Participation

Assalamualaikum w.b.t.

Tomorrow, I start my sophomore year of high school. And believe it or not, I’m really not that afraid of going. I’m not sure if I will have the time to write any more letters because I might be too busy trying to “participate.”

So, if this does end up being my last letter, please believe that things are good with me, and even when they’re not, they will be soon enough.

That’s an excerpt from the last page of The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

From the age of thirteen to fifteen, I used to be a wallflower, standing on the sidelines while everyone else participated. I disliked nothing more than socializing. I went to a school where the management was terrible and the teachers were disorganized. The students were self-centered, judgemental, materialistic, and divided into cliques. I had a low opinion of most people around me, and was never close with seniors, juniors, or teachers. I had about three friends — who were, unfortunately, also wallflowers. I found it hard to gather motivation to study. Putting up my hand in class was scarier than getting my PMR results. I was unhappy with my own life, so I lived vicariously through fictional characters, public figures and spent an unhealthy amount of time on the internet. I had a loooot of problems pulling me into misery and I didn’t know how to articulate them.

My wallflower-like ways strongly contradicted the constant urge to share my thoughts and opinions with the world. I wanted to join clubs and enter competitions and upload videos on YouTube and work on creative projects and support causes and go on rescue missions and debate and stuff. But I never knew how.

I got longlisted for The Star’s young journalist program twice (early 2012 and 2013). You have the chance to become a Star intern if you do excellently. But I never bothered competing for the second stage, because you had to convince thirty people to subscribe to The Star. LIKE, ARE YOU CRAZY?!?!?!?! I probably talked to five people or less in a day. It never occurred to me to ask help from teachers or anything. I just gave up.

But Alhamdulillah I learned how to ‘participate’.

The simplest example I can give is becoming a photographer.

Ever since I was Form One, I wanted to be a school photographer. I’d watch movies about high school and admire any character with a camera hanging from their neck. I thought it was the coolest thing ever to have permission to bring a DSLR to school, wear a ‘PHOTOGRAPHER’ tag around your neck, and capture events. But I had no idea how. I was too scared to approach any of the photographers (who were seniors).

I tried joining the editorial board with a friend at some point, but as school was divided into two sessions (morning and evening), we never knew when meetings were held. I assumed meetings only involved those from Form Three to Form Five. I just stared on jealously whenever I saw a certain Form Two girl snapping away.

Most of my ‘participation’ started in Form 4, whether through force or through coincidence. BWP (student representative council) elections were held, and I badly wanted to be a committee member of the Information and Communication Exco. But the representative was a guy whom I had never talked to before. Even considering approaching him was like approaching a huge, hungry tiger.

Sometime during that period, a classmate of mine asked if I wanted to join the ICE (more commonly known as Exco Komunikasi) with another friend, A. Until today I’m not sure why — I think A mentioned that I had a camera. Of course, I was all cool on the outside and put my name and my IC number down, when inside my brain I was like, “IS THIS THE REAL LIFE??? IS THIS JUST FANTASY???”. I made sure to thank that particular classmate before SPM.

Anyway, Exco Komunikasi was cool. We had our fair share of ups and downs. But I got to make announcements in the bilik siaraya, become a radio DJ, and best of all, got a license to bring my camera to school and take photographs. I even kept bringing my camera after I stepped down. Bahahahahha. So YAY, becoming a photographer? MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. Even without owning a DSLR. The most interesting project I had to do was film 3-second clips of the teachers for Teacher’s Day. I sacrificed a lot of rehat time for that, okay! I had to suggest different types of actions because most teachers were very malu-malu. There was this one teacher who was extremely stubborn and didn’t want to be filmed AT ALL. In the end I managed to convince her to let me film her marking papers for three seconds.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am now part of Biro Publisiti for Jawatan Penggerak Masjid in UiTM. Therefore, once again, taking photographs is my job. Alhamdulillah. I also get to design posters and play around in Photoshop. Weeeee. I hope to be a PMDS (Pemimpin Minggu Destini Siswa) by my third semester, preferably under Biro ICT.

dslremcee

 

Anyway, my birthday was two days ago. Here’s a random list of 30 things I did in UiTM Lendu before turning eighteen that would make my Lower Form self proud, because back then, I could only dream of everyday adventures like these.

  1. survived MDS with less than two hours of sleep every night
  2. became emcee for a business talk
  3. rode on public transport (bus) to Melaka Sentral and back
  4. tried to sign up for PortaWifi but failed because I was underage
  5. visited MRSM AG untuk lepaskan rindu
  6. usrah was conducted in my house (several times)
  7. survived the Orang Utan Walk at Serama Camp, Melaka — IT WAS THRILLING
  8. bought a Don’t Mess With Melaka t-shirt
  9. got full marks for a Translation quiz
  10. attended a leadership course
  11. spent the night at my classmate’s grandmother’s house to film a short film
  12. solat terawih, open air style
  13. iftar outside UiTM with housemates
  14. got a ride on a motorcycle, multiple times
  15. got coloured powder + water thrown at me during MassColours
  16. successfully sold personalized tote bags and Raya cards
  17. survived more than a month with my family living overseas
  18. had a photoshoot with a blazer
  19. listened to talks from Ustaz Adnin Roslan, Adam Corrie and PU Yeop
  20. celebrated Raya @ UiTM, explored the Art & Design faculty
  21. filmed a vlog with a friend (review of a novel, Anugerah Cinta Paling Glamor)
  22. full attendance for every class so far, including ko-ko, and I haven’t slept in class after SPM
  23. was selected for JPM interview and passed, Alhamdulillah
  24. delivered (a few) awesome speeches and role plays
  25. cheerfully sang along to the Malaccan anthem when everybody else was like ‘?????????’
  26. kamceng dengan senior dari pelbagai fakulti heh
  27. went to Melaka town with the JPM family in a school bus, visited Muzium Islam
  28. bought a fisheye lens after YEARS of wanting one — padahal RM15 je
  29. designed an ad for a FOSSIL watch, and out of all my lecturer’s classes, it was her favourite
  30. and to top it all off, on the last day as a seventeen-year-old, I FINALLY took the bus home!

Alhamdulillah.

Dear 14-Year-Old Me

This blog post is a response to Dear 18-Year-Old Me.

Assalamualaikum w.b.t.

Arifah Husna Badlishah.

Well, first of all, I read this post probably more than five times before my 18th birthday. You should not have had such high expectations from me, DUHHH. In fact, it’s not even my 18th birthday yet but I doubt I’ll have sufficient time to blog tomorrow, so I am writing this now.

Eh budak kecik, kau siapa nak suruh aku buat apa? Ni hidup aku lah! Ngehehehehehe.

***

1. Where am I now?

I did not get straight A’s for PMR or SPM, but 6 for both. You must be disappointed. The Malaysian school system and I were never the best of friends. But it doesn’t matter, it’s in the past. Furthermore, the concept of rezeki is very subjective. He who is content with little, is richer than he who does not find contentment even though he has everything. I’m in university now, and things are different.

In Form 4, I schooled in Seafield for 5 weeks before shifting to MRSM Alor Gajah. I know, right? *laughing while crying emoji* Oh wait… emojis did not exist in 2011. Ah, whatever. Going to MRSM was undoubtedly for the better.

Alhamdulillah, I do pray five times a day. I avoid Milo kotak at least because I am trying to boycott Israel. I drink Milo once in a few days, but hey, four years ago I used to drink a few boxes of Milo in one day. Pottermore? I don’t think I made it past the second book. It’s kinda hambar, actually. Haha. I am in good health, all praises to Allah.

2. How is everyone?

If you only knew, darling. Mum, Dad, Arif and Aimi moved to Tokyo around a month ago because Dad got a job there. Arif and Aimi will go to international schools soon, and Mum is a freelance translator. I chose to stay here, to be independent and free. Uncle B got married to an Indonesian stewardess – Auntie Ayu – and she is currently three months pregnant. He surveyed cots and strollers as if he was buying a new car. Nabilah and Ammar do go to private school and as a result of that they still are not fluent in Malay. Auntie and Uncle Nan took me out last weekend to this awesome recreation / sports park called Serama Camp. Grandpa and Grandma are going to Cambodia soon InsyaAllah. Tok Wan is struggling with the condition of his leg. Wo Tom left us back in January. Everyone else is fine, alive, and well.

3. What university/college (and course) am I in?

I am now pursuing my diploma in Mass Communication in UiTM Lendu, Melaka. What even is a diploma??? Ah, you’ll find out… like… six months before you turn eighteen. Hahaha. No, I am not doing A-Levels or whatever, and I have never once imagined myself in a public university, but my plan for now is to score super-duper well and get a scholarship to study overseas. And this time, I truly mean it and I can actually visualize it in my mind – trust me, it’s different from the sudden burst of energy that makes me say things like, ‘I’M GONNA GET 8A’S FOR PMR AND TAKE OVER THE WORLD!’.

No one sleeps in my room, as everyone is in Japan. My bed is gathering dust. I took the glow-in-the-dark stars down a while ago, and I didn’t bring my Harry Potter books to college because Arif wanted them. I have a loooong list of unread books, anyway.

We only had about two or three French lessons, girl. Setakat ‘bonjour’ dengan ‘au revoir’ aku tahu lah. Thank you Allah, since I am not a beggar or a drug addict or a smoker or a murderer or a rapist or a terrorist.

4. Do I have a driver’s license?

Believe me, I tried my absolute best. You have no idea how much sweat, blood, tears, and money I put into trying to get a driver’s license. Tapi takde rezeki. I failed twice. But it’s okay, I can survive without a car. You’re not supposed to bring your own transport during your first semester anyway. Did you know buses and trains and taxis actually exist in Malaysia? Oh, and some seniors are kind enough to regularly give me rides on their motorcycles.

I will try again to get a license in the future, InsyaAllah.

5. How is my love life?

HAHAHAHAHA. How about, hmm, non-existent? I have friends who are married and pregnant. Grandma actually told me to get a boyfriend. Oh God.

For now I have a lot of things to focus on, including improving my own self as a character, because as stated in the Qur’an, evil women are for evil men, and evil men are for evil women, while good women are for good men, and good men are for good women.

6. Are you working on your dreams?

Don’t worry, I will never give up on writing. I’m planning on penning down a manuscript during my semester break (I plan to go to Japan, heh) because I finally found a decent publishing house.

I am not really sure how to articulate my dreams for the future. I hope to get a Bachelor’s degree in Advertising. And then, I just want to be a creative genius. A writer, an artist, a designer, a photographer, a filmmaker, a director, perhaps a public figure – and through all of that I hope to spread dakwah.

7. Any other things you should know?

I am actually too lazy to answer this question. Lulz. Wait. OH YEAH!!! PHINEAS AND ISABELLA GOT TOGETHER AT LAST!!!

***

Yes, yes, happy 18th birthday to me! I am a free elf! But you know what, I used to think that freedom was something you get all at once, like a novel you finish reading in a few hours. Truth is, you get more and more freedom periodically. It’s like fanfiction – you have to wait loyally for the author to complete and release the next chapter.

Alhamdulillah, Allah is Most Merciful and still gives me the chance to live. I don’t need tangible gifts (though that would be nice), I would just like everyone’s du’aa that I use my youth wisely, die in a state of husnul khatimah, and that I will live forever in Jannah with my loved ones.

Sincerely,

Arifah of 29th August 2015