no surprise to any of my friends back home that I’m travelling here: my friends got fed up hearing me gloat over how good Speculoos is 😂

    This is not the first time I’m travelling here: my sister decided to join me, making it our first sister trip together. But the last time I was here, I wasn’t on holiday with any family member, nor on a summer break with my friends. It was my first solo trip, and I learnt the news less than 2 weeks prior a project I was solely travelling for started! 

     For 19 summer days, I was sent to Belgium for a European Voluntary Service project to serve as an animator in a Salesian playground with other Salesian animators. It was also an opportunity to make friends with other international Salesian animators and youth wjo also participated in this project and some whom I still keep in touch with to this day!

     Although I still mention how great the two weeks I spent there were (and they truly were great), it was perhaps the most challenging experience for me personally. Firstly, spending about two weeks with children, youth and adults who don’t speak in your native language was an unexpected hard nut to crack! Yes, I was able to speak English to almost everyone, but some we’re too afraid to talk in English out of ridicule, which forced me to sometimes interrupt Belgian conversations in English. Moreover, most children didn’t speak English, and some also came from the French region, so they were only able to speak French! This took me out of my comfort zone to think of different ways of communicating with them non-verbally to get over language barriers!

     A second reason it was challenging for me to experience because of what was going back home. It’s not that anything bad was going on, but I did miss it, and longed for it badly. But looking back, the worst mistake I committed whilst staying in Belgium was that I spent almost everyday thinking about what was going to happen when I return back home instead of living in the moment. Although the experience was a tough one and didn’t help me not miss home more, it was bad for focusing on it because when I did come back home: the thing I yearned most for was no longer there. And I couldn’t do anything to bring that back, not could I bring back the time I spent in Belgium again.

     I might be travelling here to celebrate one special moment with a Salesian brother I got to know on the playground last year, but I guess it’s a second chance for me to make new memories and not fall into the worry about people and life back home trap and just live in the present moment – and I promise I will not waste this moment time round 😊

   

13 – Empathy > Political Division [Let’s Talk About It]

     This is not my usual kind of post, but I guess there’s a first time for everything… 

     Prior last weekend, I relatively kept quiet about my political views. Inevitably, there where a few times I expressed my opinions and stuck by them (like I still do now) – but I like to see myself as someone who listens to everyone and tries to understand their perspective, rather than instantly labelling them as nagħaġ għomja and injoranti (Blind Sheep and Ignorant People for the non-Maltese speakers).

     Without a doubt, this has been one of the most controversial campaigns Malta has witnessed – after a snap election came out of the blue, the electorate had to choose who could lead the party between practically one of two parties in a span of 32 days (they are respectively called Majority and Minority for this post). The Majority won the General Election for the second consecutive time: and surprisingly, by another landslide of around 34,000 votes!

     Siding with the Minority, the result shook me: particularly because differently to what I thought, the race was not a close call at all! It left me emotionally drained throughout the whole day – and together with the loud celebrations following the result announcement, it definitely did not help me revise or an exam the next day. I couldn’t understand how this happened: how the Majority couldn’t see the things the same way I and several others saw them. Are we stupid? Are we ignorant? Should we be humiliated for being in the Minority? Does this make our reasoning to being in this position any less valid?  

I expressed my shock on Facebook and people who voted for the Majority didn’t hold back from commenting (as it is their right to do so). This included one of my good friends: who like me was a first time voter but unlike most people, he was not biased or affiliated with any party: he solely weighed out the pros and cons of the two sides and voted accordingly. After commenting and replying back to others perceiving the political situation differently, I spoke to him, telling him I hope we’re on good terms despite not agreeing, to which he replied:

Of course, why would you think otherwise?

     Feeling slightly relieved, I went on expressing myself: telling him about how I felt disheartened at how some Majority supporters were humiliating the Minority after a second landslide win; how I took this loss badly, and how I didn’t want to lose our friendship. The next 30 minutes were spent talking politics in spite of the different lenses we might be wearing. We disagreed on some aspects, but we also agreed that both Majority and Minority are wrong in others. I did not disregard his views, and he didn’t humiliate mine. I allowed him to vent out as much as he gave me permission to express my concerns about the country’s future: and we both shared valid points. Towards the end of the conversation, he thanked me for allowing him to discuss such a thing with me, as he hadn’t had the chance to do so with any of his friends. 

    This lifted a weight off my shoulder, and made me feel a bit more hopeful about people. I rarely see individuals of different opinions discuss such issues as delicate as politics in a civilised manner: unfortunately colourful words like Chicken and Giddieba (liars) and Falluti (failures) are still used by people when someone disagrees completely with them. But the conversation didn’t include any of this vocabulary. We didn’t offend the opposing political leaders despite opposing values, and we didn’t even dare dismiss each other’s opinion or cut each other’s statement off. Instead, we both took a step back, and tried to understand each other’s point of view without making our responses feel any less invalid. 

  At the end of the day, we all end up living together: if not on the same island, on the same planet – and in this apparent hell we live in, we need each other more than ever! Everyone voted according to what they thought was best: and Democracy requires to respect the electorate result, whether it is something one likes or is disgusted by. It’s time for people to reach out for their friends who might see things from the other side, and acknowledge their feelings about this election, no matter what they are, even if you can’t fully understand why they’re feeling so. And I first step back and apologise to anyone who I might have hurt through expressing my opinion negatively, or through disregarding their own. It’s also time that both winning and losing politicians seek out to those who might not disagree with them: the only way I believe that a country can truly unite is through talking and understanding the people’s concerns and viewpoints, and feeling comfortable at first hand (I know it’s muuuch easier said than done, but I doubt it’s impossible).

     Elections come and go, and even though one might consider the two consecutive losses suffered by the Minority as tragic, there’s nothing worse than losing a friendship after not adequately listening to their opinion well, and not putting oneself in their shoes. And to the friend I had the conversation with: thank you for restoring a bit of my faith in humanity – you are a friend to keep!


12 – To my Friends [a thank you note]

There are people in life who end up leaving you
And you don’t know when you’ll get to see them again
Sometimes, you don’t know if you’ll ever get to
But then there are others who check up on you,
even if you haven’t seen them in ages
and they are willing to sit down and listen
in spite of not understanding the way your mind works
and there are those willing get lost with you
in order to help you get back on track

Who are willing to step out of the periphery
so you don’t have to stand alone.

Remember, there are those who want to see you smile again.
And although you might be thankful for what the goners have left you,
the more you  should be thankful for those who remained
for they chose you above all the things you see wrong in yourself.

So, for those dear to me, near and far:
Know that there are people who broke me,
but your friendship is the glue keeping me together
no matter how many times I fall apart.
Thank you for choosing to stay.
Thank you for choosing me.


 

11 – I’m Getting (b)Older [a look back at being 19]

Before Reading On:
This post is a tiny bit longer than the usual – don’t say I didn’t warn you 😛 


     In less than a week, I’ll be celebrating my birthday *blows party poppers everywhere such fun much party wooooo* BUT this year, it won’t only mean that I’ll be getting a year older. It also means that I will bidding farewell to the “teen” years once and for all, and welcome with open arms the beginning of a third decade – I’M TURNING TWENTY!!!!! (Okay – maybe I don’t need to make such a big deal out of this ><)

    I’ve always felt the apparent inconsistency between how old I feel and the actual time I spent on earth since I escaped from my mother’s womb (i.e. my actual age in simpler English 😛 ).  And although I’m expecting to be the same scenario this year, I simultaneously also feel that this birthday will be different from the usual [ NOT because I’m going to miss writing teen after a single digit, and NEITHER because it shall be the first time I’ll be celebrating it away from home]. 

     Throughout the past few weeks, I reflected upon how I started my 19th year of living on this earth. I still remember how I felt (which pretty much was how I felt for the majority of my “teenager” life) – like an emotional wreck of irrational thoughts, helplessness and self-sabotage. Even though I had been getting help to control my anxiety, I started my 19th year feeling as though there was no way to get out from rock bottom. And less than 365 days later (and to my surprise), I don’t feel that way anymore! 

     Without denying the growth I made from one previous birthday to another, the past year was the most pivotal year for me. Even though the majority of it surrounded one particular yet impacting event, such beautiful and bitter experiences have changed me into someone I never thought I’d see myself become a year ago. Some events have brought out the uglier side to me, but that in itself challenged me and brought me out of my comfort zone to a whole other level: they made me grow a tougher skin; I was forced to realise my mistakes and my negative thinking styles even more; I got to recognise who the right people in my life are. Other experiences revolved around new opportunities, many firsts and the chance to express myself more – particularly through writing. And despite the amount of pain I felt getting through most of the year, being 19 has moulded me into a calmer and more self-controlled girl who is able to look at herself in a better light than she used to a few years back. She’s become more assertive and more honest with herself and with the people around her. And Instead of waking up with a mind heavy laden with irrational thoughts, she is now able to start afresh every morning – something which I never thought I would be able to accomplish. 

     I should give credit to myself for allowing myself to be open to experience all of this, but I shouldn’t forget to acknowledge those who were a part of it in some way or another:

to my family
     Mum, Dad, my sisters – even though our family isn’t the typical one, I thank each and every one of you for being there for me in spite of the chaos we might have going on in our lives. From giving me constant lifts from one place to another, to supporting me in what I do and for believing in me, to even putting up with my consistent mess: thank you for being a shoulder to cry on and for understanding me, and I apologise if I weren’t the same to you.

to my friends
     You are a diverse and a large bunch: from the course-mates I get to see every day, to those I meet once every blue moon but still try my best to keep in touch – whichever category you fall in, I am grateful for every single one of you. I call myself lucky to know many people whom I know I can count on no matter what. I may have shown my ugly and being a pain in the butt side more than my best side throughout the past year, but in spite of this you put up with my nagging, whining and problems, and I couldn’t be any more grateful for you. Thank you for being such amazing and important people in my life, and I hope I get to be as half an amazing friend as you were with me: you know who you are!

to those who have hurt me and/or don’t talk to me anymore
     You’re a small group (thankfully), but you were the most influential group of people throughout the year. I share great memories with some of you: a few of which I wouldn’t trade them with anything else. I also know that your actions may have no bad intention attached to them – which is why I still perceive you in good light. And even if you did such actions with bad intentions – I still thank you. You may have inflicted wounds in me, but through them you have inflicted in me a sense of growth: in strength, in knowledge about myself, and in the many lessons which followed the pain. I also acknowledge that your actions may have been a result of my wrong doings, and I apologise if that’s the case for it was never my intention to hurt your feelings.

to God
     Thank You for being my rock to fall on when everything seemed impossible. You’re the One who never gave up on me and that I can trust with my whole life. Your love and mercy is key in making me get through life, and I know I can’t get through this without You! 

to any one reading this
     I don’t know exactly how many people read my blog, but if you do fall under that category I thank you: even if it’s your first time today. Starting this page was only a means to get through what life was throwing at me, and now it has become a platform where I could use my writing to challenge opinions and relate to others who go through similar experiences. Such a blog would cease without you reading it in the first place, and I thank you for giving it a chance 🙂  

     I may not be the 20 year-old I envisioned myself to be when I was a child (i.e. being employed and licensed ><), but I have achieved so much more than I thought I would. For the first time in a long time, I can say I am happy with who I am and where I am, which doesn’t mean I’m constantly serene and joyous. Life still manages to make it hard for me to handle at times: I still make mistakes, I still tend to be hard on myself, and I still say stupid things and act stupidly. I’m still getting to know my likes and dislikes, my dreams and ambitions, and I still have many uncertainties about where my life is heading. Yet in the presence of all this chaos – I am coping, I am learning, I am living – and those are the best gifts I could ever receive 🙂

    There are some people who perceive turning twenty as getting older, and even though it’s true and sounds scary, I feel as though life is only beginning for me, and I look forward to see what it has in store for me! To more years of failing, learning and living through life – and a genuine happy birthday to me ^.^


 

10 – It’s a Man (and a Woman)’s World [an open letter to boys]

Before reading on:
This is not addressed to all who classify themselves as males, and I know men who take such issues seriously and have joined the conversation of gender equality and I am grateful that this is happening! This is my opinion, and yes if you share a different side you may share your arguments with me. I wanted to write this to clarify the reasons why days like International Women’s Day exist in the first place, and I hope I managed to convey that through this post. 

Dear boys: we meet again!

     This time round I did not prepare another rant about your doings like I did last November. Instead, I thought it would be best to talk to you about things which I personally think concern you as much as they concern women, even though they might not appear so at first glance!

     It may appear ironic to address this to you on International Women’s Day: I should pay tribute the women who overcame obstacles to arrive at where they want to be. I should mention how women received backlash or were judged because of what they say or do is a “man’s job”. I should celebrate the accomplishments we as women achieved to reduce gender inequality, particularly within in the working sector.  However, I still do believe that more needs to be done to improve women’s issues in different domains of life, especially in everyday interactions between both sexes: and hence, that’s where I’d like you to join the picture!

     Women are passionate when it comes to being vocal and standing up for their own rights, and not only because they had to do so in order to be taken seriously! Most women feel comfortable in expressing their feelings, especially when such matters are significant to them. However, some boys may perceive this as being too self-centred, attention-seeking, or too selfish to acknowledge the other sex’s needs or concerns about problems they encounter on a daily basis. Some boys might also look at women being vocal as their pass-time to shoot down  their emotions and shift the blame onto them. Although I do not deny the possibility that some women do voice out women’s issues to make men feel inferior, I – a 19 year old girl who does take women issues seriously – don’t and would never identify with such women who aim at making you feel inferior. 

      I genuinely do like hanging out with you boys ( and not due to the obvious fact that I tend to be attracted to men) It’s because you can be great people to talk to and to befriend: from the laissez faire quality you possess, to the chilled aura you give off, apart from the pretty amusing things your mouths blurt out from time to time which crack me up – Such qualities are a recipe for fun and drama free company. And at times, an anxious girl like me appreciates qualities like that, because it means that you don’t care about other’s opinions whilst having fun. Yes, there are things you do which I despise and irritate me a lot, but I feel that the worst thing is that sometimes, it’s as though you’re taken aback or choose to take this piss whenever I mention such matters to you: and I don’t know why – perhaps because you think it’s funny or I’m exaggerating? Or maybe you actually feel intimidated when confronting you? 

     The only reason why I address you on such things is not because I have the pleasure in making you look bad, or that I love making you feel inferior: I believe that you can do more to improve the present situation us women are in. This also applies to why we are constantly vocal about such issues: it’s because we believe that such things could be better for everyone to live without prejudice, and men are able to contribute in minimising this gender gap. Do know that you TOO have every right to voice your struggles on problems, particularly about gender equality, especially if us women are not aware of the – NO GENDER should refrain from voicing their concerns about any VALID issue or problem they are facing, irrespective of which gonads they end up developing when they grow up. As a young woman, I want you too to join this conversation and speak up for your problems, and to express your opinions whenever you feel like too, without feeling as though you’re being threatened.

     I know this might seem like a far-fetched Utopian dream which can never come true, and probably there are still going to be some of you who think that women thrive for a constant battle of the sexes so that we could eventually destroy you and take the podium of authority. I want future generations to live in a world where personal traits aren’t classified by sex and where abilities are fairly praised not based on who managed to grow a pair of balls or breasts. And I believe this could only happen if both men and women start engaging in an honest and open discussion about what could be done to improve the world for the benefit of BOTH genders. Yes, there might be differences still persisting between us and they may never diminish even if we discuss such gender issues, but at least it would give us a chance to understand each other’s positions instead of growing a rivalry out of pointless chauvinism!

     If you hold a view different from this, don’t hesitate to share your arguments with me. I am still learning new things everyday, and there’s nothing wrong in discussing such issues!

 

sincerely, a girl.