Friday, April 3, 2009

33 years of no regrets

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A girl complained, “I’ve been short-sighted since I was 9!” A dwarf, not to be outdone replied, “I’ve been short since I was 9. How’s that?”

Another girl complained, “Damn, I’m 33. That’s old!” Her friend replied, “That was how old Jesus was when he was crucified on the cross.”

I’m soon approaching 33 and it somehow got me into thinking how little I’ve achieved, especially during the last four prosaic years when I first  became unemployed. I’ve gone through few ups and many downs but when I look at the “imaginary” conversations above, I realise that I should still count the many blessings I have. So, in view that I’m turning 33 soon, I’m going to indulge myself by sharing some of these blessings with you.

I’ve always considered myself as a late bloomer. Either that, or I had a cavalier outlook in life. I didn’t start reading the newspaper until I was in my 20s. While some of my friends were more grounded and knew what they wanted to do with their lives 10 years ago, I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do exactly. It wasn’t until recently when I discover that of all the things I’ve done, one thing has remained constant; my love for writing.

Writing has somehow being a great comfort to me in the last few years. I definitely don’t think that I’m a good writer but at least it has kept me sane and interested in global affairs. When I first started this blog less than a year ago, it was out of sheer frustration. It was my way of keeping myself occupied but now, it has become a habit, rather than a coping mechanism. When I don’t blog for a few days, I literally feel my fingers itching to type something. So, this is one of the blessings I am grateful for.

While growing up, I’ve heard my Father said these words many times (he still says it from time to time), “You know, I was never a bright student and neither am I a man of many words. People often think that I’m stupid because I don’t talk a lot and I’m convinced of that myself. But I am hardworking and I live a simple life.” I thank my father for his honesty and for showing me that being stupid is not the end of the world because the older I get, the more I realize how much I’ve inherited his traits. I don’t think I’m a bright person and I was definitely a mediocre student. The only time I did well in school was when I was much younger but that was a result of hard work and discipline.

I’m very often intimidated by bright people and if I’m around them, I retreat quickly into my shell. And like my Father, I don’t talk and I’m not sure whether these people think I’m stupid or not. But the point is, I don’t pretend that I know it all or lie my way through. I try to stay true to myself and try my best to do the right thing and for that, I thank my father for being that role model in my life.

When I was 6 years old, my Mother enrolled me for ballet classes. She thought it was important for a girl to cultivate an interest in cultural activities. My Mother devotes her whole life playing a huge supporting role in the family. She accompanied each step I took when I was a child and I never truly appreciated that until an incident which happened so many years ago.

It was the very day when I took my first grade ballet examination. We carpooled with a few other girls and their mothers. That morning, my Mother had painstakingly dressed me up in my blue leotard and pink tights. It was not an easy task trying to keep a 6- year old girl still while she gently stretched out the creases on the tights while I protested in discomfort. Then, she tied my hair up securely into a neat bun.

Once we finished the exam, we piled into the car and my Mother was sitting on the front passenger seat. Feeling relieved, I quickly undressed my tights and threw it rudely over to the front and landed on my Mother’s head. I was to feel sorry for doing that once we arrived home. My Mother pulled me aside and she literally screamed at me (if I remember well, I received a few slaps as well). That day, she taught me the value of respecting other people. True and behold, in many aspects of my life, I have always made the conscious effort not to humiliate or disrespect someone, especially in public of course.

I see my Mother as a forward thinking woman who is trapped in the wrong generation. She has a remarkable spirit for life and yet in reality, she remains modest and simple in her daily routine of taking care of us. In a way, it is as if she accepts her destiny as a housewife but will not cease to provide encouragement to others who are able to embrace the things which she is not able to have. She is also one of the biggest supporters in regards to the empowerment of women. When I became older, she makes me believe that I’m able to do anything I want if I set my mind to it but at the same time, she continually humbles me if she thinks that I am way over my head. So, I am blessed to have her as a Mother.

Now, I do not have many friends and sometimes the few friends I have often joked about how they can count the number of friends I have with their fingers. I’m selective of the people I spend my time with and will not apologize for that. However, those who have remained as my friends might find this as a compliment; if you made it this far, it shows that I value your friendship and think highly of you. I thank them for sharing their lives with me and help me to become the person I am today.

I think nobody has ever been so hard on me, as much as my husband. If I need to hear the truth, he is the best person to go to. He’s never the type who will tell me that I look good in something which I’m obviously not. He doesn’t see me as a helpless and incapable woman and hence will never ever sugar coat things for me. Above all, he detests any sign of weakness and dependency habit I might have. For this, he forces me to remain independent, make my own decisions and hence allow me to be my self. Sometimes I hate his guts but when I have the time to reflect, I realize that his actions clearly show that he doesn’t own me and for this, I’m eternally thankful.

For my 33rd birthday, my husband is giving me the ticket to go on a holiday in Beirut with two of my girlfriends (one whom I haven’t seen for a long time), and yes, he is generous that way. So, overall, I do have many things to be thankful for and although I haven’t achieved anything which I would like to at this juncture, I’m grateful that I was able to spend my 33 years with no regrets (as one friend aptly put it recently).

If you’re stuck at that crossroad where you start to feel that life has been a real bitch, try to think about the dwarf and Jesus (of course many other things apply as well). In the end, we all need some perspectives and it’s how you live your life that will make the difference. After all, 33 is just a number.


  1. I agree, you have many many things to be grateful for. I don't think you're mediocre. You are a kind, earnest and loyal friend, I think that counts more than intellectal superiority which is a dime a dozen.

  2. Thanks, Ms. Kong Piang and I meant every word I wrote about my friends.