Speaking from the heart takes time

Last week was the first time I had told the man who broke my heart how his actions had affected me in silent ways.

Everyday, I would get up fearing the world and the perfectly beautiful strangers around me. Everyone seemed to be loved by somebody, and I hated seeing it for fear that it would cast a shadow over my own unlovable self.

Until the past week, I had kept silent, letting my emotions fester in their own pit of agony, with the occasional outbursts of anger. At work, I made multiple mistakes, was distracted and always zoning out. I carried myself around with as little energy as I possibly could, retiring to bed early and waking up late.

Truthfully, I was ashamed of being sad over something that wasn’t real. I questioned why I was angry, even told myself that I shouldn’t feel this way. I never told my friends or family how deeply it cut. Only downplayed my sadness.

Whenever I spoke to him, it was always in a friendly manner, as if I had to appease him for some wrongdoing I had inflicted.

Sometimes, my anger would come out, for small, petty things, like when he cut our meeting short, or if he seemed bored or inattentive.

This gave him the impression that I was always a temperamental person and only confirmed his decision about me.

I was afraid that confronting him would only make things worse, that I would lose him forever. So I always apologised for my short outbursts.

In truth, I was deeply hurt. Just kept pretending. Not knowing where or who to turn to.

But last week, the fear of losing myself to anger and sadness became far greater than the fear of losing him.

So I spoke out.

It took me many tries, a few angry starts, but I got to the truth in the end.

I told him that I had suffered mentally in the past few months by pretending that I was ok. I told him that time doesn’t heal wounds, only covers them. I told him all the above I have just mentioned here.

And then an unexpected thing happened.

By giving a voice to the shame I had felt for being in love, my anger and sadness melted away. Like watered-down glue, they peeled away from me and stopped lingering in the open wounds of my heart.

I started emerging from the brain fog I had been feeling for the last few months. I started caring about my work, my dreams, my goals, my life.

I am still tinged with sadness, but it is not the anxious kind that needs to be tended to straight away. It is more a calming sadness. A sadness that knows it needs not do anything. A sadness that knows that in time, it will heal. But this kind of healthy sadness only comes after speaking truthfully.

I have realised that speaking from the heart is necessary and always takes time. It pays off if the person on the other end is willing to sit there and listen to you patiently, without rushing you in any way.

But he is not that kind of person.

Even though I would still like to talk things through, I am not holding my breath.

I am excited for the future, humbled, and most importantly still not cynical of love.

My sad freelance experience

Something happened recently that made me question my ability to write.

A few months ago, I got my dream freelance job writing content for a children’s educational app.

It was my first freelance job ever and I spent 10 hours a week holed up in my room perfecting my content. I had so much fun coming up with creative ways of teaching children about the Earth, the solar system, and the things they saw around them.

I was earning quite a lot on the side. I earnt more per hour on this job than any other job I had ever had. I thought I had finally transitioned into the world of freelance and that I could quit my full time job.

But I decided to wait just to be sure. I continued working 40 hours a week on my day job, and 10 hours a week on my freelance job. I would come home after 12 hours, then squeeze in an hour to write. I did this for about 4 months. Everything was going so well.

But that’s just the thing isn’t it? When everything goes well, something bad is bound to happen. That’s when things started to unravel.

I started coming home from work feeling extremely tired. I couldn’t think. All I wanted to do was lie down on the couch and sleep. But I forced myself to work on my freelance job. And that was my mistake.

Everybody always tells you to work hard. Work hard and you will reap the rewards. Work hard every hour that you have and don’t waste it by lying on the couch.

But that experience has taught me otherwise.

See, I was working hard. I had a schedule. I thought that if I managed my time well, if I stuck to my schedule, then that was all I needed to get the work done.

I was wrong.

My writing became less clear, and more muddled. I was writing, but I was writing pointless garbage. I was writing for the sake of filling up my quota for the day, so that I could hurry up and sleep.

I knew it at the time, but I just didn’t want to stop. I didn’t want to give it all up. I wanted to continue. I wanted it so badly.

On one particular day, when my spirit was at its lowest and my nerves were at an all time high, I decided to ask the question that I had wanted to ask for so long.

I asked my client if I could extend my hours to 40 hours a week, meaning I wanted to quit my day job and take the leap into freelancing.

I hit send, then I held my breath and waited. And waited. The reply came soon enough.

It still hurts when I think about it. Part of me blames myself for not taking the time out to relax, for putting so much pressure on myself to do well.

My face is burning in shame when I write about this.

This was his reply:

“Thank you for getting back to me, but I’m not comfortable letting you work 40 hours a week at the hourly rate that I’m currently paying you. I suggest we cut it down to half and you continue working for me for 40 hours a week.”

Half.

It felt like a bomb had dropped into my gut. All of these months. I felt ashamed that I couldn’t do well. It was supposed to be something that I was good at. And I couldn’t even do it properly.

I replied back to him.

I told him that I needed time to think about it and that I would get back to him once I had an answer.
I was heartbroken. I had put all my eggs in this one basket. And I was left feeling afraid of my abilities, afraid that I wasn’t ever going to be good enough.

So I did reply. Eventually. It took me four days of going backwards and forwards to finally come up with an answer. I asked friends, I asked family, I even did a coin toss.

Against the unanimous opinions of my family, I said “yes”. Yes to the half slashed wage and yes to the 40 hours. Yes to the fear and yes to giving it a second chance.

I said yes to all those things because of a dream that woke me up in the middle of the night that compelled me to write back and say yes.

In that dream, I kept getting rejected by the man who broke my heart. I kept wanting him to say yes to me, but he kept saying no. I had this horrible feeling of being given up on, of bring the woman that nobody wanted to take a chance on.

And when I woke up, I decided to turn the tables. I no longer wanted to be the girl who said no to risks, but the woman who said yes to unknown chances.

That day I made my decision.

I still have to wait for a confirmation from my client. But I’m waiting, not with bated breath, but with a sense of confidence, that whatever the outcome, I chose to give myself a chance.

Kayaking on top of a dormant volcano

Every morning, to get to work, I drive past a lagoon. At exactly 8:00 a.m the surface of the lagoon is 180 degrees, flat and calm, producing a mirror-like effect.

I’ve driven past this lagoon at different times of the day: 8:15 a.m, 9:00 a.m, 12:00 p.m, and 5:45 p.m, but at no other time does the surface look as close to a mirror than at 8:00 a.m.

This is the lagoon’s magic hour.

From the road, you can easily glance at the lagoon and become mesmerised by it, forgetting that you are driving during peak traffic hour. For this reason, I’ve stopped driving the car, and take the bus to work instead, so that I can watch the lagoon as the bus drives by.

The history of the lagoon belies its calm surface. It is the product of a volcanic eruption, 28,000 years ago, forming a deep crater that extends unseen below the surface.

Of course, it’s dormant now, so it’s pretty safe to swim there, but I wouldn’t go down too far.

A body was once found by the edge of the lagoon, at 8:30 a.m, half an hour after the magic hour.

For this reason, I only go to the lagoon a few hours after 8:00 a.m, when the surface no longer resembles a mirror and the tide starts to move in and out.

There is a bank halfway around the lagoon that slopes down into the waters. This is the only way to get your kayak into the water.

You have to park your van there and carry the kayak out of the trunk, then push it gently down the slope until it rests in the water.

At this time of the day, the waves slosh around the basin, and seagulls line up in rows, bobbing on branches. Once or twice they dive down to catch some unseen creature lurking beneath the lagoon. 

I do a few laps around the lagoon, then when I feel tired, I park the kayak in the middle of the lagoon, rest my paddles to the side, and let the tide carry me whichever way it’s going.

If you are brave enough, you can also bring a book along to read. But this is only if you are not afraid of getting your book wet.

I suggest bringing along a copy of “The Lost World” by Arthur Conan Doyle because then you can imagine that you are really on an adventure.

This makes me sound so adventurous, but really, I’m not. I just like the sound of the birds, the crisp evening air and the tranquility of being alone on the lagoon. This is perhaps the perfect hour for writing a novel or getting some reflective thinking done.

See? That’s the power of this lagoon. Every hour is a magic hour for something to happen.

You can read more articles from me on Medium. If you are are Medium member and you like this post, please give ma clap! 

Financing my writing career

If I quit my job today, I will have enough money to last me 6 months. If I sell off all my assets, I will have enough money to sail into the sunset for 3 years and 6 months.

I have always had a bigger purpose for the money I’ve earnt. Some people save for the next high, others for a fancy car. I have been saving all my life to finance my dream of becoming a writer.

Growing up, I was told that writers only have two options: to struggle or to give up.

Being the kind who doesn’t like to give up, I decided to struggle. Or so, I thought those were my only two options.

Fast forward a few years of working non-corporates and low-income jobs, I can say that my finances are in better shape than most people working high-income jobs.

Having it drilled to me from the start that I would never achieve financial success in a writing career, has made me strict about my expenses.

All my life, I’ve forgone the daily necessities of modern life: makeup, coffee, and alcohol.

I have never faced the mad rush of putting on makeup in early morning traffic, nor lived for the first hit of morning coffee. I don’t know how many shots it takes to get me drunk, because I have never tested the limits of my body in such expensive ways.

I keep my life simple.

When I need to feel pretty, or confident, I replenish my energy from the inside. I read books, I write, I go outside, and I talk to friends and family.

I am an advertiser’s worst nightmare, but this has saved me a lot of money.

To emphasise how much one can save on a low income, I’ve broken down my weekly expenses as best as I can:

  • Groceries: $50
  • Mortgage: $325
  • Electricity and internet bills: $20
  • Transport: $40

Total weekly expenses: $435

I share my expenses with my sister, which makes it possible to cut down on individual costs.

Next year, I will be turning 28. I have yet to experience the highs that people my age have experienced. I have yet to travel to Egypt to see the pyramids and ride on camels.

But for now, I substitute fancy vacations with long road trips, night outs with night ins, take-outs with homecooked meals. And I’m OK with every single choice.

I set this lifestyle into motion when I was 12 years old, training my mind from an early age, not to desire the things I don’t need.

I am now 27. If I wanted to spend 3 years in isolation, writing a novel, I could. If I wanted to quit my job and sail into the sunset for 3 years, I could. But I’m not going to do that.

My mind is set for the long term. Writing is a long-term game. And in the beginning, financial support is a writer’s best chance of staying in the game longer.

So, to writers and dreamers everywhere, I urge you to learn to support yourself financially.

I urge you to set yourself up to succeed in a world that doesn’t want you to.

This is the first article that I’ve written on Medium. If you like it and are a Medium member, please give it a clap. Thanks in advance!

My dad’s advice

My dad came over yesterday and sat next to me as I poured my heart out about my failed plans and how heartbroken I felt.

After talking with him, he made me realise that my loss allowed me to gain something in return. Time.

Now I was free to spend those extra hours after work solely working on my own projects.

Later that day, as my Dad was driving on the road, a car suddenly came up in front of him. By the light of the headlight, he saw the word “GO” and my name on the car plate.

To him it was a sign of encouragement from the universe, so he followed the car, took a picture of it and sent it to me.

Even though I felt quite small, knowing that my dad was supporting me made me feel a lot bigger.

The secret book club

Since things haven’t been turning out as I had hoped they would, I’ve a little more spare time on my hands. So I decided to do something a little unusual today.

I placed an ad in the local newspaper asking for kids to join a book club.

Now I don’t know how well or disastrous this will turn out, or whether anyone will even respond to my ad, but I thought it would be good to at least do something to encourage kids to read.

I used to work in the library, and during my time there I read to kids, and did lots of fun activities with them. The most memorable moments were when the kids would come up to me and talk to me while their parents were exhausted and napping on the couch.

I remember with joy when a little four year old boy came up to me and we had a full on conversation about everything you could ever talk about on the planet. He had so much to say and I was really surprised by how well he could hold a conversation.

I even made a little friend while I was working there. To this day we talk on FB once or twice a year. Our conversations are quite brief, I don’t think she can stay on FB for long, but I actually think it’s quite funny that once or twice out of the blue, I’ll see a message pop up and it’s from her.

Anyway, wish me luck. I really hope this book club thing kicks off. I guess what I’m really looking forward to is seeing some of the kids make friends with each other and have huge smiles on their faces.

Books should make children feel powerful

The fondest memory that I have as a child was listening to my teacher read Narnia.

Every afternoon at exactly 2:00p.m. we would stop whatever we were doing and sit there and listen.

If we were loud and boisterous one moment, we were quiet and in awe the next.

I was a playground junkie, I loved playing tag at lunchtimes with my friends. We would take over the entire playground with our shouts and running feet, but whenever it was 2:00 p.m, I would sit there on the carpet, arms crossed and turn silent.

I still remember quite clearly why I loved the book. It was the feeling that it gave me. I could see the images running through my own head as if they were scenes in a movie. Images of a boy running away from a witch, dropping down into a black hole, of children being tied to a tree and a mysticism that surrounded the whole story.

That was how my nine year old brain interpreted C.S Lewis’s words. I saw them as pictures and felt them, and no matter how many hours had passed, they stuck to my mind and imprinted themselves like memories.

As I grew older, into my teen and young adult years, I realised the power that stories gave to me.

They got me out of bed and made me run up a hill. They made me teach myself skills when I didn’t think I was smart enough. They made me see a different side to me when I didn’t believe in me. And they made me realise to always, always cherish the parts in yourself that you hate. Because somehow, miraculously those faults always turned out to be the one thing that gave you your greatest power.

I discovered that stories were the constant anchor I held onto during transitional moments in my life. They gave me a moment to pause and catch my breath before I was strong enough to swim back to shore.

Nowadays, I feel a tingling sensation course through my body when I find myself in the right section of a bookstore. It’s as if the excited nerves in my body are greeting an old friend. And all because of a book I listened to every afternoon at school.