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Tuesday, 18 December 2012

How To Plot A Spontaneous Life Chart?

Plotting a life chart is one of the most valuable self-discovery methods I learnt from counselling. It is an effective exercise that enables us to reflect upon the person that we've become when we put them tangibly on paper. 

Every single person on Earth, is who they are today because of the journey and experiences they've lived through. In order to excavate these spontaneous emotions or memories out of oneself, this has to be done in the moment without any prior preparation.

This game can take up to about 30 minutes or more depending on how detailed you want your chart to be, or how deep you're willing to go to understand yourself. Each step has to be spontaneous, therefore in order for this to work, one must complete each level before reading the next step. 

All you need are some coloured pencils or pen and a blank piece of paper, preferably A4/A3 in size. There is no "correct way" of doing this as each mind perceives the world in their own different way, therefore let yourself explore and get creative with your chart.

Step 1:
Now with the paper in the orientation of choice: portrait or landscape, select a coloured pen of choice and draw a thick straight line at the middle, parallel to the orientation of choice. (Eg: Horizontal line for landscape, vertical line for portrait.)

Step 2:
Imagine the line as your life, starting from the day you were born till the person that you are now. Or it could start and end from any particular period of your choice. Depending on how well your memory serves you, you can choose how specifically detailed you want your chart to be.

Using short description or key words, pull out and list down every particular strong memory throughout your life in which you can recall spontaneously at this moment. It could be anything, ranging from good to bad, happy to tragic events that have impacted your life. Things that you may consider important or unimportant. Take all the time you need and take it easy. 

There are memories in which we can recall, and memories in which we can't. Sometimes, they may not make sense but don't worry, the more you pull out of your head, the more rewarding this chart of yours will be.

Step 3:
Now using different colours, compartmentalise and divide different sections of the life line into chunks or periods.

Step 4:
Give each chunk of period, a name or a suitable label of choice. 

Step 5:
Now describe each compartment with key words, adjectives or a single description of choice in accordance to your very own perception of how you feel about each period.

Finish: Possible Outcome
Make sure your own chart is completed before taking a further look because different minds conceive ideas differently. The chart should reflect you and your style of doing things, your  preference and own creativity. A possible example of a simple life chart might look something like this:

Monday, 17 December 2012

There are Sixteen Types to Go Around

I remember promising that apart from documenting my journey and emotions, this white space of mine should also be written in the spirit of bringing service to others. Therefore, in an effort to inject some positivity in here, I did a self-discovery post for those who want to go deeper into understanding themselves. 

Not long ago, I was introduced to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment by a friend and was completely fascinated by the concept. In brief, the Myers-Brigg Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment is a psychometric questionnaire which was developed by Katherine Briggs upon Carl Jung's research, then later on expanded by her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers. 

The idea is that every one of us belongs to one of the sixteen proposed personality types, which affects how each individual human being perceives the world and function in life. Now I don't know how accurate this theory can be used to describe people, but in my case, I found mine to be extremely reliable.

The concept is based on the four main Dichotomies.
E (Extraversion) - I (Introversion)
S (Sensing) - N (iNtuition)
T (Thinking) - F (Feeling)
J (Judging) - P (Perception)

Every person in the world is said to fit into one of the following sixteen personality types. In fact each personality type is found to occupy a certain percentage of the total human population.

•  ISTJ (Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging)
•  ISFJ (Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging)
•  INFJ (Introverted, iNtuition, Feeling, Judging)
•  INTJ (Introverted, iNtuition, Thinking, Judging)

•  ISTP (Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Perception)
•  ISFP (Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Perception)
•  INFP (Introverted, iNtuition, Feeling, Perception)
•  INTP (Introverted, iNtuition, Thinking, Perception)

•  ESTP (Extraverted, Sensing, Thinking, Perception)
•  ESFP (Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling, Perception)
•  ENFP (Extraverted, iNtuition, Feeling, Perception)
•  ENTP (Extraverted, iNtuition, Thinking, Perception)

•  ESTJ (Extraverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging)
•  ESFJ (Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging)
•  ENFJ (Extraverted, iNtuition, Feeling, Judging)
•  ENTJ (Extraverted, iNtuition, Thinking, Judging)

Finding out which type one belongs to would lead to a better understanding of oneself, and also the way one thinks in life. You can take the quiz here for free on a website by Sonja Elen Kisa and click on the personality test option on the left. Upon obtaining your 4 letter type, you can either read all about your personality by clicking on the individual links above or visit the Personality Type Portraits page. One can also Google separately for third party articles and websites that provide a comprehensive analysis of each personality types. 

At the bottom of each portrait, there are links that will lead to more specific advice and information such as careers, personal growth and relationships. Be sure not to miss them. Have fun!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Exterminating My Sense Of Naiveness

Less than a year ago, it would have been so hard to imagine sharing my true journey with my loved ones. I remember how calm and in control I was the night I officially came out to my Mom. But the next morning while standing numbly over the sink after a shower, I suddenly found myself sobbing uncontrollably with my hands firmly gripping the edge of the sink for support. I looked at my own reflection in the mirror and couldn't quite gauge the future of the guy that was staring back. It was a moment I'll never forget.

About 3 weeks ago, I was in the midst of one of those low moments. After sequestering myself for a whole day, I finally came downstairs to have a hot drink before bed. Then we had an unexpectedly honest conversation.

"Are you sure you're not hungry? You skipped dinner."

"No it's okay. I'll just have this drink and then I'll go to bed."

"M, I know you're feeling low, but whatever it is, please regulate your appetite and make sure you take good care of your own health."

I didn't answer her. After a few sips and sitting in minutes of silence, I started talking.

"The therapist and I worked on a life chart. She told me to understand that there are a lot of things in life that we have absolutely no control over. And that in order to move forward, we're going to have to learn how to accept 'the life pattern' as part of what makes us the person that we are today."

"Well this is your acceptance phase. You can't force it and it takes time. I think she would be the one who would be able to guide you out of this."

I felt a deep build up from within, and before I knew it, all the energy found it's way through my eyes.

Me: [tearing]
"But I don't know why coming to grips with this unfamiliar phase is so hard for me, it's ridiculous..."
"Somehow I know for a fact that if you were to put another person in my shoes, they would have picked themselves up and just moved on, or perhaps handled the situation better."

She: [silent observation]

"I've tried, and I'm still trying. I'm very afraid of my pattern in life. I don't know how to accept and face the rise and fall, the whole trial and error that comes with being me. I did not persevere through the past, just to find myself in the current lost and unfulfilled state that I am today."

"Look, it's not that easy. You've pushed yourself so hard for the past year. Nobody would actually know deep down, what you're going through and the journey you've taken me on."

"As a mother, your struggle is so real to me that I feel so helpless. I have learnt so much from you because you are my son, and you opened me eyes to this side of life. It is through you that I now understand, and could see for my very own eyes what people go through when they struggle with themselves and their sexuality."

"You taught me that being gay is not 'a choice to be made', neither is it a trend. By the way, you're talking about your sexuality right?"

"I'm talking about both, the gay aspect of myself and my career destiny in life. They're both not taking-off or developing well at the moment. I'm pushing myself because I'm desperate. I've wasted so much time figuring things out that I just want to move on and be okay. I'm turning a year older in a couple of days, but here I am still so lost and not sure about the next step or what's supposed to be in stall for me."

"In terms of being gay, I have a very strong feeling that that's not even an issue any more. It's starting to become an additional excuse just to feed my depression because I realised that deep down, there is nothing wrong with being gay. You just have to accept and be comfortable with that side of yourself, which I'm already working on."

"But I'm still having trouble making peace, and accepting myself 'physically' for the way I am. And that's what fuels my diffidence and my lack of will to face the gay world. It's what makes me so insecure because I know for a fact that I'm not in the position to experience and live the gay life I want."

"Are you calling yourself ugly? You're saying you're not desirable? Because I can tell you right now that it's all in your head. And that is something you have to overcome. Don't tell me that every single gay guy out there cares about physicality so much that no one bothers to even look at your character or like you for the person that you are?"

Me: [silent]
"... "

"I don't know. Seems like that was certainly the message I got when I was trying to find my way around the saunas, bars and queer gatherings. You know, whenever I think about putting myself in the middle of it, I remember all of the exact emotions and inadequacy I felt when I explored them alone."

"It wasn't exactly encouragingly enjoyable." 
"I felt like... this crazy person, running around from place to place, trying to find that peace of mind and validation that comes with knowing how a sweet gay experience would taste like. But I didn't find it."

She: [silent]

"... "
"I didn't find it. And the whole thing back-fired on my own sense of self."
"You know after being in the closet for 10 years, I was certainly not expecting this when I decided to free myself from denial to chase those years of self-repression back."

"Okay, you're frustrated I get it. But don't say that. Because you don't know what might come in the end for you!"

"I actually think you did it all wrong. You were so focused on using your courage and inner strength to find answers and experiences for yourself that you never thought about how it might affect you. Throwing yourself into bars and saunas alone, you could have very well approached this the wrong way."

"It was the ONLY WAY I knew how to get out of my comfort zone!" 
"Who else was I gonna turn to for guidance? There was no one!"
"I just... I... "
"... "

"I think you're pushing yourself a little too hard. Stop being so hard on yourself. Why don't you consider temporarily giving this gay thing a rest?"

"Okay, tell me how. Tell. Me. How?!" 
"I don't know what's gotten into me, but ever since I decided to accept my feelings, I seem to wake up everyday now thinking about guys. I can't walk the streets without wondering how it feels like to kiss every guy, make-out with them, touch them, feel them. My overwhelming desires are seemingly hard to handle and driving me crazy these days."

"I used to be able to keep it all to myself because I was closeted, and could therefore bear the repression that comes with being in fear. I did it for 10 fucking years. But now,  I've grown into someone who realised that it's okay to want these things. That, all of my previous desires were now possible and attainable."

"So you want a partner? A boyfriend, is that it?"

"No. Actually I... " 
"... " 
"I don't know." 
"I really don't know what would help any more."

"Initially I thought a boyfriend was the answer to helping me develop some gay experiences. But I've discussed this with some close friends, and they think it might not be the solution to solving my current problems as a whole because I haven't fully accepted myself, or at least be at peace."

"In addition, I personally don't think it's sensible to just wait around for the guy and the gay experience. In fact, I really need to make an informed decision about my heading in life. I don't wanna be the guy who end up making the wrong decision about placing too much focus on the gay aspect of my life that it compromises the overall worth of the other."

"You know what's worse than being gay and invisible? No professional sense of direction in life."

"Then I guess you better start planning for yourself. Know what you want to achieve! For what is worth, I actually think that if you had a boyfriend, you wouldn't be struggling this badly alone. At least you would have someone who's gone through the same shoes to turn to." 

"You think?"

"Maybe you just haven't met that somebody who can help develop you. Someone to grow and discover this journey together with you."

Me: [mumbled to myself]
"I've never had anyone around me because either I'm not good enough for people, or people are not good enough for me."

"I'm talking about the bigger picture here!"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean someone who can really share your heart, your thoughts and your emotions. That someone who will love you for you and feels the same way, the same connection. That's what matters! It's called a relationship. It's what happens in the straight world too if you want to compare it that way, gay or straight."

[In My Head]
Wow. She's right.

"So don't tell me every gay guy out there is looking for appearance just because after a few bars and saunas, you seem to realise that's the requirement. I don't believe that to be 100% true! Every gay guy can't have ridiculously insurmountable high standards?"

"You know Mom, you might think I don't know, but I'm actually perfectly aware of the way I think. Just sitting here and listening to us talk about this, I do feel unbelievably small and naive."

She: [silent observation]

"And I know you must think that how can a deep and smart guy like me in his twenties, focus so much on the shallow aspects of being different that he has absolutely no idea about the fundamentals of what constitutes a basic romantic human to human relationship. I -" 

"- No. I don't think that." 
"In fact, I could understand why you're finding this all hard to digest because let's be honest, no matter how much we tell you how easy and simple things actually are, being gay really requires a whole other way of thinking. I'm just sad that you have to go through it all on your own while none of us can help understand it from your point of view."

"And trust me, this whole physicality thing, I didn't make it up! Coming from someone who is trying to break into gay life, I can't tell you how real that is. No matter how much one tries to deny or justify with it. 

"I can't change the way I look, so does this mean that I'll find no one, or will have to succumb to the realistic limitations of what my looks will bring, along with the invisible fate that comes with being gay?" 

"Listen, I'm not asking you to answer that." 
"Just merely wondering myself you know, where do I go from here?"

"I think you need to meet people. Friends who are also gay, who might be able to guide you, understand you and bring you into the network. It always starts out as friends before anything else develops, it always does. You can't expect to meet someone out of the blue and then happily ever after. That doesn't exist. Because if it does, you would have experienced it already."

"You just need time to know how the gay system works. And I don't think you can go further with resi-"

Me & Her: [simultaneously]
"-residual homophobia..."

"Yes... " 
"Maybe deep down, you're still having issues with that. Maybe timing is still not right?"

Me: [deep sigh]

"I guess you may have a point there." 
"Maybe I can't expect things to happen with one foot out the door, and the other still in the closet. You have no idea how much I envy guys who found answers and experiences without even having to invest half the effort. But in my case, it's always the harder approach to get something."

"In regard to what you said about relationships and sharing your heart with another guy, I actually know what you're talking about. Kinda brought me back to those days of developing crushes and falling in love with some of my girl friends in the past. That feeling of being intoxicated. It was sad not being able to pursue them without hurting them. 

"I've always liked your girl-crushes. They were always good choices."

"But the thing is, considering how much more difficult it is being gay, I don't think I might meet the guy version of them."

"You don't know that!"
"Stop over-thinking everything. It's all very theoretical."

This conversation actually makes me realise, how much more I desperately need to grow and  progress in life. So kids, always make sure to develop yourself accordingly.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Falling for People Again

Yesterday, I spontaneously decided to join two of my female friends for a couple of beers at a pub. Which is rare, considering how sloth always gets the better of me rather than go out. After the first round, we then decided to drive into a nice area of the capital city for more drinks.

We settled down into a nice bar. Halfway through our drinks, I found myself paying attention to a really hot middle-aged guy sitting alone at a table behind us. Since I won't be able to stop myself from exchanging intermittent glances, or gaze at him, thought I might as well try to see if I could catch a little eye-contact.

Then one of my friends said: 
"Hey, look at that older guy behind you. I don't know what it is, but there's something very hot about him."

"Yeah, I know! I've been noticing him ever since he sat there."

"Jeez, do you have eyes at the back of your head or something? How the hell do you notice these people?"

"I don't know! Sometimes my instincts just happen to turn my head into a particular direction and there will be some hot guy within my field of vision."

So we just carried on chatting while I turn my head around occasionally to look at the hot guy. I felt his subtle attention on us too, but it's one of those vibes in which you are just not sure. Just before I could keep track of the minutes, he was standing beside our table, asking for tips on where to go for a late night because the bar closes at about 3am. 

My heart started beating a little faster as each of us politely pander to his courageous friendliness. "Invite him to sit down!", goes my inner voice. But I kept my love-sick tendencies under control and carried on the casual talk. Then, he seized the chance at one of our conversational lines and spontaneously took the empty seat right beside me. He is British, of Anglo-French descent and charismatically attractive. An expatriate on a business trip who currently resides in a neighbouring country.

There's something mysteriously attractive about him, and intimidating in a way too. Throughout the conversation, I felt his steady eye-contact and constant charming attention. Either my imagination was leading me on, or this beautiful hot guy is distractingly mesmerising in close proximity. His well defined chiseled face, soft brown eyes, and arousing stubble that surrounds those beautifully luscious firm lips. That broad, broad shoulder and amazingly masculine arms. I want to kiss him devouringly, bite him slightly and make passionate silent love to him. The lengths I would go to to please this man and have him be my partner in life.

He was 41, a successful hot bachelor in which I told him could pass off as 35. He said he liked me. Called me nonchalantly charming and asked if I was as good with the ladies as I was with him. I smiled and kept cool without revealing anything about my preference.

After a couple more conversational exchanges, he wanted to prolong our company by buying us another round of drinks. It was an extremely kind gesture on his part and a hard-to-believe one that we've all been refusing, but politeness got the better of us. "How could we say no to him?", I hear from the back of my head.

I asked him about the current choice of Mojito in his hand, and why? He said it was his favourite cocktail and that he was very much in the mood of having one. As soon as I told him it was mine too, his face brightened with excitement and without hesitation, took charge and commanded two more Mojitos for the both of us, and two more pints of beer for the girls.

[In My Head]
This man, is so unpredictably in control and hot. 
Same favourite cocktail for the 2 of us, guys? I must be crazy.
Wonder how it'd feels like being civil-partnered to him.

Me: [grinning]
"So, how's life going at 41? Are you genuinely happy with how things are working out for you so far?"
"Apart from you know, looking good and ageing very well?"

He was surprisingly pleased with my last sentence, but was equally trying to hide his smile from being thrown off-guard. Ho! He sure did not see this coming.

He: [alternating between the girls and me]
"Whoa. I like this guy! M here knows that he's charming!"
"You're quite chatty aren't you? I can see that your mind is actually WAY older than your physical age."
"He's probably the only guy I've ever met who goes so deep into his chats."
"I can certainly imagine you being a really good interviewer."

The Girls: [giggling]
"Yeah, he's actually an old guy at heart. A granny maybe!"

He: [laughs]

"Well... I seem to do that a lot to everybody I meet. My friends' parents included."
"I just can't help my overwhelming curiosity for deep questions."
"I mean if we're going to have a conversation with someone, we might as well have a deep and honest one right? Otherwise why bother?"

He: [smiling]
"That's true actually." 
"So... "
"You like honesty?"

Me: [laughs]
"Yeah... I guess."

He: [smiling]
"Hmm... " 
"Well I would say that my time in my 30s and 40s, are definitely way better than when I was in my 20s."

"That's pretty normal isn't it?"

He: [smiling]
"Well how would you guys know? You're only in your 20s!"

"Well that's because everybody says that, and I believe it to be very true. Experience is a wise teacher. Most of the people I meet are much older in general so they've pretty much said it countless times, that humans are much more confident and stable in life when we're in our 40s than in our 20s. Kind of like finally having a better understanding of our identities, and who you really are in life."

He: [smiling]
"Wow, I'm impressed. You guys surely are different from the other people around here."

Me & The Girls: [laughing]
"Yeah. Maybe that came from years of growing up and watching international talk shows about life?"

The Girls: [looking at his wrist]
"Hey, that's a nice watch you got there!"

He: [fondles his watch]
"Oh, this?"
"Well it's a funny story actually. I'm not sure if it's worth telling."

Me: [charming grin]
"Try us."
"Okay. How about you tell us the story behind your watch and I'll tell you the one behind mine? I'll promise to make it worth your while."

He: [chuckling]
"So, after those deep questions, we're now moving on to talking about jewellery?"
" ... "
"Okay. I actually found this watch on a beach in the south of England about 10 years ago. So it's been good, and it's been with me ever since."
"So now it's your turn. It better be good as you promised."

Me: [smile]
"Aaw don't worry. Trust me, it's good. I'll make it worth your while."
"So uh. This is... "
"This is the first... grown-up watch my father bought me when I was around 18 years old. It's a Tissot and I love this watch so much. But the funny thing is however, throughout my life, I've never shared a good relationship with my father."

He: [smiles impressively]
"Wow... "
"You're right. That IS a good story."

My confidence soared a couple of notches. Man, the night's getting good! Then the topic between him and the girls somehow drifted to their favourite films, actors and actresses, in which he said: "I, am a straight guy. -"

Upon hearing that phrase, I instantly felt the enormous weight of my own huge disappointment, ramming realistically into me at about a 100 miles an hour. I was lost in total free fall.

He: [looking at the girls]
"- So if I were to sleep with a man it would be George Clooney. He seems like the kind of guy who would stay up in bed all night and talk to you." 
"What is it about him anyway that you girls find him so attractive? 

Me: [looking at him nonchalantly]
"Why don't you ask yourself that?"
"I mean considering how you'd turn gay for him."

He: [laughs]
"Ho ho! This guy right here, is really good with his words isn't he?!"

I kept a clean smile and remained neutral, but deep down inside, I was so crestfallen that I could no longer concentrate on what was happening in the foreground. I silently hated myself for being so vulnerable and naive. "He's not even gay or interested! Despite everything that was happening throughout the evening. All that I was secretly hoping for and all that was going on in my head. He's straight. He fucks women. Full stop."

After drinks, we moved on to a local eatery for some food. Throughout supper, I couldn't keep my gaze off him and my heart just kept pounding at every syllable his voice mumbled. All I wanted to do after all that conversation, was climb onto his lap, embrace his scent and kiss those luscious lips while I run my fingers through those masculine stubble so badly. The thought of not seeing him again was depressing. I really didn't want him to go. This is ridiculous, how could I have felt such overwhelming hormonal emotions when he is in fact, just a man who shared a few hours of conversation together at the bar. "Jeez, pull yourself together! This is crazy. You need psychological help."

When we got into the car, I happen to look at my phone and saw a missed text message that was sent earlier by one of the girls within the first few minutes of him sitting down with us back at the bar. It read: Either he's gay, or he's into her (the other hot friend). I couldn't gauge what was really happening any more and I no longer have the motivation to.

To return his friendly gesture for picking up the tab at the bar, we paid for his food and agreed to drop him off at his hotel which was a 5 minute drive away. I felt the grasp of his final handshake and told him how nice it was to meet him. He got out of the car and finally closed the door. As I watch him disappear into the opulent hotel lobby, I felt so sad and wondered if I'll ever get to see him again. "What the fuck is wrong with me? What is this sense of heavy attachment I'm feeling towards him? Lust, love, longing, infatuation, idolisation?"

For the next few hours in bed, I couldn't get him out of my head. I sent him a text message once I got home and constantly looked at my phone as I visualised all the possibilities I had with him. I took a moment and admitted to myself that right from the onset of his presence with us, I secretly hoped that this was the unexpected guy and relationship I've been waiting for. But also told myself to stop blowing a simple engaging meeting with a hot guy, filled with chemistry out of proportion.

I know. It's such a stupid, silly disappointment to be sad over.