On ‘good looking’ people and treating people as eye candies in classes.

I have to admit three things. Firstly, I have trouble getting up in the morning for classes. Secondly, the classes that I’m punctual for, it is because there are good-looking people in class and seeing them all spiffed up at 8.30am in the morning makes me happy. Thirdly, I pick my modules based on the looks/charisma of the professor, and not his teaching style. I don’t know if the last one is something common but the thing is that most of what is taught in lessons is covered (in-depth) in the textbook, and frankly my grades do not depend on how well the professor teaches.

Eye candy: Visual images that are superficially attractive and entertaining but intellectually undemanding.

I don’t normally think about looks because it is something that is God-given. Either you have it or you don’t, or you are not conventionally handsome/pretty but you have a certain style about you that makes people want to look at you. But in the previous two days I had two different friends talk to me about the importance of looks. Guy A showed me a picture of two guys, and asked which one is better looking. Guy B told me his personal opinion about girls and guys in the dating market- to him, it is easier for guys to get a date because the girls he knows are not too particular about looks, but guys have a certain standard of looks that they appreciate. And that it is not really possible for an ugly but kind girl to get a date, because kindness takes a much longer time to understand.

For Guy A, I told him that yeah, the first photo is really good looking, but we don’t click. And also because he is so phenomenally good-looking he will have many choices of dates, and it might be impossible to even get near him. Why stalk his facebook photos and put him on a pedestal? And for Guy B, I told him that it depends on who you are talking about. There truly are people who only look at the heart, whereas for I guess, most other people, there’s an initial hurdle called physical attraction that has to be crossed.

To me, girls have it easier because we are not expected to be ambitious career-ladder climbers. There is still an expectation on us to stay at home and take care of the kids, at least for a few months. Whereas guys have to work and earn their social worth. The term I used was ‘stupid little flower vase’ but I guess ‘flower vase’ is enough, she doesn’t need to be dumb. It is a direct translation from the Chinese version of a female who is empty-headed but can be used as an ornament.

For a girl, appearance can be a powerful form of oppression. No matter how intelligent a girl may be, no matter her many talents, these attributes are not easily discerned. Brains and talent will never stand up against a girl who is clearly physically attractive.
― Natsuo Kirino, Grotesque

The reply from the friend was that you have to at least be average-looking and above, to be a flower-vase in the dating market. To have no other use other than to hang around the husband. My question is- if you are not pretty and not smart and you don’t have a kind or attractive personality, is it not possible to get married/date? Is your life as an ornament then over?

From first-hand experience there are a few young wives who are staying at home (in my estate) to look after their kids (some don’t have kids) and they are not cute at all. There is one who is shaped a little like a dinosaur, or like a little dinosaur. It reminded me of an article I read a few years back about how men can derive psychological satisfaction from building a family. It doesn’t matter that the wife (or kids) are a little ugly, as long as the husband has the accomplishment of maintaining and providing for a family unit. Being the sole provider of wealth and pocket money. I guess I could identify with that as well, being the sole provider would mean that I am a ‘man’ with responsibilities and that my worth is defined by how much I can provide for my kids and spouse. It is a path that you choose, which not many people commit to in this day and age.

The crux in that family equation is that they need to find females who are willing to settle down with them. And the question is, who, given that the pretty and ambitious ones will not be willing to only be a housewife. The ambitious ones will work hard and expand their boundaries and not settle, and that leaves a much smaller pool of females to choose from. Which is what I mean by even below-average looking females being able to marry, and the males having to ‘settle for a spouse’ who is neither here nor there, as long as she meets his needs. You can be an ornament of not so pretty proportions, as long as you have no real function and are willing to stay.

That honestly isn’t a bad thing- humans come in all shapes and sizes, and we all have different ambitions for how we want to spend our lives. As long as the both of them are happy, why not? It is an honour to spend twenty or forty years of one’s life with another person, because marriage is a covenant between two people (and God, for those who are religious). There is no definable end goal in marriage apart from what the both of them chooses. And according to The Momentary Marriage by John Piper, the best marriages are those which are only broken by death. It is a different way of living, something that I might never experience.

I know how I look and what my life might look like- I don’t qualify to be a flower-vase, unless you add in heapings of plastic surgery. But I don’t need to be an ornament, I don’t want to settle down either. Being unqualified to be a flower vase just means one less thing to deal with- I know that people like me for my personality, and because I have less choices, I am happier with what I have. When it comes to dressing up, one must make do with what she has, with the aid of Benefit Cosmetics and Shu Uemura. The eye candies in school are just that- eye candies to me. The world is kinder to people with sharper features and a chiseled jaw bone and you are treated better if you are good looking. It is just how our eyes and brain processes first impressions.

As an ending note, Guy B asked “how important are your boyfriend’s looks to you”. I replied “I go for the ugly but cute ones, the ones that make my friends go “….ok.”” And I think that is a perfectly acceptable reply, because it is my genuine preference. However, if a person picks modules or boyfriends based on looks, it doesn’t mean that she is a superficial person. It just means that that is her current preference, based on her needs at that time. We are all different, some will want a partner all the time, some need their reality to match or be better than their expectations. I’m not sure if ugly and cute is a descriptor because cute varies for everyone, but I guess the ones that make me go “awwww.”

 Edit:/ I should have split this into two posts. Flower vases and unpretty wives. Now my argument is a bit jumbled up. But it’s too late and I have other things to do. However, that’s my view of things- you can be a flower vase, you can be ugly, eventually you will find your place in society and settle down. Giving up things along the way, or perhaps never giving up and always striving to be somewhere else. It doesn’t matter. We create our own lives.

“Writing is a struggle against silence.”

I understand that it is not about the end-goal but it is about the process. And for maybe the whole of year one in university I didn’t understand what the process was, everything seemed piecemeal to me. It isn’t until year 3, probably six months past, that I finally feel comfortable being in the moment and trusting the process to take me to places that I wouldn’t get to otherwise. To others, process might be following a set of steps to get somewhere. Writing isn’t something that I can ‘follow’, it is something that I can only set aside time for. And there is a lot of interference- ‘hey why aren’t you studying for accounting, why aren’t you doing this instead, can’t you plan for this’, and everything is in my head- I have to remind myself that my productivity dips if I stay with one thing for too long.

I get grumpy when I don’t read/write for a few weeks, like literally there’s a screw loose somewhere in my body and I am unable to do things properly. Everything becomes boring and bothersome. It is not something that I can explain, why I feel this need to read about Discworld and to understand how other people live in their worlds. I have friends who don’t read fiction at all, and they are very comfortable with that. Without fiction, where would I be? I used to ramble a lot, I still do. But now my rambles have less grammatical errors. It is smoother now. My thoughts have a flow to it.

Your desires,

Whether or not you achieve them

Will determine who you become.
― Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Talents

I was reading a Chinese book online- buying it from kinokuniya tomorrow- about how we are only looking like we are working hard, when we are actually not. It is just a social veneer, trying to fit in but not really wanting that goal. I spent an hour reading excerpts from that book and I was struck by how much of it was just simple stories from the author’s life, about his friends and the things he sees in his life. And yet there was truth in every story. He wrote about how he felt alone in his constant striving and how he dedicated his time to something other than his major. As an educator after graduation, he saw his students wasting their time away. Students who bring a pile of notes to the library but they end up playing with their phones and not studying and then they lament failing the English exam.

Or remembering how he avoided socializing too often because he knew the trade-offs. He wrote about staying in student dormitories and hanging out with friends all the time and after four years, those friends leave and you don’t remember anything significant. Worst of all, you don’t have anything remarkable that you dedicated your time to. You spent four years doing…what? Average grades, average ambition, average at everything, and did you even enjoy every bit of it? It’s good if the person is content. But some of us are not. We are average and lost in our lives. Nothing is what we really wanted but we are stuck with it now. How does one get out of the rut?

I feel that a lot of my stress in JC was because I was trying to maintain this front about wanting to be someone, when I really didn’t know who I was. But everyone else was ‘somebody’, they had a definable character. Because of that it made me quite unhappy, like ‘why don’t I have my life figured out?’ I didn’t understand then that life requires patience and a lot of hard work, that one day (five years from then), I will finally understand myself with a clarity that isn’t dependent on what I have or who I work for. Because I am not tying my worth to external indicators like the kind of salary I receive, I’m motivated to do things every day.  I don’t want to be an office lady having high-tea in the CBD area every weekend because I’m bored with life and there’s nothing that interests me anymore. Because it is something internal, I know that I can let go of that process if I feel that I no longer want to do it. I can pursue something else.Those are things that I want, even if I am not very good at them. It is who I want to be in the future.

I no longer feel like I have to lie about where I want to go- I honestly would like to do something related to HR business process outsourcing, preferably in China. I like that place. The fact that their books are cheap is a huge draw, international shipping from china for HARDCOPY BOOKS is freaking expensive. I am paying four times for the shipping as compared to the actual book. I like their natural environment. Do I understand their language perfectly? Nope. I sound like I am gargling marbles. Do I know their political system or rule of law? Nope. But it is the same feeling I had at the start of year 2- that I have a strong, intuitive, positive feeling about going there. And I’m going to work towards that place. I hope they still have the roadside stalls that sell yang rou chuans.

It is the same as writing, I might not be where I want to be in maybe another five or ten years, but eventually I will reach there and it is something that I truly want. Not something that other people have a say in. I do feel a little alone, why is that I have clear goals and people around me don’t have the same goals, because then I can’t tell people what’s interesting. Right now, I just force whatever I like on my friends, but I know it’s not what they like- I even have a HRBPO book in my bookmarks, I like reading that. It is nothing like what we learn in school, it is actually useful and worthwhile knowledge.

Sigh. I don’t want to end up married with kids and never experiencing that ‘aha!’ moment in my life. I do know of people like that, they just settle and settle and settle and they never have that feeling of ‘this is what I was born to do!!’ I don’t want that.

If you want a thing–truly want it, want it so badly that you need it as you need air to breathe, then unless you die, you will have it. Why not? It has you. There is no escape. What a cruel and terrible thing escape would be if escape were possible.
― Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Talents

brainpickings.org

Where some people have a self, most people have a void, because they are too busy in wasting their vital creative energy to project themselves as this or that, dedicating their lives to actualizing a concept of what they should be like rather than actualizing their potentiality as a human being, a sort of “being” vs. having — that is, we do not “have” mind, we are simply mind. We are what we are.

-Bruce Lee

你只是看起来很努力

这种感觉你不一定要让别人知道,有时候你也在深夜去痛斥这个世界的不公,你说自己这么努力,为什么那个谁看起来一点儿也不用心,最后却有了很好的成绩。可是,他们的背后和你的背后,究竟做了一些什么?你的生活和别人看到的你的生活,是不是一样的呢?因此,你知道,那些所谓的努力时光,真的头脑风暴过了吗,真的走心过了吗,真的问心无愧了吗?或者,它只是看起来很努力而已。

-李尚龙

hikikomori

I feel like some hikikomori. Being rejected by the world and hiding in my room while I face the reality of being alone and friendless for the rest of my life.

(This is where I got distracted by an actual hikikomori Singaporean teenager, I think he’s about 17 years old studying in a polytechnic. His posts are quite varied, but he seems like a nice person.)

No, I’m not actually dysfunctional. I think a part of me is just wondering why am I always going for the people who are out of my league, and so obviously out of my league, that I just feel like throwing in the towel and staying in my room and reading ebooks all the time. As a dear friend says, I can’t be anyone but myself. And I really can’t change my personality.

Starting on Mastery by Robert Greene tonight.

From the howling emptiness

Of possibility

From our responsibility

To recognize our own reality.

-Jean Emerson, Cycles of the Moon Vine

 

The joy of being human…or a dog?

(I am procrastinating on studying for my accounting quiz on Friday, dear Lord have mercy on my grades because I am contributing to the thought processes of the world.)

I was thinking about being human. If I had a choice, would I want to be the world’s happiest dog, or the current human being that I am? No this is not a straightforward case on how valuable life is, and how we should not commit suicide, because I know that committing suicide won’t make me the world’s happiest dog.

I am just wondering- what are the pros and cons of being human, and if I had a choice, a real choice, standing at the ‘Go’ square of heaven- what would be my choice? Is it between two physical forms: a two-legged being with hair, or a four-legged being with fur? Or is it between two levels of thinking- the mathematical, artistic, analytical, and the loyal and slightly oblivious? Would God show those standing in the queue a menu of options- “choose to experience these” or just “this is what you will look like”- kind of like the drive-through of McDonalds?

I was thinking of all the good things about being human. The things that I enjoy.

Firstly, the convenience. I have opposable thumbs. I am able to open cans of preserved peaches and mix matcha-flavoured ice cream with warm milk. I can text my friend in China pictures of my nose hair. My physical body allows me to do things that dogs cannot do, although it also leads to self-esteem issues because I am tall enough to see my reflection in mirrors after eating too much of that aforementioned ice cream.

Secondly, I have intelligence. I am able to hold off on immediate temptations like watching a movie, to study for a test, so that it ends up in better grades and better job prospects and eventually more money so that I can fund my dog’s future. Dogs don’t hold off on enjoyment. They are like babies, dependable on humans and completely and stubbornly persistent until they get what they want. Does that mean that I have more options as a human? Actually, I think I would have more options as a dog, because I wouldn’t be so stressed out about living a proper life. I wouldn’t have a religion as a dog, because my brain cannot spell the word ‘faith’ properly. My lack of intelligence would be celebrated in times of war, because I do not pose a threat and am cunningly skilled at survival.

Thirdly, I wish I was more expressive. As a human I often find that I cannot say what I want to say. I wish I could tell my accounting groupmates that I hope they are suffering right now, because they are possibly jeopardizing my final grades. But that is not a social nicety. As a dog I would be unrestrained and bark at them until they form puddles of regretful, human, goo. Also, as a human, I can’t show my affection towards people who are already attached, because it is rude and scary. But as a dog, oh boy, I would be the world’s most famous stalker. It would be obvious to everyone that I am intent on that human, and no one can prevent me from following him till the end of time.

Humans have to work hard. They have to constantly improve their personalities or they will end up with no friends, or worse, boring friends. Dogs don’t have to work at anything, they can just be. Even the sled-pulling dogs in the North Pole, they don’t have to think about how else can they please their boss to get a career promotion. Okay maybe they do, maybe there is some sort of dog-totem-pole that I don’t know about.

And as humans, do we enjoy more? I have the full emotional spectrum that the average human being has. I feel anger when my groupmates are assholes, I feel joy when my accounting quiz is over, I feel fear when I realise that I only have four more days till another sleepless night. And happy when I have food, good friends, a book to read under the night sky, near the waves. I feel alone when my brothers leave me. But because there are so many emotions to feel, I actually think we understand less of what we feel, and we react instinctively more often. We don’t luxuriate in that emotion because it is so fleeting. Only the negative ones stay for long, and that’s when we want to turn into dogs and just not feel anymore. To get rid of the thoughts in our heads. Does he love me, should I stay, what am I going to do with you, please help me?

Being human, to me, is only a joy when there are things to look forward to. When I can find meaning in my life that goes beyond guilt and responsibility. When I sketch out my schedule for the week and I realise that there are not one, but three events this week that I look forward to. (If there’s only one then I’ll usually create two of my own.) These events are things I truly enjoy, or things which are interesting and challenging which I have never done before.

That makes me happy because I feel alive. I have full access to my logical thinking and my limbs are functioning properly. I have no immediate worries and lots of good things ahead in life. But what if I am sick and in the hospital and the only thing I know for sure is that my medical bills are going to be stacked up on my desk when I return home. Assuming I return home. Assuming I still have four limbs and a head when I return home.

I think I would want to be a dog then. A healthy, pain-free dog of reasonable size and shape.