25 April 2016

Is blogging now a thing of the past?

Ever since Facebook and Instagram and the like, people seem to share most of their lives through quick bursts of photos and status updates instead of journaling their experiences for their followers to sink into.
At the moment I can't think up of a useful use for StarkCorner except for what it had always been: a place for me to express myself through words and pictures.
Perhaps someday my so-called blogging friends are going to take the time to write about their experiences again. Thoughts that
are more valuable than just "Taking a walk on the beach... (insert picture)"

Via: http://www.girlupnorth.co.uk/2012/03/what-i-love-about-blogging.html

14 March 2016

What to do before you leave your comfort zone

Via: "Lost in Space" (source)

Look closely at that picture above. Enlarge it. Click it. 
Can you see where your home is? Can you see where mine is?

You can't. This is the vast and expanding universe. A depiction of it. From a far travelled distance.

To be able to have this view of this magnitude, you must travel out of your comfort zone (your home) and beyond. Far into the distance. You will see things. Many things. You will have a better overview of anything around you as compared to anyone else who haven't been as far as you have. You may still have contact with home but the farther out you go the more unpredictable and complicated making contact becomes. The voices start to crack, distort or disappear. 

If you don't remember how you got to this point, then you might not know how to get back to where you came from. And then there will be silence as you find your way back home. And you either find it, or accept the fact that this entire space you have has now become your home - your new comfort zone. Bigger, heavier, quieter and emptier. All the better for you… to fill.

This is why it's hard for any normal human being to leave his/her comfort zone: because like travelling interstellar, you will always end up alone.

Is the comfort zone worth leaving?
Yes, if you feel so safe that you are suffocating in life. If you need space to even breathe. If you have been silently screaming inside. If you need to grow and fly and build a dream you have always been envisioning. 
No, if where you are right now is making you feel uncertain, insecure or anxious (it means you probably are already outside of your comfort zone). 

How do I know if I should leave my comfort zone?
You should do it when the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about it is how afraid and uncertain you feel about stepping out into the unknown. Afraid of leaving your comfort zone? Good. You're ready.

What do I need to know before I leave my comfort zone?
Here comes the fun part. Here are nine things you should have in mind before you decide to leave your comfort zone:
  • Take what your soul needs: a journal to write in, some kind of connection to home (or someone at home), your faith and beliefs if you like, and your strongest of memories.
  • Directions: Where exactly are you going? How far do you want to go?
  • Accommodation: Do you know where you are going to stay? I don't mean this just literally. I mean this metaphorically as well. Do you have a place to stay? Does your mind/soul have a place to stay?
  • Have someone to accompany you whether in person or from afar: You're going on this journey alone, but you don't have to go through it alone. There will be days, weeks, months and years when you are going to have no one to talk to. So you wouldn't want to take a simple message for granted from a person, out there someone, maybe in another country, another time, another space, who is thinking of you right this very moment wishing you well.
  • Prepare for shock: Shocks are going to happen very frequently once you're out of your comfort zone. Shocks are signs that you are entering the panic zone. If you're a hardcore 'traveller' like me, then you will not give in to shocks. But be mindful of yourself: shocks are capable of crippling and damaging you. You either adapt - fast - or die. But do not ignore them. Shocks are a sign that if you are not ready to adapt, turn around and go back.
  • Activate defence mechanisms: In many new situations you might find yourself either personally, verbally or physically assaulted. And in many other situations you might find yourself out of place - literally not fitting in into any shape, form or design. You will know once you feel or become rejected. And you thought you should let down your guard but that was a mistake. And you become hurt and find yourself at the lowest of the low. When you are down there, do me one favour: rebuild your fences as you rise. These will become your new boundaries. And then show the new world, who you let in and who you leave out. Choose consciously.
  • Don't go too far: You venture out and you might notice how addicting it becomes. You think you have grown, you think you are far better off now than you were before when you were home and safe, you think you know more, you think you know better. Well stop for awhile and reflect: Remember who you really are.
  • Contact your family, your friends, your relatives back home: You are proud that you are making your journey far and wide on your own. But once in awhile, contact those familiar voices at home. You will need to hear them again. And you will long to hear them again. They are your directions back home if you were to lose your way. A door that will always remain open, if you decide to come back one day. And you will long to come back one day and that's okay.
  • Come back: You have been away for so long and you decide how long you want to stay out of your comfort zone. But once in awhile look back at the distance you have left behind. Look how far you have come. Remember the way you came. Because coming back doesn't mean you can never venture out again. It means you can venture out again next time: even further than you have ever gone.

How do I know if I have gone far enough?
The thing about leaving your comfort zone is: once you do it, you wouldn't want to stop. Once you leave it you will realize that magic happens. Once you are out, you're out and that moment of freedom is that one thing that will grab you by the throat and make you carry on. The beauty of it all is: you can go in any direction you want and need to. And you decide when to turn around. So I don't know how far is far enough. I knew after five consequent years of being outside of my comfort zone: immense homesickness, hairloss (yes, because I'm not getting the same nutrition I'm getting at home) and despair.
So whether or not you've gone far enough is something I cannot say. You'll just know.

What's the point of leaving my comfort zone?
The only reason (for me) for leaving your comfort zone should be to expand your comfort zone. See you probably thought this whole time that I'm talking about leaving your comfort zone because the comfort zone is 'boring'. No, it isn't! Your comfort zone is the REAL place you want to be. But it's up to you, how big it can become.
I wasn't as lucky as some other people with huge mega comfort zones. Mine was small, almost strangling. I felt enchained and encased. I needed space to grow. So I broke away to claim more space. To build new boundaries. The new boundaries of my new (and bigger) comfort zone. My old comfort zone is still there, I just no longer confine myself within those old boundaries because I already built new ones.
The point is to make your comfort zone bigger when you're sick of suffocating in it.

So now you have the tools you need to make your journey a reality.
I wish you courage. Remember who you are. Keep the voices and your strongest memories alive. Memories that make you who you really are.
Remember to come back.

Now go. And tell me stories of your interstellar adventures.


02 March 2016

Tonight's Stumble-Upons



Steampunk watch ring (Source)

Steam punk watch parts ring

Steampunk watch parts pen (source)  




The voices...

If you can't control your kid, someone else will.

Most of us never get to know what it feels like.

28 February 2016

Now begins Recovery

Right now I'm thinking to myself, do I see a light at the end of the tunnel? It doesn't seem like it. I don't feel like the five-year journey that I have taken was a deep, dark tunnel. That journey I took was an open road. I saw night and day. Sometimes going faster and sometimes going slower. Sometimes standing still. And sometimes something dashes right across and it's a matter for time before I swerve, slow down or run straight into it. Mostly beasts trying to make me turn back or hit a large tree - trying to make me give up. On some days I have watched the stars and getting lost in them, not even looking ahead anymore, if I'm still going in the right direction.

So maybe it's a little light at the end of the open road, so much that I can see the end of the chapter meet a new one.

I don't want to write too much about how the final practical exam went because by then I had lost my strength and my motivation. Strength I had used up just to get by in a new society. I remember how that tore off every piece of what is left of me. I took the torn pieces with me but I couldn't afford to put them back where they belong. It'a like trying to make a scar go away.
Makes no sense.

I thought I had lost myself amongst the noise and the confusion of things. I thought I had to change... and for awhile I pretended to, just so I don't lose my sanity. Now that I am going to graduate soon, I sense the burden on my shoulder slowly lifting. I sense a slight trace of life left in my artistic creativity... but barely alive. I desperately search through my memories for all the things that once kept it real and going. I desperately try to remember what it was like to make art out of my freedom of thought and speech.

I feel like I'm about to crawl out of an opening and see that the entire world has changed. Now it's up to me to decide where to start again and where to go from here.

09 February 2016

Concerning work and what causes demotivation

Lack of clarity.
Values conflict.
Lack of autonomy.

When I look at all those factors above, I realized why I have been so demotivated in my work and social life.
I'm not the same person I used to be when I started out a few years ago. Now that I got the tools I need to make the best of educating, I become so out of place, like I can't really think straight anymore.

I have this fear of conflict arrising between someone else and me, especially when this conflict is being influenced in some way by my decisions or actions (even if these are in conclusion the right decisions to make). I sometimes notice a bunch of nonsense, for example, during teamwork or during teaching, but the alarms in my head just suddenly stopped triggering. Well they trigger but I no longer really feel the need to react. It's like I just don't care anymore to point bullshit out to other people, coz speaking from experience, they think their bullshit makes more sense than me pointing it out. So I assume that they are either going to bash me or carry on with whatever crap they were doing anyway. So I would think: Why the hell even try... it's a waste of time and energy. It's failure.
And this leads to demotivation.

Lack of clarity?
I find it horrible... absolutely horrible... when I don't know what the hell is going on in a certain conversation or situation. I mean, sure, my peers, friends and colleagues talk to/with me, but I don't really get where the conversation is going... especially when I end up being left out anyway once they start to talk about their children and their lives. It's not that I'm not happy about the fact that they were able to give birth and shit, but really? Every damn day? Do we have to talk about your kid every damn day?
Best thing is also when they take no consideration of my lack of knowledge in certain areas like where certain shops in a certain area in town can be found... or throw a random person's name into the conversation and I have to go like... who the fuck is Jonas? What, who? Carsten? Hah? The fuck?
Is this like some socializing trick/etiquette I am still not getting? And I don't even know if it's okay to ask. Or so ask if it's okay to ask.
I really just don't ask because the whole lack of clarity thing occurs one after the next and then it gains momentum and then it's all about going with the flow. I sometimes find myself listening even if I am unable to follow the conversation, coz otherwise I would always have to ask a question after every other sentence. And even though I shouldn't be too concerned of that, I am. It takes courage and energy to deal with all the reactions (or lack thereof) that come with the sort of 'silly' questions no one else would ask but me.
It's this fear of breaking out of this waiting-around cycle. Waiting around for someone to tell me how to see things, how to react, how to deal, how to handle, how to decide, how to ask. I think I should I just not wait for instructions, trust myself, and act based upon experience, knowledge and communication, instead of on (pseudo-)heirarchy. I'm not in my culture anymore, where age or status plays a role and demands respect. In this culture: Just because a colleague is older than me, or has kids, or has been working in the area longer than I am, doesn't make him/her wiser/better/worthy of trust or respect in any way.  That has been the only reason I have been making stupid decisions lately.
Which brings us to...

Values conflict!
Everything about life overseas is pure values conflict. And you have to be strong to be able to hold on to old ones and at the same time adopt newer ones without having some kind of inner conflict. Because at the end of the day, I don't want to change. Not for anyone or anything but for myself. I am exposed to a different kind of social life here. It used to be vibrant and bright but here I'm usually on my own - my husband, me and my books, my new-found friends I could count with one hand, my distant friends I see as words on my phone/screen, my family who I see on Skype and then my work colleagues who give me a hell of a time trying to relearn social skills. When it comes to values I have very different ones compared to the human beings I experience here. People think in the I-form here whereas where I came from people think in the We-form or sometimes even the You-form.


German culture: It matters what I think. My rights. My opinions. My thoughts. My feelings. I, I, I... Selfishness.

Singaporean culture: It matters what the other person thinks, their opinions, their thoughts, their feelings. Selflessness.

Selfishness VS Selfless.

I seriously don't know how to make that ends meet. Being selfish here because it's the way of life is giving me a head- and heartache. Because I'm traumatised by the past and how my parents used to accuse me and call me selfish for fighting for my rights, saying my opinions, testing my boundaries etc. They made me pay for the selfishness I used to display. And I understood why they did that - because you're not supposed to just be another asshole and get away with it.

People here get away with being assholes... and I don't know how I should come to terms with that. Join them? *sigh* Just thinking about it makes me feel so fucked up coz I've always associated being selfish with being an asshole. Maybe I need to adjust this attitude, or change the terms to something less nonsensical. I like the idea of being able to be considerate and at the same time self-caring. And perhaps I just have to accept the fact that those two above mentioned values are two completely different extremities (note the word extreme - too much self-love as well as too much respect are both poison). So both of them are off-the-charts bullshit and both need to be tuned down until they meet in the reasonable middle.
I need to find this middle.

The one thing that I can think of when it comes to this... is none other than all my interactions within the area of group- and teamwork. Situations where I have been taken advantaged of and betrayed to the point that I lost my ability to trust people. And this condition has developed itself so badly to the point that it's not just the affected people I end up not trusting, but also people who are similar to them, who I have never experienced in my life before. Just looking at them makes me not trust them. And that's really messed up. I can't let it just keep gaining momentum to the point that I don't realize I'm scrutinizing innocent people, can I?
But yes! I am disappointed. Yes, I am said. Yes, I feel like I lost my worth. Yes, I am grieving. And this is the reason why became so demotivated to the point that I can't really function properly coz every other person I talk to is someone I imagine as a potential abuser - someone who's going to end up being a parasite anyway.
So now I ask myself, what have I learned from this? (See Values conflict) I just have to stop being nice. I have to start saying no before they can take advantage. I have to point out nonsense, bullshit and mistakes when I deem them to be that. I have to go through being disliked and that's okay. I have to come across as 'selfish' because that's obviously the only language that works here anyway. At the same time I can reconcile by making it clear that it's nothing personal, just necessary for the sake of sanity.
I am still building my boundaries. I am still trying to make them clear to others. It's not an easy task when you have never had the permission to do so and when you have only been punished for doing so! I'm trying to overwrite my own upbringing here... this is almost impossible.
But I can start by calling other people's bullshit out especially if it involves me. They only way I see this viable is through consistent training in telling other people that I am not happy with what they are doing/saying, that I am disappointed, that I find it absolutely disgusting that they would rather use me instead of asking for help like an honest loser, or hurt me for their own gain, and that I demand either an explanation, an apology and a promise that this will not happen again. If they want to further continue their shitty behaviour then they will have to face the consequences of being removed from my circle of trust and once you're out: You're out. Doesn't mean I won't sit with you, doesn't mean I won't walk with you. But it sure as hell means I will ignore you, judge you, point out your nonsense and excuses and warn others about you.

I see myself reluctantly straying toward this direction. Settling my thoughts down is a way for me to stop myself along the way and ask myself: Hey, are you doing the right thing? What went wrong?
I am concerned a little, about doing more than necessary. I am not the perfect person but there is this expectation in me that's quite sickening, yet now I am wondering if I should even be questioning it at all.
I've always been a perfectionist which means that I really give me best. I let myself make mistakes, sure, but not without knowing that I have given it everything I got.


But after experiencing all these factors I mentioned above, I've become less and less at being a perfectionist. And I don't know if that's okay. I'm missing the details, I'm leaving out the details, I'm settling for the least, I'm satisfied with whatever results that come up first, I seek the easiest way out, and I just don't feel like I need to really put in any effort anymore. And worst of all... it has turned me into the massive procrastinator I have ever known.

This is scaring the crap out of me. I don't know if it's right, I haven't seen any advantages coming out of that. So I am not convinced. I mean, I let myself into this... I allowed myself to not be a perfectionist anymore. And the only thing that I see coming out of it is laziness. Sadness, maybe, because it's not like I even appreciate what I do anymore. It's so half-hearted! Why care, right? It's just "a silly piece of work".

My perfectionist trait is not there because I do it for other people. It's there because I did it for myself. I appreciated the work and time and effort I put in my work, let alone school- or artwork. I felt proud of the results that I could achieve. And now people are telling me: Ira, you nerd, stop it. Geez. You're hurting yourself.

Really? Look who's doing the hurting now. Being a perfectionist - to me - is not about achieving perfectionism. It's about pushing my own boundaries. It's about going beyond my comfort zone. It's about thinking outside of the box. It's about being creative, disciplined and thorough - FINISHING what I started and taking full responsibilty for it.
So why did I give that up? Because I assumed that other people know better so I listened to their bullshit advice.

I don't know how to appreciated half-hearted work.

Immersion, concentration and precision thrills me.
It's how I learn and how I work. I am allowing this. And if anyone is going to call me "nerd", I'm going to call them "jealous". If that's the language they speak, then I shall oblige. Because in my shoes, they are going to crap their pants.

At the same time I have learned that even being a perfectionist has its boundaries and I can see where they are, but I cannot let it go as if it was never a part of me. Of course I need to take breaks, I need to stop when I can't go further, I need to set realistic and small goals, I need to say no, I need to assess my expectations and I need to reflect my actions.

So the next time other people insist on being lazy, drama queens/kings, manipulative, psychotic or arrogant (and thinking that this is the most ideal way to fulfill their duties), then I can insist on being a perfectionist. And they're just gonna have to live with that the way I live with them.