You Are Not Alone

You Are Not Alone

So I’m here to talk about the one thing I never addressed growing up that has ended up being the reason I’ve overcome so much and has even been a huge factor in growing my career in music these past 18 years.

Being emotional.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not about seeking drama and making life more difficult for myself than life can already be, but before the big things knocked me down like cancer or the music industry, I had little things like having my whole life shifted, getting bullied in primary and secondary school, getting on TV and reading an entire forum dedicated to what people didn’t like about me at the age of 17. But let me regroup:

Life. Is. Hard.

No one expects you to have all the answers and yet, the only way to get things done is to figure it out for yourself, like really figure it out yourself. Have you ever had anyone teach you how to do something, and when when you had to do the thing yourself you kept looking for another guide? Or sung along to a song on the radio but then when the instrumental popped on you couldn’t for the life of you remember how the melody went or what the lyrics were? Yea,
we go through that on a daily basis as we grow up, and we can look for friends or family or teachers or counsellors or therapists or the internet for answers but at the end of the day when push comes to shove we solve the real issues ourselves. And there’s something incredibly powerful about that.

What people fail to acknowledge, a lot of the time, is the insane amount of emotions that we experience when we have to overcome challenges. When we hit a wall. When no one believes we’re getting through something seemingly impossible and there’s just no other way. There’s so much I would like to address about our culture and the shame of simply having problems,
I’m all for tough love but as someone who was shamed for being emotional growing up, it took a lot and still takes a lot for me to wear my “emotional” badge and be proud of it.

Without indulging in my emotions, without giving them weight, I would never write the songs I’ve written. I would never have chased the things I only dreamed about and went on to achieve. I would never have experienced the bad but more importantly I would never have experienced all the good.

My eyes and heart have been widened by these good and bad experiences, example:

Family not supporting my decision to make music - heartbreaking.
Family showing up to a gig (with posters) - heartwarming.
Bullies who made fun of my accent in primary school - hurtful.
Being able to come to terms with my code switching - powerful.
Being alone from moving so much - lonely.
Being comfortable creating alone - SOOOOOO important .
Cancer - scary and honestly took over a year of my life.
Beating cancer and being able to support anyone caregiving or fighting cancer themselves - I have no words to describe what an honor this is.

There are so many more examples of being knocked on my butt so many times in my life, and
the juxtaposition of where I end up because I didn’t give up and faced it my way - the emotional way. The point is, embracing my emotions and dealing with them as they came, made sure that something in me could calibrate all the madness that my life has been through so far.

I’m not saying it’s the only way or even the best way to deal with everything you go through.

But being able to pin point where you are emotionally on the journey you’re on is a powerful tool. It will help you be kinder to yourself. It will also help push you into a mindset that’s healthier than boxing away your internal instinct to feel something about anything.

Here are a few things that I subscribe to on my journey to embracing my emotions:

I know it seems counter-intuitive to a lot of us who were told not to cry over spilled milk growing up, but what if that was the only milk you had left and it’s after an overnight shift and the closest supermarket is ages away and the one nearby only accepts cash and you don’t have any cash?! You have every right to cry about it. I set aside time to cry when I was at one of my lowest points, having no idea about my future waiting for months on results that would
change the course of my life. I pent up all my emotions but when I could feel the tap turn on I would try not to fight it and my heart would feel so much lighter after. Highly recommend.

I don’t just mean pick up the phone after you’re all composed and grab a bite to eat together, I mean when you’re confused, when you are feeling down in the dumps don’t just keep doing what you’re doing. Take a beat, text (if you’re not a fan of calling) a friend and say you need to talk. Say you’re not ok if you’re not ok when friends ask how you are (I’m guilty of doing the opposite to this too but I’m working on it).

I’ve seen my sisters’ schedules, I’ve seen my friends’ schedules. Give yourself space. Give yourself time. Give yourself some quiet. It might be suuuuuper uncomfortable at first but I promise if you commit to it (especially if you’re super insecure like me), you’ll learn yourself a little/lot better and have more confidence in the way you make decisions, how you hold yourself and how you act/react to people around you.

These are small - slash - giant steps that could change the way you look at life, change the weight on your shoulders and reshape your future. I’m working on all of these, so if you struggle with them I promise you, you’re not alone.

Life can be hard, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be a little soft to get through it.
Sending love, hope and good energy wherever you are reading this.

Haneri is a singer/songwriter who knew where her passion lies since she was a teen. She's been between Los Angeles and Singapore and, in that time, wrote the most successful song (of her career so far): “Feel Alright”. Check out her music here