[An open letter discussing my relationship with Malaysia, as if it impersonated a human. This conversation aims to reflect the Country and how its behaviours affect my decision to stay and choose Malaysia, as an entrepreneur.]
It’s been 2++ amazing years together. Sure you agree.
Yet, I need to get this off my chest. I feel insecure about where this relationship is headed. I feel you’re stepping back.
It’s like you’re doubting me, when in fact you are doubting yourself. You’re second guessing yourself. All the time.
I’m tired of playing games. One day, everything is great. All of a sudden, you hit with me that “some day, when you leave me…” attitude. But, how did we get to this point?
Let’s take a few steps back. I should have noticed it from the start. When I first met you, you were all the time like, “Why me?” all the time.
And your neighbours and friends would repeat after you, “Why Malaysia? But why Malaysia?” At the beginning I liked answering to that, but then it felt like “you should know already know that”.
I wondered who started this second-guessing on you, Malaysia.
Recently, it frightened me to think that you did—you started it.
See: I love you. But I know it feels awkward to say it and you don’t like hearing it. It makes you feel awkward, uncomfortable, because for some weird reason you think you’re not deserving.
You think you’re messy, cloudy, hazy. All the shit you repeat about yourself.
You think that love is about the things you do. That you must please me, so that I can love you. You always ask if it’s about what you do. Especially food. Food. Every. Single. Time.
“How do you like me? It’s all about the food, right?”
Seriously, Malaysia: it’s not (just) about the food — although I must say I’d love you to keep cooking Curry Mee and Sarawak Laksa.
But. What if I told you that I like you for who you are? Your colours, diversity, flavours and every single detail of it, plus another special one—that you give me room to grow and become a better person?
Could you accept that and, for once, be gentle and say better things about yourself? Could you accept that people want to be nice for you?
Right now, it’s like you just can’t trust good things can happen.
Like when I tried to learn Malay and you go like: “No need! I speak good English!” First, I didn’t mean to learn it because of your English. I wanted to. But OK. Turns out I had to ask Indonesia to teach me their Bahasa. Then you got angry at me. So I try to learn Malay again and you go like, “But why lah?” again. And I’m like. I can’t.
It’s a silly example to illustrate that, when you don’t trust good things, you close your doors to people who want to be good for you. And you open doors for those who are mostly trying to take advantage from you.
But see, I’m getting tired.
Feels like we’re trapped in a Taylor Swift song, going round and round each time. From “I still love you” to “I don’t need you”. I’m exhausted. And confused whether you want me to stay or leave.
Let me try to articulate this.
Our first date was clumsy, yes. You gave me some shit in our first month, you know that. But when your hazy skies turned clear and you gave me space to be myself, I found in you the most generous and serendipitous space I had ever been to.
You gave me room to try, experiment and fail. You gave me trust. I took it and we grew together. I suddenly felt like I was having the time of my life.
And I loved you for that.
Simple as that. And I felt like you were feeling the same way towards me. Until you started backing off.
You started doubting again. Asking “When are you leaving?” repeatedly, as if breaking up was just a matter of time.
Regardless of how many proposals I sent, you started to back off, waiting for me to come with a sort of “love proof”. You started acting as someone who cries “you’re gonna leave me”.
Deep inside, it feels like you never believed someone could actually care for you that much. And sadly, for the most I would like to help you (so I can stay with you for longer): that is a problem for you to solve. Not me.
Maybe it’s true that I’m not for you, that I’m gonna leave you. I don’t know.
The fact is, I was not thinking of leaving you. But now I am.
Now I can picture you saying, “I knew it!” That self-demeaning attitude again. But what I want you to know is: it didn’t have to be this way.
How tiring it is to be with someone who’s always second guessing themselves? Like, “But really, why me?” and, in their most defensive mode, be like, “I’m fine without you. I don’t need you, I’ll trust someone who might just stay with me forever”.
You end up surrounding yourself with people who are not ambitiously pushing you hard enough, because they’re just using you to stay alive (not trying to build you to the next level). What if you would value yourself first and take better risks on who you want to give your long-term to?
It isn’t only about me. There are plenty of people out there. But one thing—choose people who level you up.
Listen closely, Malaysia: the people who really value you, will stay for as long as you are willing to grow.
On one side, you say horrible things about yourself. You criticise your family, brothers, kids. You call yourself lazy, corrupt, greedy… And I feel that if not even YOU trust yourself, why would I?
And when I give you an honest feedback, an “opportunity for improvement”, you get defensive and self-demeaning, as in that “I knew that you didn’t like me” kind of way. Malaysia, you need to start acting as a grown up.
You are not perfect. I don’t love you for being perfect. You have certain things to improve. A LOT to improve, let’s be honest. But everyone does. Love is about trust. Relationships will endure as long as we give each other room to grow.
I will stay with you for as long as I feel that you are giving me a chance to grow myself. That you are trusting me. But every time you tell me that I’m gonna leave you, it makes me feel like actually doing so.
I must confess I’m tired. But I’m still willing to try.
So I’ve been talking to our mutual friends, trying to figure this out. The other day, Malaysian friend explained a bit about how you think.
You think being humble is good. I agree with that. But man, you get confused and assume that overly confident people become arrogant assholes. And I don’t like arrogant assholes either. But you got some things pretty mixed up:
1st. Humble and self-demeaning are two different things. You can be humble without talking shit about yourself. Humbleness is about being so self confident that you don’t need to brag. You just hold yourself proudly, without the need of showing off or pretending to be something that you aren’t. Humility comes when you love yourself.
2nd. You become an arrogant asshole when you are NOT confident.With confidence, comes the peace of being happy in your skin, willing to help others. Low self-esteem brings the need to oversize yourself and treat others inferiorly, to at least fake you got the power (which you don’t).
Conclusion: being confident is more likely to make you humble, while not trusting, second-guessing and self-demeaning yourself is more likely to make you crumble, then forcing yourself into any position of power, coming out as arrogant. And an asshole.
Second-guessing and arrogance are two extremes of the same problem: lack of confidence and low self esteem.
Humble, abundant, so-called “selflessness” is nurtured by a genuine inner peace that only emerges from self-love.
And the consequences of loving yourself, is that you’re confident — and you don’t need to brag that you’re the coolest kid in the club when you simply are cool and hope everyone else is cool too.
This letter has extended to a rather long one. But we got a lot of issues to sort out. Right at this moment, being purely honest, I can’t promise you anything. I may or may not stay with you for the longest run. But it all depends on us, not just on you, and it’s not just on me either.
But one thing to remember: people who are genuinely willing to help you grow will stay for as long as you also allow them space for growth. Don’t back off.
Allow yourself to be loved without questioning “Why me?”.
It’s not (just) about the food. You’re a good place. And I am willing to stay for as long as you allow me to grow. But if I ever leave, let’s make no drama. You have a million souls who care about you. Start by trusting yourself.
Love yourself. I’m sure you’re just getting better.