After The Hill: 4 Years Later. #CGGMM

Woodfire Tea MUWCI Sept '08

Dad enters the room, points at this pic and asks “who’s this kid?”

That was me in sept/oct 2008 when I just started at #MUWCI, having tea, made over wood fire, in the village.

How time has passed and how I’ve changed over the last 6 years.


A few days back I went for a UWC(MY) Casual Gathering that turned out to be a great catch up. It was felt really really good to connect again with the UWC Fam. Since I left MUWCI I kept all UWC related items to near zero, barring the few small meet ups with some familiar faces and the 2011 visits.

I isolated myself, a sort of self-imposed exile.

I didn’t go for any send offs, or SSSs or any other related activities since I left MUWCI 4 months before graduation.

That was just over 4 years ago.

Leaving MUWCI, or any UWC for the matter, after grad is hard enough, so imagine having to leave without graduating;

sick, depressed and feeling like a failure.

It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to go through and would’ve broken me without the support of certain MUWCI-ites, friends and family.

Could I have done things differently?

Could I have taken care of myself better?

Could I have done it and lasted till the end?

There were so many questions and no answers to be found, so many emotions and nothing that could resolve them, so much disorientation with seemingly nothing to show me where to go.

So instead of dealing with it all, I numbed myself with regards to all things UWC utilising two effective tools; Avoidance and Denial.

An incredibly selfish move, but something I needed to do. It just hurt too much every time I looked back or thought about it.

How frustrating it was (and even today sometimes) that the greatest experience of my life (so far) had become such a powerful and painful depressive trigger.

Even as I write this out now it brings about so many strong emotions and feelings.

It took time, years in fact, to deal with it. I had visitors and did visit a few MUWCI people in the region, which was awesome while it lasted, but became so depressing after the fact. Aside those visits, I really didn’t make any real effort to be a part of the Malaysian UWC Family, let alone the general UWC Community.

Was it because I felt ashamed?

Was it because I was afraid to be seen as a failure?

Was it because i didn’t feel i belonged or deserved to be a part of the ‘family’ having not graduated?

The answer is all three, and more.

It was hard even thinking about the fact that my dreams of continuing to fly high were dashed away, but it hurt even more to watched others, peers and juniors, do it. I was always proud of their achievements and adventures, but it just hurt that I wasn’t part of it or didn’t have my own ones.

With time, readings, thought and writing,especially writing, I came to accept that although this fight with Fibromyalgia may have taken away all those potential experiences, it gave me other experiences and memories along side maturity, growth and strength I never knew I had.

It may not be what I wanted the day I landed in Mumbai 6 years ago, but today I can’t imagine my life going any other way. I can’t imagine not getting up from the hard falls, not growing the way I have, not getting into writing and coffee and especially not learning about the value of health.

In 2009/10 my story took a significant detour off the course I had intended, and though I still get frustrated, envious and even intimidated at times, I still have no regrets about accepting that offer from the Malaysian UWC National Committee in mid-2008.

I did the best with the hand I had and lost. Now whether that loss is for the better or the worse is something only time, and effort, will tell, I’ll just continue to keep playing the best I can with the hands I have;

Getting up from the Falls,

Always Learning,

Always Growing,

Always Moving Forward.

To end, here’s a little excerpt from one of my older pieces, ‘Overall Progress’.

“Progress isn’t a straight line up, it’s the line of best fit based on all the ups and down we’ve faced in our lives. As long as the ‘Life Line’ formed from the line of best fit shows an upward trajectory/trend/pattern, then we’re on a pretty good track; based upon what we place value on in our lives, whether it is based on the state of our health, or careers, or family life.

Yea, mine could be better but as long as I’m not stagnating, then i think i’m doing alright. i’ve just got to keep learning how to minimise the downtimes and maximise the peaks.

We’re all a Work In Progress. We’re all always learning and thus always growing, just at different rates and different ways.”


Keep Moving Forward #KMF

Straight From The Heart

Roshan ‘Arkay’ Kanesan




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