Today. I turn 30.
I've been on this rock for 3 decades, and that very thought scares the living out of me. I have no idea how you older people cope with the age thing, but really, I do need your protips on it.
By the by, this is a very personal post, for me to reflect on how far did I managed, and see if I'm satisfied with everything I've done so far. Also, this post contains a lot of photos; you have been warned especially to those who's on limited bandwidth ._.
Also, many apologies for the content mess in advance; didn't have much time to construct all these and certainly had no time to edit this. I'm practically blurting things out of my mind here.
And for the love of everything that's holy and divine out there, you can stop with the "welcome to the 3 series" already; it's the not the first time I'm that hearing it and I totally get it ._.
I was born in Sabah and lived there for 3 years before moving back to family's hometown in Melaka. Then, stuck there all the way until I'm 24 years old; from kindergarten all the way till university.
I didn't stayed in Melaka for 21 years by choice, it was by a string of weird co-incidences. Always wanted to move out from home and try to live independently; you know, experience the world out there, by myself.
I was so serious about living on my own that I rented a place 5 minutes away from the university, when my house was only 10 minutes away. Didn't have any issues with my family, just felt that it was about time to leave the comfortable nest. Glad my mom were pretty supporting.
A lot of things happened at the age of 20: realised that I'm already on the rock for 2 decades, and wonder where I'll end up in the next 10 years.
10 years ago, set some life goals for myself. I would finish my university studies by the age of 22. I would leave the country by the age of 25. After years of dating my girlfriend, married by the age of 27. And ultimately, by the age of 30, I would be celebrating our 3rd year wedding anniversary and it would also be the year where I turned into a dad; giving me and my child the perfect 30 years age gap. I had confidence that at least I won't be celebrating my 30th Birthday alone.
In reality, I graduated at the age of 24 and left the country at the age of 26. Had no girlfriend for years, so haha marriage.
Not bad actually. Although I ended up turning 30 alone, it's not bad at all.
I'm honestly lazy to go deep into my teenage years, so I'll just try to summarise it into a single paragraph.
I went to an all-boys high school and I admit, computers destroyed my education. I was a smart kid, always remained in the top 3 back in primary. "WAS".
I lost interested in whatever I was studying, then focused on doing the things that I liked: dealing with computers. I was exposed to computers at a very young age thanks to my cousin and dad.
After I graduated from high school with shitty grades, I was lucky enough to be offered Information Technology related courses from a private university close to home, Multimedia University; and it is from this moment where I believe that my actual life's adventure truly began.
In the beginning, I thought I was doing well with my studies. Everything seems to be fine. I didn't have to put much effort in subjects that I love. Didn't take long when I started to realise that there were years of nightmare waiting for me.
I failed only one paper in the first semester and I couldn't accept the reality of extending my studies period well. Yeah, I got demotivated pretty quickly. And started questioning myself: "wtf am i doing?"
I lost my interest in doing whatever I was studying and I can't imagine myself utilising whatever I've learned as a living.
I kept on failing my papers, which lead me to extending my studies. It's all my fault, really. If I actually put enough effort in my studies, I would have no problems with my exam papers. Universities fees are expensive and I can't have my parents pay for them as they were my problem. I had no choice but to take various freelance works to support the university fees; design works.
Among my university peers, I became the dude that who took 6 years to complete my diploma studies. It's not something that I'm proud of. It pretty ridiculous, I paid little attention to it. I made full use of my extra free time to contribute in non-academic areas.
I love dealing with people, so, I deal with people. A lot of people. It's weird that I was the complete opposite back in primary school where I was afraid to talk to anyone, including the boy sitting next to me.
Student Publication Board
I joined a lot of clubs, but was active in two clubs: The Student Publication Board (SPB), the university's official student press; and EMiNA Japanese Animation Club, an anime club, which is also happens to be the first anime club in the country.
With the SPB, I took up many roles. While I was selected to be the Multimedia Managing Editor, supervising a small group of photographers and designers; I was interested to go down into the field as event photographers too. I had no camera for myself at the time, so it was a good excuse for me to toy around with the club's expensive camera. This was back in 2004, good cameras are fucking expensive.
Weirdly, I was assigned to manage the student server too at the end of my first year, where we host and provide web hosting services to other clubs. Was not fantastic at it, as the seniors keep on pestering me on my sloppiness at handling the server. However, I learned a lot about the server thingamajigs in a short time, which is proven to be extremely useful later in the future.
Meanwhile, at the anime club. Awesome things happened.
EMiNA Japanese Animation Club & GACC
I took over the university's anime club as the president on my 3rd year and set it on a hyperdrive course to awesomeness. Backed up with great friends, we turned the club into a fun house where we brew fantastic fun ideas and did our best to make it happen. Long gone are the activities that we do for the sake of formalities, and long live the fun activities that would set the club members on fire.
The average number of members for the clubs & societies in our university are between 30—70, we scored a whopping 400+ fresh members at our peak year thanks to our unconventional
evil strategies. 400+ members for an anime club, that's pretty insane. Not even the Japanese Language Society, which is the actual club about "Japanese Culture" could get close to our number.
It's a huge deal. The more members we could secure, the more budget the university would allocate for us. The more budget we have, the crazier the shit we could organise.
I ensured that all the designs in the club are consistent, and gave the aura that we had professional budget for all of our marketing material; something that many other club lacks. We ensured that all our promo material are fun and spread worthy. Yeah, we also had cute girls to pull to others our club.
...pretty sure the cute girls did a lot of the fishings.
Also, I ensured we had strong relationships with our sister club EMiNA Cyber, in another campus at Cyberjaya.
Games Anime Comic Circle, or GACC, was our club's annual activity. Fueled by 20 dedicated High Committees and 100 hyped up Committees, we tried to set the standards of what makes a university event fun for everyone. Packed with charms that other university events couldn't offer, we became the stuff of legends in the university. The event was jammed packed with awesome agendas... and crowd.
It was a moment to remember when we managed to snag away our university's Best Interest Based Event Award that's usually won by other huge cultural clubs. Imagine that, an anime club, winning an award.
Yeah, we were proud of our achievements.
Meanwhile outside of the university, little we know that we sparked a new wave of ACG conventions in the country. Until today, I am glad that many still considered GACC as the best event they ever attended in their life.
I admit that during my reign as the president, I was not flawless. There were still many things that I wish I did back then that would propel the club further.
I stepped down as the president after 2 years, and remained the in club as an advisor until I graduated. All designs were strictly done by me to ensure the designs are still great.
Another highlight of my university years would be the Orientation Week.
Every year, the university organises Orientation Week for the new students (or freshies), and selected seniors from various background and faculties are tasked to welcome these fresh new kids. We, are the Orientation Committees, and their first impression of the university life entirely depended on us, so we set out not to disappoint them. We did our best to fill up the week with energy so they're able to cope with the boring yet important briefings by various university departments.
Of course, we were good at what we were doing.
Back to my studies, things were going extremely slow for me. All I had to do was pour in A LOT more effort in my studies, like, READ THE DAMN BOOKS, and PRACTISE THE FUCK OUT. But those are the things that I failed to do. I tried.
Also, while everything with the clubs are doing well, I was plagued with occasional depression too. At one time, it was so bad that I decided to get out of town for 3 months; I travelled to another state, Penang, rented a house, and worked at a coffee shop to cover all of my expenses. In order to keep myself occupied, I requested for overtimes; so working for 12 hours a day became the norm for me. Loved my job and it felt a lot better for me.
I definitely know how to handle my depression a lot better now. Well, I'm not depressed now; just that IF shit were to happen to me in the future, I'll be able to handle it better than before.
Until now, many still made fun of my depression. It's alright. I don't blame them as many just simply don't understand what depression actually is.
Now that I survived my own depression, I do my best to help others who's depressed. I know how it felt and I certainly do not want others to go through the things that I went through.
So, if you're feeling sad or depressed, you know who to talk to ^_^/
Final Year Project
Also, gotta mentioned that we rocked so hard for our Final Year Project. We decided to go for a multimedia project, something creative and flashy instead of something technical. The supervisor for the project happens to be a very cute lecturer too; that's very motivating.
At first, we just wanted a "pass" and be done with it. Then, she mentioned that our project was selected for a competition to fight against the entire department. That fired us up and we definitely wanted to win it for her. However, in the process of completing our project, another smart-ass lecturer looked down on our capabilities; saying that our project was shit.
We got even more fired up. We wanted to win it big time, and show the finger to his face when we win it.
And yes. We won. Big time.
Sadly there was no cash prize for that year, so we got a trophy that we can't even keep. Oh well, at least it will look good at our lecturer's office.
Completed my studies after 6 years of studying in that university, and due to my freelance work to keep up with the university fees, I managed to compile a pretty good portfolio. I secured a job even before I graduated.
There were a lot more highlights in my university years, but hell, my fingers are dying from typing all these so far. I'll skip all that... but I won't skip the next one which is "technically" still part of my university years.
Back in 2004, a senior in the anime club dragged me to an event in KL. It was Comic Fiesta, one of Malaysia's early ACG events. It amazed me to insane levels that I told myself that I wanted to be part of the event.
I emailed the event's president and immediately, they pulled me in to help out with the Web Development team. Remember that I told you that managing the student server was helpful? Yes, it was very helpful.
Honestly didn't foresee myself doing anything else other than helping out with the Web Development team, and doing some random grunt work at the time; never imagined that I would be given the opportunity to fill up bigger roles.
I wrote a short blogpost about my 10 years with Comic Fiesta here.
I see Comic Fiesta as a massive gathering of fans where people can meet up with others who shares the same interest. I made a lot of friend through Comic Fiesta more than anything else; maybe like 70% of them.
In the early days, the event are still small and you do your best to find that friend you met on our online forum. It event is huge now, long gone are the days where you knew nearly everyone who visits the event.
Rarely anyone visits the Comic Fiesta forums and there's only less than 7 people who's active in the IRC channel now.
Everyone just uses Facebook now, which somehow fragmented the one large community into many smaller communities. Meh, it doesn't matter, as everyone still attends the same event.
(psst.. please visit us at irc.comicfiesta.org during office hours)
I introduced many of the things that I learned back in university, especially GACC to make Comic Fiesta a fun event not just for the visitors, but also for the committees and volunteers. Of course, I would love to work with hyped up committees, not pessimistic depressed folks.
By helping out Comic Fiesta, I hope that I indirectly improved someone's life for the better; hopefully as good as how Comic Fiesta supercharged my life.
I created The Felyne Brigade, the volunteering team not solely because Comic Fiesta needed volunteers, but I wanted to create a new family of friends from various backgrounds who shares the same passion. I want people to make new friends, and go crazy with their new found friends. I want to create a welcoming atmosphere that anyone would fit right in, right away.
Immediately after I'm done with my university studies, I was eager to start my working life. Yes, I was really, really looking forward to it because I want to start working on designs, professionally. My first job was at an animation house, and my job description was pretty... non-existent. While I'm supposed to design, I was somewhat working a group of artist and illustrators who were far more talented than me for an animation project. I ended up executing a lot of weird tasks for the company.
To keep the story short, had a bad feeling about the company for a lot weird practices. There were a mass exodus of employees and I left a month after many others left. While I was trying my best to help out the company, I was blamed for things that others did worse.
I turned 25, and I was jobless for 2 months before I secured another job by the help of another old friend who is also a fellow designer like me. Hitting quarter centuries old and so far, there was nothing much that I can be proud of with my life. Okay, maybe my vibrant event organising life.
Finally, working with an actual design house; headed by an old professional who has been designing ever since the pre-computers era. It was serious business design stuff. I worked there for a year and holyshit, I learned a lot of new things. It's where I realised that I'm still lagging far behind as a designer; seeing the other younger designers are for more capable than me. Of course, they might say I'm okay as a designer and very fluent with the softwares that I use, but HELL, I KNOW that I suck.
For some reason, I feel.. pumped up about it, in a good way. Gotta to push myself harder. I wanted to be a better designer.
But damn, seriously, working at a design company is taxing my life. Almost everyday we had to work for more than 8 hours; without overtime. There were times that we had no weekends too. That kinda wrecked my social life. Thankfully, I had awesome colleagues, friends and a lovely cat at home.
After a year working at that design house, a friend of mine who's working in Japan teased me with the idea of working with him in Japan. Yeah, that would be fantastic, but realistically, that seemed very far-fetched to me. I don't even consider myself as a good designer and I certainly do not want to make a fool of myself with the Japanese. I can't even speak Japanese.
I turned 26.
My friend were persistent. After weeks of bugging me, I compiled a design portfolio and sent it to him so that he can show it to his bosses. The company was pixiv, a popular Japanese art community site.
Couldn't imagined that they would want to interview me and that happened. Had 4 rounds of interview and they seemed to be extremely impressed with my work. Still, I kept my hopes low because I've dealt with a lot of Japanese before and I know very well that they're extremely polite; so they might be just "being nice".
Turns out that I actually scored the job, which left me speechless. I've dream about this a lot of time, only to end up with disappointment seeing that it's not Morpheus toying around with my sleep. But I ain't sleeping this time, it's for real.
This is way too good to be true. I don't like it when it's too good to be true. There's a lot of things that's need to be done before I can just simply fly there; like they need to secure a Certificate of Eligibility for me. I imagined this is the part that I'll fail because.. life's like that: always trolls you with your dreams and crushes it when you almost had it.
But no. It's really happening. The Certificate arrived and wow, it's really happening. Only less than 10 people knew that I'm flying off to Japan before the Certificate happened. Of course, I wouldn't want to tell the world that it's happening before I secured everything. Imagine if I told everyone that I failed at securing the certificate, that would be awkward as fuck.
I panicked ._.
Only after securing the certificate that I started to truly realised that I had to sacrifice a lot of things: I'll miss my mom, It's harder for me to work with Comic Fiesta, I'll miss my cat and my awesome housemates, I just bought a new car, I'll miss my awesome friends, and ultimately, I will miss my girlfriend (yeah, I finally dated someone at the time).
Told my mom about the job and she said that she'll be pissed off if I didn't take it; and not to worry about her too much as she knows on how to take care of herself. I know many others would murder me if I refused the job.
There's no turning back, just march forward and see where life will lead me next.
At the same time, many other things happened. Still with Comic Fiesta; no longer VP or Event Director but more specialised in WebDev, Stage and Volunteer Operations.
Of course, seeing friends that you knew since early ages getting married, some turned into parents. Me? I'm still failing hard at the relationship department. After I left to Japan, despite my best effort to maintain my relationship with my girlfriend, she left me due to the distance. While I'm a stronger believer in long distance relationship is possible, not everyone shares my opinion. I don't blame her, I don't blame anyone.
...okay maybe I should blame you imaginary girls out there who has feelings for me but was too afraid to approach me. Hurr..
Seeing others are doing better with their relationship, I can't help it to feel envious. It's all over my facebook wall, in my face. It's natural for us to want something that we don't have. I bet many would kill to secure a job in Japan. I do imagine a 60 year old me living in a house full of cats; that doesn't seem that bad.
I should cat preparing list of cats name now; shall name the first one "Nikuman".
I arrived on the Land of Dreams on 3rd Nov 2012; and it took me more than 3 months to digest the fact that I'm actually in Japan.
Before I arrived at my workplace for the very first time, I was worried all the time: What if my skills are not up to their expectations. However, upon my first visit, their level of understanding good designs were... not up to my expectation instead. Don't get me wrong, they had fantastic designers who are better than me, it's just that it was not implemented properly. It's a common thing for Japanese companies apparently.
Loved the office though. It's colourful as fuck.
...also a lot of cute Japanese colleagues, heh.
Life in Japan for the first 6 month was though as fuck; low on funds most of the time. The startup costs of moving to Japan was pretty astronomical; like for example rented house deposits. Also, Japenese currency was very strong against Malaysian shitty ringgit back in 2012 (roughly RM4 for ¥100). Luckily the company was nice enough to provide me with housing loans with helped a lot. After my first bonus, everything was fine.
How's life in Japan? It's great.
...then everything seems to be ordinary to me. Of course, you can't stay excited about a certain thing for a very long time. My inability to communicate in Japanese is very, very, demotivating. It's like there's something telling me that I will always have a hard time grasping new language. My english itself is not that great; I'm dead sure that this post itself is laced with grammatical errors all over the place. Do forgive me on that, I'll do my best to brush up on the language. On Japanese too.
That doesn't stop me from going around Japan though. The only thing that stopped me would be my finances and limited holidays. So far, the furthest I've been would be Gunma and Mount Fuji. Most of my holidays are reserved for year end so I can go back for Comic Fiesta.
At pixiv, I worked a various projects; mostly on pixiv's android app design and the redesign of Cure WorldCosplay. After 2 years, I felt that it's time to move on and a friend offered me an offer that I couldn't resist: a huge redesign project, with me having full control on the design direction.
It was ppy, a new friend that I met in Japan through another friend. He's the creator of osu! and he's... he's insane. Insanely good at what his doing.
Occasionally I was bored of doing the same thing with my full time job, so he asked me to help him out some designs for his stuff during my free time. Then somehow, I ended up working for him. I mean, I GET TO REDESIGN EVERYTHING. Like, holyshit, that's fucking awesome.
Ever since then, I worked full time as a designer for osu!
My task is to design any designable things. We set up a design blog to tease my work to public, called osu!next. I'm pretty amped up with the development so far and I've never been this excited about my work in my entire life. I am glad that I ended up doing something that I love.
So, where do I go from here onwards? Forward of course!
My parents are doing fine. If I'm not mistaken, my mom were suppose to be retired but being a workaholic she is, she extended her work contract and continued working until now. She has travel plans and I might tag along with her.
She's pretty healthy, other than having slight problems with one of her knees that gives her slight annoyances while ascending stairs. I do my best to contact her once every 2 weeks to catch up with family gossips. Yeah, we love gossips, but too bad that she had shitty internet connection back in Melaka.
I am definitely going to fix that internet problem this year.
My dad is ultra busy with his ever expanding restaurant business. I.. don't really know much what he's doing though but according to him, things are doing well, so, alright.
Throughout my life, he's been away from the country most of the tune, working alone in New Zealand. So, I don't get to see him much. Now that I'm away in Japan, and he's back in Malaysia, at least my mom wouldn't be so lonely.
He's cool. But seriously, it would be cooler if he dropped his smoking habit.
As I mentioned before, he shares the same birthdate with me and he is now 58.
My younger brother turns out fine, although he inherited my father's short fuse. Secured a good position at a multi-national company, and not dying. Recently got married to the girl that he dated ever since his university days; pretty romantic, eh? I've always known that he'll get married before me but seeing it truly happen, can't help to feel slightly envious. Good for him, and I'm happy that things are going well for him.
Shit, I'm going to be a legit uncle soon.
Me? There's a lot of things that I wanted to do.
Master the damn language should be my highest priority. It's ridiculously embarassing that I still don't speak the language after being here for more than 3 years. Already made plans with few other Malaysian friends to actually attend proper Japanese classes. It's happening. I will want to make it happen.
At the same time, I finally gathered enough willpower to start touching a musical instrument again, and this time, I won't let my horrifying past to haunt me. Besides, this time, it's a cute girl who would be teaching me. That should be very motivating, haha.
I will to publish my personal work that I've been working on since I was 11. It went with many names throughout the year, but finally it landed on "A,Terametre". I will talk about it more, soon. I mean, I've been working on for damn 19 years, might as well publish it instead of letting it becoming an idea debt. I'm also seeking help from other for the project.
At the same time, I'm doing my best to make osu! bigger and awesome-er. The team have lotsa plans stored in the near future and can't wait to see it happen. I'm hoping hard that most of the redesigns will be implemented before 2017 arrives. I'll assist them in anyway I can.
Next, I would love to travel to more places; Japan, Europe, South-East Asia and many more.
Of course, I'll never stop with my community effort. I'm still with Comic Fiesta, which is now part of International Otaku Expo Association (IOEA); a coallition of ACG event organisers from all over the world, working together to promote the growth of ACG culture in the world. Awesome stuff.
Here we are, at the end of this post. I am satisfied with all the things that I've done so far? Maybe. It could've been worse, so I'm not complaining.
I am pretty sure it seems to be fantastic from my friend's perspective; but after meeting up with so many other fantastic people, the things that I've done so far is not even close to anything impressive.
Happy Birthday, Me! May good stuff continue to head my way.
. . .
Totally looking forward to another depressing Valentine's day, woohoo!