You are not the suit and tie. You are not the First Class Honours from a third tier British university. You are not your polished language and archaic jargons. You are the Calibri 11 in the 7.00AM Federal Highway traffic. You are the Comic Sans in the shared office cubicle and the coffee rings from last night. You are the forgotten lunch breaks, the missed family reunions and the non-existent anniversaries. You are the cold dinner in the kitchen. You are the job you drive to, in the car you (read: your parents) are still paying for, so that you can buy the three-room apartment you will leave empty all day.
You vent about your RM3,500 a month pay slip whilst sipping on RM16 Starbucks Venti. You use the emergency lane on the NKVE at 6.30PM on a Wednesday evening because the spin class at Fitness First starts in half an hour and a Starbucks Venti has 510 calories. You read that once on Elite Daily. You also bought a bodycon dress this afternoon although it only came in XS because Zalora said you must have it. You will go on a cold-pressed juice detox next week and worship Kayla Itsines. You spend the next hour riding on a stationary bike, your weary mind wandering to all the places you could only wonder until the next Air Asia flash sale.
You are 24 years old and hopelessly nostalgic. You have outgrown the tiny brown chairs in your primary school classroom. Uncle Mat Kool is still waiting for the 1.05PM bell but he no longer recognises you. You squirm in the uncomfortable leather chairs in the 35th floor boardroom. You can adjust your spine 16 times but they will not see you. They cannot hear you. You do not understand the numbers and graphs projected on the screen. You swim in grey matter searching for the right words to fill the resignation letter you do not have the courage to pen. You drown in your own thoughts and let your ideas sink. There is always one more email to reply, one more meeting to attend, and one more person to please. So instead you live vicariously through the fellowship of your Instagram following, a tapestry weaved together by hashtags, a carefully curated reality. Hashtags are universal. Hashtags are evergreen.
You are the furious fingers tap-dancing on the keyboard to the anthem of your Facebook feed. Malleable, versatile and fearlessly unforgiving. You are a Boeing aviation expert who wears a Daniel Wellington. You are a political strategist who did not vote in the last general election. You are an environmental analyst eating from a Styrofoam food box. You cite and recite Articles from the Constitution but you do not speak up for the mistreated waiter in the upscale restaurant. You do not hold the swinging door for the person behind you. You press the up button on closing elevator doors — from the outside. Yet you believe that your “motivated attitude” and “proficiency in Microsoft Word” would open doors for you.
You are 28 years old. You are not the fairytale-like public marriage proposals “recommended for you” by Youtube; you are the double blue ticks of the Whatsapp message read seven hours ago. You are the casual beginnings over Heineken and Marlboro Lights on a Friday night in Publika, and the endless haunting of filtered photographs you cannot unsee and wedding announcements you cannot unread on social media. You are the apostrophe amidst the catastrophe, always hanging onto the ends of words, prematurely possessive of everything that comes after. You are the awkward semi-colon caught in the middle of a candle burning on both ends. All you want is to be embraced in parentheses. But you are incapable of loving without asterisks.
You are the epitome of the generation of today – born and fed with fables of how “you can do anything you want” and how “no one can dictate what you choose to do”, left to fight the battle between your inflated sense of self-entitlement and your impending train wreck of lost ambitions, in a world of Times New Roman. Preferably 12-point, bold, and occasionally italicised.