Thursday, October 20, 2016


So the other day I was thinking about what to talk about with my students and my brain suggested "why it's important to be polite". After that popped up, I immediately interrogated the thought with another question, which was "is it important to be polite?" followed by "what is politeness? How is it different from respect? Why does society value politeness?" I explored it within my own brain and below are some of the thoughts that I was able to scrape up. Mind you, I am no authority in this matter. I didn't even bother googling it, showing you how much of a pemalas I am. So take and leave from it what you will.

I think that at the core of my understanding of politeness is respect, and because I already talked to my students about respect, I didn't want to be redundant. If we already have respect as a concept, why was politeness a necessary concept to introduce into our language and our understanding of the world?

When I think about respect and politeness, I think they're similar but not the same. Respect comes with it a certain gravitas that I can't quite put my finger on. It's about recognising other people as equal human beings and treating them the same way one would want to be treated. When I think about politeness, I think about people being submissive, silent in the background, and about conforming to other people's expectations of you, like the respect you have for the other party exceeds the amount of respect you have for yourself. This may be a flawed interpretation, but it's the way I understand it, so I'll run with it for this piece.

To address the next question of why society places a high value on politeness, I could only think that over the years, the concept of politeness has become a socially constructed tool used to maintain the status quo. It is desirable for a parent to maintain the position of power they have over their child, so the child has to be polite towards the parent, and if they're polite, they're good, because then the status quo is maintained and parenting becomes a less difficult task. Teachers desire a certain amount of control over their students, so a polite student is desirable because it makes the teacher's job easier, and the status quo is maintained.

So people in positions of power expect people in positions of less power to be polite to them, and people in positions of less power expect their peers to be polite to their "superiors". That's the way it's supposed to be, and the way it should always be. It's interesting to me that the concept of politeness is used commonly as a tool to help in power relations.

It is rarely expected of people in positions of power in the relationship to be polite. The person who is supposed to be  polite is always the child, the employee, the student, the person in the less powerful position. If a boss is polite to an employee, the boss is hailed as a humble person of the people. If they're impolite, then they're just being a boss. Being polite is, however, is expected of the employee. If they don't abide to the socially accepted rules of politeness, then they're considered as being rude and vulgar.

After typing it out, I hope you understand why I was reluctant to talk to my students about politeness. I ended up talking to them about honesty instead, a much easier value to get behind, in my opinion.

I hope I don't come off as condemning people who value politeness. I try to be polite whenever I can. I was raised to be a polite person, and given the chance, I try to make the people around me feel as comfortable as they can. I'm always on the lookout for social cues as to what peoples' expectations of me might be, and even though I'm really bad at doing that, I do at most if not all times try to come off as a respectful and polite person. It's become a habit of my being, I guess. But intellectually, those are my thoughts on the concept of politeness.

I may be completely wrong about the subject, but at the moment, this is what I think of it. If you feel differently about it, please drop a comment telling me off.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Sijils And Skills

So the other day I was marking a thing called the Borang Rumusan Aktiviti Kelab for some of the students in my school (I am one of the guru penasihats for the school's Music and Culture Club). It's basically a form that teachers use to evaluate students' involvement and competence in any given club. One can get points for their position in the club (whether you were a pengerusi, setiausaha, etc), achievements (whether you entered competitions and won or not) and leadership qualities (whether or not you were punctual, helpful, etc) among other things.

It made me think back to my sekolah menengah days when we had to fill in those forms for ourselves. I got so much of an ego boost from filling in those forms, because in terms of participation and positions, I fared pretty well. Because of my privileged position (I was an anak cikgu, after all), I found myself in a lot of top positions that in hindsight, I don't think I deserved all that much. But at the time, I was an egocentric adolescent (one could argue I remain one) so I felt good riding my privilege-wave and racking up all those points so that I was better positioned on paper to get into good universities.

When I finally got into teacher training (thanks in part to all those points I garnered in the Borang Rumusan Aktiviti Kelab), I was all big in the head because I felt that I was so great because I had all these sijils and pengerusi/naib-pengerusi positions in my certificate-folder.

I was quickly struck back to the ground during the start of the second week of teacher training. This was the first time we met our tutor, Miss Letch. In our first or second meeting, she questioned our credentials and asked what all our certificates were good for, because we had no skills to back it up. We didn't know how to write a paper, we didn't know how to organise people and activities, we were terrible at problem-solving, we didn't know how to speak up for ourselves and for others, we were incompetent, and she showed that to us so that we would wake up from our sweet slumber and understand that all those sijils are supposed to mean more than points.

They're supposed to mean skill-sets. Being a secretary was supposed to mean that one should know how to write letters, meeting minutes and basic documentation. Being a chairperson was supposed to mean that you knew how to conduct meetings, communicate effectively and organise people and acitivities well. Being a treasurer was supposed to mean you knew how to organise money and keep track of expenses well.

I was forced to take a good hard look at myself and admit to myself that I wasn't all that my certificates was cracked up to be. I didn't have any of those skills. I could barely talk to people (girls especially, because I came from an all-boys school). All I did in school was do as I was told and follow orders. I didn't know how to lead (at least not off a rugby field). I had to start from scratch.

She encouraged us to be ambitious. She set goals for us to achieve, goals that - at the time - felt unreachable because we were so unfamiliar with doing more than the minimum requirement. We did a semester-long fund-raising campaign to go to visit aboriginal villages to do English workshops over there. Those were tough times for us, because for almost the whole time, we felt like the thing was unnecessary and unachievable. There was this one time when I was tasked to make bookmarks to sell to people in commemoration of a unique date (I think it was 12:34:56pm on 7/8/09 because 123456789) and it had totally slipped my mind until like the night before the date, so I went to Ms Letch to tell her I forgot and that I didn't think the bookmarks were going to happen. She gave me a talking to, and I was so inspired I got to work, pulled my resources and some friends together and had a batch of bookmarks by the morning time and was able to sell it to people in time. We made a hundred bookmarks and we sold a hundred bookmarks. By the end of the day, Ms Letch was all "See? I knew you could do it!" and I appreciated her so much for that.

Not only did she believe in me, she made me believe in myself, and I am forever grateful to Miss Letch for doing that for me, and doing that for us. We really didn't like it at the beginning. It took us a few semesters to understand what she was trying to do. We were too young and pampered to understand why she did what she did. She didn't seem to really care too much about being the most liked lecturer. What she cared about was that after this set of students graduate, they have the skills and the worldview they need to be more competent workers, leaders and problem solvers. And for that she became into one of my favourite lecturers in the institute. Thank you Miss Letch.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Dignity In Discourse

So a couple of days ago, I thought about a possible incident that might happen in a school that made me think about how teachers affect the worldviews of students, but before I talk about that, I want to tell you that story I thought up.

So some kids were sitting for a test, and during the test, the teachers thought it would be a great idea to run a spot-check on the students to see if any of them had brought phones (the students were not allowed to bring phones to school). The teachers got tipped off by somebody that some students had brought phones to school and felt the need to clamp down on it immediately, while they were answering the test.

At the end of the spot-check session, they didn't find any phones, so they decided that they could rampas other "forbidden" items such as bracelets and hair wax (yeah, I was like "why on earth would you want to bring hair wax to school?" too, but I guess at twelve I didn't really think things through either). That made the teachers feel like the spot-check was somewhat justified, because they reaped a couple of trinkets here and there.

Then one particular teacher started an issue with a student, by accusing that student of bringing a forbidden thing to school. The student of course denied it (because, in all honesty, she didn't bring anything she wasn't supposed to that day). The teacher took offence to this rebuttal, so the teacher called up the PK HEM of the school so that the kid was really helpless (as if she wasn't feeling helpless already).

The first teacher then decided that it would be a good idea to bring up that the student had indeed brought a phone to school, earlier in the year, so she wasn't exactly the emblem of innocence. To that, she had no reply, but still pleaded her innocence at the current moment. The teacher took offence to that expression of innocence as well, taking it as her being "kurang ajar" towards to teacher. The student was bombarded with a lecture, all of the words going into one ear and out the other, but the feeling of loathing and humiliation (because this was done in the presence of all her classmates during a test, mind you) would go on to stay with her for the foreseeable future.

So that's the story. And it made me think about how we teachers need to remember to treat our students with dignity. Because I can admit that it's sometimes easy to get into this thinking and feeling that we are superior to them and because we are tasked with teaching them certain things, we fell like we are the bigger, wiser and better human being, and they are less than us.

I think the language in which we use to refer to the students is super important. We have to try not to talk down to them, as if they were stupid. Sure, finding words to explain a novel concept to students is challenging, and finding a way to explain without the condescension is yet another thing on the list of things we have to think about, but I think it's worth it.

Because the way in which we communicate with the students is part of a chain, or rather, a cycle. The way we talk to children will inform the way the children see fit to treat other human beings, and when they grow up, they think back to when adults spoke to them, and would most probably use that example in speaking to the people that are even younger than them. And the cycle might not have been started by us. Our elders might have spoken to us in a certain way or a certain tone, and we are just carrying that torch forward and are naturally continuing the cycle, but as teachers I think we should take it upon ourselves to be extra-conscious about that cycle and if the cycle is worth continuing or reforming.

For example, if (and I do mean if) our elders talked to us in a certain way that made us feel humiliated and was stripped of dignity, then it would be natural for us to assume (at the time) that that's just the way old people talk to young people, and that's how it's always been and that's how it's always going to be. But I think teachers are uniquely positioned in society to have an extra effect on our students because (if you have a schedule like mine), you see certain kids almost every day, and you have a say in what the students think about how old people talk to young people.

I believe that if teachers start talking to students with dignity and respect, they might get into their heads that "hey, old people talk like this to younger people," and they might carry that forward in their lives and are better able to do that to their kids. At least they have been exposed to a certain type of communication, from which they can pull and model they way they want to communicate with their peers as well as kids.

To do this, we have to sit down and really think about what speaking to someone with dignity and respect would look and sound like. And translate that to speaking to someone who is decades younger than you. The words might differ, but the essence of dignity and respect has to still be there.

And I think a big step that someone like that teacher in the earlier story could take is to always have an objective to any discourse that they engage in. We need to know what we want to get out of the interaction before we start the interaction, and even remind ourselves of that objective throughout the interaction so that we don't stray away from our original niat. We need to be clear that "hey, I'm talking to you right now so that you're clear about this thing and this other thing," and also be clear that we don't come off as "hey, you're a stupid human being and these are the ways in which you are stupid."

I don't think these are easy steps to take, because there's a lot of thinking involved and trying to be honest with ourselves. I'm still struggling with it to this day. But of course being a teacher was never meant to be easy. Let's all strive to reform that cycle and turn it into a more positive, dignified one, maybe?

Saturday, October 8, 2016

National Sports Day 2016

So today was the National Sports Day, and like a good public body, we had a programme in conjunction with that at the school. It was nothing too flashy, just a morning of some exercise and sukaneka. It was alright.

I was in the AJK Gimik Perasmian alongside my friend, and what that meant was that we had to come up with a bit of a show and some aerobics exercises. My friend was better versed at aerobics than I was, so she took on the role of choreographing tens minutes of that (and to her credit, she did a great job) while I took on the role of training three kids for a 90-second pre-exercise sketch. Only while typing this out am I reminded of how the format is not too dissimilar from the format of a boria, where there is a short sketch before they start the singing and dancing. And being in a school in Pulau Pinang, I think that's interesting.

I made the script and selected some Year Three kids whom I was confident would do an okay job, since I've seen them act before in their classes with me. To their credit, they delivered too. It is within my hopes that they continue pursuing acting in the future, because they certainly look like they enjoy it a lot right now.

We spent about a week getting ready for the day, and if I were to judge the final outcome of our work, I must say that we didn't do too bad a job. People seemed to enjoy both the sketch and the aerobics workout (more so the aerobics workout than the sketch, but then again I suppose they weren't expecting the sketch at all). 

After the day was over and done with, my friends (including the aerobics choreographer) and I had a bit of a chat and a quote came up in the conversation. The quote went "Work for a cause, not for applause. Live life to express, not to impress. Don't strive to make your presence noticed, just make your absence felt," and even though that might sound cliché to some, it is rather sound advice that I've been trying to follow for quite a while now.

I think I first heard (or more probably read) that quote several years ago, while I was fresh out of school, so it's been within my consciousness for a while now, and it resonates so much with me that I find it difficult to understand it when people act in a way that contradicts the quote.

I see (and hear of) some people who are really trying to find any avenue they can to gain attention while doing as little substantial/significant work as possible. I see (and hear of) people not doing a beneficial thing just because nobody would be around to applaud them for doing it, or no sijil would be given to them by doing the thing, or they won't get a tangible form of reward for their troubles. I see (and hear of) people taking credit for things they had no meaningful contributions in.

I can accept that not everyone will share the same values I do. I can accept that for some people, other things are held in higher regard than the things that I hold in high regard. I can accept that maybe, to some people, the quote I mentioned earlier doesn't mean anything. And maybe that quote isn't as common a saying as I thought it was, and I am part of a minority that holds on to it.

Even so, I am glad that I have found some people that share my values, at least in this regard. I am glad that we can work together on a regular basis. I am glad that I can call them my friends.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Identity and Persona

So a couple of days ago I talked to my students about identity and how we have more than one of them at any given time, even though we are just one person, one soul, one carbon-based organism (1Malaysia? No. Bad joke. Down boy).

I told them that everyone has multiple identities. For example, at that moment, they were a student in the class. At the same time, they were also a friend to their classmates. And a child of their parents. And a brother/sister to their siblings. And an et to their cetera.

And I guess I talked to them about identity because I was (am) having a hard time with it as well. Some of you might know that I am currently talking on two podcast on the regular. For those who don't, one is the Buah Mulut podcast which I usually host with my wife, and the other is the Mentol Pecah podcast in which I regularly get on to talk to the real host, Muzakir Xynll aka Mozek.

And in one of the episodes, Mozek talked about persona and how a comedian or a rapper has a persona and uses them to their advantage. It got me thinking about my persona and what my identity was as a person, but mostly as a performer. Like, Eminem has a persona that's a nasty person who doesn't give two effs about anything. Kendrick Lamar has this Compton good kid trying to find his way in life kinda thing going on. Louis CK is a divorcee with two kids that says a lot of disturbing and taboo things.

It made me ask "what am I?" And to be frank, I don't have an answer to that. I just don't know.

When I write songs, I'm desperate in finding things I want to sing or rap about. When I write articles, I'm desperate in finding what I want to write about and how I want to write about it. When I think about doing comedy, I think about what would I want to joke about and how I would joke about them. After typing all that out, I come to one main question: what about me is interesting?

Because a persona is a way of being, it's an identity. And, as I've said before, I have many identities. I'm a son, I'm a brother, I'm a husband, I'm a dude, I'm a teacher, I'm a writer, I'm a music fan, I'm a movie fan, I'm an et cetera.

What about these identities of mine is interesting? How may I look at the world through my existing identities and present my point of view to people in an engaging manner?

And the answer is still: I don't know. Thing is, I don't find myself to be a very interesting person. I'm pretty vanilla in every way that I can think of. I'm not particularly well-read about anything at all (even in the thing that I have a degree in, I only have cursory knowledge of). I'm a dilettante. A pretender. And a half-assed, uninteresting one at that.

I understand that the struggle is in finding out. I can't just say "pfff, aidono" and leave it like that. I need to find ways to look at myself, possibly look into myself and find a thing about me that I don't hate. And I have a feeling that that's going to be super tough. But once I find that thing, I can latch onto it and find a brief sense of fulfilment. Here's to hoping that I find the thing.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Thing My Headmaster Said

So my school replaced its headmistress with a new headmaster, and about a week ago (week ago), we had our first official staff meeting with him. He had a list of things to say, and he said them without dilly-dallying a whole bunch. I appreciate that very much.

Like I said, he mentioned a number of things (be in class when it's your time to be in class, pakai nametag, etc.) but one of the things that he asked of us teachers was to start each lesson with five minutes of talking about morals, values and the such.

This was a bit of a revelation for me because throughout my education as a teacher, we had always been taught that the first few minutes of a lesson was supposed to be set inductions (which is basically a thing a teacher does or talk about or show to the students to get them interested in the coming lesson). The headmaster addressed that, saying that yes, set induction was important, but he still wanted us to try to fit in a talk about values and morals before the lesson started.

His reasoning was that kids today don't have a lot of guidance in that regard, and if it didn't come from the teacher, then who else was going to talk to them about being decent human beings? (I'm paraphrasing, of course)

Yes, we were taught to instil values and morals during lessons while we were in teacher training, but it was never an explicit thing. It was supposed to be weaved into the lesson, or probably end up being a post-lesson pep-talk. This guy was talking about a pre-lesson pep-talk. And as I'm typing this out, I know it doesn't seem like a big leap of imagination, but it was for me. Because – as a long-time reader would recall – I am a mediocre teacher, and these small things appear big to me.

So I tried doing that in class. Every time I have entered class this past several days, I came in and started my hour with each class with a talk about being a decent human being. I didn't know how to do the "kalau kamu buat benda ni, kamu jahat. Kalau kamu buat benda tu, kamu baik, dapat pahala., masuk syurga" speech, so I tried to get the students to start thinking about things.

The very first topic I tried to talk about was respect. Spent a good five minutes trying to talk about respect and how it can manifest itself and why we would want to respect others and how we would do that. Earlier today I talked about self-awareness to eight-year-olds. I even talked about the concept of discipline. I hate that word.

Or rather, I hate what it has turned into. Or better yet, I hate what school has used the word for. It's always been used by people in positions of power (ie teachers) against those who were in positions of less power (ie students) to control them. The word has been thrown around to mean that if you obeyed and did what you were told, you were good and disciplined. And if you didn't, you weren't. And being an undisciplined human being was simply unacceptable to my old teachers. If you were bad, or did something bad, you would be dikenakan "tindakan disiplin", and that was definitely bad. So the word has always meant – to me at least – physical/emotional abuse.

So in talking about the word/concept, I got myself and the students to think about what the word meant, why it was important to them and why it was important that they had it. And I tried my best to tell the students that there was such a thing as self-discipline. That discipline doesn't come from a cane; it comes from themselves, ourselves. That some of them already have it when they baca doa makan before they eat without anybody asking them to do so, or when they put a piece of trash in the garbage bin without anybody telling them to. That they could be the masters of their own discipline.

And by telling them that, I hope that they grow up to have a more positive view of the word than I did.

Now, you would think that talking to eight and nine year old kids about these things is ridiculous, right? That they're too high-faluting for a child's brain to process. At least, these were my reservations about talking to them before I did. I worried that they wouldn't get it. That they wouldn't pay attention to what I was saying. That they would continue making noise in the class the whole time I'm talking about those things.

To my surprise, the kids responded positively. At least, most of them did. More than I expected, for sure. They were attentive. They listened to what I had to say. They answered my questions when I asked. Several maintained eye contact with me throughout my talking about those things (which was a little bit of a surreal experience for me, to be frank). So that's encouraging. For me, at least, because now I can continue down this path of talking about ideas with the students and helping them think about things that I was never invited to think about when I was anywhere near their age.

So this is a bit of a thank you post to my new headmaster for putting this idea in my head. It feels great doing it, and I feel like I'm doing something positive for once (I rarely feel that way about anything I do). So thank you.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Typing Out Loud

So in a couple of days I'll be participating in a bit of a talky session thingy about self-expression with the wife, and like good organisers, the people running the event gave us the questions that we'll have to address a week prior to the event so that we could prepare. 

They're interesting questions in the sense that I've never received them before, so I know that I will personally have a tough time articulating the answers come crunch time, so I'll brainstorm some stuff here to have some sort of an idea of what I'll say on the event day itself. So here goes.

1. When did you start to really express yourself?
Tough question. I guess I've been expressing myself ever since I could remember. I a particularly fond memory would be the time when my friends and I made up a fictional chain narrative amongst each other in class while we weren't paying attention to what our teachers were saying. They were weird stories involving digimon, space pigs and professional wrestlers.

But I guess the question is, when did I really start to express myself, and I guess the question means when did I start expressing myself on purpose. And I guess the best answer I can give is when I started blogging. That was a start to a lot of things for me. Thinking about things and exploring ideas and putting those thoughts and explorations on a page, making them tangible things instead of randomness that was floating around in my head. I don't remember what actually sparked me to want to make a blog, but I do remember what opened my eyes to self-expression, and that was an English Literature course that we had to take in our TESL foundation semesters. Those lecturers taught me how to read poems and stories with a critical eye, and I've been learning ever since. I feel like I've come a long way since then, but I know that I have such a long way to go still.

2. What importance do you see in self-expression?
I think it's a human thing, to express yourself, or at least to want to express yourself, either in the form of poetry or songs or films or stories or even just conversations that we have with each other. We have this innate need to tell other people what is on our minds. Maybe that's hard-wired into our brains or maybe that's just me, but I feel like everyone wants to share stuff that's in their heads with other people.

To me, it's a question of whether or not you're aware that that's what you're doing. Once you are, you do it on purpose, then maybe you feel the urge to get better at it. And that's my never-ending struggle for the past several years. Just trying to get better at expressing myself to other people.

But why would you want to get better? Why aren't you happy with just being able to express yourself period? (I added these questions myself)

Honest answer is, I don't know. Maybe it's just my way of keeping myself from being happy. I think I secretly get a kick out of making myself feel inferior and incompetent, because I do that so often it's unhealthy.

Or maybe I want to get better so that I can eventually hear other people say "hey look at that guy, he's so competent at expressing himself in his chosen method of self-expression!" and I'll feel happy about myself when I'm validated like that, feeds my ego and stuff. Maybe. I don't know.

3. How did being able to express yourself change your life (or didn't)?
I think it opened my eyes a lot more. I feel like I notice more things, nowadays. Things that I probably wouldn't have noticed when I wasn't expressing myself on purpose. Like, I wouldn't have been able to appreciate sarcasm as much as I do now if I didn't use it myself as much as I do.

And I don't think I would be able to appreciate a lot of other art too, like songs. I write the odd song every now and again, and it has allowed me some insight into the amount of work and creativity that it takes to produce songs, and I feel like I can appreciate (or not appreciate) certain songs with more certainty now compared to back when I didn't engage in the act. I can say things like "man, that must have taken SO MUCH WORK to get done!" or "nikhirim malaih gila dia ni buat lagu camni ja," just when listening to stuff, because I have an insight into what it takes to get those things done. And that goes to other forms too, like video or film-making, writing, even sports. But of course, like I said earlier, I'm still learning so many things, so I always leave room for myself to be wrong.

4. Do you have a method to build confidence or to shake off nervousness?
I think confidence is one of the bi-products of experience. So whenever I'm nervous as eff or when I don't feel confident before a performance or whenever I'm doing stuff in front of a group of people, it helps to remind myself that I'm super super nervous right now because I haven't done this a bunch of times yet. I'm going to suck at this one right here, and that's okay, because I have to suck a whole buncha times before getting kinda sorta good at it (yes, that's a Jake from Adventure Time quote). And giving myself permission to be bad at something is so liberating, like you wouldn't believe. So yeah, embracing my mediocrity is what I do.

5. What are some common myths about self-expression that you, through experience, have doubts about?
I don't know about any common myths about self-expression, so I had to google it. The results weren't that many. I couldn't find anything relevant in the first page of the search, so they must not exist, right?

All joking a salad, I did find one thing that said self-expression was related to narcissism. I guess you can sort of see it that way in the sense that when you express yourself, you're essentially spilling your guts in the form of your words and thoughts for all the world to see and kinda sorta imply that you're saying "HEY LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME I HAVE STUFF TO SAY LOOK AT MEEEE (noodles)", but I don't know.

I feel like learning how to express myself has allowed me to be more empathetic too. I feel like I understand what it takes for me to produce a certain something and the kind of courage that is necessary to be honest about yourself and your views in a world where conformity is valued so much, that it helps me understand the plight of other people who are expressing themselves too, or at least who are trying to express themselves. I feel like we're all working towards making ourselves understood by other people when we can barely even understand ourselves most of the time, it makes it easier for me to put myself in the skin of other people and try to understand why they see things the way they do and why they express themselves the way they do.

6. What problems do you still face when expressing yourself, and what problems did you experience in the past?
One of the things that I've always struggled with is figuring out what I think. I feel like 99% of the time, my mind is a floating space of nothingness and to extract something, anything out of it requires exertion and effort. So that's always a struggle for me, finding something to think about. Like my videos. I struggle so much with them, because like I said, 99% of the time I have no idea what to talk about, especially when asked to talk about something. It just goes blank.

I go through this so many times. I'd have thoughts and stuff floating around in my head, things that I find interesting, but as soon as I click on the Word icon or the "Tweet" icon, my mind goes blank. Absolutely nothing. All of a sudden I have no memory of what I was thinking so profusely about just literally two seconds ago. And so I scroll through Twitter and think "oh look at all these people that have interesting stuff to say" and wonder how they did it.

7. How did you manage?
I still don't know. I think saying it aloud helps. And nowadays I like to record myself on the phone using the voice memo app thing on the phone. Most of my voice memo stuff are random melodies that sometimes come into my head and I hum them out to the phone so that I don't forget them in five seconds.

I also started an idea bank about a year ago. It was during a challenge I made for myself to write everyday on my blog (what a failure that turned out to be), but I feel like that helped. I needed to catch myself in a train of thought and quickly jot them down and save them in my twitter drafts so that I can go to my laptop later in the day and read from those drafts to know what I was going to write about that day. That idea bank thing was super helpful because sometimes I would have five thoughts a day, and somethings I would have zero thoughts a week, and being able to extract one idea a day from that bank was super helpful in getting me to write so much more than I had ever written before. But like everything I do, I stopped doing it at a certain point because me and consistency are like oil and water. I should probably start that again.

8. What's your advice to people who are afraid to express themselves?
I would have to ask first, why are you afraid? What are you afraid of? If it's that people are going to laugh at you, then chances are, people don't really care. All people care about is themselves, and if you're not directly affecting them in any way, then express away. if you're worried "what will people say about me?" or "what will people think about me when I do/say this thing?", chances are, those people are asking the same exact questions to themselves. Everybody is worried about their own selves, so don't worry about them. They're already worried enough about themselves as it is.

If you're afraid that nobody will care, then I'll probably borrow Bo Burnham's words: If you can live your life without an audience, you should do it.

Because if I've noticed anything about self-expression and stuff, things have a way of finding their own audiences. They might be small, or they might be weird, but they're real, and they're supposed to be there. Care more about the quality of your product than what other people think about it. Because if you're happy with what you've made, then you've already gained one fan. Yourself.