Open Letter to the Average 20-something in KL

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.


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Sher Hann will write a bio later. She's still learning how to be more self-absorbed.

Posted on 25 July 2015. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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18 Responses to Open Letter to the Average 20-something in KL

  1. ?????? ?????

    Thank you for this useful post.
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  2. Wong

    For someone with supposedly critical thinking skills, this article is extremely narrow-minded article, full of stereotypes and lacks any insight on income inequality in Malaysia. Obviously, this adult-kid has grown up in a privileged environment. She's one of those upper-middle/rich kids with parents that could afford the nicest things in the city and could piss everything they could to give her an education. I hope she can go to Mont Kiara and take a look to see how the poor half of the locality is living.

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  6. twentysomethinglawyer

    This is written well and sums up pretty much how I felt when I was working at a crappy law firm. https://twentysomethinglawyer.wordpress.com/2016/…

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  9. Line

    writer should come out from her circle of friends and make more friends with the 20something from lower income families, who really know the sense of responsibilities, trying to even support their parents and siblings , who rides kapcai to work or other public transports , who even have only one meal a day – mostly nasi campur with only fried egg and lots of gravies from other lauks trying to get some flavours into the white rice. Ive witnessed these from my very own eyes, they are my friends, and i also do have friends as narrowly described by you as the average 20something in KL. Sheesh guess you only mingle with that type of people as per you described, open your mind, go explore , make friends out of your usual circle.

  10. hogwash1964

    Someone has been listening to Mary Chapin Carpenter.

  11. therealhajar

    I don't disagree that a person/s as described in this article exists, but I think it says more about the bubble that the author lives in/ crowd that she mixes with than the actual average 20 something in KL. What about the local university grad, the many 20 somethings who have migrated to KL from out of town, 20 somethings from lower income families, the non uni graduates. Just another same old same lets generalize and condescend people of a certain generation. One's personal anecdotes don't qualify as representing the average and far from the universal reality.

    I'd love to see an actual article which really does talk about realities of a person living in KL. income disparity, cost of living.

  12. Crippling

    ^Not Average: You’re the very definition of what the article’s talking about. A 20 something with the illusion of everyone around them being sheep except for themselves. And no, the 20s isn’t boring. It’s just that people who fall within the 20 something demography often whine. A LOT. They complain about not having enough money with their clearly above average pay grade and blow all their money on a new Peugeot 308 for their first car. They spend on whatever’s “in” and try to regain echoes of their awesome college days. I have no idea who Kayla Itsines is. I listen to The Shins, Beatles, Wolfmother and the Rolling Stones but I don’t gloat about how sophisticated I am. I spend my nights eating water crackers, spider crab pate, emmental cheese with a nice glass of wine but I wouldn’t call that one bit tasteful and ditch my “Shallow” Starbucks loving friends. My daily coffee is a MYR 25 Davidoff rich aroma, not the shitty poor people Nescafe they have in the pantry. I guess that’s more class than the “20 somethings” with high paying professional jobs like lawyers and doctors. I’ve achieved way more than what those bastards could in their lifetime and what am I to the average joe today? A nobody. So no, you’re not “Not Average”, and we need less of the self-promoting, narcissistic, opinionated people around.

    • Not Average

      It's not about seeing myself high and mighty. The fact that the average 20 something is not average at all, that's my point. The author makes it seem we are all sheep, when in reality, we try our best to make the most of our life.

      • Crippling

        I suppose leading a hipster lifestyle constitutes to being "Not average"? How convenient. The author's not a populist, and I suppose that will lead to a lot of flak from the mainstream community. Tell me, is your diet of self packed food made up of a variety of organic produce, chia seeds and goji berries?

        • therealhajar

          Seems like you are projecting your own prejudices on a person who hasn't professed to any of what you have described at all.

    • Wong

      Lmao you stupid fuck, you're just conflating "popular" and "not-average" with upper-middle class individuals. Fuck off

  13. Not Average

    Creatively written, but you do make it sound like being 20 is dull and boring. Perhaps I am different.

    I chase my dreams, I don't waste money on Starbucks, I pay for my own car, I leave work at 6pm sharp, I do my own fitness programs in the comfort of my home, I have no idea who Kayla Itsines is, some days I don't have a single email to reply, I don't have instagram, I find hashtags annoying, I don't claim to be an expert in anything, I pack my own lunch, and I don't drink… just to mention a few. I won't ever lose my ambition and passion, and I prefer Adobe Garamond pro.

  14. Blank

    Which is why you should find a job you love, or love the job you're currently working.