When one has been away from one’s blog for a while, there’s tremendous pressure (from oneself) to come back with a Big Ol’ Post. And it’s December, so make that a Big Ol’ End-of-Year Post.

But I just… can’t. These last few years, I’ve never been able to make that work. I start writing and often make it to a 30-50% draft, but then it’s 3 months later.

So let’s start small. Let me just share 3 things, three thoughts, from my 2021. They’re not “the best 3” – not my best experiences, nor the most interesting reflections, because you see:

I may aspire to
curate. But it just takes me
too long. So just three.

Oh, possibly a little more rambling than usual, too.

One: Mediums

I get so excited about lesser-used mediums for Brunei content or information. There’s the webcomics, podcasts and newsletters I follow, and I organise them with various platforms (podcasts? yes – Podchaser. newsletters? yes – Stoop Inbox). I kind of foster a hope that we’ll see more Bruneian content in these areas too. It was said that podcasts and newsletters did really well in the past two years (some reads on this: Statista, insideradio.com, Digital Publishing NewsFinancial Times; or maybe listen to a podcast episode).

I’m tired of content being stuck on Instagram. Am I being a broken record about it? Probably, hahah. But is it not unreasonable to feel tired, if all pieces of Brunei digital life – events, sales & promos, news, life tips & reminders, vlogs and microblogs for whatever type of content you like (food, travel, pop culture), memes, and actual life updates from friends and acquaintances – is funnelled to you through Instagram or in an Instagram-ready format?

I’ll admit that the topic of platforms is a favourite soapbox of mine. I’ll always feel some sort of despair when I see content that could work better on another platform. I try to respect that people are working with the platforms they’re familiar with, to an audience that they know is there, and it’s very hard to get either creators or audiences off said platforms.

We did, last year, see the launch of the music platform Dendang (soft-launched in Feb 2021), and Progresif’s streaming platform Progresif Media. Closer to my interests, recently there was a panel discussion held with local comic artists, hosted by our Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. I unfortunately missed most of the panel. But I caught the tail-end of the Q&A session, as cartoonists wished to someday see tangible growth in their local industry, whether it be by having a hosting platform for Brunei comics (remarked by Emi Kashikoi), or a fortnightly printed magazine (mentioned by NGATUN). Would love to see this happen.

Two: Introverts

I fully believe myself to be an introvert, and it has shaped how I understand myself and my day-to-day reactions, feelings and preferences. I have thought about it since my B:Read days – and writing incoherent notes to my fellow committee members about it – and I still tweet about it, like improving event experiences for introverts.

So I was delighted when, at a chance meeting, the topic was brought up to me – by Dina, of MY Actions For SDGs – ensuing in thoughts about being an introvert, and what others think it means.

Some people still believe that introversion is a negative quality, an anti-thesis of leadership qualities that we so want our youth to be imbued with. But your scale of introversion or extroversion shouldn’t dictate your ambition. Plenty of leaders are introverts:

The ranks of transformative leaders in history illustrate this: Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Rosa Parks were all introverts, and so are many of today’s business leaders, from Douglas Conant of Campbell Soup to Larry Page at Google.

– Susan Cain, The Power of Introverts: A Manifesto for Quiet Brilliance, Scientific American

(I don’t know how I’ve not mentioned Susan Cain before on my blog, but her book Quiet: The Power of Introverts was what led me down this road – a recommended read)

It’s worth considering other facets of your personality that may, perhaps, be confused with introversion. You may have insecurities, or feel unable to assert yourself in a group, or have social anxiety. I still often have to parse my own feelings, which often comes down to “I don’t want to meet other people right now, because…” and figuring out if the answer is “I feel nervous about it” (feeling insecure or anxious) or “I’m feeling comfortable by myself” (being in an introverted mood).

I still don’t know if it’s worth starting an “Introvert’s Club” – if introversion is our only common quality, it’s no indicator we’d all get along haha! Someone prove me wrong and get a good facilitator handy?

Three: K-Pop

I spent much of 2021, and a lot of 2020 as well, getting into K-pop. My chosen fandom, or the fandom that chose me: I’m a Moomoo!

It feels a bit of an odd time to be in my 30s and revisiting the fanning of pop groups, which I used to associate with my teens. Like for me, “boy bands” will always mean that 90s era of US and British/Irish pop groups – Take That, Backstreet Boys, Boyzone, 5ive, *NSYNC, Westlife, A1. But hey, here I am.

For a while, “K-pop fandom” to me meant YouTube comments – for music videos, official content like behind-the-scenes clips or vlogs, and then increasingly, fanmade compilations and meme videos. I often hear of “fan twitter”, but let’s face it, there is a lot of toxicity already on “normal” Twitter… I wasn’t keen to add more to my timeline. I particularly like Asian Junkie, and so far their comment section seems civil and sensible.

I still occasionally feel hungry for more; I seek a place for stans that matches my energy. I don’t quite speak in hyperbole – my group didn’t save 2020, my standards for a “cultural reset” are higher – but I’m willing to fangirl over details (while trying to not scrutinize), like that swagger from Moonbyul or the lovely precise way that Wheein dances. And as it’s known now, K-pop, whether the industry itself or the fandoms that consume it, has a lot of issues (some reads from: The Daily Dot, k será Blog, SCMP). I’d like to be around a community that doesn’t shy away from those discussions but remains optimistic and excited for the future.

Happy New Year, my silent readers!