I'm not letting them get to me + Collective Reflections 2019

They come as airborne threats and wildfires, but I can't let them chip away at my sanity

Dear lunch box friends,

After a tumble and a twirl, the Collective Reflection for 2019 is finally here! Thank you so much to the bold friends who submitted their reflections, I salute you for the vulnerability and I’m grateful for your intimacy. From discovering your personal demons and new hobbies, to re-igniting the power of “ohana” with friends & family, my dear friend, you have shown me that we are all together on this shared divine journey. You’re telling me we get to rock n roll in this together?! I’m HONOURED to walk with you.

There’s a tiny comfort in knowing we 20 somethings are kind of struggling with the same BS, even if we don’t tell each other enough. Some shared struggles I hear are: staying connected with friends, maintaining healthy relationships with family while living/studying abroad, combatting procrastination, finding time for self-care and new hobbies, forgiving others for projecting themselves…

And that’s one of the reasons why I write to you: to start the conversation about the hard things and to have a laugh about it. I admit, sometimes things are so messed up that we can do nothing but laugh over the darkness of it all. This brings to mind a fellow lunch box friend who said they will drive their car ‘until it sputters and the paint peels off’ because they unwillingly inherited a car loan from an erratic parent…

The reflections are available in my personal Instagram’s featured stories, and they’ll likely be there for as long as I use IG. If that’s not available to you, you can always view them here:

View Collective Reflections 2019

Pro tip: For those who submitted their responses, take a screenshot and keep it on your phone for a motivation booster from time to time! I’m sure it’ll come in handy when you close off 2020.

Don’t let me get me

For the last month (and now) we have been collectively battling away at silly notions and obsessions over this new fearful, airborne thing. It started simple enough for me, an urgent sequence of pings on my phone, messages from my family group chat popping up over and over. I’ve put these group chats on mute because I’ve grown past the fear mongering of the obsessed. Photos of people collapsing on the streets, listicles of facts and obscured half-truths. Suddenly, everyone was an expert in something. Hushed voices carry with them fear, anxiety, and paranoia.

It’s not the first time this sort of thing has happened, especially not in my family group chat. Virality is too often tied with fear. The worst kind of cocktail that nudges me in all the wrong places. I get frustrated at sharers for not fact checking. I get frustrated that I have to fact check for them. I get frustrated over how I’m wasting my time doing even that, especially if it raises no immediate urgency to my wellbeing.

Regardless, I can’t discount that there must be some truth to all these exclamation marks and death toll numbers. My body tenses up, involuntarily seeking for information that proves my biases. Or rather, the biases that have been bombarded at me over the context of familial ties. I believe my family members, like many others, often err on the side of fear and I hate to say it, eat up the dog food that media feeds. And because I voluntarily consume the information being shared to me, I experience the same gush of fear and anxiety. I don’t know if they feel it, but I certainly do. I don’t say they don’t get to me. And I don’t say they are all fake news, but surely there are sensible parameters around what could be ‘shared’.

  • Is it going to induce uneccessary urgency and anxiety to the recipient?

  • Do they already know about this?

  • Am I sharing the same thing again, but reframed in a more negative/shocking perspective?

  • Am I throwing bad vibes around here? And to 5, 10, 50 people nevertheless?

Somehow, amidst playing caretaker and surviving another year of festive celebrations, I fell ill on the day of my flight home to Bali. Maybe I did eat up their dog food.

That morning in Kuala Lumpur, I watched an IGTV video about remaining stoic in the face of outbreak. And part of that means understanding that our biological bodies will fall ill if we allow it to be. Paranoia and fear drains our immunity, it pollutes our mind and it creates vast oceans between what we see in our tiny screens and what is factual beyond. Fear deepens our biases, simmering slowly, until it confronts us and we spring away if someone so much as sneezed next to us. Bless you, lest you are of a certain race.

I don’t have much to add beyond that, just that I’m exhausted from the worldly crises that knocks on my email, my social media and my group chats. All I know is to protect my sanity by staying positive and immersing myself with those I love. Every moment I spend cuddling with a furry friend is one less moment I worry about this stupid airborne thing. I’m not going to watch that documentary about outbreaks. I’m not going to refresh thewuhanvirus.com every day. I’m gonna keep myself healthy and accountable if I do fall sick and travel. That’s as far as it goes. That’s the only way to keep my spirits up and to fight off this fear.

My friend, if you are feeling very much the same, I hope I can bring some light to you with our collective reflections, and maybe this ‘don’t let them get to me’ anecdote resonates with you too. We started off the year with lots of great resolutions and reminders of what we carry with us into 2020. I’m confident that you’re still holding on to that. And if you’re not, here’s a booster:

Love & toast,


What’s In The Lunch Box

Chicken tofu hambagu and noodles tossed in sesame oil. Simple and divine. My partner tells me that it reminds him of the chicken meatball skewers from our favourite fast-food chain in Singapore - Tori-Q!