TO LIVE A LIFE WORTH LIVING

RUBY GEGE 

(WARNING – THIS IS GOING TO BE A POTENTIALLY EMOTIONALLY-DRIVEN POST)

Crap. Crap. Crap. I woke up this morning generally feeling a lot of crap.

The dilemma of choosing conventions (aka be a “responsible” person) or taking risk (and be “myself”) is the crux of the issue. It is strange how I have changed over the few years. How, I have learned, that I am not many things and I don’t subscribe to many beliefs people think they should have. I am a limited person with a limited mindset and limited range of feelings, passion and care. And gladly, quite gladly, I am one.

I am surrounded by many individuals who devoted their lives towards the clear devoted path. They face difficulties but they persevere – a trait I deeply respect. However, my heart is not at where I am. I am in a path I desperately wish to leave (and wish I have the courage to leave) yet a great many factors are forcing me to stay.

Be responsible. If other people can do it, so can you. It is experience. It’s normal to feel crap. It is life. Be patience. Think of your family. Think of what you are supposed to do. Think of the “right” things to do.

Yet my heart has never been clearer.

My perspective has grown to be very different from other people. Other people dream of stability, family, a journey. They wish to have a career. They define success by persevering in difficulties. Of doing what they are supposed to do. Of completing tasks they are given. Of being the best. Of being the top. Of being great.

I don’t care about all of that. Overtime, life’s definition has changed, to me, quite drastically. To the point that I am shocked of how unambitious I am. How ambition is now, part of my past. Everything that I dream of now are very important to me – to teach, to write and to communicate. For others in my life, such dreams seem to be dreams not worth living at all. People’s dreams, when unconventional, are often invalidated by others who don’t believe in them. Currently, I have no courage to face and pursue my dreams in fear of being invalidated. I chose the approved way of life, only to find myself not agreeing to it. 

Life is relative to me. So is death. Life is short. Death is the end. In that span of time, what would I like to do with myself? I don’t dream of starting a family. I don’t dream of finding romantic love. I wish to be content with myself, to be surrounded by my loved ones, my books and my writings. I wish to paint occasionally. I also wish to contribute to the society through the appreciation of diversity. To survive, I would need to earn some money. Hopefully, in that process of searching for meaning, I would be able to do just that.

The only reason life is worth living for is love. How I wish to live my life everyday in such a manner.

Yet, from where I stand now, my wishes seem impossible. I want it yet I am trapped by the walls of expectation.  

Maybe one day, I will find the courage. Maybe.  

Ending the post with a super old photo of the Three Chinguz - Fatma, Palah and Ruby!
Ending the post with a super old photo of the Three Chinguz – Fatma, Palah and Ruby!

 

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TRANSITIONS… AND THE CHALLENGES OF GROWING UP

BY RUBY GEGE

(this post is dedicated to all my friends that I love!)

It has been forever since my last post, approximately two months ago. Nevertheless, so many things have been happening to the lives of the three chinguz. Palah, Fatma and I were and are still in the process of discovering new things about ourselves, our lives and where we are actually heading. No answers. Transitions… transitions everywhere. 

Truth to be told, the three chinguz are experiencing a rare moment where all of us are in a state of unhappiness AT THE SAME TIME. Hahahaha. I know it sounds a little over-dramatic but that’s the fact. Still adapting to lives after university, the three of us are struggling to find who we want to be and how can we be who we want to be. What’s worst is that the three chinguz live so far away from each other – literally hundreds of kilometres away. I am in KL, Fatma in Bintulu and Palah in Taiping.

I am going to sound a bit sentimental now… but only after being separated physically from them for some time that I realize how void my life is without them. Friends are the best thing that has happened to my life. Family had disappointed me. Love has disappointed me. I have repeatedly disappointed myself. But friends… friends are my inspiration and motivation. (Am I having a PMS? Why am I sounding terribly corny? Hahahaha) Whilst they were still near me, I got to sit down with them and expressed my worldly problems for hours. I cured my loneliness with their companionship and patience with my impatience personality. Being so far away from each other, I am very VERY prone to calling my best friends a few times EVERYDAY and my phone bill would skyrocketed. Nevertheless, I don’t mind. Because I know I won’t be able to survive life without the connection with people who understand me and have been with me for many years. 

Putting the photo here because I miss them like crazy!!
Putting the photo here because I miss them like crazy!!

What people say is indeed true – the university years are the best years of your life. That’s the place where we formed friends for life, our ideals, our happiness and identities. As we are trying to achieve our dreams, we realize that the roads to our dreams are marred with many great obstacles, miseries and challenges. 

What Fatma said is true. Hahaha. I do tend to write as if I’m writing a novel. I’ve missed this blog so much. I’ve missed writing so much. I’ve missed sitting down to read or watch a great film with a cup of coffee without any worries in my head. 

A summarization about what is currently happening to our lives (that have been making us quite miserable and keep questioning about our life choices) are as follows…

I’ve recently graduated my Master from a local university. To gain experience, I’ve started working in a legal firm as I believe that it would be very instrumental to my self development. As much as I hate to deny it, I am a spoiled upper middle class brat. All my life, I’ve never had to worry about money. I’ve been given a lot of freedom and luxury to live life the way I want to. Thus, to work in something I believe I would not enjoy to the fullest seems like a challenge I must accept. To prove to myself that I am not a spoiled kid all along. To prove to myself I can work hard. To prove to myself that I am capable of being professional. 

Do I hate it? Not really. Do I enjoy it? Not really. But everything is too early to be evaluated. Do I think I belong in the legal industry? Not really. Do I know where I should belong? Not really.

Most importantly, am I happy?

Absolutely not.

As I’ve started working two weeks ago, I’ve been struck with the realization that I have never been this confused with my life. I know what I love yet I feel as if there is no path as to where I should go. I told my good friend Natalia a few days ago that I felt as if I’ve stepped into the Amazon jungle without a compass. Like Scarlett Johannson’s character in the film Vicky Christina Barcelona, I know only what I don’t want… not what I want. Yet, turning back is too late now. With my family and my office mates starting to settle down with my presence in their life as a working woman, it seems that I have no choice but to move along with this new ‘role’. 

Palah, after earning her Master from USM, taught for a few months. Currently, she is working as an overworked administration officer in Taiping. Each time I call her, never once she said she enjoys her current job. But like other human beings in life, she needs money to survive. Whilst still looking for a teaching position, she is considering to start preparing her PhD proposal. However, opportunities come and go in the most unpredictable of manners. The last time I’ve called her (which was yesterday, haha. Yes, people, we call each other allllll the time), she told me she had been disillusioned with the notion of attending interviews – as one knows how tiring and troublesome it can be after her experiences of going to many of them.

From bright hopeful young people with many ideals, Palah and I have degressed into two persons whose dreams seem to be more distanced than ever. Our spirits are down, every single day, as we try to march along doing something we know we HAVE to do, yet have no passion of doing.

Fatma, our chingu over the sea, has been working for a law firm as well for over a year. She had planned to practice. However, a few months ago, she informed us that she had actually lost passion in law, a sentiment I can understand. Both Fatma and I – though we enjoyed studying law very much – know very well that the legal profession will not make us happy. Fatma wants to try the creative field – possibly studying drama and theatre. She’s a highly creative and passionate person and I know if only she has the opportunity, so many great stories can burst out of her head. Yet, like me and Palah, she is also trapped in the circumstances she was in.  To leave Bintulu and fly to Kuala Lumpur and achieve her dreams would require a lot of money, something we are still struggling with. There is also the question of practicality and security. 

The three chinguz… though I can declare with conviction that our spirits are free… but our selves are not. We are used to comfort… used to the presence of an approved clarity in our life… used to being accepted and having somewhere to belong… We dream big yet are too scared to sacrifice everything to achieve them.

Ouh, this post is getting wayyyyyyy to sentimental…. 

I think I better stop now before things get too emotional!

Great things remain, though. Our friendship remain strong, as strong as it has always been. Only when life disappoints me that I realize how much I need friendships in my life. Now, I am more excited to come back to this blog and promise myself to start writing more!!! Despite the confusions and our colourless lives, I have to say we are not the only ones. So many people out there are in the same situations like us.

We are young. We are independent. No one get to dictate what we should do. Mistakes are meant to be made. Miseries are meant to be experienced. Disappointments are meant to be there all along. Life is a journey. And the best is yet to happen.

And here’s to tomorrow! As Scarlett O’Hara said, “After all… tomorrow is another day!”

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Photo taken in Penang, 2014. Credit to the friend I love so much, Atiqah Anas! How much beauty shall one seek in life…?

Our Dreams to be Academicians

BY RUBY CHINGU

If there is one thing Palah, Fatma and I share in common, it is our dream to teach.

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I have just returned home from my faculty after saying goodbye to a lecturer I love so much. Her name is Miss Ummi and she taught me International Law, Industrial Law and Mooting. She is a great and spirited lecturer, always passionate about the subjects she is assigned with. I received the news last Tuesday that Miss Ummi will be leaving Malaysia this Sunday to pursue her PhD in the United Kingdom.

Miss Ummi is one of the many law teachers that have inspired me throughout my years in law school. They have inflamed my desire to be passionate about what I do and to spread the passion and appreciation of the subjects that I love.

I am not alone in this. Us three chinguz met when we were still not-so-innocent young optimistic souls wandering in the strange town of Shah Alam to do our Foundation in Law. Immediately, we became best friends. It took us a few years to actually realize that we also share the same dream, albeit to teach in different subjects. Palah, I think, wants to specialize in politics, human rights and Middle Eastern studies. Fatma wants to specialize in criminology, cultural studies and perhaps one day write a screenplay. As for me, constitutional law and international law are the loves of my life and hopefully one day I’ll be able to academically explore the world of literature as well.

Since the learning culture in Malaysia (this is solely my own opinion) is restricted still in some ways, our dreams to teach seem to be a bit distant from where we are now. I am doing my Master, then I plan to enter the legal practice for a few years. God permits, I will come back to school and pursue my PhD. The journey could be years, even decades. Will I still maintain the same degree of passion and optimism then? I do not know. Hopefully, I will not give up on my dream.

People keep rushing to be rich, to start a family, to own a house etc etc. Somehow, we don’t really fit in that bill. Knowing what you love and how you want to spend your life is wonderful and troublesome in a way. It is wonderful in a sense I wake up in the morning with a purpose in mind. Obstacles may come but at least my dreams never leave me. It is troublesome in a sense that I have to disappoint the people I love who want me to be somebody I don’t want to be. To see their dejected faces when I told them ,”no, I don’t think I’m going to stay in practice for more than ten years” or “no, I don’t think being a judge really suits me”, can be quite sad. But I am quite stubborn and unless situation necessitates it, I try to prioritize my desires than what other people expects me to do.

Life is a long journey. Might as well enjoy it while I can.