spoken word

there was a point in time when i was drawn to spoken word and slam poetry, and i would watch always the videos posted by button poetry. i didn’t write any of my poems with the thought of ever performing them, because the social anxiety (performance) has always been… there. i remember i used to wish i could get over this “fear of public speaking” as defined by people related to me, because they all said practice makes all the fear go away. it never did, though. it only made me sound more like a robot, with words coming out from my mouth at a crazy speed, all because i wanted to be done, to get over with talking, with hearing my own voice… with the immense fear gripping me. i never knew how bad my “fear of public speaking” was, until the first time we were had to practice our presentation for pw with our classmates as our audience. when it was my turn to speak, i did, as practiced. i tried to speak more slowly, as corrected. my mind was so focused on completing these two things as perfectly i could, that i unconsciously started scratching my left forearm. it wasn’t noticeable at first, but the more i spoke, the faster i scratched and my skin turned red and raw. i wasn’t aware of it, until i was finally done with my part and my left forearm accidentally brushed against the rough fabric of my skirt. every single inch of my newly exposed skin screamed, shrieked, and that was when it caught my attention. i was in shock, my classmates were in shock, and my teacher was in shock.

everything happened so quickly then. my teacher said “huitong i need to speak to you outside now” and out i went, while my group tried to continue with the rest of the presentation. we talked about getting help (it was when everything was happening and i was crumbling under the weight of being painfully alive), but i couldn’t be diagnosed because this was only a single episode, not episodes lasting for more than 6 months. also, there were no signs of this “fear” disrupting my daily functioning. i think the hardest part was accepting the fact that i could never get a proper diagnosis, because we just don’t do presentations every day in jc and when we finally had to present, our futures actually depended on it.

that was then, and fast forward to uni, i got myself stuck in smu, which is infamous for presentations and group projects. it was during the first week of sem 1 when it truly struck me that i might have made the worst decision of my life. how can i ever survive if my grades were always going to depend on presentations? i cannot even think fast enough when holding normal conversations every day. i think it’s obvious that i hate any method to make myself known or for my voice to be heard. i haven’t stopped regretting my choice, and i still experience a full week of panicking before every presentation. it’s… really tough and i wish i could just quit.

anyway, i side-tracked a lot. i began this entry because last night, i found myself a part of this amazing spoken word performance held by destination: ink at blu jaz cafe. my heart felt so, so happy and full and i was in awe of all the performers. it takes so much bravery and courage to step up and share your original works — all your innermost thoughts  with a room full of strangers.


all their works tugged at my heart so strongly, especially jean’s pieces which were filled with raw emotion and pain and it was just so heart-wrenching. i teared up both times she cried performing her poems; i just wish i could hear them again. it was like her bruised heart being served on a platter, her voiced laced with layers of emotions… my heart just broke for her. a huge part of me wanted to hug the sadness out of her. i find her ability to love so bravely, so courageously, and so selflessly, admirable. i wish i was like that.

it’s so hard to be a Christian and gay in Singapore.

i would love to talk about her set more, but she said, “whatever that’s said here, stays here, okay?” and i would really hate to break this silent promise. so i’ll just leave whoever’s reading this with part of a poem she has uploaded before:

falling isn’t always fun
but if we don’t fall we’ll never learn how to run.
so why be surprised when we fall
in love?
falling is supposed to hurt.

but it is in the pain of falling that we learn
how much
our dreams are worth.


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