Life Thoughts, Personal

“Why are you being so harsh on yourself?”


Last week, I made an appointment to see the University’s Wellbeing services. It’s nothing major, no worries. It was mainly because I needed a neutral third party to talk to – someone outside my close circle of family and friends. I don’t know, but sometimes ranting about unnecessary things and problems to a complete stranger in a controlled environment helps clear things up. Maybe it’s just me, oh well.

Anyhow, I think I probably spent like ~40 minutes or so with the advisor. Got teared up a little when I was talking about some personal issues I’ve been having (though nothing new, really, just actually talking out load about it is harder than just keeping it to myself or writing it out on this blog). 

It wasn’t much of an issue to me, really, because I always have things in control. It’s just that sometimes, talking about things out loud helps me to see things in a new way. Even the advisor said so herself – I seem to have everything in place.

I know myself well. I have a support system. Regardless of the problems I have, I seem to know how to deal with it well.

After all, I’m Syaza Nazura, no? I’m supposed to have things in control.

But then, she asked me a question that rang in my head up until today.

“Why are you being so harsh on yourself?”

To be honest, I don’t actually know why this happens. I mean, okay, I know that it’s a problem that I’m having and I’m trying to get over it. I’ve been good at knowing my limits, doing things according to what I want in life, and living my life the way I see fit. And while I’ve grown up in an Asian background, where family and community dictates a lot about what we do and how we live life, I’ve been generally pretty good at going against the flow a little bit here and there.

I mean, look at me. Despite all the “You got straight A+ for SPM, why don’t you do medicine?” and the “Wait, what? You have a degree in actuarial science but you want to do education?”, I did okay in doing life my own way.

You should stop being so harsh on yourself

That may be one of the reasons to why I’m being so harsh on myself.

Even now, I know that yes, I am supposed to be here.

God wouldn’t put me here if it wasn’t meant to be. The University wouldn’t have accepted me for their program if they don’t think I would do well. My parents wouldn’t have allowed me to go if they didn’t think I would survive.

Most importantly – I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t think I could make it out of this.

But see, that’s the thing.

I’m doing this for me. I chose this journey. No one, not even my parents, forced me to do this. I am here because I wanted to be here.

Which makes it even worse because if I fail here, it’s all on me. If I somehow screw this up, I only have myself to blame.

Because of that, I put a lot of pressure on myself. To be perfect. To not make any mistakes. I’m not saying that it’s bad, but it isn’t entirely good either. This means that if I feel like I’m not performing at the level that I think I should (i.e. if I spent the whole day watching anime vs actually doing work, or if I don’t think I’m contributing enough in the seminars as compared to my classmates, etc), it just sends me down to the pits of disappointment and guilt.

Loosen the grip a little – let yourself free to experiment and make mistakes, learn to enjoy life and take it slow sometimes

After all, I’m a Malaysian. I grew up surrounded by kiasu-ness, especially as I was a product of a boarding school. I aim for perfection, nothing less than full marks. But sometimes, this can be damaging to my self-confidence, especially when things don’t go the way I wanted them to.

At this point in time, I am super grateful for my American education experience. It was there in the States that I learnt to let myself loose a little. I learnt to let go of my kiasu-ness, my need for perfection. It was especially useful during my junior year, when I decided that Actuarial Science was not my cup of tea. I didn’t feel as much pressure to score all A’s in the subjects I knew I wasn’t strong at. 

Instead, I focused my energy on things that I know I could do well, and that I wanted to pursue in my future. I stopped comparing myself to other people, and stopped getting intimidated by other people’s successes. What I wanted for my future and what my friends wanted for their future are different, and that’s okay. It’s okay to have different goals.

I guess I need that Syaza back now, to constantly remind myself that I am not competing against anyone but my own self. I need to remind myself that it is okay to focus on myself, to perform self-care and take care of my mental health.

And I need to remind myself, over and over again, that it is okay to seek help when I feel down. 

Seeking for help is not a sign of weakness – but instead, a sign of courage.

My tutors have been amazing, and I am so grateful for them. Whenever I feel like shit in class for not knowing what my other friends know, they’ve always know how to make me feel better about myself. And they keep reminding me that I bring a unique view to the table, and that I should be proud of it.

The Wellbeing advisor that I talked to suggested a few things that I could do, one of which I may need your help on. She recommended that I take on a personal project, something that I do solely for me, to keep me motivated and inspired. She knows that I write, and she supports that as writing helps me to express myself.

Blogging aside, I wanted to try out something new, something outside of my comfort zone. I talked to Aizan (who else can entertain the endless side projects that I have planned in my head?), and we came up with a possible idea. 

If (and this is a major if), I were to start a bi-weekly newsletter, would you be interested to subscribe to it? It’s nothing major – probably filled with lessons I’ve learnt in my life / studies, sharing of an article that I’ve read, random fun fact, thoughts on graduate studies / jobsearching next year, things like that.

If it’s something that would interest you, please do let me know your thoughts and comments. I would really appreciate hearing from you and take in any suggestions that you have to offer. It’s still in the planning phase as we’ve only talked about it last night, but I’d like to hear what you guys think about it.

Okay, I think this should be all for now. It’s almost 3am, and I need to sleep since I have classes tomorrow afternoon.

Until next time – stay awesome everyone <3

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