With doubt all over my face, “Do I look nice in this dress?” I ask. She frowns and the creases on her forehead makes her look funny. “You look fat! Have u thought of liposuction?” I feel like my world is shattered to pieces and the tick-tock of my room clock seems deafening. Time is running out for my date and I am yet to find a dress that fits me and s...Learn MoreWith doubt all over my face, “Do I look nice in this dress?” I ask. She frowns and the creases on her forehead makes her look funny. “You look fat! Have u thought of liposuction?” I feel like my world is shattered to pieces and the tick-tock of my room clock seems deafening. Time is running out for my date and I am yet to find a dress that fits me and satisfies her too. To make things simpler, I wear my pants and a flowery blouse which covers all the necessary bulges. I don’t ask a word and wait for her comment in trepidation. She gives a weak smile and says, “Yeah, you don’t have much time. This looks like a safe bet. Quickly put some make-up on, will you?” Despite my brave front and safe attire, the date was still a flop indeed. She says with full of confidence, “I am so sure he lied his travel track records…who can travel to ALL those countries. Such a showoff!” I didn’t feel like defending him that he traveled for work too. It just seemed futile trying to make her understand when she is fixed that he is lying. And this is nothing new to me too, feeling bad about myself and sulking after a disaster date. Sometimes it feels like my life goes on a creepy rewind-stop-play mode especially my dates. With a smile plastered on my face the next morning, I am determined to make Monday blues vanish into thin air. I greet my receptionist and smile at the security personnel. When I reached my office cubicle, I feel a surge of positive energy. Here she comes and says, “Someone is looking very bright and sunny today, huh?” I faked a smile so wide and replied, “It’s a beautiful day and indeed I am bright and sunny to make the best of it.” I am not sure if it was a sarcastic snide or an amused expression but I was surprised to hear her say, “Well then, this calls for a celebration indeed. You seem to be in fake-it-till-you-make-it mindset.” And she evaporated. And it turned out to be a good day after all, my boss appreciated my efforts in the meeting and I was selected for the business conference end of the month. My close friend called me out for lunch after almost 6 months and we had a great time reminiscing our childhood memories. As always Lucky was waiting eagerly to play with me when I got home and I took him out for a walk. The breeze was chilly and a sudden sense of gratitude quivered throughout my body. I actually live in a safe neighbourhood with lovely people who smile and gather for all festivals to indulge in food and fun. I realize how green it is to the extent of seeming like each house is competing with the neighbours to have the best garden. I almost jump out of my skin when she says, “Did you see that squirrel? So small and cute it was.” It feels good to hear her say things like that. Normal and nice. I say in a rising rhythm, “It was a nice day today you know. I do feel like celebrating. Would you like to join me for dinner? Pesto spaghetti with pumpkin soup and mashed potato.” She nods and I conclude happily that it is more than a nice day. As I made it a practice to say my prayers before meals and reflect the good moments at the end of the day, my days become enjoyable and I find people tolerable. I treasure simple ways of life and appreciate the little things however minute they seem. She seemed softer and started saying inspiring things to keep me positive. I have not seen that side of her at all and this new revelation makes me like her even more. At work, I start my day with “Today is the best day of my life” and when I face hurdles, I hurl “Even this will pass” and march on. I notice she laughs more these days, it could be that she is laughing hard at me but nevertheless it has a nice ring to it and it doesn’t offend me. Even on rainy days, I make myself a mug of hot chocolate and grab a book to read. She joins me and assassinates the characters of the novel cruelly. I laugh at her witty comments and realize that any day can be a good day if I choose it to be so. It does feel like my life is taking turns as the season. From the chilly winter when I was gloomy and down, I blossomed into someone positive and happy like spring. With so much action and energy, I will speed through summer in full speed until autumn slows me down to contemplation. I introspect and retreat to think. Back again to winter I realize that I have lots to learn, change, implement and improve. But instead of being gloomy I began to rest and enjoy family time especially on Christmas and New Year. She brings me a lovely gift on Christmas Eve and I look bewildered. She says sweetly, ‘It’s been quite a year, don’t you think so?” I nod my head as I look eagerly at my present. She knows I want to know what it is. When I quickly unwrap it and I find a colourful album, I say out loud, “An album? Does it have photos in it?” I open it and see the whole year unfold in pictures right in front of my eyes. My days of crying and sulking and also arguing and fighting. I wonder when these pictures were taken and by whom. Slowly the photos take a change and I see more of me smiling. With family and with friends. At work and at home. Moments captured beautifully as I have fun in beach, laugh and be at peace with myself. It was really beautiful and I felt so happy, blessed and grateful. I turn to see her and she evaporates slowly with a smile so shiny. That’s when it dawns on me that this gift is a collection and reflection on my life when I chose joy, peace and love. If I chose love, she was love. When I was negative, she was grumpy. Because I am her and she is me. We reflect each other. I am who I choose to be. ... Read more
"The person in the team would be….." Mr. Shawn took a glimpse of all of us sitting around the round table. As ...Learn More"The person in the team would be….." Mr. Shawn took a glimpse of all of us sitting around the round table. As if I owned a psychic power, I tried to figure out the names in his mind. Mm, I saw Jason's and Louie's names – our first speaker and all-rounder debater. He continued his words, "First would be Jason… and the second one would be Louie…" Aha! I knew it! That was already expected. Their participation is compulsory to guarantee our wins. Now, who are the other two lucky selected participants?? I examined other faces sitting there whose heart rate might be just as crazy as mine. The ones left were Andrew, Hannah, Bella and Cynthia. I really wondered who made it into the list. While I was busy analyzing others' reaction, Mr.Shawn announced the third name. It was Andrew. With that, there was only one spot left in the team. I looked around again and realized the ones left were all girls. Oh dear, it must be really hard for the girl chosen to be the only flower in the garden! The butterflies in my stomach disappeared as there was only a little chance for me to get selected. It must be either Hannah or Bella. Both of them are very nifty debaters with better English proficiency. Compared to me and Cynthia who had just joined the team, both of them are much better than us. Thinking that it was impossible for me to be chosen, I looked down at the floor and sneakily enjoyed my Snickers while everybody was anxiously waiting for the last name. "Lucy Gunderson, congratulations! You're in the team" "Eh?" I lifted up my face and everyone was looking at me. I looked at Mr. Shawn speechlessly and stopped breathing for a few seconds. He didn't mention my name just now, did he? What kind of a joke was that? Or is it me who misheard things? Before I wrapped my head around what was happening, Cynthia who sat next to me patted my arms. "Congratulations!" she said. "Eh??" again, that was the only word that came out from my mouth. I saw Louie grins at me. Bella and Hannah were applauding me. Were they really being serious? I gulped again and again. I was fortunate enough I did not get choked with Snickers in my mouth at that time. I would have sued them for that if it did happen. Without being asked, Mr. Shawn explained why he chose us. Frankly, I did not pay much attention to his explanations. All that I had in my mind at that time was trying to figure out who voted for me to be part of the school team. For a few moments, I stared at our trainer and Allen who helped him to count the votes. Did they miscalculate them? I did not know what happened but I could already predict what will happen to me next - I am going to be a dead meat! Before we dismissed that night, Mr.Shawn asked for our full names and ID numbers. Upon finding out that it was my birthday, they wished and offered me some treats. I was glad and frustrated at the same time. Glad that I was not alone on my birthday and frustrated to get such a ‘wonderful' gift - being the only girl in the front line. I am still a newbie with no experience and yet they want me to volunteer as the school debater together with the skillful ones? What were they thinking?? I watched those three debaters' face and gulped. Oh god, please help me. While we were on our way to the hostel that night, I could not stop babbling. I have even started to imagine how disastrous my life was going to be afterward. I was planning to ask our trainer to replace me with another debater, but my friends said I should not do that. They assured me that I will be all fine. Their words somehow failed to convince me. I could sense that my life would never be the same after that night. I really thought I could not do it. But I was wrong. It was not my fight alone. Surely, God has set me up with great people for good reasons. __________________________________________________________________________________ We had a friendly match before the real tournament and it was terrific. It burned my heart with a passion for debate. I have to admit it, I love to be part of the debate family. My teammates are indeed awesome and I cannot say how much I am grateful to be with them. They have their own uniqueness which blew my mind away. I started figuring out more things about them. From the way they write down their argument until the way they deliver their speech, I watched all of them in silence. Without realizing it, I have made them my role models whom I really admire. The first speaker, Jason, is a great speaker. He can be a bit annoying sometimes. Well, actually it was most of the times but his debating style amused me so I do not mind having to tolerate when it comes to him. Sometimes I feel mad at him for giving out unimagined ideas which I could not understand. His mind is too far ahead beyond mine. Hence it was quite hard for me to get along with him when he rarely talked to me. Fortunately, Louie was always on my side. I do not know whether he could read my mind or my face really shows it all, sometimes he understands I was getting out of the track while we were discussing. He would explain to me in simpler words when I tell him I did not get them. He was a really nice teammate indeed. But being an introvert, I was quite an annoying person myself. Even if I had problems during our training, I would not let them know because I do not want them to get mad at me. Frankly, Insecurity took over me whenever they were around. They are really great speakers and I am basically nothing compared to them. Mr. Shawn says I complete the team because I have something which the guys did not possess. I could not figure out what was my strength and keep on feeling too inferior whenever I have to be in a circle with them. I never felt like I belong to the team. I did not know what my function in the team was, but I enjoyed every single moment I have spent with them. I tried to improve myself to be as good as them by watching and learn whatever I could from each of them. I wanted to know what makes them such great speakers so I wrote a lot about them in my diary recently. Every single day, there was always something new that I have learned from them. Jason shows me how to generate ideas. Louie shows me how to stay confident and Andrew shows me how to stay calm and portray good charisma during the debate. I could not express it how grateful I am to have these coaches. I thought I was going to be fine, but I still did not. The day we departed from our school to the tournament on 5th March, I was on light fever. I was always like that – falling sick when big times are coming. I was so depressed at that time and I did not think I could do it. Mr. Shawn was mad when I told him what I feel. He said I was wrong to not believe in my own potential. I did not know what I should do. I do not have any confidence in me. My juniors kept telling me to do my best, so did my friends. I was scared of expectations. To make it worst, I felt so lonely along the way there. Everyone was a stranger to me. Even for those three guys, I could not talk much with them. I could not express my feeling and that made me felt even worse than how I already was. On our first match, I asked Andrew to replace me because I was not ready to step up. They helped me out and did their best while I ran away from my responsibility. We lost in that round and I know I was the one at fault. I knew for sure that everyone must be so mad at me. I really wanted to cry but I could not. Mr. Shawn who could not make it there at that time called and demanded to talk to all four of us. ‘You're dead now' I told myself. I watched the boys took turns talking to him and when it came to my turn, my hands shivered and my heart was beating so fast. "So, is there anything you want to tell me?" his first sentence crashed my heart. I guessed the boys have already told him everything. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and tried to respond to his question. "I.. I'm sorry. It was my fault. I'm truly sorry.." I tried to sound fine but the sudden thought of our lost finally broke me down. Tears welled up in my eyes and I started to weep. "Hey, don't cry, girl. No one is mad at you. There's nothing you should be sorry for" "We lost because of me. I didn't do what I was supposed to do" I bite my lips hard as I did not want to end up crying out so loud. "What happened to you? I know there must be something wrong. You are the one who was always thrilled about debating, right? What is holding you back now?" Mr. Shawn's gentle voice makes my tears rolled down my cheeks. "I don't know.. I just.. I feel like I don't stand a chance to be a good speaker. I was so scared. I don't want to humiliate myself so.." I could not finish my words. It was so hard to explain when I know I was blameworthy. "It's alright, Lucy. Now, listen here. It was fine to feel afraid but you shouldn't run away. I have put my trust on you so I want you to perform it, not anyone else. Believe me, I didn't give you that position for nothing. I know you can do it. Please, always keep a good faith in your own potential. Remember that all the time, will you?" his words soothed my heart. I nodded my head even though he could not see me through the phone call. "The boys sounded frustrated just now. I think they feel guilty as much as you do. I've talked to them but they need more motivation right now. Will you do that for me, Lucy?" he asked. "Leave it to me. We will do our best for the next rounds and we will never let you down again" I was determined to redeem my fault as I promised him that. I will not let our efforts for the last few months go wasted just because of my cowardly acts. __________________________________________________________________________________ We did it! We won the second match!! Everyone..! We did it! Thank god! Who would have expected it, we won! I could not stop smiling all day long. Luckily my teammates were all boys or else I would turn out shouting and crying out loud due to overloaded happiness. I was so happy that I could not even say a word and could only smile till my cheeks ached. Same goes to my teammates. For the first time, I felt so close to them as we shared the same feeling – on the top of the world. Jason who always ignored me smiled when I congratulated him. Louie could not stop grinning that day. Andrew did not talk much but I am sure he was feeling blessed that we finally made it. We had proven that we can do it if we really want it. He said he needed my brain. Okay, that was creepy, dude. But thanks to all of them, I overcame my too high insecurity. Since that winning moment, I started to get along with those guys. Jason was still the same. He did not talk much with me. Well, if there is nothing important I would not want to talk to him as well. Sorry to say but in my eyes, he is kind of weird sometimes. As for Louie, he was so nice. Sometimes he was so annoying but I did not mind at all because I know I am not really a pleasing person too. At least I have someone to fight with so my debate days are not dreary. Andrew is a little bit different from both of them. He has always been a very good listener so I took the chance to spend some time sharing stories and complaining things to him. Louie, on the other hand, is a good friend but when it comes to sharing stories, I do not know why I cannot do it with him. Sometimes he does give me an uneasy feeling. He has a pair of eyes that gave me goose bumps whenever I noticed he was looking at me. I swear it was creepy and I hate it! __________________________________________________________________________________ Finally, it was the red letter day. We have gone through four rounds of the match and it was the time to discover which schools qualified to go to the national level. Our hearts pounded heavily and we were so nervous waiting for our school's name to be called. I was so scared that I could not stop my hands from trembling. It felt like my heart could pop out from my mouth because of the enthusiastic beats it made inside of me. When they finally called out our school's name, my face brightened up like the morning sunshine. I really could not hold my tears at that time. I was on the ninth cloud. "Hey, don't be a crybaby" Louie teased me when he caught me crying. "Don't mind me, please. I'm too contented right now" I smiled with my eyes filled with tears. Louie grinned, "I know you are. But don't cry. It makes you look ugly". "Stop it, Louie!" I laughed and wiped out my tears immediately. I was frustrated at first, but now I could not stop this joyful feeling for being part of the team. I am so proud of my teammates. They are my heroes, my brothers, and undoubtedly, my splendid family. There is no way I would regret meeting them. ... Read more
This has to be a mistake.
I was supposed to be attending my St. John Ambulance club meeting and the FIRST one at that too. But....How did this happen?