About Me

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She writes simply to put her thoughts together.
Sometimes they're well-structured, sometimes they're in absolute mess.
But always, they're personal.

Ultimately, this is all for Him.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Sakit Mental Unit. Really?

In my workplace, I work within a unit called the Strategic Management Unit, or SMU in short. The other day I saw a sticker pasted somewhere around the service lift which has a playful logo of SMU that says SMU stands for Sakit Mental Unit. I had a laugh at how much it rings true.


After more than half a year in my working life, I must say that it was nothing short of "hitting the ground running". Overwhelmed is probably an understatement. Even so, I feel that I've not only gotten a grip of what I do now, but also that I'm starting to love it. Although, I am stating the latter with reservations, because it could be the result of my being better at what my job, hence I might just confuse love with the sense of accomplishment.

Many people came to me and ask how come I do what I do now if I was so passionate about Physics before. I was passionate about Physics, and I still am. I just need some navigating before I truly decide what I want to dedicate my life into.

As I once told my husband, I still couldn't fully figure out what I really want to do in life and I acknowledge that it might take a long time (maybe years) before I do. All I know is that I want to fully utilise my youth. If I can't achieve much, I want to acquire much. I want to be pushing boundaries. I want to do things I never thought I would, and be good at it. If I can't give as much as I want, I want to at least gain as much as I can so that once I reach that level and age where I can contribute, I can give back more than what I was initially capable of.

Often times people say that part of being a human is that we're made to be resilient. We can surely take whatever life gives us. Scientifically proven. Which is why in the Quran Allah says that He would not inflict us with things that we cannot handle. It's just a matter of how we want to deal with it. Either to survive, or to strive, or to thrive. Yet, as Muslims we need to be the best that we can be and always delivering our best. At times when we're weak, surely our floor would be that we can get out of our struggle safely. Perhaps while curling up in our duvet and cry. But when we're in a better state, is it fair to still choose to do just okay?

I'm always reminded that I'm created for a bigger purpose than the hurdle that I face. Be it going through secondary school, or get a degree, or even graduating this graduate trainee programme. It's just not fun when we're too focused in surviving a particular event because soon enough there'll be another event to handle. After hurdling a series of events, it's only natural that we feel tired. But isn't it more fun and satisfying when we also come out of it bigger and better?

Biarlah kalaupun SMU forever stands for Sakit Mental Unit instead of Sangat Mengasyikkan Unit. But I want to at least I can laugh at the name genuinely, not awkwardly. And that I one day outgrow the mental pain and come out of it with a stronger mental capacity.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Finding Content in a One-Hour Commute

Pun intended.

On a normal day, it usually takes me a solid one hour to get from the gate of my house to my seat at the office. Shying away from the fact that previously, it took me only 15 minutes of cycling to get to uni. I consider my daily commute to work in the KL metropolitan is alright.

First 20 minutes is the drive to LRT station, then 10 minutes of looking for a parking space and waiting for the train to arrive, 20 minutes of train journey to the station at my office, and another 10 minutes to walk and take the elevator up my place.

After a few years living in the UK, I somehow trained myself to not listen to the radio. I do listen to music occasionally, but only selected ones, and that's all. Radio stations are different in comparison to music playlists - they have DJs talking, programmes, and commercials. After some while driving in Malaysia, somehow, I grew an annoyance towards anything but music on the radio. So usually if I were to switch on the radio, I would be jumping from one station to another everytime a song in that particular radio ends.  To me, it's either music or just complete silence. But because jumping stations can be too much of a hassle, especially in the morning where talkshows are everywhere. Sometimes I even get annoyed by having the same songs being repeated in the radio. I don't fancy listening to music from my phone because my phone speaker is so bad and  my car doesn't have an AUX port. USB stick is an option, but since I don't really listen to music, I couldn't be bothered to do the compiling.

Besides, everyday I only have to drive for about 20+20 minutes, so I usually just leave the radio off and enjoy the silence.

After the driving, as I get off my parked car at the station and continue my journey by train, I'll either occupy my time with reading the Mathurat/Quran or a book. The 20-minute journey is more than enough to finish a mathurat kubra, or the whole surah kahfi, or help me achieve my one-month-one-book resolution. In fact, I've been doing one-month-two-books now (yeay!).

But matters started to change last month when I had to go to my one-week monthly training. The training is held at an office near my mum's workplace. What's usually the case is that I would go on an hour ride with my mum to her workplace and walk for about five minutes to get to the training venue. Since I have another person in the car and I'm not the one driving, I would usually kill the commuting time through chatter and alternating it with browsing social media. What made last month's training different is that my mum was on leave the entire week. Alhamdulillah, I don't have to pay for parking since I can have her spot. But this means that I have to drive on my own and battle the rush hour traffic for one and a half hour in total everyday (somehow it takes me one hour to get to the venue, but just half an hour on my return journey).

With the horrendous traffic of KL, my road rage simply cannot be contained. I got agitated by the amount of time I spent on the road, not being able to do anything beneficial. One day I ranted about this issue to a friend of mine, to which she suggested listening to podcasts. I told her that I don't like listening to people talk, to which she responded that that maybe because the talks you usually hear on the radio are of no substance. As I reflected back, perhaps that could be the reason why. Malaysian radios are largely filled with prank calls and stupid challenges and useless (yet perhaps to some, fun) topics like "the most embarrassing that happened to me at gym" or "how affectionate should you be in public" which encourages people to call in but rarely refer/relate to anything solid. Empty entertainment, in my opinion. And I feel that kills the precious little extra time I have in a day.

My friend then suggested BFM, among others, saying that they cover some interesting topics.

I gave it a go that day and the day after. And I got hooked. Although their soundtracks are not to my appeal, but their topics for talks and discussion are so random yet of good substance. And they call in speakers who are experts in their field. This isn't just about a supply of information to increase your general knowledge, you actually get the vibe of passion and context from the people who's been doing the things they talk about their whole life. The DJs are also great moderators, coming up with critical questions that heats up the conversation so it doesn't feel dry, making the discussion to be very intellectually stimulating.

Did I mention that BFM have almost no commercials at all? I once tried an Islamic station - out of guilt because Islamically-inclined people usually listen to that station all the time - but grew utter annoyance of the immensely high amount of commercials they have. I don't want to talk about the quality of the station because the commercial part itself is a huge turn off for me. I'm sorry to say this, but if say I'm not a very practicing Muslim, that sort of media feed would definitely not catch my interest to be closer to Islam at all.

Anyways, up to this point, I've been loving the talks/discussions and whatnot on BFM and I feel that it relaxes me because unlike reading books, it doesn't involve much thinking, yet I'm not wasting my time while driving.

So that's why, this finding gave me the sense of contentment and it's also giving my brain content ;)

If anyone knows of any podcast or other radio station or anything of the similar nature, would appreciate if you can suggest it so I can explore - and also for the benefit of others who read.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

To Do What You Love and To Love What You Do

Towards the end of my second year at uni, I had resigned to the fact that I would need to learn to work with my most-despised science subject i.e. Chemistry. During A-Level years, I studied hard in that particular subject only for the sake of getting good grades. But then as I get deeper into Physics, I've chosen a path that puts quantum physics into practicality through condensed matter physics, which is much associated with materials science. Since physics is the heart of hard sciences, doing materials science would either mean that you head towards the engineering side of it or its chemistry. My university is known to merge physics with chemistry really well (whilst its engineering department is more towards doing management and business). This therefore pushed me to face the subject that I once declared to be the bane of my life.

Little did I know that that's not my last encounter of such events.

I've strayed away from the science path entirely now, venturing into the corporate world through the lens of an investment company. Whether this change is permanent or temporary to me, only time will tell. All I know is that I have a bond of 4 years to the government to serve and this is how I repay their funding of my tertiary education.

Simply, like how UK was a phase in my life (a good chunk of it), doing management/finance is just another phase to me.

With absolutely zero background in social science, let alone accounting or finance or business or management (unless you consider being housemates with Accounting and Finance students as an exception), I am most definitely learning things from scratch again. Resonating what I said in my job interview, I am always up for the pursuit of knowledge. The challenge that it poses is an interesting prospect but it still doesn't negate the fact that the outlook can be quite daunting. What with my open declaration I repetitively made, of that I would never ever consider opening up a business (cause I know I would suck badly at it), I've always steered away when people do business talks around me. Yes I like knowledge, but never in my slightest mind that that knowledge would be something that I have been passionately dislike.

I guess I never learned my lesson to never say never.

After four weeks into my current job, the experience is never short of overwhelm with the spice of constantly feeling stupid. Trust me when I said that the past 4 weeks felt like 4 months (my colleague when to the extent of saying it felt like 4 years.lol). Time and time again I felt like quitting and asked myself "what on earth am I doing here". I've sworn my life to not get into the corporate life that I've even paved my path to become a proper scientist. But we can only plan. Post-graduation, given all the choices that was laid out in front of me, I decided that this would be the best for now.

As one of the few graduate trainees hired, I would have to attend an on-job classroom training for one week every month. A good time off from the hectic office environment I would say. But that's not all to it. The training consists of academic modules in - guess what - ACCOUNTING. Tipulah kalau langsung tak terbit rasa "why does this always happen to me" T.T

I couldn't handle it at first. Most - if not all - of what the teacher/trainer was teaching went straight over my head. Part of me simply could not fathom what was taught, part of me refused to even make an effort to. Selama ni tak pernah amek kisah langsung apa kengkawan aku belajar T.T . But I was left with no choice. Our performance would consistently be measured throughout the training. With case studies and homework and presentation and exam, I cannot afford to remain clueless throughout.

It was hard.

The first day was all about battling myself. I gave up before the class even started. In class, all I did was stared blankly at the teacher. When assignments were given to us, I was beyond uncomfortable. Good thing the teacher was really understanding and encouraging. Once I manged to control my emotions and submit to what I had to face, positivity kept coming in. I realised that in the hardships that I had to endure, I made friends - a support group in fact. In the midst of my being clueless, I actually learned the subject along the way (besides the fact that the module structure is excellent and the teacher is beyond amazing). Now I can look at a financial statement and able to run all the possible analysis to determine how good a business is doing. Haha.

Looking back, the process was actually fun.

An overlook of the class. In total, there's 13 of us in our graduate trainee cohort.
11 in the Investments, 2 in Strategic Management.

And that, my friend, is the beauty of berlapang dada (no, I couldn't find the right english word to use haha). I'm sure everyone wants to be happy. Some of us are even in the pursuit of happiness. But life won't always be on our side. It's meant to be hard - even the Quran says so. It would grind us to the ground, it would squeeze us to pulp. Sometimes we just have to come to terms with it in order for us to enjoy living. And that would sometimes mean loving the things that we have no choice of doing. But in order to achieve the love to the point of enjoying what we do, it requires hard work. Tremendous amount of effort needs to be put in. Like they said, "love" is a verb, not a noun. It's something that you need to work on, not something that simply exists.

It's still a roller coaster ride for me. Sometimes I get to achieve that enjoyment in my work, sometimes I would fall back to the point where I hate my work. Going back and forth of the two extremes is definitely tiring. But humans are adaptive. If we persevere long enough, I'm sure before I know it, it's going to be a hard goodbye.

But then again, there's always that sort of things that you love easily, with no minimal effort needed. Good thing the one lifetime commitment I recently made requires little to no effort to attain the highest level of love and satisfaction ;)

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Celebrated Intention

Recently, I've noticed myself to be more and more inclined towards minimalism. It could be because one of my close friends preach minimalism a lot that I got affected, or that my housemates are all for it in leading their lives, or that I'm constantly in an overwhelmed state that my conscious mind wants other things to be as simple as possible. Either way, I believe that this is a healthy direction to go in terms of changing myself in preparation of the KL lifestyle I'm soon to face. Well, "change" might be a crude way to say it. When they say people change, there's always somewhat a tinge of negative connotation to it. I personally prefer the word "evolve". It sounds more........natural.

My graduation was a fine example of how Allah celebrates this evolution of mine. Being the only Malay graduating in the first ceremony of the graduation week at my uni, the spirit of graduation was only starting to warm up. The "suam-suam kuku" ambient allowed me to enjoy the company of my family and my truest friends who were genuinely happy for me. On that day, I received one little teddy bear, a couple of thoughtful gifts, absolutely no flowers at all, and had very few pictures taken (that's after pushing ourselves so hard because we were so tired from the event). Putting aside that I'm surrounded by people who are far from being publicly-announced sweet (lol), I was actually very happy and content. I may not get to be spoiled for being a graduand, but each gift I received (physical or not) was definitely the best I could ever ask for. There's this one hadith from the Prophet that promotes the giving of gifts to instill love in our hearts and purifying it. I admit that I am not the kind to give gifts but after being showered with so much love, I can definitely say that this hadith holds true. Funny how when you have very little, that's when your gratitude amplifies.

Of the books that I received. Both are splendid read indeed!.
The left book was actually from a gift exchange event.
But mashaAllah, they're both the right thing at the right time <3

I've witnessed how the 3 years of my stay in England made me evolve to a whole new person than I was before. Fresher, and hopefully better. I've come to like the fast-paced growth I experience here that the thought of returning back daunts me so much. But I have to swallow the fact painfully that this is not reality. My reality awaits me, 13-hour flight-journey from here. True that they say, 3 years in the UK is only a mere training ground for us to combat what lies deep in where we came from. May Allah grant us strength.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Happiness Shared

I don't usually make a big fuss out of birthdays, not even mine. But this year, I wanted to make it different. Don't know why. It could be because it marks the end of my study here in England (my student card is valid only up to my birth date this year), or that it signifies the end of my journey with my fellow comrades of 3 years. Either way, I decided that I want to do it the Western way i.e. throw my own party, inviting my dearest and closest friends.

The timing was just right. We just got our results and will be graduating with the degree that we've struggled for a good chunk of our life. All of us are in the midst of preparing ourselves for the next phase, in anticipation of achieving great things inshaAllah. Since my circle of friends consists of fellow introverts, it would come of no surprise if we lose contact of each other in the future. And I really want to show them that I appreciate the support that they gave to me, the time and space that we shared, and our togetherness in braving through the blood sweat and tears for this degree. Since I'm usually the cook amongst us, I've decided to cook one last round of feast for them - with the help of my sisters (biological and not hihi).

Of butter rice (not in the picture) and grilled chicken, mashed potato with gravy, and brownies with ice cream.
Basically a bit of everything!
*Sebenarnya nak habiskan stok makanan haha

The journey towards being 23 was really something else. I experienced the worst emotional and mental roller coaster than I ever had before. I lost grip of life and either gone mental or full autonomous mode. But no matter how much I feel like what I had was really bad, I'm sure it's not the worst - there's definitely going to be worse things to face in the future (haha talk about pessimism to the core). But it's alright. Humans are designed to be resilient towards adversity biiznillah.

Even so, I must say that I have achieved great things at the cost of my misery in the past one year as well. Perhaps of greatest height that I ever had - multiple, in fact. So really, I cannot complain though I awfully did. The world is never a perfect place to be - that's why we have to only strive for heaven. We win some, we lose some. But we (I) tend to focus only on the negatives when in fact, the positives outweigh them on a much larger scale. If there's anything I learned the hard way, is that I need to always always always count my blessings and never lose sight of His mercy at times of difficulty. And the latter was definitely my last string of hope when I was so near to asking "why me".

I finally felt that the UK is indeed a training ground towards equipping me in becoming a better person to serve in Malaysia. Special thanks to family and friends who provided endless support and never got bored of me asking for help over the same thing time and time again. I don't know how I can ever repay you guys but I do believe that there's nothing better than hoping that Allah rewards you with many goodness abundantly, to the point that He brings you to His jannah <3

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Midnight

Johan Christian Dahl's Midnight. Taken from Denmark's SMK
"And He found you lost, so (He) guided (you)." [93:7]


Amazing how in very little light,
A lot of information is lost.

Yet the details that you didn't see before,
Suddenly capture your eyes,
And their presence amplifies.

How much of a black paint the artist used to create this,
That each stroke of white brings a new perspective.
A sense of meaning to this wonderful piece.

Isn't that how light works?
A shine of hope in the loom of darkness.







Lost. Hopefully not a lost cause.
Something's really wrong with me and I don't know how to fix it anymore.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

What It Means to Have to Feel Stupid

I was placed in the spot. All eyes on me now. Everyone was expecting me to read out my Chinese oral script aloud.
"But I haven't even practiced it yet."
"In fact, I haven't even proofread it."
"I doubt I can even read the characters I have written."
All these thoughts were running in my head during the few seconds of pause I had when the teacher called my name to go next.
"No, I don't want to do it."

Eventually I gave in, fumbling at every other word. Swear to God that that must have been the worst recital ever. I could feel my face flushed and my ears hot. The teacher knew I was recycling the essay that I submitted a while ago - not even the best essay I have produced - and there was just too many errors that I'm sure my teacher didn't even know where to begin with.

I'm sure we all had that sort of moment, at least once in our life.

Throughout the 5 years of my being in the British education system, if I were to pinpoint ONE thing that I've learnt, it's definitely going to be: repetition is indeed the key to success. LOL, the 17 year-old me would have strongly disagreed to this. Repetition meaning doing the same thing over and over again, but improving the flaws of the previous effort every single time, fine-tuning each detail so that by the end of it (hopefully) you'll obtain a near-perfect end result. The exams in this system are just so hard (70% for First Class doesn't mean it's easy to get a First, it just means 70% is just dead hard to get) that you're constantly being pushed to make sure you actually do your level best. I guess that's why our exams are all at the end of the year (with a few exceptions); to provide ample time for us to make sure we're nearing the success at the end of it. The thing is - at least in my experience - they'll always want to monitor our progress.

Being a perfectionist who takes failures a little bit too personally, I dread having to go through those multiple failures for every monitoring sessions. Like how I had to submit my first draft of dissertation to my supervisor, only being said to my face that it's crappy. Well, he didn't actually say it to my face, but I get the idea. Or when my Chinese teacher wanted us to recite the script we prepared for oral exam before the actual exam, knowing I would just be told off (implicitly) that I need to go rewrite it. I mean, who wants to feel such pain and humiliation?

And of course, the whole process of being in progress is just utterly painful, and the starting point is simply the worst. We'll feel stupid countless of times. Countless. For instance, I've cried over my A-Level Maths past-exams papers. Then throughout my Bachelors, I get frustrated over and over again by the fact that I can never ever understand Quantum Physics. Then when I think I do, I become agitated that I cannot answer the test questions. But really, what choice do I have? Keep ploughing my way through my degree, or give everything up. And you have no idea how tempting the latter have always been.

But that's just how life works, isn't it? If you're not familiar with a subject, you can't expect to be extremely good at it the first time round. Yeah, there are a few occasions where rookie's luck comes into the picture. But it doesn't usually work that way, does it? It's just the law of the Universe (i.e. sunnatullah) that human beings best learn from the mistakes they made. We are beings that are always subject to our own experiences and perceptions. That's just how we roll grow. If we have had no experience of that certain matter, there's just no way we can perfectly put the known theory into action. So if we don't choose to feel the pain of failure and stupidity beforehand, we would have to feel it when it truly matters e.g during the actual exam time. And we wouldn't want that, do we?

Always trust a cup of tea to sooth you.
Even if it is as severe as Condensed Matter Physics.

Yesterday was the first time I get to listen to the Friday khutbah at uni after a long time and the khatib touched on taqwa and related it to the upcoming Ramadan. He reminded us that the goal set by Allah for us in Ramadan is to attain taqwa, and that we need to prepare ourselves to make sure that we make full use of the month so we can achieve that target. It was indeed a very timely reminder because it was only the day before that I did a voluntary fast. And I don't know why, maybe it was because of the weather, or maybe because I was quite active that day, but I was beyond exhausted a few hours before iftar and stuffed my face with so many food by the time it was maghrib. Yeah, I've experienced fasting in the long hours of summer before, but that was a year ago. My "skills" of long-hour fasting has gone so rusty that I need to get back to doing it again. Sure, it's going to be really tiring during the first few attempts, but wouldn't that mean by the time Ramadan's here, I'll (hopefully) be fit enough to collect all the ajr that's contained in the blessed month - instead of complaining for days end? If I've chosen to plough through the few years of painful academic years to get through the exams, why wouldn't I want to plough to just a few days of hunger "torture" for something much much greater - Ramadan?

Here's a very interesting campaign by IKRAM UKE.
Picture retrieved from here.


And if I've battled my way through the last 5 years, achieving considerable success along the way, why won't I at least stand up in this last battle of mine. Kan Sofina?