Known for his self-titled YouTube channel, Arwind Kumar gained widespread popularity for his band of original comedic characters, including Mak Cik Rosmah and Aunty Chai Ling. When the 26-year-old is not rocking his dramatised take on your typical Malaysian aunty, he is advocating for philanthropic causes with a righteous passion. Having experienced verbal and physical abuse during his youth, Arwind understands the destructive nature of mental health struggles, and why it is important to embrace a culture of kindness and empathy.

 

High school bullying played a significant role behind your battle against social anxiety. How did it begin? 

High School was not a great experience for me. My high school life was completely different in comparison to the other students. When I was in primary school, I gravitated towards having female friends. I think they are much more easy-going, free spirited, and it was easier to have conversations with them in comparison to the boys in my school. 

When I transitioned to an all-boys high school, it quickly became obvious that I wasn’t equipped to handle the social dynamics in such a different environment. I mean, the first year was okay, there were a couple of friends that I was close to. They all left after the first year, after realising the state of the school. Everything changed in the third year of high school. 

At that point, my close female friends started having boyfriends, most of them were seniors. They weren’t happy, and there was this immense pressure to abandon the friendships that I’ve built with the girls. When I decided to stand my own ground, that’s when the bullying started. 

They would drag me out of class. There were many instances where they would walk up to me during recess, take my food away, and throw it in a trashcan so that I would have nothing to eat. I was terrified of walking along the corridors, terrified of going to the toilet. Because I was scared for my life, I would constantly pray, so that I wouldn’t be ambushed by the bullies.  

Through repetition, bullying became habitual to them, and the act of inflicting physical pain on someone who is vulnerable became the source of their (toxic) masculinity. The bullying ended in the final year of my high school life because the seniors graduated and were no longer there.  

 

Arwind Kumar
Arwind Kumar

How do you cope with social anxiety?

I used to be an extrovert, but because of the constant bullying in the past I started developing social anxiety, and I’m still battling it. Even though people would assume otherwise based on what they’ve seen on the internet. That is far from the truth. To escape my insecurities, my way of coping is to go to the other extreme, by being very vocal and outspoken to shut the voices down.

The process is highly exhausting. Which is why I would feel drained after an hour or two. And that’s when I’d have to retreat to my own private zone and rest. I need to unwind and be with myself again. Because of the constant panic attack, fear, and anxiety, everything kicks in at every moment whenever I’m out. However, I think I’ve been dealing with it well by being very vocal about my own struggles, and I never lost sight of the better things in life. 

I’ve forgiven the bullies long time ago, and I’ve healed from the wounds of the past. I wouldn’t be able to talk about this today if I hadn’t. But you know, certain scars are so deep that you know it takes years for you to even discover that it’s still in you. I think one thing that’s important is we all have to acknowledge that it’s okay to have struggles.

Pain makes us human. Even though it still affects me, I can appreciate the recovery process because it means that I can feel, and I don’t want to feel like my existence is merely an empty vessel, a body with no soul. If there’s no acknowledgement of the darkness, you will not be able to value the light, so I know how beautiful life is today. 

 

Arwind Kumar
Arwind Kumar

What message do you have for people experiencing social anxiety? 

Normalise the issue. It is important to be open about whatever it is that you’re going through. I think a lot of people have this fear of being judged, because were met with ridicule in the past. As for people of the other side, don’t hear someone out, listen to them. Because often our intention is to provide a solution, but when you listen you are providing a space for them to release. Listen to understand, to connect. 

 

Read more: Nalisa Alia Amin On Body Image And Psychological Well-Being

 

written by.
Alex Low
Brand & Partnership Writer
Lifestyle writer with a passion for everything pop culture. When not writing, Alex spends his free time playing video games, learning how to cook (it's been quite a journey, or so he says), and lurking on blu-ray.com for the best physical media deals.

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