Well, shit. It’s been half a decade since we used to wake up for 7am assemblies and saw each other every single damn weekday for four years straight and now it’s a once-a-year occurrence at best. But it’s crazier to think that though the previous craziness stands true, our loyalty for each other stands truer and truer than ever.
While we navigate our “adult” lives and make do with what we have for what we want, I see that it doesn’t matter how far we navigate from our years back then. Even without seeing all of you, our love runs deep and unscathed, not unlike a certain gem. I see it in the celebratory cheers on graduation photos. I see it in long list of congratulatory calls on any one of our engagement posts, a new job, a big move. I see it in the compassionate condolences when any one of us loses a much-loved soul. I see it everywhere and it’s a bright sight.
I say time and time again that it is the people in my life that make my life worth living and indubitably, my High School Class of Diamonds are those people. It is such a blessing for anyone to have a home, whether that’s in a place, a person or a group of people, or anything in particular; and Diamonds, all of you are my home and somehow you continue to give me a home in so many ways.
I could go to England, Korea, America or any corner of the world and somehow without ever having been there, I’d feel the familiarity of home with you lot. As I go through some of life’s hardest times and lose faith in what grounded me, I turn to a few of you and immediately I remember the gleaming faces of unconditional friends. When I need to get a tourist visa to go back to my own home country, you lot turn Thailand back into the nostalgic place where we grew up and where are memories are ingrained. Home is many things with you crazy kids; and that’s a priceless piece of truthful treasure most people dig around forever for. We are so lucky. I am so lucky.
Thank you, from the bottom of my ever-learning heart for teaching me what friendship can and should be. I hope, I trust, all of you stay true to our Class logo and shine in whatever way you desire. Music, engineering, art, aeronautics, sports, writing, medicine, culinary arts, biology whatever the hell it may me, never forget that Diamonds make it out as the renowned and adored stone under pressure; and that’s just as true as it is cliché.
My love for you all may fall out of sight every now and then but it will always rise up, not unlike a certain bird. I love you, Diamonds. Stay classy.
Holy shit, I am so proud of you. After the horrible, borderline traumatizing years that 2016 and 2017 were, what you made of 2018 is a proof to your strength and who you are as a person. You should be so proud of yourself.
2018 began with a break up, a much-needed one that honestly should’ve happened way earlier than it did. But as hard as it was to finally get out of that situation, you did it. The strength it took to leave an extremely unhealthy and albeit comfortable environment was exactly the right tone to set for your year ahead. It goes to show when you have selfish, toxic people in your life who pretend to care for you but are ultimately using you for their own happiness, advantage, or whatever, you lose yourself. And you lost yourself for two whole years, two whole years you will never get back. Two whole years you could’ve spent deepening the relationships that were important to you, being a positive light to those you cared for, and nourishing who you are as a person. You will likely hold this regret and battle with forgiving yourself for wasting your time and theirs for a very long time. But remember to find peace that that two years could’ve very easily turned into three, or four, a marriage, a lifetime. The fact that you got out when you did shows strength. Be proud of that. Cutting that person, that history, that life out of your new one brought back the real you after being absent for two years when it could’ve been much longer, so much longer you might’ve never come back.
With that relationship and every baggage that came with it that weighed you down for so long gone, you soared. You got to go home, reunite with your friends and family, the surest things in your life. You got to go to Japan and spend time with your Grandpa, one of the most important people in your life and the person you look up to most, and take him to your brother’s destination wedding and see real, healthy, nurturing, lasting love. All of this love made you so truly happy and you realised you weren’t happy at all the past couple of years. You thought you were because you were told you were supposed to be but that’s not how feelings work. You got to learn this valuable lesson from these people who are permanent to you, and you them, in every way this temporary life is. You learned that these are the type of people you want, need, in your life. And thanks to them, you were happy that after such a long time, you finally got yourself back.
I decided to write you this letter because my interaction with you made me realise that the way I present myself, particularly with the words I choose to say, may not be taken the way I intended them to be. You made me understand that my experience in choosing and saying my words is entirely different from your experience listening to them. So I want to apologise for our misunderstanding.
When you asked if you could have the asparaguses that were beside me after you paid for your groceries, I focused on the word “have”. That’s why I responded with, “Yes but you have to pay for them” to let you know that I couldn’t give them to you to have, you had to buy them. That’s all. I wasn’t implying you couldn’t pay for them nor did I think that you were homeless and I never meant to offend you in any way. I was just trying to do my job by letting you know you had to pay for the asparaguses, like any other grocery.
It didn’t occur to me that my response could be an offensive one at all until you responded to me, clearly angry, by calling me a “stupid person” and saying “Of course I’m going to pay for them. What? You think I’m stupid?” and going on about how a homeless person could be buying groceries or carrying a designer bag. I was honestly taken by surprise because I had no idea what set you off or where your words were coming from. That’s why I kept quiet and didn’t apologise then and there. I thought you were simply looking for something to be mad about and I didn’t feel any fault at the time. There was also a family with three kids right beside you so I didn’t want to say anything in case it fuelled you to say something I didn’t want the kids to hear.
Thinking back now, I realise that it was my words that set you off, even if that was not my intention. I thought about how the words I meant nothing by could’ve been taken as an insult and I realised my perception of the words are completely different from yours. Maybe you reacted sensitively because you’ve gone through tough times in your life, perhaps to do with homelessness or money problems. Perhaps it’s simply that you had already had rough day and were already on edge and what I said was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Maybe you lashed out because you were embarrassed. Maybe it’s none of these things but I realise now that it was something in your life experiences that made my words toxic to you. And I am so sorry about that.
Even more so, I am sorry I didn’t apologise then and there. I was worried about the kids but it would’ve been good for them to hear me apologise to you. I hope that your day picked up from there. And if anything, I hope you find comfort in the fact that you taught me a couple of valuable lessons hat day. So thank you.
Thank you so much. Your act of generosity and selfishness is something I will cherish and remember when I can be a Kind Stranger for someone else. Your action is a blessing, a lesson, a treasure, and an inspiration all in one. Kind Stranger, thank you. The ripple effect begins with you.
I have, with the universe to thank, only hit what I know as rock bottom once in my life and you were there for me. You were there when I had no friends nearby, not to their fault because they were all in a different country, to help me through my times. They were there to the best of their abilities via Skype calls and consoling messages. You were there when my supposed “one” let me down for one last time and left me to move out on my own of our shared apartment. Kind Stranger, I was crying so loud, the loudest I have ever let myself cry and it was echoing in our empty bedroom. I bawled, I couldn’t breathe, I broke down. I called my best friend in America and he calmed me down and lifted me up. But my face showed how broken I was in each shade of red, in both swollen eyes, and in the teary tracks.
You caught me in the elevator pushing my first load and made small talk with my palpable face. You asked me if I was moving and if I was okay, and when I told you why I was moving out on my own, you comforted saying, “You know, this is life. It happens but you have to remember to keep going and believe in yourself and the good in other people.” I thanked you because I knew deep down what you were saying was true but my heart was too broken to listen. Then despite my insistent declines, you pushed my cart to my new apartment a couple blocks down. Kind Stranger, I don’t think you know how close to crying I was again as you pushed my cart and I manoeuvred the front. Your kindness saved me. You are “the good in other people” I have to believe in and you were right there. You made me believe despite my broken state and I could not think of anything more a human being can do to another. Then you offered me your business card for when I ever needed any help or to talk. Thank you.
Kind Stranger, I see your presence everywhere. I see it when someone offers their seat to another on a crowded bus. I see it when a person helps pick up another person’s belongings. I see it when a friendly local gives directions to a lost tourist without being asked. I see it everywhere. It’s yours and their spirits that keep the good and love in the world from being forgotten.
Thank you Kind Stranger, your light is what leads the world to the best it can be. To the best we can make it.
I’m writing this in light of the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Florida (February 14, 2018). There are some things I need to say. These are things I’ve wanted to say countless times before but have kept to myself out of fear and hesitation. But I need to say them now. My heart hurts. I’m so angry and sad. These things I need to say aren’t to hate you or to make you or anyone feel bad for owning a gun. This is just to facilitate reflection, a discussion, and hopefully change for the better.
Whether you’re in America, a country with dangerously loose gun laws and heartbreakingly frequent mass shootings, or Australia, where strict gun laws were implemented after one horrible incident with minimal incidents thereafter, it is a fact that guns are weapons that can kill. Whether you own a gun for hunting or self-defence, they are weapons used to, at the very least, maim your target. This is another fact. In all, guns have been and are being used to injure and kill. Another fact.
But “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. Perhaps. But it is an undeniable fact and an indisputable truth that guns make it easier for people to kill people. So why not make it harder for people to kill by making it harder to obtain guns?
In America, more than 30,000 people are killed with guns each year, including suicide (Vox, The Guardian). This is an unforgivably high number. This number reflects the innocent lives lost, victims forever scarred, and places that will never be the same. This number is a summation of loss, grief, fear, and even disability that can never be rid off and will forever haunt not only those involved but quite literally the world. Yet there has not been a single change in laws pertaining to guns. This number continues to rise, fuelled by inaction disguised in thoughts and prayers. It continues to rise by the lack of empathy and measurable work from Congress and Government.
But this number needs to change and it needs to change now. Because I shouldn’t be afraid to go to America out of fear that I might get shot. I shouldn’t constantly be worried about my friends and family who are already America because of how easy it is for anyone to get a gun. I shouldn’t have had to stay up in the middle of the night frantically texting my best friend of eighteen years while he was holding a lecture door shut during the University of California, Los Angeles shooting (June 1, 2016).
And it’s not just me. It’s everyone. It’s all of us. There are people who have gone through so much worse than I have because of guns that they shouldn’t have had to. Nobody should have to live with losing a loved to a crime that could’ve been prevented. Nobody should be killed going to a country music concert, their house of worship, school, club, movie theatre, or anywhere else. Nobody should be terrified to live their life.
You may own a gun for a number of reasons but are they so important that you can’t sacrifice a little bit of your ownership to prevent further deaths? Is your hunting hobby more important to you than the innocent children who were killed in Sandy Hook (December 14, 2012)? They were just where they were supposed to be, they were just learning. Do you feel safer knowing that the very weapon you own is the same as the one used for the Charleston church massacre (June 17, 2015) where all the victims were doing was practicing their faith? Are your guns worth more to you than the lives of the LGBTQ+ community who were celebrating their identity and love in Orlando (June 12, 2016)? How about the country music lovers in Las Vegas (October 2, 2017)? All they were doing was having a good time with a shared love of music. Can you tell those who will never see their loved ones, those who were traumatised by the 18 shootings in America that took place just this year so far and the accumulated total in the years before that you support what irrevocably ruined their lives? Is your false sense of safety worth the fear, anxiety, and loss thousands of gun violence victims and their loved ones are sentenced to for the rest of their lives? Does your title as a gun owner mean more to you than being a human being? Will you choose humanity over weapons?
I am calling for you to care for people more than your guns. I am saying stricter gun laws need to be implemented to make it harder for everyone to own them. I need you to reflect. Because if you think the way things are now is okay, you are arming the next mass shooter. You are handing an irreversible answer to someone suicidal. You are lending a hand to domestic abusers. You are increasing the chances of accidental deaths. You are responsible.
You are responsible and that responsibility needs to be taken seriously. I understand that ultimately it is Congress and the governing body that has the power to implement gun control laws. But it is the people who influence and corner those in charge to act.
Lives are more important than guns. People are more important than bullets. We need actions that reflect these truths. Stricter screenings required by law for anyone looking to own a gun are needed. Louder and actioned support from anyone who owns a gun is needed. People in Congress and governments, who have direct power to make positive measurable changes and aren’t afraid to stand up for human life are needed. These things have been in need for a long time in America and it’s about fucking time they happen.
It feels surreal. Somehow all at once I lost my best friend, my partner, and the most important person in my life. My roots to this country are gone. Our future plans together, our daily routines, and our shared joy didn’t make it into the New Year. How much can a person lose all at once before it breaks them? It feels like I’m walking that line.
It feels like we’ve been apart for so much longer than we have. We were each other’s everyday. Maybe it just takes getting used to. I guess that’s hard to do because I don’t want to accept this as a norm. I miss you. I miss you when creepy fucking people harass me or unwantedly approach me. I miss you when my clumsiness takes over and I embarrass myself. I miss you when Marvel or DC comes out with a new movie. I miss you when I see a Buzzfeed Tasty video that requires an oven. I miss you when I have a nightmare or sleep paralysis. I miss you when I crave dumplings. I miss you so much.
It feels like I’ll never move on. But I know that that’s not true. That’s just how I feel right now. Gradually I will move on from this; we both will. But I do think that I will always love you. As cliché as it sounds, that’s a blessing and a curse I’ll have to live with. What a blessing for me to have learned so much about love, relationships, being an adult, having roots, creating a home, and so much more. But a curse, because this love will forever remind me of what was, what didn’t work, and possibly shroud my future loves.
That’s why I’ve decided to write this letter to you. I want you to know that our time together, what we created, what we had, what we lost, were not a waste. And they most certainly were not a curse. It only seems that way now because I’m hurt, angry, sad, and lost all at once.
I want you to know that, as painful as it will be, I will look back on our time, especially the last handful of months, and search for your efforts in trying to keep us together, of you doing everything you can for our love, and of you remembering that what we have – what we had – can’t be taken for granted. I will look for all of it. One of the reasons we didn’t work out is because I couldn’t see the amount of effort you put into trying to save us. You’ve told me before that you don’t believe I will ever be able to see how much you tried for me, and I know I’ve told you that I probably won’t, but I’ve changed my mind. I’m coming from a healthier mindset, I was wrong to say that, and I am not going to give up until I see it all. I am so sorry that I couldn’t see it. I am even more sorry that I gave up and didn’t even try to see it. But I want to see it all, clearly. I need to see it because I owe that much to you, for doing those things, and to me, so I can look back at it and see how lucky I was to have someone like you. I want to remember you making our happy times last and cutting our sad ones short. I want to remember you wholeheartedly as a blessing.
I will also work on forgiveness. Another reason we didn’t work out was because of some of the things you said and did that broke my heart. But I will try to remember that you always came from a place of love and care. Misguided as they were at times and how much those mistakes hurt me, I will work on forgiving you. It is unfair for me to hold grudges against you for things you never meant to do or say. It is hypocritical and unhealthy for me to hold such old woes in my heart. I want to let go of those things. I want to remember you for the good-hearted person I fell in love with.
Finally, then I will forgive myself. I need to. I will forgive myself for all of the ways I contributed to our break up. I will forgive myself for not seeing you trying day in and day out. I will forgive myself for losing a special soul like you. This is for me. I have to be kind to myself. I made mistakes and I regret them deeply but I cannot punish myself forever. This step will only come after the first two and it likely will be the hardest. I cannot forgive myself fully until I clearly see what I have done wrong. But I don’t want you to think I am just letting myself off the hook. I am truly so sorry I hurt you and wronged you. You did not deserve it. I am so sorry.
I don’t write this all in hopes for us to someday rekindle what we had, though a small, vulnerable part of me may feel that way right now. I write this because my feelings needed to be expressed. I write this to hold myself accountable of the promises I’ve made you. I write this to map out what I need to move on: to look back and remember your efforts, to forgive you, and to forgive myself. I write this so that someday when I re-read this letter, I can remember that we did the best we could for each other, we did what we needed to do by separating, and we did what we could do thereafter, on our own. I write this to see how much I’ve grown.
I wish nothing but the absolute best for you. I cannot thank you enough for blessing my life for the years I was lucky enough to spend with you. Thank you.
What a year it’s been. What an eventful year, to say the least. To say the extreme truth though, it’s been the worst year of my life so far.
I’m really not one to sugar-coat things just because it’s over if that thing wasn’t pleasant. So as 2017 ends, I’m not getting any nostalgic feelings, or Graduation Goggles as Robin from How I Met Your Mother called it, for the time that’s passed and the things that’s happened this year.
I lost a close relative suddenly four days into the year. She was actually the person who involuntarily showed me the strength our words have and how much impact they can have on others. I also attended a memorial service for another family member who passed last year. That experience, oddly enough, was very awakening and peaceful for me but of course, it reminded me of my loss. I was very close to her and this blog, some of you may know, started because of her.
After that, I suffered a few months of miserable symptoms before I was properly diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, a rather long-term but thankfully non-fatal condition. I also went through a realisation that I was spending a lot of time with a toxic person who was bringing me down, particularly in my time of need. I struggled, and as I write this I continue to struggle, to come to terms with my circumstance. The toss up between my rational mind urging me to free myself versus my emotional heart begging me to keep their company has accumulated to anxiety and stress I have poorly dealt with, if I have dealt with it at all. (Let’s also not forget that as a living human being, I also had to witness and put up with some of the crazy, extremely traumatic, and dangerous happenings around the world…)
Still, the year also held irreplaceable memories sprinkled throughout the past 365 days for which I am forever grateful for and humbled by. I attended a beachside destination wedding in Thailand where I watched one of my siblings get married and welcomed a new member to our family. I graduated from my Bachelor’s and my family came to Sydney from three different countries for it. I found out I am going to be an aunt and finally fulfil my lifelong destiny to pass on my love and knowledge of Pokémon!
Looking back now, everything about 2017 had to do with the most important part of my life: the people. My family and I got together to celebrate love, they and my friends congratulated me for my achievement, and my family album now features new faces. Even the darker side of 2017 highlighted those who were there for me. I remember very clearly who was there as I mourned, the stern but comforting faces of those who weren’t afraid to have the difficult conversations on death and loss, and the people who cheered me up as I waited in the emergency room and asked about my appointments thereafter.
A lot of the shitty things that ruined my 2017 were out of my control. I couldn’t help that I got hyperthyroidism. Relationships turned toxic and cutting people out became necessary. And unfortunately, death is inevitable. But I survived only by the help and love I received.
I have control over whom I keep in my life. I decide whom I love and care about, who to trust and open up to, and who I want to do the same for. 2017 showed me that, for the most part, I have chosen right. Because if I were wrong, I don’t think I’d be here typing this out. This is why as the New Year breaks and the darkest ends, I want to make sure I surround myself with positive people who inspire, love, and care for me as I do them.
I don’t want you to think I’m getting nostalgic. I’ve just learned to accept the terrible times because again, it’s out of my control. I just want to move passed them all. 2017 was a real bitch. I’ll say it one more time, it’s been the absolute fucking worst of my life.
But as I do my best to pick myself up and out of this surreal funk that has somehow consumed 2017, I’m reminded me of how important people are and how important I am. I need to surround myself with positive people, put effort into them if they are worth it, and hope they think I am too. Alas, that also means cutting toxic people out because despite how much love there may be between two people, you have to put you and your love for yourself first. This isn’t just a lesson for me. It’s for you too because at the end of the day, the year, and our lives, it’s the people that make it all mean something.
Bye 2017, thank fuck you’re over.
A Letter Per Person
P.S If you’re wondering, my hyperthyroidism is getting better and I am slowly weening off my medicine! Thanks for the thoughts!