A GoodNews exclusive.
Nowadays, one could observe a trend of younger and more globalised generations of Malaysian youth becoming more socially aware. This has come to a point of sparking conversations our usually-conservative what more “typical Asian” community would not bring up. One of those would be on emotions and vulnerability.
Enter ‘But Honestly’, an online community on Instagram (@buthonestly._) founded recently by two young Malaysians, school teacher Ting Shi Qi, 24, and financial analyst Sarah Wong, 25. Working together with them is Psychology student Davin Ngu, 22.
“All three of us grew up together and were privileged enough to grow up in an environment where vulnerability was encouraged,” they shared in a story on Instagram. “However, we found not many of our friends grew up in an environment like this.”
“So we set forth to create a product: a card game to facilitate such conversations and to create a safe space for people to open up. The card game is not here yet though, so for now, we thought we’d start the conversation here on Instagram.”
Although initially the page started as a means of gaining followers and hype around the project, it now has become something more. “We realised things kind of developed where people are actually being very open, honest, and supportive of what we’re doing,” shared Sarah. “I think that was when we decided to create a community of people who were willing to share very personal stuff with us.”
“We’re really encouraged that we have gotten a lot of good responses, people are really engaging and very honest with us about their struggles and how they feel,” Shi Qi added.
The idea for a card game started around Christmas last year, after Shi Qi’s initial attempt to host her own online store selling phone cases. However after almost two months, she did not have the passion for her product and felt like something else was missing.
After Sarah got to know of a similar and popular card game ‘We’re Not Really Strangers’ by a friend, and having conversations with Shi Qi around topics such as growing up in Malaysia, relationship with their parents, and having conservative parents, the duo thought it would be a cool game to bring into a Malaysian context.
So the duo got to work and recruited Davin to help with research and game development. “He studies Psychology which is quite cool because he gives us that psychological insight,” Sarah mused. “He’s a final year student right now in HELP university.”
They also had Emilyn Gan, 24, whom they met through a mutual friend, onboard to help with But Honestly’s visual design.
When asked about how different But Honestly is going to be from We’re Not Really Strangers, Shi Qi shared, “We decided on a more lighthearted approach, so our card game is mainly designed for bigger groups.”
“The idea is for groups of friends to normalise this idea of vulnerability and talk about things that we don’t usually bring up, and these question prompts would be the catalyst for this kind of conversation.”
Adding to that, Sarah also shared on how it is about trying to build empathy, getting to know people in a deeper and more meaningful way, and just to understand what is actually going on in their lives.
“Because sometimes we can be friends with people for years but we don’t actually know what’s going on, and I think that people do long and crave for that kind of connection,” said Sarah.
Some of But Honestly’s future plans post-release would include an online version of the game, expansion packs, and even bilingual packs such as English/Malay or English/Chinese that can be played by people from different cultural backgrounds.
All of this has been birthed out of the need and importance of emotional health among Malaysians.
“I’m a teacher right now, and I see so many youths suffer emotionally because they cannot handle their emotions,” shared Shi Qi. “All the crazy stresses of studying and working hard can really kill your mind, so we need to learn how to take care of our mental and emotional health.”
“So often we go through the motions of life, we’re so busy (that) we don’t even have time to process what we’re feeling,” Sarah adds. “Sometimes you could even be having symptoms of stress or depression but you don’t actually know it because you’re so used to it.”
The card game co-founders also shared their heart for Malaysians. “I just want to encourage youth in Malaysia or Malaysians in general to find that group of people, that community that you can trust,” said Sarah. “Your emotions are valid,” said Shi Qi. “I think that is something we don’t emphasise a lot on and we have learnt to be very dismissive of our own as well as other people’s emotions.”
At the time of writing, the But Honestly card game is at its prototype stage and has yet to be printed and released. Once it is released, you can expect a pack of cards to go for around RM50 to RM100, similar to local card games ‘The Malaysian Dream’ and ‘The Lepak Game’. Their Kickstarter campaign is anticipated to launch at the beginning of August 2021.
Be sure to follow their Instagram page for more updates on this project!