Chinese New Year 2015

Chinese New Year is almost over now and the only reminders left are the red packets on my desk and the leftover steamboat ingredients that keep appearing on the dining table. 

It was truly a great time to spend time with family, including relatives I've not interacted with for a long time. I spent a great deal of time connecting with my brother especially, not that we are not living together, it's a rare opportunity for us to talk about how things are going. One thing about family is that if they mean the best for you they will always tell you when you are fucking up instead of doing the easy thing and just walking away. 

It was a peaceful CNY and I am glad for that. Thank you.

So it's the first day of the school semester and I am sitting in the library writing this and reading this month's copies of WIRED and Fast Company. A bout of deja vu hit me. It was not long ago when I first enrolled here, seven years after finishing junior college. I remember being in awe of a campus that was not large by national standards, but finally, I thought, finally, I am here, in a school, embarking on the degree I was told I was never going to be good enough for. 

I will never forget what it was like for me to finally be back in school again. The first semester was a disaster, ending with me withdrawing from 3 out of the 5 modules I ambitiously enrolled in. I have since learnt how to study again. I've learn how easy it is to be distracted and not hand up assignments on time when there is no one nagging at me over my shoulder to get things done. I've learnt how destructive procrastination can get. 

I'm getting better at this, that much is true. 

There is so much I want to accomplish this year. Not just the big goals but also the smaller ones. Many of these goals are not targets but rather habits that I wish to cultivate in the long run. 

I spend a lot of time watching TV. Be it as a main activity after work or as background noise while I do chores. To fulfil my goal of reading 75 books this year, I would need to think carefully about the limited free time I have now that school has started. Do I really need to follow through the new season of Survivor? Probably not. Do I need to rematch 甄嬛传for the twentieth time? Probably a waste of time.

This year is about being consistent. Learning to be less controlled by my emotions and more Vulcan-like in my decision-making. To burn fewer bridges and letting bygones be bygones. To be more organised despite my predisposition to be messy. 

I think in order to find someone who is amazing I need to be pretty amazing myself instead of waiting for someone to save me from myself. That is all.

2014: A Year In Review

If 2013 was a year of bold moves and big decisions, 2014 was a year of building upon the right choices and remedying the ones made against better judgement. 

2014 was a year of getting my shit together, pardon my french. It was a year I managed to get some decent grades in school with better studying habits (consistent revision really helps!). It was a year I start to refine my work habits as well, implementing (and using) various productivity hacks I have learnt after reading hundreds of articles on the very subject.

2014 was also a year I learn to be human. I have always been mistrustful of other people, especially people I have never had a chance to know properly. This year, I worked on being kind to other human beings, regardless of whether or not they are worth it. I worked on being a better listener to the people I allow in my life.

It has also been a year I stopped allowing myself to get angry or worked up about things that really don't matter that much. As I get older I am beginning to realise that I don't have to get everyone to like me. I don't have to like everyone. As long as I am a human being, there is a choice to allow specific people into my non-obligatory free time. 

I have allowed myself to admit that I fucked up, something I have always struggled with doing.

Basically in year 2014, I learnt how to be a more productive member of society and tried to be less of an asshole.

Thank you for being with me through all of this. Thank you for reading.

Wisdom of the Internet: Post-30s

Someone asked a question on AskReddit about the things that you get to look forward to after you turn 30 and this dude's answer struck a chord.

Dude - buckle up because being over 30 is awesome. I was dreading it in the weeks running up to my 30th birthday. I thought it was going to be all backpain and recliners from then on out. I was wrong. My 30th birthday was my favorite ever. Here's why:

  1. I came to the realization that I'm never going to be 'cool' in the way MTV told me I should be (or whatever the equivalent is for kids now. Shut up. Stop laughing) so I could stop trying so damn hard to look the way that TV wanted me to look and acting the way TV wanted me to act. I really got comfortable being myself. If you can do this before you're 30, do it. So Point #1 - You get comfortable in your own skin.

  2. I got into a real relationship. Granted, this happened before I turned 30. My wife (then girlfriend) and I got together when I was 25. Before that my relationships with women were pretty superficial. With my wife (then girlfriend) the relationship didn't start all that different, but I learned how to let this woman become my friend, then my best friend, and now super-best-friend-lifelong-partner. It's been almost 8 years now, and there's nobody I trust or confide in or want to be around more. I still have plenty of friends, and we still hang out, but it's not nearly as important to me as it was when I was in my 20's. So Point #2 - You learn how to have real, meaningful relationships.

  3. I don't live hand-to-mouth any more. Being married, and both of us with good-paying middle-class jobs and no kids, we do pretty good. We have a house on 10 acres (and a mortgage) and a couple vehicles (with a small loan) and a retirement plan that grows fatter with each paycheck. We're both in grad school (one night a week), but we're able to make ends meet with a little left over at the end of the month. We're certainly not living high on the hog right now, but once school ends we're going to be doing pretty good. I don't worry where my next meal is going to come from. I don't worry about making rent. I don't worry about what I'll do if my car breaks down. So Point #3 - You get security.

  4. Provided you don't dress like an idiot, people will listen to what you have to say. I'm still a little surprised that I can walk into a business meeting and say words with my deep man-voice and people will stop and listen to what input I have. This comes after years of being the 'kid' working on construction jobs where I was the guy who had to sweep and cut all the boards to the right size and stuff. You hit 30-ish, and people start taking you seriously (unless you're dressed like an idiot. I'm looking at you Affliction-shirt-at-work guy.). So Point #4 - You get respect.

Now, to any of you under-30-year-olds reading this, you may think to yourself "That sounds damn boring." And you may be right. Because right now your life is hanging out with friends and probably having some awkward drunken sex with available partners and going to concerts and having fun. It's a trade. And it's a trade I would have made at age 19 if I knew how good it feels. Because another thing you learn once you're over 30 is the difference between fleeting fun and long-term satisfaction. You may disagree with me now ( 22-year-old me would have, from the outside looking in), but you'll get there. And you'll find out that it's exactly as great (or better) than I just described. Good luck with the rest of your 20's!


Thanksgiving: The Things I Am Thankful For, 2014 Edition

I know, I know, Thanksgiving is an American thing and we don't really celebrate it here, except that I am. And also, I think it's a wonderful concept, to remember to be thankful for the things we have at least once a year, if not every year.

Things I Am Thankful For 2014 (and in general) - not in any particular order.

  1. A job that I really have fun doing. Anyone who knows me knows that I have been through many different jobs and various fields but nothing really stuck. Until now, this is the first job (other than my brief stint at the now-defunt Borders Books) that I look forward to going to work at. It is truly quite amazing to feel like my ideas and opinions matter. I am just very excited to go to work each day (okay maybe not on Mondays) because whatever I do has a direct impact and it's awesome. The team is amazing and we are like a family. Going to work THEN school is a breeze because of how understanding my boss is about my educational priorities. I am so very thankful for that.
  2. Food, shelter, water. This is the usual thing and very clichéd I know but we need to remember that not everyone in the world has access to these things. I was watching a documentary about the clean water initiative in Africa and after which, I was in the shower and just marvelled at the fact that I was using litres of clean water to rinse my hair TWICE while some kid in the the other side of the world has to make do with the same volume of water for an entire week.
  3. Friends. Three years ago I would have never thought that I would have such a supportive network of friends I could rely on for the best laughs and advice. I don't see them as much as I would love to but I do like to make time for the few I count my favourite friends. :D Thank you for hanging out, everyone.
  4. Family. I know that very often, family is a sore spot for me, but I am not going to allow one person to ruin the whole term for me. I am very glad to be in regular contact with my brother and helping him with his life decisions. I am also very thankful for my grandmother and uncle, whom I stay with, they provide a very safe and calm environment for me to thrive in and I am very very very thankful for that. 
  5. The Internet & Technology. The internet has brought me the job I now love. The Internet has brought me friends I would other have never met. The internet allows me to share my thoughts, both important and lame puns, with the world. The Internet allows me access to 95% of the music I listen to on Spotify, 80% of the TV shows I follow on Netflix and Hulu Plus. My iPhone 6 takes the most amazing photos (any lack in the photos I post is a result of my inexperience and nonexistent eye for pretty things).

And now I am on my way to get some breakfast before picking up some pies for Thanksgiving at my bosses' place later tonight. I hope you will find it in your heart to think about the things you are thankful for, not just once a year but as often as you can. There are many things to be unhappy about if we so choose, but what is the fun in that?