Delayed post.

Local Leadership Development Seminar 2014, Broga Excel Training Centre, Semenyih. Photo by Jeney.

I remember that night, I think it was the first night in Langkawi. After a long day exploring like the excited kids like we were, I finally whipped out my phone to check it and saw miss calls from him. Being used to the adrenaline rush during the term, I literally screamed and said “Oh shit, oh shit. What happened this time, what happened?” I asked Jivitha if she got his call too.

Yes, that was how it felt towards the end of the term. When you receive calls from your President, you panic and you’d dive into that frantic debate whether should you or should you not answer the call. But then I figure it’s ridiculous, so I gave him a call back.

The first thing he asked me was what will you be doing in October? I thought to myself; what kind of stupid question is that, how would I know. But when he dropped the bomb, I literally shouted YESSSS. And regretted for 0.05 seconds because I remember I promised another friend beforehand. All in all, honestly it was sort of like a dream come true. I know I’m dramatic but I’ve been granted license for it cause I’m a girl. Yes, double standards, sue me.

It was my official first facilitating experience and there were a lot of places that I should have and could have done better. However, bygones be bygone. I’m just grateful that I have been granted this opportunity to facilitate the first conference of newly recruited members of my very own entity. Amazingly, through this short encounter with the role of a facilitator, again, I got to know myself better. I never thought of myself as a socially awkward person, but I was in fact very awkward with a group of excited newbies.

It was a lot of mixed feelings. Almost a year ago, I was a delegate among the senior track, on the other side of the hall together with my team trying to be better. And then just a couple of days ago, I was sitting across the hall, looking at the group of people wearing the same red shirt that we used to wear, trying to be better. It felt weird in the beginning. As if this organisation is a rotator. Your position changes every year. Even the way you see things changes every year. And then it hit you suddenly, that it’s the vicious cycle. Someone else will be sitting at your place thinking about the same thing, feeling the same way next year too.

Working with a team of crazy and funny facilitators, there were laughters that made you roll on the floor hugging your aching stomach, and there were thought provoking ideas thrown at each other. I love this. Behind every smile, everyone has a different story. It reminded me why I love this place. It’s the best platform to learn about different stories, different thoughts and different experiences.

Like what I’ve shared with my group of delegates, being in my final year of studies, I constantly try to do more things, meet up with as much people as possible, simply because I know all these that I’m doing right now is a kind of luxury. That upon graduation, all these; “Because I want to” might not come by as easy anymore.

I’ve been thinking, in the short time span of two years from now, where will I end up being?

Hopefully a place where I’m happy.

Scribbled,

Mich

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21 Perceptions: #5 Dreamcatcher

Dreamcatcher

Taken with iPhone 5

I have always loved dreamcatchers. Simply because of that simple myth that is has brought together with it throughout all these years. Deeply fascinated, I’d say, with this simple legend of the Native Americans.

I also like how when people heard of dreamcatcher, they’d think that it helps you catches your dreams, as in life goals and what not.

It’s the season of decisions. And a question of what’s next? Probably probes you to think and review your goals. Or maybe how do you envision your future to be. Come to think of it, I am almost repellent to such questions. Perhaps due to a very erratic nature that is within me, or maybe like Iylia always points out; You live your life full of uncertainties and you’re okay with that. Funny thing is, I actually hate uncertainties. It makes me restlessly anxious. Like the registration of my subjects. I simply need to ensure I’ve got all the right subjects and right credit hours registered. Or maybe that’s the ‘kiasu’ side of me. Because now that I think of it, I pretty much prefer going with the flow most of the time. Or it depends on the situation. Hah! Saw what I mean? Erratic.

Also, I worry too much.

When I was in Form 3, not knowing how it happened, I just suddenly became obsessed with the idea of becoming a beauty therapist. When I said obsessed, I was really obsess with that idea. I will literally scan through newspaper every single day once I got back from school for advertisement on courses related to beauty therapy like vocational institutes, etc. To one extent that I told my mom I’d be done with school once after PMR, simply because these vocational schools, they accept PMR results. And I just felt, whatever I was studying in school was just irrelevant. But by the end of my Form 3, she somehow managed to talk me out of this crazy idea and convinced me to finish my SPM because it is the minimum qualification one should at the very very least have.

And so, throughout my entire Form 5 life in high school, I basically did not give a damn about furthering my studies. No intention of applying for matriculation, no intention for scholarships or whatsoever. Well, before I continue, let me clarify. In my entire life as a human being, I never was an outstanding student. Never even once. I had like probably the worst result in Sri Garden during primary school, over-average result for UPSR and throughout my high school life, I was just .. me. Not active in extra-curricular activities. Not really the kiasu type students who flip at Bs. I just couldn’t give a damn. So, that also pretty much explains why I have zero interest in applying for these and thats.

Partly also because my parents are pretty liberal when it comes to academic performances. Both biological and non-biological side, nevertheless. Or in other words, they probably given up hope on me or they just don’t expect their daughter to have an astoundingly successful life, it’s as long as she’s healthy, happy and fine. Not very much of the typical Asian parents I’d say. (I guess it must have been given up hope on me because my mom was very strict on my sister, she was a straight A student by the way. Both Maggie and Fene.) But the expectation, I’d have another side that I’ll talk about later.

So yeah, I was just a less than average student at school. And during my Form 5, I’ve finally figured, or so I thought, I’d join this trainee programme at Herbalife to become a beauty therapist. It’s something like an apprentice thingy. So right after I finished SPM, I literally made my mom and my sister to go get more information at one of their branches. Also, it was the time when relatives would usually ask, so after Form 5, what’s next for you? Mostly would not comment much, but there were a handful that went straight on lecture mode on why am I not thinking about tertiary education.

Along the way, throughout that period of three months before result announcement, a bit of this and that, something just changed my mind. I was actually all set to start on the apprentice programme but yeah, I bailed on them in the end. I think the exact turning point must have been my mom’s nagging, it just hit a chord and changed the whole tune.

“You have to think thoroughly la. It’s not like you’re not smart. Your English so good what. If you become a beauty therapist ah, no matter how high the position you get people will always perceive you as one of those lala girls who flunked their high school,” my god, did that not hit me with horror.  (It’s stereotypical, but to me, it’s just a question of reflection on whether do I really envision the rest of my life in a beauty parlour working as a beauty therapist.)

Not to mention, my father was always, al-the fruity-ways, nagging me to go for Form 6. Funny now that I think of it, Form 6 was never ever something I wanted. I was strongly against it. But yea, whenever the question of what’s next after SPM pops out, he’d always say Form 6! I think back then, what my father expected was getting one level of qualification higher than SPM guarantees better salary for his daughter.

And again, I was convinced to do Form 6. Just another one and a half year. See what happens after that. So Form 6 it was, and truth be told, when I first started Form 6, I actually did not know what it meant. I just wanted to make sure I get my ass out of that tedious Science stream and join the very interesting class with History, Bahasa Malaysia and Malay literature being offered. Yes, boring subjects but hey, I had fun in the class, well, except for History. But in the course of the half-year lower six, I realised going to Form 6 means a place in the local university. And slowly, somewhere between having fun in Form 6 and being contented to be able to runaway with the what’s next question, I made up my mind that I’d want to get into university. And study something that in the end, would lead me to the writing field.

Surprisingly, I got quite good result and the rest became history.

Yes, not very ambitious of a person I was or even am.

But ever since then, I’ve always thought that I know what I want to do in life. Or so I thought. I naively assumed that as long as I know what I want to do, time would do the justice for the rest. And because I felt like I wasted my high school life, I vowed to have a different university life. To commit to something. Which, I guess pretty much change a lot the way I see things.

Like, just knowing what you want to do in life is not enough, you’ve got to know how and what you need to do to get there.

And then, I began wanting something different.

Which leads me to probing myself, what do I really want to do in life?

Maybe it’s the hype youth has. Maybe because I’m the youngest and I don’t really have much burden on my shoulders. Maybe it’s just trying to live up to the YOLO spirit. Or maybe simply because I want to explore as much as I could, before finally curling back into reality and responsibilites.

I might not know for sure what will be of me 5 years from now, it could be me chasing after my passion. It could be me with a stable life. Or it could even be me, well, dead.

Remember when I said my parents, they do not expect me to lead a successful life? As long as I am happy, healthy and just fine?

I guess I was wrong. They do have their expectations towards me. A stable and sustainable life, build a family of your own. Consciously or unconsciously, they have these expectations. And I was brought up with this belief and to want exactly that.

But just like some parents expecting their kids to get a college degree and eventually their kids would go “But sorry pops you just got to wait.”

Photo taken: Jeweanne Chew

A day before EGM, my mom told me: “You better not run what President positions or whatnots. Please put things to a rest after you end your term.”

As much as the decision was made myself to not run for LCP, somehow, silently, tears started trickling down after hearing what my mom said to me.

Not because it’s sort of final that I will not be running for LCP, but because it became more of a solid fact that I, as a daughter, I did not communicate well with my mom, my family on what I’ve been doing. And why I’ve been doing so, what I’m looking for. What I want. As much as I appear to be able to fluently communicate with people, I am very much of a person who fails to actually precisely convey my thoughts and feelings to non other than my family or even anyone else. Because I don’t talk. I don’t know how to.

Hearing Chin Lin telling me one night on the way back to hostel about how her mom had told her to just go for it if it’s really what she wants and hearing it again during EGM, and also seeing another friend of mine where his family was there to witness his success in gaining the confidence from his local committee, it spun me around to see it for myself what is it that have always felt missing.

My family’s support that comes with approval.

I have been let to do anything I’d like so far. But support could only go so far when I’ve always fail to let them understand the why of what I’m doing.

Because as far as I could recall, I don’t know if there was any moment that I’ve ever made any of my family proud of me. Or even see me as who I am. Or see me as how other people sees me.

No matter how much I achieve or I could have, it remains a failure when it could not be shared with the ones closest to me.

Now, the million dollar question; Why you did not run for LCP?

I think I owe anyone that have expected me to run for the position a thank you. Thank you for the confidence you have in me. Thank you for seeing that I have such potential. Thank you for believing  in me even when I highly doubted myself.

Thank you to those people who were kind enough to restlessly talk to me be it physically or virtually when I was still in the indecisive phase. Probing me with questions, trying to help me figure things out. Especially Cui Ying who I always run crying to.

But just so we are clear, no, not because my mom did not let me. Yes, support from family of course have contributed to it, but that is not the main reason. You could say that I’m a coward. Oh yes, I’ve been told that. Or you could just say that I know better of myself.

I wouldn’t say I’m sorry that I’ve disappointed people who believed in me, as much as this might sound extremely selfish and maybe a little arrogant, I am not, never was and never will be obligated  to live up to expectations. Because at the end of the day, it’s my decision. I would be sorry should I have succumbed to mere encouragements and pressures to run for the position. But I had not.

It was like back when in Form 4, prior to school start, I swore that I would not want to be in Science stream. But seeing my friends were all in Science stream and seeing how the whole system was, I simply couldn’t bring myself to switch class. But when in Form 6, I simply knew it wasn’t about friends or ego anymore, and I had to get my ass out of Science stream.

My guts told me so, my heart told me so.

As much as I think running for the position could shape me in a way that I could not imagine, but my instincts told me, no, it really isn’t something you want.

And I just have to trust myself.

I don’t know what would be next. But before I begin leaping off my comfort zone, I guess I have to make sure my family is comfortable with me out of my comfort zone. And I need to learn how to communicate with them.

I just hope I do not appear unrealistic to them. I guess, it’s a learning process that everyone goes through.

A process of creating yourself.

Scribbled,

Mich.

Quote

Silence any song.

I have wished a bird would fly away,
And not sing by my house all day;

Have clapped my hands at him from the door
When it seemed as if I could bear no more.

The fault must partly have been in me.
The bird was not to blame for his key.

And of course there must be something wrong
In wanting to silence any song.

-A minor bird, Robert Frost.

Sometimes, it is equally important to seek solitude to figure things out. Not just immersing yourself into the deep current of encouragement and motivations.

But at times like this, solitude becomes a luxury.

21 Perceptions: #2 Changes – Three sixty

20 minutes of sleep in 24 hours. Or maybe less than that. 18 people, 9 hours, 3 facilitators with 1 purpose. That was 360.

Apparently, an evaluation on the strengths and weaknesses of each and every member of a team with utmost transparency. It wasn’t the original plan of the senior track but to cater what the team needs, changes had been made by the 3 over-dedicated facilitators who not only sacrificed their sleeping hour but also their time in putting so much effort to make it happen.

This post was meant to be published on that day itself. But then, it came to my mind that this was something personal shared among my team and I was truly drained to the core, so I just brushed it off. But, one of the awesome facis mentioned above actually spent time taking bits and pieces of the whole process down. It further touched me.

It was indeed the most beautiful sleepless 9 hours of my life. And I really would like to in any ways that I could, have it recorded down so that those 9 hours are relived every time in anyone’s mind while reading back.

Because I wouldn’t have done it in anyway better (or because I’m just lazy), here is what my team and I went through during Senior Track of LLDS UPM 2013:

***

“A journey of HOPE and MIRACLE” by Foo Jiong Kit

Photo credit: Jeweanne Chew

Photo credit: Jeweanne Chew

If I could sum up my first senior track chairing experience in UPM, it would be “Changes”.

On paper, things looked straight forward: Identify needs, craft agenda, deliver sessions, happily ever after. Guess what, reality hit! One day before the conference, we realised there were underlying problems in the team that need to be tackled before other sessions can even happen. Changes, we made to the agenda to include 360 feedback session.

Day 1: First 2 sessions went well, then came personal & team values. Things started to get sticky as the team struggled to agree on top 3 values that everyone has ownership in. Changes, we did to the agenda again, paused the session and brought forward the 360 feedback.

As an observer, you could see how far apart the team was. It wasn’t a team, it was just a group of people trying to work together. In the 360, we went beyond the surface of problem and talked about personal experiences. Changes, started to take place in the team’s communication where they started talking things beyond work.

It wasn’t sufficient as the team refused to open up and go in depth.

Day 2: First part of the session went well with the team finalising top 3 term ambitions. Consolidation, again was the problem. There still wasn’t a solid common ground for everyone to hold on to and for the team to come to agreement. No one wanted to give in. Changes, were again required.

With time running out, the team was left with 2 options: Superficially wrap things up & complete the agenda or Go deep into the root problem & risk dragging the agenda. This was the first I saw them agreeing as a team and giving full commitment in solving the root of problem. Changes, were on the way.

While the MTs facilitated LC simulation, my awesome facis and I went hunting for energy boost to last the night. Milo, nescafe, cup noodles, chips, snacks, chocolate cake, sweets, you name it, we bought it! Changes, and preparation we made to setup for the second round of 360 feedback.

Day 2 10.50pm: After all the combined sessions were done, it was time! Everyone shared their personal values, past incidents and most painful experience. Tears were shed, minds & hearts were opened up. We went one step further into each one’s strengths & weaknesses. It took us to 4am and we have only completed 4 persons. You could see the tiredness in each of the MTs, but they were determined to make this count.

Day 3 4.00am: We stopped for a cup noodle break while some took quick naps. The team went through one of the most torturing phases, where they were so sleepy yet there were quite a lot more to go. It would have been very easy for them to just give up and completed the session half-heartedly. It would have been very easy for them to just postpone the session to some other time. They did neither, they went on with the same commitment they started.

Day 3 6.00am: Up until this point, everyone was still giving their honest inputs and feedback whenever they have. Some were so tired that they dozed off awhile, but they forced themselves back. They gave each other presence and support. This went on until the last person finished his 360 feedback, it was 7.40am.

Changes, were apparent. In the way they smiled, they react, they interact, we saw the connection. What started just 2 days ago as a group of workers are now looking more like a team. Of course, there were still a lot to be done moving forward. But if 18 people can sit down for 9 hours without sleep just to understand each other better, nothing can stop them.

If anything, this session makes them believe in the team again. They have witnessed how much each other cared for the team and how much more value they can bring to the team. They have realised it is not so difficult to talk to each other outside of AIESEC and they are not so far apart afterall.

As for us facis, it just felt surreal that we actually went through the whole night without sleep with them. It was a beautiful mistake that opened our eyes, just how much a team can improve OVERNIGHT. I certainly learned so much from the team and my facis. It also made me realised how magical AIESEC is and understood what was the missing piece since I started working.

To LC UPM, thank you for this opportunity to know you guys better and for me to rediscover my MOJO. The youthfulness, enthusiasm and love, these are rarities in the corporate world. That said, I think their two LC projects have very befitting names, HOPE and MIRACLE. This is exactly what the LC needs and something that I strongly believe this team can achieve by the end of this term.

In spite of all the changes, have a wonderful journey of HOPE and MIRACLE ahead. 🙂

***

The original post is here. But you might not be able to view it due to the original author’s setting on Facebook.

I was a wreck. Totally a wreck. For some reason, we actually had two rounds of 360. The first round wasn’t on weaknesses and strengths. But because that first round simply wasn’t enough, we had all agreed to have the ‘real’ one.

After the whole team agreed on digging into it, somehow, somewhere in me started radiating fear. Fear that I might not be able to open up myself as much as I wanted to. Pure fear for what will happen to a team of  people who I really love spending time with. What if everything falls apart and we’re just somewhere in the middle down the road. I was afraid that like what our coach said; going deep into the roots could only mean two things; It breaks the team apart. OR, it brings the team together and you move on together, as a team.

I’m one of those people who you could barely see any changes after joining AIESEC. Because “Joining AIESEC, I’ve gained confidence in speaking in front of a crowd.” or “Joining AIESEC, my English has become proficient” simply does not apply to me. I wouldn’t deny that when I see those obvious changes of some other AIESECers being recognised and praised upon, it was somehow demotivating because it triggers a question in mind.

“See, people gain all these after joining AIESEC. They somehow changed and it was rather impressive, what about you?”

It was a question that haunted me for quite some time. And at times, it really bothers me. To me, it felt as if I’ve gained nothing thus far and will not be gaining anything if I continue going down the road. I guess I’m one of those people that demand quick results. Like changing a new eye cream for just two days and I want to see obvious result, else I will feel cheated. And down the road, there is always something that makes me stay a little longer. Be it MyLDS, or a small chat with someone who encourage and motivates me, or even spending time with the team, it keeps me there. Staying a little longer.

And yes; with staying a little longer, really, just a little longer, you’ll see the changes. Because everyone is different, the result you get will definitely be different.

Quoting myself during one of my sharing to my JEs: There will always be time when you feel demotivated, but just try to stay a little longer. Stay a little longer and you will start seeing the changes.

I’m glad I chose to stay a little longer despite my slow reception towards my changes. It is not obvious and I doubt it will ever be, but nevertheless; it is happening.

Scribbled,

Mich