This past summer, I had the privilege to go to Phuket and Perhentian Island with my friends. That was before I started interning at a company called The Wknd Sessions. In between all of that, I was emotionally preparing myself for more goodbyes to friends who were leaving for the United States. I had to do it last year, earlier this year and again in summer.
“It’s not like you have no friends left here”, my friend said to me when I was telling her how it was going to be after summer. (Read: quiet.) Sure, in the beginning it felt like my friends were leaving the country and I wouldn’t get to see them every other week from now on, but it slowly became more about something else. Seeing them move on to greater things made me reflect on how I wasn’t moving forward, wasn’t leaving with them as well as how I still felt stuck, having no clue whatsoever on what I wanted to do with my life. A student in an existential crisis who feels like she’s in a rut? Nothing new you haven’t heard of, it’s the same old story.
On the other hand, I’ve made a (temporary) home for myself in the office where I intern. So far, it’s been a great experience. This is my first time working so everything’s fairly new. I get to go for gigs, meet lots of people and get a whiff of what the entertainment industry is like here.
So much has happened. I feel like I’ve grown up a bit as I have learned a lot, like how to suck it up and stop being a baby, in the past few months. I need to get my head out of the clouds (shout out to Drake) and start waking up. I’ve got a long way to go, but I’m trying to get there. I can only imagine what summer 2016 will throw at me next.
“Are you going back over summer?”
“Absolutely not,” is always my first thought, but it was all a lie. In the end, I found myself with a ticket back to Kuala Lumpur. My first agenda was to surprise all of my friends, but things never go as planned as some backfired.
I have to admit that this wasn’t an ordinary summer. Here in Nebraska, you don’t get to hear the waves crashing nor can you sink your feet into the hot sand. Those are the things that I have been longing for. The first plan in Malaysia was to visit an island. I ended up going to Perhentian and Pangkor on separate occasions. The crystal clear water, chill weather and my best mates were all I needed.
Next up is food. I have been away from my mom’s home cooking and Malaysian cuisine for far too long. So over Raya, I gained a few pounds, by eating six meals a day. Not forgetting the late night lepak sessions at the mamak. Seriously, how can you ever get enough of cheese naan and tandoori?
Last but not least, I missed spending time with my beloved family. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to further my studies in America nor would I have survived rough times in Nebraska. Seeing them was definitely the highlight of my summer.
Did I mention that it was a great summer? Everything went according to plan. I’ve learned so many things, such as the fact that my family will always be my source of joy, my friends will be there when I need them the most and if I plan things out, everything will eventually work out.
I’ve never ever really experienced summer as ‘Summer’. Heck, we don’t even have the season Summer in Malaysia from a geographical standpoint. But from a metaphorical standpoint, I would say that this summer had so much of an important air due to an expiration date so fantastical for I was packing up from home for the first time ever. I was due to whisk off to another country to further my studies in August. I remember telling my friends before how I hate, hate, hate the way I was starting to see things differently. For example, every little bobble and every little speck of dust in my home in Batu Tiga, Shah Alam, made me feel so sentimental and sad.
Reflecting back, I did a lot of things before I left Malaysia. I can’t remember all of it with such vivid clarity, but what I do remember and what I miss the most is the feeling of familiarity, that feeling of belonging, that feeling of walking into a room and knowing where to go and who to sit with. However, I know I can do it, that I’ll be okay, and if anyone else feels the same way, you’ll be okay too. To be familiar with something, it’s gotta be new, right? At the end of the day, my summer has been wonderful. I’ve been to a couple of places, but most importantly of all, I had the privilege to be with my loved ones. With that, I’ll keep fighting and roaring and learning. Peace out, Summer. Bring on the next contender.
Summer was scorching hot. It’s funny how I acted like it was still winter by simply not wanting to go out at all. I did my fair share of traveling, partly with my friends and the other half, with my family. While those travels were as amazing as I could have hoped for, I struggled to fully absorb everything and be in the moment. I think if there was one regret, that would be it. To not be in the moment.
Sadly, exhaustion creeps up on you and places blur into touch-and-goes. You witness it, take a few photos and you’re moving on to the next one. I do not wish for summer to be longer, but I did wish there was enough time in the world for me to fully immerse myself with the journeys that were presented to me.
I spent the whole summer catching up on Pretty Little Liars and even now that we’re nearly halfway through September, I still don’t know who A is. (If you do, please don’t tell me anything – I haven’t gotten to that part yet.) Summer was also a countdown of extremely anxiety-filled days to turning 20. The part where you have turned into an adult, but have yet to done anything remarkable to save your life. I felt so pressured to study better, turn my ways a 180 and hopefully scoring an A in my summer class. Yet pushing myself too hard wrecked me. I think watching Essena O’Neill, a vegan YouTuber, helped a lot in trying to figure myself out as a person. When I do things that I personally love and enjoy, I am happier, which attracts good things and people into my life. I have always struggled to speak my mind. Once I realized how difficult it was to connect with someone because of how reserved I am, I decided that I needed to believe in myself as well as understand that my opinions and thoughts equally matter. I smiled more and noticed the ones who smiled back at me.
Malala Yousafzai, a female education advocate, said that if you want something to change for the better, you have to address it. I tried to do as much of that and it has been a great self-discovery experience for me, one that is still ongoing. In the end, I am truly grateful for the opportunity to spend my first proper summer in the States, but I am now excited for more spiced chai lattes and cozy sweaters. Fall, bring it on.
Feature image by Aisar Qairizad.