Starstruck

Nature. We hardly pay attention to it, yet it’s still there, relentlessly, unapologetically beautiful and blazing and bright. 
I think nature as a concept is very attractive to a lot of people. We like the pretty flowers, the idea of wide open green fields or groves of tall fir trees, dappled deer peeping shyly out from behind the moss-covered trunks. Rose petals, birdsong, softness, music. All associated with the idea of nature. The word itself is immediately evocative of whimsical little tableus worthy of any tumblr user’s blog. 

But, in loving the idealistic version of nature, we dye it with our own expectations and when it doesn’t live up to our idea of this perfect dream fantasy world, we stop appreciating it and look for another spot that does live up to our fantasies.

But nature is more than that. Nature is more than moss and flowers and idyll and butterflies. Nature is soil. Nature is warmth. Nature is the smell of humidity in our nostrils when we breathe in on a particularly warm summer night. Nature is the gentle breeze, but it is also the hurricane. Nature is gentle, foaming waves breaking on the shore, but it is also the tsunami. 
Nature is venomous snakes, blind mole rats, funnel-web spiders and gulper eels. Nature is all the animals we glossed over in school because they were too ugly to hold our interest for long. 

How captivated we can be by beauty, and yet, how blind we can become to all of its facets when we only focus on one.

German music 

Hey guys! I don’t know if I ever mentioned this before but I actually study German. I live in Singapore, so I have little (if any) experience with the language. One of the ways I tried to expose myself to German, particularly in the earlier days, was through music. My absolute favourite band is an NDH band called Oomph! but I do want to do a separate post on them, probably on my music blog.

I recently came across some really good songs, and I thought I’d share them here because even if not all of us can speak the language we can all appreciate a good tune. 

1) Dann kommt die Musik – Flowrag

2) Aus Gold – Tagtraeumer

This is SO GOOD it’s such a typical teenager feel-good song. It makes me feel so free and happy. 

3) Ich bereue Nichts

There is no way to describe Stefanie Kloß’s voice other than… 👌

4) Musik sein – Wincent Weiss

5) Herz über Kopf – Joris

6) So schön kaputt – SDP

7) Fühlt sich wie fliegen an – Max Herre ft. Cro

This is the chillest song that ever chilled. It has the wear-a-big-shirt-lie-on-couch-eat-chips-and-bob-head-in-time-to-beat vibes.

8) Perfekt Unperfekt

The girl in the video is almost the most gorgeous female I have ever seen.

9) Fick ihn doch – Alligatoah

This is extremely vulgar but the video and lyrics are so hilarious. Alligatoah makes really funny songs. Also, I have actually found that listening to rap can exponentially improve one’s ability to understand spoken German.

be kind.

Guys so something tiny happened like one day ago but I’m still thinking about it, so I thought I’d share. 

I was just having a group sharing session with some church mates and all of a sudden, one of them (a close Friend of mine- we’ll call him Jake) mentions that I was the first girl who ever talked to him in church. 

We all laughed it off and I made a joke about it, but what he said really stuck with me and this is why: I had absolutely no recollection of this. We’d been friends for so long that I had kind of forgotten the “origin story”, if you will, of our friendship. And he went on to say that this friendship he formed with me was one of the reasons he was now able to feel comfortable in the church environment. 

This sounds like such a tiny little thing, but it made a big impact on me because I suddenly realised: 

Everything you do in life affects the people around you in some way. A smile, a “good morning”, a conversation started, a laugh shared- small, simple gestures, but to someone else it might mean a whole lot. I started to talk to Jake not for any particular reason: we were both in the same camp, I was looking for a friend, and I suppose Jake was just there. Like I said, I have no recollection of this, but to Jake, it was significant as I was the first female friend (and one of the first friends) he made in church. 

To me, one of the most underrated roles is that of the supporting character. It is often he or she that starts the action in the play, while the main character merely experiences the effects of it. Scene: main character walks down the street. Stranger runs up to them to return them their wallet they’d unknowingly dropped some time back. Main character bursts into tears, having narrowly escaped losing the money to buy an engagement ring in the form of a cheque which was stored in his wallet. Scene: main character sneezes and finds himself out of tissue. Stranger hands him handkerchief. Main character wipes nose and is saved from looking like an idiot holding his nose for the entire train ride.

It’s a really important role, if you think about it. The ability to affect the story of someone else’s life. Everything we do matters, even if we don’t realise it. So be kind. Be generous. Know that you live not only as the protagonist but also the random passer-by whose presence rather than character is crucial to the development of an ongoing plot. 

Might write more about this later but am way too lazy right now.

project shanah update!

Hi guys! If you remember this post, I talked about a small project my friend and I were starting called Project Shanah. 

We just posted our second installment of our #fiveminutekindnesses. 

Again, it’s only been like two weeks, but if you’re interested in participating we’ll be posting weekly “kindness challenges” on our instagram @projectshanah

Thanks to anyone who’s shown support so far! It’s lovely when people can work together for the better. 

I said in my previous post that this project was meant as a reminder to:


Cynicism
, that youthful exuberance and optimism are not always misguided, and that change is possible and necessary.


Ourselves
, that every little thing we do for the good of others matters.


The world
, that everything has a beginning, no matter how small that beginning may be.

I still believe strongly in this. 

By the way! You don’t even need to be following the instagram to support the project, you can simply check in on it every week to get the latest updates. We’re not looking for followers, just like-minded people with a heart for change 🌱

If anyone is interested in being added to a whatsapp/telegram group where you can partcipate in planning/publicising/designing things for the project, do drop us a DM or email me at mlruiqi@gmail.com 😊

insecurities

Hello! 

Although the title of this post sounds really solemn, that isn’t my intention at all. 

I was just reflecting about how I’ve come such a long way over the past few years in terms of my self-esteem and confidence. I find it such a pity that so many beautiful people in the world feel so insecure about themselves, just because they have or don’t have certain body parts/skills/other things that society tells us that we “need” to have in order to be “pretty” or “accepted”. 

I think one thing that really affects the way we see ourselves is really social media/the media in general. For me, a lot of my self-image issues stemmed from instagram and how a lot of users chose to present themselves. 

There’s really nothing wrong with wanting to look your best or anything like that, because you are beautiful/good-looking/handsome/cute/all-round amazing and we all should learn to celebrate that fact about ourselves more! It’s just that one problem with such social media is that we often don’t remember that we’re literally only seeing what others want us to see. 

We’re not seeing how these people normally look in their daily life- we’re seeing them from behind filters, makeup, really good lighting, specific angles, and all of that stuff. I think a lot of us don’t remember that and we look at the photo and think, “I’ll never be as perfect as he/she is”. That’s true. Often, it’s really impossible to achieve that flawless look in real life, because the people in the pictures themselves don’t even look like the people in the pictures! That’s why I really love the #5secondtransformation hashtag on instagram, where users show side-by-side comparisons of what they normally look like and how they look like when they pose for instagram/other social media sites.

Kudos to all these women! There were men as well, but sadly theirs were mostly videos and I couldn’t exactly screenshot the videos.

Again, there’s nothing wrong with posting pictures of yourself that you feel look good and show yourself in the best light. If I take a good selfie, I’m sure as heck posting it because hey, everyone loves to feel good about themselves! 

Just remember that the pictures we see online should not be the standard we set for our own appearances, because we are all already beautiful in our own way, both with and without that filter, with and without that editing, with and without that perfect angle. 

I thought it would be a nice idea to do a sort of “body-positive” post where I posted some things that society would say should make me insecure about myself, but with which I am slowly learning to accept and love as part of my ongoing growth! Hopefully this can also help others realise that:

  1. They aren’t the only ones struggling with these self-esteem issues.
  2. They can still feel confident and beautiful, even with these so-called “flaws”.  

Soo… let’s get started!

So, as you can tell from the above picture, I have nowhere near perfect skin. And yes, neither do I have very bad acne, but my skin has still been a constant source of worry and anxiety to me for a really long time. Recently, it really started to clear up. However, I just kind of kept finding more and more things to find fault with. I no longer have really bad pimples/large whiteheads on my face, but it’s very rough and has big pores and a lot of blackheads, as well as being really oily. Then I realised- even though my skin was really much better, I was so down about it I could only see the negative points in it, preventing me from allowing myself to feel pretty/as happy as I could have been. If you don’t learn to love yourself as a person first, no matter how much your physical appearance improves you’re always going to find something negative about it to pull down your self-esteem. So don’t fret if you don’t always look like you have baby-soft skin- just try and accept that most humans on the planet never have and never will have it, and that’s the plain truth.

Hairy legs. It’s a forest down there. I’ve never shaved nor do I plan to (so much work), and honestly most people… do not seem to care. Other than myself.

Scars, cuts, bruises. We all have them. This is one that has been on my thumb for really long (I am a competitive sprint kayaker and I tend to get these abrasions) and I get teased about it sometimes. My friends like to laugh at me about how my hypothetical boyfriend won’t want to hold my hand (I have the same type of scars on my palms and fingers as well). This isn’t something that’s a really big issue for me, although I know it can be big for some so I thought I would share.

I kind of see scars as permanent reminders of things that I’ve been through, rather than unwelcome additions to my body. Every time I see the one on my thumb I think, “wow, look at how resilient I am to train so much to the point where I have that thing on my finger.” When I see the scars all over my legs, it reminds me of the camp I went to when I was fifteen and how I spent five days with my schoolmates literally in the tropical jungles- and survived. I guess you could say I see them as a “badge of honour” in a way? 

My skin colour. I’m extremely tan, and I come from a pretty pale family on the female side. Plus, my culture tends to see “fair” the “ideal” female skin colouring. That’s my sister through and through. She has skin like a porcelain doll. This was not really a problem for me until I started comparing myself to her and realised how incredibly dark I was- which honestly is really stupid because I am a kayaker. I spend literally three hours in the sun twice a week, with four and a half hours on Saturday. I’m gonna be tan. 

Let’s end off with this:

1) Things I’m insecure about and how they make me feel:

  • Skin – imperfect, ugly
  • Scars – gross
  • Skin colour – “undesirable”
  • Hairy legs – “non-feminine”, lazy

2) Things other people have told me that they like about me:

  • I’m a nice person.
  • They care about me.
  • I’m fun to be around.

3) Things I value in other people:

  • Whether or not they’re nice.
  • When they’re kind.
  • When they’re patient.

4) Amount physical appearance seems to matter to me and to other people:

  • Apparently, not at all.

Final message: we’re all beautiful people, and our outside appearance can’t change that. Outward appearances are just embellishments to who we are as a a person.

So yeah! Those are the things I’m a little insecure about. Hopefully I helped someone feel less alone/better about themselves, and if anyone’s up for doing this as well please let me know! I’d love to read it.