Saturday, April 04, 2015

unpacking while packing

We'll be moving house pretty soon so the whole family has been caught up in packing our stuff recently, and that includes uncovering a whole lot of stuff that's been chucked away in a corner for a few months/years (it couldn't have been that long since we moved in...). I guess that was what inspired me to write this post. Other than all my old clothes, used-up stationery and embarrassing accessories (think fat chunky gaudy necklaces...o my), I also looked through my files of letters/notes collected over the past seventeen years.

I organised my cards/letters (basically handwritten stuff given to me by friends and family) according to their sender, so I had a folder each for cards from St. Marg's, St. Marg's Band, Pei Hwa and family, Raffles, Raffles Band and Church. I had quite a lot of them so I indulged a bit and read through every single one of them, so I could decide which to keep. (In secondary school, I was in the habit of exchanging notes with my friends regularly so a lot of letters were basically mega long texts updating each other of happenings in our daily lives, so nothing too sentimental there)

Anyway, as I read the farewell note my Sec 3/4 biology teacher gave me, it tore open a kind of dormant wound (?) for me. She wrote that I should "enjoy the journey and make lotsa friends along the way ^_^". I remember when I read her note for the first time that day in class, it really stung. It was a huge blow to my ego and I remember being surprised that a teacher who saw us about 3 or 4 hours a week would be able to see through the facade of self-assuredness and confidence that I tried to put on. I wasn't much of a social butterfly and I guess I prioritised my studies over my friendships, which made me somewhat of a loner, if you will. So I guess it really stung...

I had actually read my more recent letters/notes prior to reading Mrs Tan's, most of them from my friends in Raffles. From those who I had only a superficial relationship with, and even from some of my closer friends, the descriptives "sociable", "out-going", "bubbly", "bring joy and warmth to your friends" etc. kept popping up. It occurred to me that perhaps it was because of my experience of being "above the need for friends" in secondary school that I veered to the other end of the spectrum here in junior college. I certainly am not as reclusive as I was before, but yet I wouldn't consider myself to be truly sociable and out-going. In fact, I really believe that I am an introvert, yet can be selectively extroverted. However, if so many people now just see me as someone who is "high" and "cheery", it makes me many people actually know me?

Being liked and having friends are entirely different things. I guess it's much easier to be liked than to make friends because finding a friend in another means having to open up and make yourself vulnerable to said person. It's something that I struggle with because I find lots of things difficult to talk about to other people, even close friends. Yet, I really wish for a friend who would know know me.

Reading through the cards/letters weren't all bad and mid-teenage-life-crisis-inducing, though. I read through a lot of stuff from my days in St. Marg's band, and kind of re-lived those memories as I read through each letter, card and note. The band trip to Australia was one memory savoured, which made me realise that I was so incredibly fortunate to have had the experience. Going overseas to compete with SMSB was one of the most exciting things that happened to me during my secondary school life and I wouldn't trade it for anything else...not even for the trip to Japan with RSB. Yes, reminiscing the Australia trip made me much more okay with missing out on Japan this June, which is a good thing, I suppose, since I shouldn't brood over it too much.

Well, packing up my stuff has led me to unpack a lot of memories, both good and bad, and while I'm sorry that those times are long gone, and some lost for ever, I'm excited for the possibilities that the future holds.

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