Niki Cheong is blogging


I wish that I grew up a year every year of my life, and I didn’t. – John Mayer

2008 Chevening rejection letter

I found a letter this morning as I was clearing my room, something I’ve been doing for the past three weeks since I returned to KL from London.

I received that letter in 2008 after having applied for four different scholarships to complete a Master’s programme in various parts of the world – Canada, Japan and the United Kingdom. All four had rejected my application back then.

As I read that letter, I recalled how sad I was each month, as the letters thanking me for my application came in one at a time. At that stage, I was going through the seven year itch with regards to my career – I had spent four years in magazines and three years at a newspaper. I was ready to once again return to the paper chase, something that I had planned on doing (and actually started doing) in 2002.

But this post is not about 2008. It is about 2013.

I wanted to start with the letter because I felt it was a great contrast to how I’ve felt over the past 18 months. Yes, I was sad back then but I didn’t let it get me down. In 2011, I once again applied for the British Chevening scholarship and as luck (and perhaps other factors) would have it, I found myself packing for London in September that year.

I had meant to drop a blog post about my return to Malaysia much earlier but I wasn’t sure how to put it in words. Did it even warrant a blog post, what would anyone care? Should I ty to capture the past year and a half in a blog post? What was the point?

The truth is that I’ve struggled with those questions, and many others, over the past few weeks. Indeed, coming home has not been easy for me not only because I really enjoyed my experience in the UK but also trying to figure out what lies for me ahead.

As I looked back on my life in London, and returning to my prior life in Kuala Lumpur, I’ve also had the opportunity to look and reflect on myself – the person I was, the person I am and the person I want to be. I’m still figuring it out.

Then, I came across an article featuring an interview with John Mayer and there was a quote that I felt totally captured the essence of how I’ve been feeling. I shared that quote at the top of this post. He did go on to say as well:

“I stopped for a certain period of time. And I was 24 for six years or whatever. And then the logjam cleared. And I’m dead-on for 35. It’s just, it was a weird way to get here, you know what I mean?” 

Since I’ve returned, many people have had two general questions. The first is “How was London?” and the second, and most popular, is “What are your plans now?”

Without trivialising the past 18 months – because no doubt I made some of the most discoveries about myself in that time, and learned a helluva lot, and enjoyed myself tremendously – my answer to the first is: “Great”.

As for the second question, the answer differs depending on the mood I’m feeling at that time. The truth is, deep down inside, my answer is “Who knows?” That’s as honest as it gets.

I’ll just keep dreaming, working hard and, when things fail, mope a little bit and then get back up again. It’s worked before, so there’s no reason why it can’t work again.

4.45pm Malaysian time (+8 GMT)

Discussion (2)

There are 2 responses to “Homecoming”.

  1. Swee Ping responded:

    · Reply

    You know, I keep thinking I’m 26. I don’t know why but the quote from John Mayer totally hit me.

    Welcome back, Niki! Meet up for a drink one day? :-)

  2. Haha! I’m glad my first question when I saw you was ‘Have you signed up with CHI?’ Priority, right? 😉

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