Emotional honesty 

Typing this as I wait for my boss to reach the office. I’m on a different level today, because she wants a whole day blocked off to do a proposal. I left work at around 9+ yesterday, reached home, had a late dinner, went to sleep right after I bathed. I think for next few weeks I’ll function on survival mode because there are so many things that I should have done (should have applied for the warranty on my desktop monitor, should have read books that were recommended to me in May, practiced more meditation, bought a kindle etc) and every day after work I’m just like “ok let’s read a book or go swimming AND THEN I CAN SLEEP.” And the weekends are taken up by church and errands and meeting friends for brunch. I am going to be more intentional about how I manage my time after work, because I have been really unproductive (read: sleepy, tired, on medication, stomach pains, prioritizing friends over sleep sometimes) and I need to get my act together or I will not be able to achieve my four year plans lol.

It has been exactly seven weeks with my new company. It is my first job, and I am still not completely adjusted to the work flow yet, simply because each project is different and I don’t think the learning ever stops when you’re working on different industries and different skill sets are needed each time. Also, the client is always changing, which means that sometimes you have great clients who are really good with communication, and sometimes you get the spawn of satan who calls you at 3am to ask for something. And sometimes you have to prod the client to talk because they are so reserved. It is exciting because I like novelty, I like making human connections (especially because the people I’ve met so far are all such nice and genuine people) and I like the fast pace of things. But it is also terrible when you want to meet friends but your boss is like “sorry the client brought the deadline forward, can I have it ASAP”. Work life integration is a practice that I am not very good at.

Yesterday we had a women’s event during lunch, my director invited her to talk on value and worth as a female in the workplace, how do we find ourselves and how do we not lose ourselves as we get older and grow up. She was a principal consultant with a big 4, worked in investment banking and finally she is now a resident artist with the tedx space in Singapore. She spoke about how she got to where she was now while being sick (adrenal glands, brush with cancer etc) and through terrible things- rape etc. I felt that she was tackling something that was very relevant to me- how I look at my to-do list (which always gets longer), and how I think that if there is a rational need to do something, then it should lead to rational action. But I don’t know how to prioritize that ‘need’ above other needs, I don’t know if what society says that I need (money, relationship, a nice body, a place to live) is really what I would like to have. And so while I am functioning like a normal human being, and being quite happy about work especially because of the excitement with every project (and the real human impact especially for manpower planning), I don’t quite feel like I am expressing 100% of what I would like to do with my life. But I suppose it will come later, as long as I am patient. And also because I am not too sure of what I want either.  

During the event we were invited to write down what we valued on a piece of paper that was provided to us. I wrote down

1. Emotional honesty- expressing how I feel about a person or an event accurately, without feeling that I have to hide anything or be afraid that how I feel is not what society expects. I struggle with this at work because you have to have this professional veneer, you can’t use complete honesty with clients and especially not with your bosses. There was a thread on the company forum that said, “how do you live (leave) a relationship”, and one of the four choices were “fundamental dishonesty”. To which many people agreed. But I just felt that it was a really sad way to live (partly because I have no relationship experience). If I can’t be honest with a person about everything, and if the person can’t take it like an adult and accept that it is genuinely how I feel, then why am I even in that relationship. This includes friendship. And I am aware that I have really kind and good friends, whom I value highly. What are people dishonest about, and how is it possible to live like that on a daily basis without feeling that nagging cognitive dissonance. That feeling that you are looking at yourself in the mirror and you have no idea what you are actually seeing. Who are you looking at? I am reminded that the most difficult thing, or one of the most difficult things to do in this world is to ‘know thyself’.

2. Adaptability

3. Openness to new experiences

As my top 3 values. And I realized that I also valued

1. Genuine human connections– similar to emotional honesty, because that is how I connect.

2. Making an impact on society and the planet- especially on the vulnerable, not necessarily people I can identify with. It doesn’t need to be someone from my race or nationality, I see all humans as equal as long as we have emotions and movement and family. As long as we understand what life means to us, and we acknowledge that other people are here on earth. As long as we find joy in small things and are conscious of our suffering, we will be human.

3. Accountability to oneself.

I feel that 2 and 3 have a bit of an overlap. To me, I might be open to trying out new experiences which can be uncomfortable at first but really fun overall. And there’s no commitment to things, it is just new experiences all the time. New friends, new places, new jobs, new hobbies, whenever you feel uncomfortable or you are bored you can just give up. But experiences can be valuable if you stick to it, and remind yourself that you are changing as a result of that phase in life. Adapting to that new experience is something that I constantly struggle with. With people, with my actions, with how I see things and how I feel about the experience. It’s like I am constantly psyching myself to not withdraw into a ball because that’s my default- I like to sleep under the blankets in my room when I am stressed out, or sit alone by the windowsill looking out at the cars and the trees and at what my neighbors are doing at home.

No one put ‘money’ as their top three values- I think money is more a function? It is something practical that you need to have, but you don’t need to have too much of it to feel that you have in sync with your heartfelt values. For me, I don’t expect to save much money in the next two years- I save maybe 50% of my salary (including what I give to my parents), everything else is spent on medical bills and food. And I am thinking of delaying a few trips to the therapist because it is so expensive. Literally, four trips to the doctor can send me to Phuket for 5 days, including flights and accommodation and medical insurance. But if I look at my values, knowing that I have to adapt to whatever I am experiencing now, and that I am accountable to myself for my health in the long-run, – perhaps I should allow myself to just expect less in terms of monetary achievement for these two years. Work and salary will only increase, but I doubt my mental health can get much better without medication.

Ok now I am drinking coffee really fast because I have to shake myself awake before my director comes. Kopi Siu Dai is my friend for this year.