It’s not that easy being green

As someone who was born in the early 90s, I had the privilege of growing up when technology hadn’t yet taken over. It was the time when we spent most of our childhood years playing outside, dancing in the rain, and engaging with nature. I still can recall how life was like before the internet, or when the internet already existed but dial-up was the only option. Back then carrying floppy disk was a sign of being tech savvy and the paper fortune could predict someone’s future.

Back in the 90s, TV shows were the ultimate crème de la crème. Programmes like Sesame Street/The Muppet Show and The Land Before Time had filled my childhood days with laughter and joy. On the 219th episode of The Muppet Show, Kermit the Frog sang a classic song called It’s Not That Easy Being Green. The song talks about accepting yourself for who you are. In the song, Kermit expresses his ambivalence about his colour, noting that green “blends in with so many other ordinary things” and wishing that he were some other colour instead. During the bridge, Kermit realises that there are some powerful associations with the colour—“green can be big, like an ocean, or important, like a mountain, or tall like a tree.” In the end, he decides that he’s happy to be green—“it’s beautiful, and I think it’s what I want to be.”

If you know me personally, you’ll most likely know green is my favourite colour. Green the most common colour in the natural world, which represents freshness, growth, and harmony. I’m happy to be green, though it’s not that easy sometimes.

This is the third part of my 20-day Blogging University: Finding Everyday Inspiration course from The Daily Post. This course is all about warming up your writing muscles and finding inspiration in the places closest to you — but where you might not think to look. Go check them out!

I chose to travel

“Travelling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

About 30 months ago I decided to leave the university. First, my best friend committed suicide and it ruined everything. Second, I was very unhappy with it because I didn’t have a passion for what I was studying. Long before I went to uni, I always knew it really wasn’t for me.

I strongly believe that tertiary education is essential in making a good career prospect. Plus I’m an extremely curious person. So quitting was not easy. The lack of any visible direction in my life had left me feeling vacuous and depressed. I started volunteering at a local hospital in Dublin, then applied for volunteering jobs abroad and slowly discovered my passion for travelling. It doesn’t mean that I have to abandon my education completely. My thirst of knowledge is just as huge as my wanderlust. Now I’m taking university-level specialisation courses online.

Things I’ve done whilst travelling

I ate deep fried frogs, tarantulas, and other critters; climbed a thorny, 5-meter tall gate at 1 am; slept with rats and daddy long legs; lived in a two story bamboo house; taught English to monks; lost my passport in Vietnam; got ticketed by a Khmer police; got kidnapped for 3 days; lived with 3000 Cambodian riels (€0.60) for 20 days; passed out at a shopping centre; learned about the LDS church; took care of an old lady; made friends with food vendors on the street; featured in the Global Teacher Prize video; walked 7 km nonstop; visited 6 cities in 5 countries in 5 days; popped balloons (I have globophobia); made 5 websites in less than two months; smoked weed; shared a moped with 4 people; shared room with a hikikomori; shared room with a gay guy; dyed my hair; flew with AirAsia; visited Vietnamese refugee camp on the island of Galang, Indonesia; learned how to play violin; wrote a book.

Things I’ve learned from travelling

I learned to understand different cultures and traditions. There is nothing like living amongst people of other cultures to make you understand why people do what they do. The world is so small to travel, yet too big to understand. I also learned languages I have never heard of before, like Khmer and Irish Gaelic and was able to develop my communication skills. And from travelling, I’m able to be financially independent since I was 18.

Then I learned a lot about strengths. I met people with different life problems, facing different kinds of issues. Yes, those obstacles can sometimes lead to hopelessness, but they have enabled me to work harder and think wiser. Diving out of your comfort zone will make you realise that despite all the flaws and hardships, everyone still plays a piece in their own melodies. These are the things I probably won’t get and learn from studying at the university. Oh, travelling is truly never ending.

Anyway, we just had our first JSC Beijing Youth Camp pre-departure training where I met my two fellow delegates from Jakarta, G and R, for the first time. G is a snazzy guy who owns and conducts his public speaking workshop. Pretty sociable and outgoing person. Whilst R is a well-rounded university student with countless achievements and whatnot. I’m so grateful for them!

This is the second part of my 20-day Blogging University: Finding Everyday Inspiration course from The Daily Post. This course is all about warming up your writing muscles and finding inspiration in the places closest to you — but where you might not think to look. Go check them out!

Shut up and write

A few weeks ago a student came to me and asked genuinely, “Teacher Deny, why do you write so often? Aren’t there better things to do?” It wasn’t the first time I got asked that question, yet I still can’t figure out a short answer. So, for the sake of writing, these are the three main reasons why I write and how it helps me become a better person.

Writing improves communication

Writing at its most basic is a way of communicating not only with other human beings, but also with ourselves. It is a form of expression that can somehow improve our communication skills. Oftentimes communication is hung up because we don’t know how to express ourselves. To quote F. Scott Fitzgerald, “You don’t write because you want to say something. You write because you have something to say.”  Writing regularly helps you express ideas clearly, structure words quickly, and minimalise barriers to effective communication.

Writing is therapeutic

Sometimes only paper will listen to you. Writing helps you address what you can’t say out loud in real life, means it can reduce stress levels and sweep negative thoughts in your mind. Harvard Health Publication suggests that writing about thoughts and feelings — otherwise called expressive writing, may ease chronic stress and trauma for some people. Based on my personal experience, writing has helped me go through tough times such as my friend’s suicide and depression.

Writing helps shape the world

People who write a lot tend to pay more attention to what’s happening around them, but they don’t talk about it. They describe and speculate. It might lead to another question like, “Why do you care so much?” The answer is simply because some of us were born like that. If Thomas Edison didn’t care so much, electricity would’ve never existed today, means no computers, internet, etc. If Malala Yousafzai didn’t care and write a blog narrating life under Taliban occupation, women in northwest Pakistan would never get education. These people have shaped the world. So the next time someone asks why you write so much, try this: Because I care.

Now it’s time to sharpen your pencil and start writing. Even if you can’t.

This is the first part of my 20-day Blogging University: Finding Everyday Inspiration course from The Daily Post. This course is all about warming up your writing muscles and finding inspiration in the places closest to you — but where you might not think to look. Go check them out!