On my feelings.

I have been having cramps the whole day due to my blood buddy, and my mood is real low now. I was reading The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan, it’s about virgin courtesans and this half American girl whose mother used to run one of the best courtesan houses in ancient China. A turn of fortunes happened and she was left to fend for herself in a lower house, one with cheaper services. I do enjoy reading fiction but as I turned the pages there was a nagging feeling in my head that I should probably be reading HBR or books on agile teams. Sigh.

Adulting starts next week. I am half excited and half anxious about how work will turn out. Not just the nature of work, but all the new social networks that I will have to form. The new hierarchy, the office politics, and the fact that I can’t drink but there’s apparently a drinking culture in the company. As D says, “maybe you will discover a new you” HAHAH I will try to. One good thing about being an adult is that some of my friends are getting married, and I get to go for wedding dinners and see their lives play out. I hope everything turns out well and no one is too stressed about floral arrangements and tuxedos.

I wanted to write about some of the feelings the past two days, partly inspired by all the pelvic region pains that I am experiencing right now. Not sure if I said it here, but if I could choose my gender at birth, I would be male. Not just because of period cramps, but the whole ‘body image’ struggle before childbirth, all the pressures of juggling work and family and also being a nurturing but also corporate-profits leader. There is a quote that says that joy comes from the mastery of pain, and why not write about emotional struggles too? I am very keen on recording my struggles.

On self-esteem: I am not entirely sure why I have low self-esteem, or even if what I have is low self-esteem. I think a part of it comes from my childhood, but another part of it comes from the natural tendency for me to achieve things- I need success after success to feel satisfied with myself. I can’t sit around and feel like someone worthy of breathing the somewhat polluted air in Singapore. I agree that all jobs are important, like police officers and paramedics and painters and cirque de soleil contortionists. But I can’t do such jobs, not just because I have no talent or interest, but because I need to have a visible, monetary impact for my work to feel like I matter. I am scared that I am not good enough for consulting and have to work in a job that I don’t like, a job which doesn’t have constantly changing project teams and clients. Like being a receptionist. It is a good and honest job, but I never liked doing recept duties. Transferring calls and receiving parcels etc. I am not sure if I can excel in this industry, neither am I sure if any of my life lessons learned so far can prepare me for the adult world of bills and politics.

Nothing too long imagined can be perfect in a worldly way.

-Anais Nin

On introspection: When I spend too much time with my journal and not doing anything else- not reading, not listening to podcasts, not watching The School of Life videos, not working out, not going out with friends, not learning about HR, just being quiet with my zig 0.3 pens and my moleskines- I can feel my mind turning inwards and chewing on itself. All the undiscussed thoughts start to float up and I write about them, I reason out why things might have happened, and how can I make it better. But it gets tiring after a while because without new experiences, the thoughts start to sound old and bored, and the mind is stifled. It is partly about money- money can’t buy you clarity of thought, but it can buy you new experiences. And better tasting chicken wings.

Introspection is a devouring monster. You have to feed it with much material, much experience, many people, many places, many loves, many creations, and then it ceases feeding on you.

-Anais Nin

Some of my fears

  • The fear that nothing I do will matter in the end. Isn’t this life’s eternal question? That we are called as humans to create, to find our own set of rules and meaning for our lives.
  • The fear of public failure- rejection by a group, put on probation for work, getting fired, losing a corporate identity, a messy divorce. We can’t foresee what the future might bring but when it is a public failure it is a double whammy, because in the past your mind could say “people don’t see you in that way”, but now “ok they definitely know that you are lousy balls”.
  • The fear of trying and then not being good enough. (Hello, blog.)
  • The fear of speaking but no one is listening. This could literally, be that no one is listening to you. But it could also be in a relationship- words are just bouncing off the walls.
  • The fear of being socially awkward.
  • The fear of being single/poor/ugly/without social support/disabled.
  • The fear of bringing up a child improperly
  • The fear of my character stagnating- that I will not be kinder, more caring, more authentic in future (being brutally honest is not the same as being authentic. I am learning to hold back more, because sometimes illusions are for the sake of peace.)
  • The fear of remaining negative and tied to my past- a mindset shift takes a long time. I am working on it!
  • The final fear, above all- that I am not strong enough to cope with things to come in the future. It is a very latent fear because I can see all my appointments for the next week, and already I am not sure if I want to attend the one on Friday.

Anxiety is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you very far.

-Jodi Picoult

I know that I am responsible for all my actions and attitudes. I also know that I have the courage to dissect the parts of my life and work on each individual part, and I won’t feel like being bad at A also means that I am terrible at B. This is why I am not sure if it is a self-esteem issue, because self-esteem issues seem to manifest as “I am a bad person”, and not “sometimes I suck at this.” Do I consider myself a valuable person? Valuable, in comparison to what? I can imagine some people living without benchmarks at all, that they can just be, without caring about what possibly is a good or bad result. It is freeing but also so unanchored. How will one know if she has improved, other than a vague feel? Or perhaps I grew up in Singapore where the education system always has a grade tied to it. There are even grades for art and physical education, as well as moral education. Initiating and maintaining relationships is something that I am working on, which makes me feel better about being a human being, but each relationship differs in its intensity and length and needs- there is no one good rubric for what passes as friendship. But I am quite encouraged by the comments that my new friends have made so far. Not many can tell that I am socially awkward haha.

When this day is over and you look at how little you have accomplished- do not be too bothered.

It just means you get to do it again.

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There is a word in the English language that I am encouraged by, but also slightly scared of. It is “starting.” It can mean just starting, or adding two more words behind it, “starting over again.” Because I don’t like to lose control over things, but I know that I need new experiences in my life to not stagnate. New friends, new places, beginning again, another lap in the pool, giving a parent a form to fill up because there’s a new kid at toddler’s church, and the kid is just staring at me with huge eyes and slightly lopsided ears. It sounds interesting but before every major change I’m usually moody and silent, because I prefer to be alone and starting again means that I have to push myself to talk to people and to say hi and smile without looking like I am baring my teeth at my prey. *Grrr.* Most of the time things turn out well, sometimes the end result leaves a lot to be desired but at least I can say that I was there, I tried.

A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days.

-Annie Dillard

I don’t want to be pure reaction. My physical body and emotions just reacting to whatever stimulus there is at the moment- food, external scoldings, kids yelling in my ear “LOOK AT MY FINGERNAILS”, my internal fears triggered by too much coffee or a thunderstorm. I don’t want to alienate other people (especially newcomers to groups) just because I am having a bad day, or because I am uncomfortable with their different personalities. I am still trying to learn to control myself and contribute in a positive manner, and not just maintain a stoic and neutral expression (because RBF too strong).

Also- love this video.

She can get a bit rambly at times but this is the most honest video on youtube that I have seen in this year, about discovering oneself. I love the fact that she doesn’t define herself as this or that, neither does she feel the need to put out videos of her passion (music) and instead just dabbles in things like photography and being a barista. She doesn’t explain a lot of what she does and she doesn’t hide her feelings.

Some of my feelings:

  • Calm
  • In my air-conditioned room but restless
  • Absorbed in a book (The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Murakami has this zen feel.)
  • Irritated, usually by my parents gossiping about church. It happens on a daily basis and right now it is about how A took B out of a church group because B did not turn up for his duties and my mom is absolutely involved in it, even though it does not concern her and she is not offering to help in any way. She resigned from the group already, someone should remove her from the chat.
  • Hoping to blend in at work
  • Anxious
  • Hot and bothered, usually when running. If I could I would run naked, sometimes the shorts chafe against my skin.
  • Church, safe place
  • Church, unsafe place
  • Anxious, usually in crowds.
  • Eating peacefully with no one bothering me at the dinner table
  • Impatient, usually with queues.
  • Chicken wings (yes it is a feeling haha. Of contentment?)