It’s been a hot minute, hasn’t it?
Without meaning to overstate the obvious, I have been unusually absent from this site for much of the year, and what little writing I did has been kept private for the time being, until I am comfortable releasing it for public consumption. However, after being thoroughly surprised by the volume of traffic this site still attracts, I decided there was no time like the present to try and get back into the swing of things by rekindling my own presence here with my annual end-of-year stock take.
The fact of the matter is that I have not only been absent from the blogosphere, but from life itself as well. With this year being one great big tangle of tribulation and upheaval, I saw it as an opportunity to take a good, hard look at my surroundings and do a spot of much-needed and long-overdue housekeeping.
First, and perhaps most painfully obvious, of all, my social life had ground to a deafening halt. While this was something that had been set in motion almost two years ago, then gaining momentum last year, it really went full tilt this year — the result of a combination of events that sent me down a very long and pitch-black rabbit hole that ended in a blinding flash of drastic, yet liberating, decisions.
I was, essentially, back to being the social outcast that I had started off as when I first moved back to Malaysia in 2008. The social circles and ensuing lifestyle afforded to me were the byproduct of a career that was built on fostering relationships with such circles, and even after I left that career to dabble in business, I was able to retain many of these relationships, especially the ones who genuinely left an impression on me and inspired me in some way.
And then the social media bubble formed, and it literally drove everyone insane.
Fast-forward to 2018, and I realized that I had allowed my own consumption of social media to dictate my life in certain ways that left me with feelings of deep disenchantment and self-loathing. It also didn’t help that April had come and gone, and I was further away than ever from my dream of finally leaving this country and settling down in relative anonymity. All this brought on a sense of failure that led me to decide that if I wanted that anonymity again, I would have to create it for myself. And so I isolated myself from society, cleaned up and locked my social media accounts, and became a virtual hermit, emerging only for a very select few friends, and speaking to almost no one except Dani.
While this may seem, in the grand scheme of things, like an insignificant, if melodramatic, approach to my existential crisis, I found it to be completely necessary. It allowed me to take a giant step back and evaluate what I wanted and didn’t want in my life, and it gave me the kind of introspection that made me realize I had come to hate what I saw, both in the mirror and around me, and I needed to remove myself from the equation. Lending further proof that I had made the right choice is the knowledge that, despite my very pointed self-imposed exile from society, the rumors and speculations continue to make their rounds, which in turn has retaught me two very important lessons.
Selective support. People will support what you do as long as what you do falls in line with what they think to be conventionally right and socially acceptable. To this day, people question — both to my face and behind my back — my decision to pack up my life and start afresh in a new country with the only man that I can ever see myself doing it with. And because they will refuse to see any reason I give as anything other than a silly excuse, I have ceased to explain myself, and chosen to let sleeping dogs lie. I am fully aware that my relationship will never fall within the dictates of polite society, and my only consolation is that I never told anyone the real, unabridged version of how my relationship has turned out, so nobody truly understands enough to deem it fit for polite society. This leads me to the second lesson:
Silence = GOLDEN. Nothing brings peace of mind more effectively than keeping everything you do as close to the vest as possible. The two most frequently-asked questions I’ve heard this year are “Where have you been?” and “What have you been up to?”, occasionally prefixed with “So-and-so was asking”. And while my first instinct was to blurt out everything that had happened to me this year — I could shock you with the details of the things I have done and been through — the little part of me that savored the enigma of self-preservation and feared the vindictiveness of gossip gave the answer “I’ve been away”. Not only does it rankle, but it also helps to stave off responses along the lines of “Oh, but why?”
And this leads us to today, the last day of what has been an extremely difficult year, which is not to say that it did not yield any positive outcomes. My relationship reached a significant milestone this year: we hit the fifth-year mark, and even though we are currently in different countries, we are more committed to each other than ever, and in more ways than one. I also know now, with absolute certainty, the kind of life I want to live, and what I want to do with the remainder of my days, and even though I don’t see it getting any easier from here, I do believe that it will get better.
So farewell, 2018. You were one hell of a cunt.