Let me get it right first.
In no way am I referring to those reunion dinners that involves relatives, family members and loved ones. Those you can either rent a boyfriend, girlfriend or give-your-grandma-a-scare gayfriend, or sit there silently and be screwed instead lar. Remember, the aunties are just caring for your well being. 🙂
No, I’m referring to those with your classmates. Yeap, those who you’d copied homework from all your school days, those you ponteng class with, those you had a secret crush on for years, those who first populate your Friendster account (yeah, I’m that old). And because everyone is back in your hometown for CNY, it makes a good sense to meet up, kan?
Sure, if you truly enjoy each other company, by all means. Stop reading now, go have fun and don’t forget to wefie!
But more often than not, what I noticed was people actually coming back from those meetups more miserable, more suicidal, more grumpy and overall sourpuss, than when they left the house.
- Wow, Celine got married to a Datuk ler!
- OMG, your fourth kid is so cute! #cubit
- Congrats! Your son scored all A in his Kindy exam!
- Huh, that private school so expensive also you can send your kids there ah? Must be doing damn well lor.
- Dude, you’re doing that Estonia hottie! High-five!
- Wah, drive big cars now after bigger promotion ah! Belanja makan!
- See your wedding/honeymoon photos! Awh…. so romantic lar you two.
- Wahlau, doing your second PHD! Champion lar you.
Then you realised you’re not all that (or just one or two), and nobody even noticed your new teeth, that you just got promoted, or that your kids can walk now. And then you get depressed, even though no one compared you to others, other than yourself. That’s when the little devils start filling up your head with:
(For best cinematic effect, think of Gollum)
- I used to score so much better than her in SPM ler. How come she’s earning so much more than me?
- Last time in school ah, nobody likes her ler. Now got loving, handsome and rich husband, while I’m still single!
- Damn nice lor every year also can go travel. I can’t even pay off my PTPTN loan yet.
- Wah, last year just got new BMW, this year drive Maserati back. (Quietly sneaked your car keys with a local brand into your pockets when no one is looking)
Yeah, Gollum is on a roll!
And the best part, you’ve been in this exact position last year, and the year before, and the year before! You can still remember the bitter after taste when you’re all taking a “happy” group shot, or how green with envy you were when you stroll through their social media postings, or how you beat yourself up just because your classmates, in your mind, are doing way, way better than you.
But then, you cannot not go for the reunion, right? Then people will say you’re anti-social, or beh-join, or lansi.
You wanna know the truth? Most of the time, people don’t say or think that, and if your friend do say or think that, then I think you’re better off without that friend.
Psychologists called it FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out – a kind of social anxiety when you simply assume others are having more fun and living a better life than you. There are reported cases of extreme FOMOs which propels a person into depression and even suicide.
So here’s a few thoughts, before you agree to that CNY meet up that you know you’re gonna regret:
- You can just not go. Life is short, so spend it with those which company you really enjoyed.
- If you really want to connect with the friends you haven’t met for a while, there’s always this device you carry around quite often – your phone. Ask them out for an intimate chat over coffee, or schedule a Skype call, or bring them out for lunch.
- Know that for everything you may not do well at (yet), there are other qualities that your friends respect and admire you for. Sure, they may be ahead of you in one or two area of their lives, but seriously, who’s taking score? You? Ditch that report card lar.
- If all you guys talk about is the past and nothing about the future, maybe it’s time to get new friends. Instead of friendship, think friendshift. In different stages of your life, you will need a different set of friends, and it’s ok if you drifted apart from the old ones. The memories will always be there. Pick one right now and I’m betting you’re smirking on your own.
- Just because someone is seen to be doing well on social media, don’t immediately assume they are ok. Reach out and connect deeper with them, and you’ll find out that amidst all the travels, jewellery and flashy cars, they have personal problems too, and who knows? You may be able to help them.
- Some people are really insecure and overemphasise on how others look at them. We’ve all heard of people who would rent an expensive car or buy a fake watch just to show to their friends they are doing well. #sad
On a cloudy, cool day, I once took a scroll with my Master on the beach, and he suddenly stopped.
“Son, imagine each grain of sand on this beach as one living person, and how many billions are there, you see. Now, can you reach down and grab a handful of sand for me?”
Sensing there’s gonna be a lesson coming, I obediently did.
“Those sand in your hand, those are the people you will come in touch with throughout your life. It’s much, much lesser than the whole beach, but it’s still a huge number. Now, release your grip, my son.”
Which I did.
“Most of the sand will fall, and they will, but those that are stuck still on your palms, those will be those closer to you. Friends, loved ones, family members, teachers. Treasure them, for they are rare.”
Master started to walk off, and I dusted my palms, ready to follow, when he suddenly stop in his stride.
“Look at your palm again, my son, and between those fingers, maybe under your nails, you will find one or two, so very, very few, grains that are still there even after you’ve cleaned yourself. Those, Wimalasiri, are the marks left by those who mattered the most, those who moulded you to become the person you will be, those who will support you through the dark, harsh times, those who will grow with you and sincerely want you to be there best that you can be.”
As I reflect on the people who fit that description in my life, I heard my Master say:
“Be that mark on the palms of others.”
ps. Oh yeah, there is one reunion with friends that I enjoyed most, and that’s when we take out the good ol’ deck of cards, pray to the Goddess of the Table, talk to our lucky ring/coin/wallet, and cockily mock our friends when they got dealt a shitty hand. Because seriously, nothing gives me more satisfaction than winning my friends’ gamble money.
Lastly, to all those celebrating CNY, Gong Xi Fa Chai to you and your family.