On the MBTI and humans

INTJ weaknesses: arrogance, unemotional (or unable to process emotions well), judgmental, overly-analytical, loathe highly structured environments.

And on top of those: not meticulous, bad with social skills, dislikes crowded environments, eats too much, works out too little, overall an awkward turtle with an ultra-fast growing fringe.

Spending some time in bed thinking about how idealistic I was in the past. When I was younger I had a lot of ideals about how and what the world should be like. How to structure the teaching of religions, profit and non-profit organizations, how to teach skill sets, how to improve operations and become more profitable. I figured that people who couldn’t see the most effective methods were dumb and they were getting in the way of progress. Being idealistic meant that I could not be happy with the way things are but I also did not have enough energy or power to change things on my own. I felt that humans were a weakness of mine because I did not want to understand them but knew that I had to, in order to function in adult society. So a way to work on that was to study HR (and now I want to study counselling and the art of guidance).

It wasn’t until year two of university when I went on my first official HR internship that I realised that humans were a part of the ‘life’ equation. They aren’t this tangled ball of string or problem to be solved, although there is change management involved if you want to create lasting change in companies. The way humans act, how they process information, their flaws, their inconsequential rudeness and looking out for themselves-ness, just doing the bare minimum, or overdoing things and then burning out, everything messy and difficult to predict, with a large helping of emotions, is the motivating reason why the world even functions today. Because humans have desires and fears and that is how companies and schools and religious structures exist. Humans created them. The creations and the makers both aren’t perfect, but they are what we have to work with. We are not robots, we make mistakes. And learning to live and work with those mistakes are what creates progress.

They want to understand how systems work, and how events proceed: the INTJ often has a unique ability to foresee logical outcomes. They enjoy applying themselves to a project or idea in depth, and putting in concentrated effort to achieve their goals.

The thing is- you can build perfect systems the way you can build a perfectly square house, with beautiful tiles and nice cement floors and paintings on the walls. It can be a work of art. But for it to benefit humanity, for the work of art to have any practical use, it has to be appreciated and used by human beings. In other words, for newly-improved systems to work, people have to use them, and that means that you have to first work with humans to understand them. Only then will they accept you not just as a HR practitioner wanting to change things, or as a picky customer who is ranting about service standards, but as someone who is a part of their lives, someone who can relate to what they go through daily. It took me a year to learn that- the hectic startup life to the uber slow government life. And then now, in between, still learning.

I think I enjoy sincere and meaningful conversations, but leadership in times of hardship and sacrifice for my colleagues, I still need to learn those. But at least I am waving to people and initiating his and byes, because some people like those. I can’t grow without new experiences and new experiences often involve humans. Learning to fight fairly and cleanly, learning to interact and care even when the person reminds me of a soggy and boring piece of lumpy toast. Yeah.

A review of July :)

Going to do a brain dump of the things I am grateful for, and the things I am still struggling with right now. This also counts as a review of July. July and I think February are the two turning points in my year so far- February because I returned to church, July because I started work and the first month at work sets the tone for how engaged you are and how other people see you.

Work

Lots of learning. From the formatting, to the admin management, to the research, to the client presentations, here and there. I have a fear of public speaking still but it has gotten better. I think if you have to do a different presentation every day, then you stop wanting to prepare and learn to just go with the flow. I find my attention slipping during long meetings, partly because I haven’t been drinking my usual coffees.

And there is this spirit of volunteering in my team (a lot of them have a HR background, lol), so we are doing this pro bono consulting project, plus I’m going to help out in the rec club planning for the upcoming department trip. Work-life integration, no longer a demarcation when work is work and everything that is enjoyable belongs outside of work. Sometimes I still wonder what would have happened if I had applied to a different consulting firm, or maybe even internal HR. But all these thoughts are parallel lives, and I am happy with the life I have now. I am still learning to not look at the successful lives of other people and take their path as my own, after all, life is how I respond to my own set of circumstances.

Health

Mental health was bad this week. I sat for one hour on I think Wednesday and Thursday morning, just feeling my chest pains- like golf balls stuck between my heart and my ribcage- the pressure makes it hard to breathe. But otherwise, everything was normal. Six months ago I wanted people to like me but I didn’t like people, now I like most people (or at least, can form a meaningful connection to them) and don’t need them to like me.

Physical health also bad, two weeks ago I needed to change my TCM medication because of stomach pains. But I can swim for longer now, although I still get irritated when people just stand at the ends of the pool because I can’t go all the way.

Church

Tiring. Because DG takes place on a Friday night, when I really don’t want to be doing anything else other than sleep. I sort of meander slowly to the place like an untrained sloth, and sit in a corner with the dinner that someone else buys (dinner service is much appreciated), and then realise how fast the week has passed and I should really pay attention to what the bible study leader is saying. The leaders change every week so sometimes my attention wanders off. At least I got the main point yesterday, which is that it is not just acts and words of obedience, one has to really search her heart.

Relationships

Lots of friends, I like. I have been spending a lot of money eating out with people ): Daily cut is fabulous, although expensive. Adding in Starbucks it’s like…well. I see it as settling in for the first few months. Reason because I don’t know what I like to eat, plus in the past few years I always had to watch my diet because of food allergies. So now I am just allowing my poor soul to roam free for a while. So far I’ve tried to reach out to different people for lunch (within reasonable limits, it’s people I’ve to work with or just those who talk to me first, I don’t randomly talk to colleagues). Which means that lunch is usually interesting! It usually ends up being 1.5 hr lunches haha. Everyone at work is really nice so far, which is great.

Hobbies

Working out: I have slightly more toned arms, and a very bad tan line.

Writing: Kind of non-existent now. I maybe journal once a week, but it is such an unstructured activity. Sigh.

Reading: Thanks to K for giving me all the new books. I missed Marya Hornbacher, I remember I used to love her writing (Wasted: A memoir of anorexia and bulimia) and Portia deRossi’s writing too. I have been trying to read on the train rides but when I was reading the line in The Centre of Winter by Hornbacher, there was something about how you can sit in a room and be completely yourself, yet fail utterly in the eyes of someone you love. Her writing revolves around this family, the dad struggled with mental illness, didn’t go to work, the mom worked and the son was staying in a mental hospital. The dad finally shot himself one night and everything sort of went to pieces overnight. I was sniffling on the train, bad idea.

Painting: No time ):

Prayer requests

  • That my anxiety will ease up. I would rather have physical pains for two days than low-grade anxiety for five days, even though the pains are literally, it feels like an impending heart attack. That plus TCM stomach pains means that it is difficult for me to concentrate on my work. However, the fact that I am a work-life integrator and not a work-life balancer in the past (the willingness to do work at home and to have hobbies and a social life on weekdays and basically see my career as an expression of my strengths and interests in life) means that it is easier for me to manage. Maybe not my workload, but the feeling of going to work. I like going to work, especially now that I have a huge desktop monitor
  • That we will be able to find a partner (only partners can book larger rooms) who will be able to provide the small group with a room during meet ups. I really like that bunch of people, they are kind and I don’t think standing at the carpark is very comfortable for the guys because they are dressed in long-sleeved shirts, and for me I usually wear sleeveless dresses to work so I’m fine.
  • That my trips in September will go fine- Indonesia, Thailand, and St John’s again. My application to be a three day server at the Vipassana meditation course was accepted. I am looking forward to food preparation and quiet meditation. I will bring a lot of mosquito repellent this time. If I am not wrong, I am serving in the first half of the retreat. Chances are people will be teary and they will want to drop out haha. For the first two countries, please let us be safe.
  • That the toddlers at the 9am class will settle in. The 9am class is so crowded that sometimes when kids (about 1.5-2 years old), they are a bit confused and when they sit down, they can end up sitting on another kid’s foot. Or fall over an unsuspecting parent/helper. And then sometimes they go nuts and start chasing each other around the room like mini-satellites, and I’m just like “what?” They have unlimited reserves of energy. The craft last week was really difficult too, it involved pasting paper characters and two magnets on a long string and I had three kids to myself. Two got bored and wandered off when I was helping the first one.
  • That the air-conditioning at work will get better, because I am so cold that I use two jackets and one shawl to keep myself warm and sometimes even that fails.
  • Cute people in the office, all taken. All. I feel like I am the only single one in my batch.

Love is patient, love is kind. 

(Disclaimer: All my posts have been rambles, this one is no exception. It is midnight now, and I have been not been sleeping too well. Hopefully I will be able to finish this within half an hour. Before waking up for work in seven hours.)

I was trying to fall asleep but the key word being ‘trying’ to. I was just lying there, thinking about the books I read today. The nth time of deathly hallows, Joseph Heller’s ‘god knows’ that has been sitting in my storeroom since I was 15, and a Chinese book published by a weibo author. I was thinking about the lunches I had this week. On Monday, I met with a fellow associate who joined six months earlier, to eat the nasi lemak burger. It is really good by the way, the chicken patty is delicious and I love the sauce. On Tuesday, I met with a senior from my unit, we had subway. I could relate to how she can’t sleep during the week but crashes on the weekends, and how she works on government projects and has to follow all sorts of compliance rules. Today, I went out with my new friends from a different department, we all joined three weeks ago so everyone was still getting to know each other and asking simple questions to start the conversation ball rolling. Beef pepper rice bowl was good! Tomorrow, I have lunch with people I sat with on the very first day of work, then pork ribs with tonkatsu and on Friday I have anopheles and DG! Shaping up to be a good week.

I love meeting ENFPs and ENFJs because I always get along very well with both groups, but not everyone fall into those categories. But sometimes, I really just can’t talk to a stranger. You know in the initial conversation, by the sort of questions a person asks and how fast he talks or his body language, it is usually possible to get a sense of what kind of personality he has, what his priorities in life are. Occasionally I will wonder about why is his opinion so confined and unaccepting, why does he not see that he has an unpleasant personality, and can he stop whatsapp-ing me because I have to keep archiving his chat. Or when the person says A and I am eating my sandwich and I say B and the topic moves on to C as if none of us mentioned A or B. Or when I do something unintentionally to him or he does something unintentionally to me, that little bit of annoyance and whatever happened to love is patient, love is kind? Is there any value or joy in those unremembered moments, when the relationship isn’t progressing fantastically?

I want to talk about the people whom we meet for the first time, or the friends whom we have been around for a long time, and conversation for some reason, on that day or that morning, does not flow well, idiosyncrasies are really glaring and everyone is just not blending in together. It rarely happens in groups but sometimes I just meet one or two people that I cannot click with. And I realised in that past three weeks that people are no longer one of my KPIs. If I go out to lunch with them, it is because I want to. It is because I genuinely enjoy being around people for lunch, it is not because I have to report to my boss about their job satisfaction levels. One of the key reasons why I didn’t want to do internal HR is because it would mean that I would be separated from all my colleagues, because I am privy to policies that can change the nature of their work. 

It is the ability to love someone else that I’m honing. A capability. Of loving a stranger, or a friend who has changed from his or her original personality. I am not perfect, sometimes I say weird things and I interact in weird ways, and sometimes I overthink things. The feeling that every human being is worthy of respect and should be treated with love and kindness was foreign to me. I only realised it this month when I started intentionally interacting with people, trying to get to know them, and to see them as they see themselves, and more. I finally understand a little bit of what it means to love the unloveable, the people whom we would not naturally gravitate to, and not just see them as an interesting specimen that I can analyse and then write about.

Learning to love might take a lifetime, I am just scratching the surface with many of my colleagues, I see their flaws and their hobbies and what they enjoy talking about, I see their smiles and sometimes their insecurities when they talk about their job search. I can let go of things much more easily now, in the past I used to not remember grudges because I couldn’t be bothered to, now I see  that such things are unimportant. Truly unimportant. There are many parts of love that I have no idea how to describe. I still don’t know how to commit to someone else. But perhaps I have it in me to love others.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8  (NIV)

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

My work is proceeding smoothly, I understand a lot more of what we deliver to clients now. My relationships are proceeding smoothly, I say hi to almost everyone, although there are definitely pockets of time when I don’t know what to do and feel snubbed by people, or snub people accidentally. It’s all in my head, literally. I can see that others are struggling too. And I thank God for my hr research experience, which is really useful when reading a tonne of materials online. And for my current company allowing me to practice the growth mindset, trying out so many new things this year. Especially for my food allergies and rashes having recovered just before I started work. This week is a week of just one symptom, a highly upset stomach. Not a single hive has appeared. But the stomach was highly upset.

Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays.

-Soren Kierkegaard

Some thoughts on Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

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It is impossible to not cry towards the end of the book. When I finally realised how much Oskar’s mom and grandmother loved him, how Oskar was carrying this huge burden on himself (not picking up the phone when his dad called on 9/11), how the grandmother loved the grandfather but he chose to leave, how the grandfather couldn’t speak, how he kept remembering the past and the woman he loved, how, if only, we could make each other’s burdens lighter.

I wrote, “they are letters to my son. I wasn’t able to send them to him while he was alive. Now he’s dead. I don’t speak, I am sorry.” The guard looked at the other guard and they shared a smile. I don’t mind if smiles come at my expense, I’m a small price to pay, they let me through, not because they believed me but because they didn’t want to try to understand me (…)”

And on the legacies we leave behind when we die. The weight of unfulfilled expectations. This quote is about how a father had died and he wrote letters to all the people he could before his death. But to his own son, he wrote a business-like letter. His son went around asking to look at all the letters of others. Some refused to show them to him, others complied. And through all the letters, he got to know his father better.

Some of his letters were funny. I mean, really, really funny. I didn’t know he could be so funny. And some were philosophical. He wrote about how happy he was, and how sad he was, and all the things he wanted to do but never did, and all the things he did but didn’t want to do.

When I understood Oskar, and what he was going through, from his point of view.

Mom was still on the sofa. She wasn’t reading, or listening to music, or doing anything.

She said, “You’re awake.”

I started crying.

She opened her arms and said, “What is it?”

I ran to her and said, “I don’t want to be hospitalized.”

She pulled me into her so my head was against the soft part of her shoulder, and she squeezed me. “You’re not going to be hospitalized.”

I told her, “I promise I’m going to be better soon.”

She said, “There’s nothing wrong with you.”

“I’ll be happy and normal.”

She put her fingers around the back of my neck.

I told her, “I tried incredibly hard. I don’t know how I could have tried harder.”

She said, “Dad would have been very proud of you.”

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And war. It was a recording that Oskar played for his class. He was bullied in school.

TOMOYASU: I apologized to her. I told her, “I came as fast as I could.”

It was just the two of us. I didn’t know what to do. I was not a nurse. There were maggots in her wounds and a sticky yellow liquid. I tried to clean her up. But her skin was peeling off. The maggots were coming out all over. I couldn’t wipe them off, or I would wipe off her skin and muscle. I had to pick them out. She asked me what I was doing. I told her, “Oh, Masako. It’s nothing.” She nodded. Nine hours later, she died.

INTERVIEWER: You were holding her in your arms all that time?

TOMOYASU: Yes, I held her in my arms. She said, “I don’t want to die.” I told her, “You’re not going to die.” She said, “I promise I won’t die before we get home.” But she was in pain and she kept crying, “Mother.”

INTERVIEWER: It must be hard to talk about these things.

TOMOYASU: When I heard that your organization was recording testimonies, I knew I had to come. She died in my arms, saying “I don’t want to die.” That’s what death is like. It doesn’t matter what uniforms the soldiers are wearing. It doesn’t matter how good the weapons are. I thought if everyone could see what I saw, we would never have war anymore.

Death is the final stage that we all pass through. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, ugly or beautiful, well-educated or not. It doesn’t matter how old you are or what are your fears, how unfinished or fulfilled you felt before that second arrived. It just comes, and we cannot control it. Death and suffering means incredible vulnerability. We have no idea what will happen next, and we can’t predict anything. The more we try to hold on, the more difficult it is for us to be at ease. And yet what has thinking and controlling ever brought me, but the delaying of happiness?

During the sermon earlier, Pastor E. was talking about death. He spoke about how we should not turn away from the word that gave us our being. How we are bereft of the knowledge of God and the knowledge of being a true human being, because we are self-reliant and weak at resisting temptation. Not humans as we know ourselves now, people preoccupied with power and money and worries, but humans in the sense of Christ- his compassion, his grace, his beauty. How he was brought to be a little lower than angels, and how he trusted God in all his sufferings. And then the crowning with glory and honour, while calling us brothers and sisters in Christ.

I’d have said nothing backward.

He’d had said ‘Yeah, buddy?’ backward.

I’d have said “Dad?” backward, which would have sounded the same as “Dad” forward.

He would have told me the story of the Sixth Borough, from the voice in the can at the end to the beginning, from “I love you” to “Once upon a time…”

We would have been safe.

Book of Hebrews and prayer requests

A long time ago, I wanted to do a ‘Why I decided to return to church’ post but I decided that that was only intellectual knowledge and experientially, I was not a Christian yet. Even now, I don’t think I am ready to make that post. It wasn’t until this evening when my DG was studying the book of Hebrews, that R made a point that really resonated with me. The point is this: we can use all the philosophical arguments and scientific arguments to say that there is no God, and also that there is a God, and use external verification (not from the Bible) to prove that the Bible is indeed the word of God. But all of this reasoning will not bring a man to faith. It will not increase his willingness to follow Christ, for since the beginning of the Old Testament there have been humans who hardened their hearts and refused to listen, and it will be so until the end of time.

Intellectual reasoning and the dissecting of arguments about why the Bible is true does not make a complete case for why God is important in our lives. Faith is only something that can be experienced through a combination of reading the Bible, fellowshipping with other believers, being tested in our daily lives, serving in church, and allowing our minds to be reshaped by the new words in our lives. Faith in the word of God is something that takes time to cultivate, otherwise it is just untested emotions based on unsound beliefs, because no one can comprehend the whole Bible (old, new, connections between the two etc) in a single day. Or week. Basic tenets yes, but the deeper ones like how the old prophecies were fulfilled, the meaning of individual words, how God is changing lives daily (experienced through testimonies in church), that takes at least months. Which is why I find it very difficult to explain to people who ask ‘why can’t you date a non-christian’ or ‘why do you go to church’ or even ‘don’t you have better things to do in life’, because all of that stems from my experience in church. Which all stems from a belief that God exists, and more importantly, I am worshipping the right one, and my actions are pleasing to Him because I am reading the right books and it’s not just gobbledygook.

July marks the beginning of my 6th month in church, and the second journey I am taking with a church. The first was FCBC, with my friends from JC, but that was basically for fun and I don’t think I really changed much. This year, I committed myself to a four-year long journey with God, with the right people. The sermons in ARPC are known to be solid, plus my DG has a lot of scarily smart people with a strong faith. I told myself that I am not allowed to stray from that path. It was honestly a punitive mindset because I started out with a “you better get this right, or leave the church forever if you can’t figure out your faith within four years”, but now I think I finally understand what it means to live under a God who is love, grace, compassion, faithfulness, a God who is willing to sacrifice his son (Christ) to die for those who are sinners. It is a mind-blowing concept because there’s nothing like this in the secular world, or in other religions (although I still maintain that Buddhism is a very useful way to live a life by), only in Christianity is there a non-punitive idea of salvation not by good works, but by faith.

One thing that can only be found within a church community (or any small group of Christians) is the fellowship- the trust that we all need God and that we are all on the same long journey towards being better Christians. It is what I really appreciate in my church, because we do a lot of outreach missions, not just overseas but also within Singapore. To those that the world thinks less of- the sick, the poor, the imprisoned, those who live on the margins. Our efforts may not be perfect, but if there is one message that is sent, even if none of them turn to God, I hope it is that they know they are still loved and not forgotten.

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.

-Deuteronomy 31:6

As Christians, we don’t look at other people with the same lenses that the world uses. You are not worth more than others because you have more abilities or earn more money; you are not less sinful because you don’t visit brothels, we are honestly all the same. None of us should be made to feel small and worthless just because we are not as eye-catching or as bold as others. None of us should be made to feel that we shouldn’t be here, or that we will never be good enough. Because we were not made to live like this, our self-esteems fluctuating depending on what happens during the day. The biggest sin is to live as though there is no God in our lives, to be self-reliant, self-criticising, self-approving, to hold all our anxieties within us and not commit our fears and worries and troubles up to him.

The book of Hebrews is connected to Thessalonians (during camp) in that it reminds us to admonish those who have strayed, and to encourage those who are faint-hearted. And to help the weak.

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”

-Hebrews 12:3-6 (read as: Hebrews chapter 12, verses 3 to 6)

During DG we will have a small prayer session after the bible study. During the prayer session we will each share about our troubles, group size can vary from 3 to 8 depending on who is on call, and I thought I would just list them here so I will remember what I am supposed to remember- it gets a bit fuzzy after a while.

Dear Lord I would like to pray for these people:

A, that her mother-in-law will be supported by her family members and live out the remaining few years of her life with dignity and peace, even as she suffers from dementia, and that all of A’s family members will be able to get through this period of their lives with faith and love and patience for one another.

Y, that as she starts her new job on Monday that she will be courageous as the most senior doctor on call, and not be intimidated by her consultant (grr, stop being unfair towards subordinates!), that no matter what happens she will remember to look towards you and your words, and that even in her most fearful and anxious and lack-of-sleep periods, she will have at least a tiny silver of peace in her heart.

A, that as she is still finding her way around as a fresh lawyer, that she will be able to find a company that really suits her, even as she overcomes this current obstacle of not knowing what to do next, and that she will always have the support that she needs to get past her anxieties in this period.

And in general-

Of those in the DG and in the church and in the world, people who are living by your word, and especially those who are not, that they will have the peace and comfort that they need when they are facing new beginnings. Beginnings are honestly scary- I am really scared of next week- please show those who are lost, a path, so that they will not live in negativity or be stuck in the doldrums. And those with a path, please send them the support they need to be encouraged, so that they will not stray from that path.

Of good health, especially to the underprivileged and the young, both mental and physical good health.

Of courage, the ability to meet our weaknesses and fears in the darkness when it is just us and them. To confront truths about our lives and how we are fearful to move on, or unwilling to, because we don’t know what lies ahead.

Of love, that we can love one another even in our angriest moments. I constantly struggle between not helping my mother and helping her, but then knowing that I am only helping her hold on to power and more gossip in her church commitments. Case in point: helping her do the roster this afternoon, oh boy I was ANGRY. I know that she volunteers for things she cannot do because she thinks we can do them, and excel spreadsheets are really not her forte. It has been that way for the past few years, and she still can’t kick her power/gossip habits. I really wish she would fulfil the promises that she made in January about resigning from all those committees by April but nope, gossip mode still on.

Of finances, that no one has to degrade themselves or lose their integrity just to survive and to feed their families. Especially those who are living on the margins and about to make that decision to cross that borderline, to have an alternative source of income, which reduces their integrity as a whole human being and how they see themselves as humans.

Of sufferings bravely suffered, let us bend but not break under pressure.

Of strong relationships– to build them up, to maintain them when life gets tough.

To mend the church;

The world;

And our hearts.

And humility, patience, tolerance, and faith to those who follow your word.

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?)

 

Reviewing: May and June

Hi I think I forgot to do a review of May lol. But fear not, I have a calendar with a lot of coloured boxes so I know that my life was not a blackhole in May. I shall separate what I did into categories so I will not feel like a complete mess.

Work

  • I am scared.
  • However, I got new makeup.

School

  • Settled degree related things. I returned all my business knowledge to the profs already.

Family

  • Mom theoretically let go of some of her commitments, but somehow, I still don’t see her at home.
  • I put in more effort to see my grandma during these two months because I finally have time. Bought her egg tarts from some HK bakery.

Friends

  • Travelled overseas twice with different people. Wish I could have gone to Australia to see Panda-king, but I need a break. I only have five days left to myself, including today.
  • Made lots of friends aged 18 months to 3 years old HAHAHAHA. *pat pat*. Sometimes they really ignore you and start playing with the toys at the back of the room when they are supposed to be listening to the teacher, that’s when I go and tell them “Okay just take one ball with you…no, one ball only! You have to participaaaaaate!” *carries them over*
  • Caught up with old friends from school and internships. I prefer Burmese food over Western food 😊 Korean is good, if there is cheese involved. I don’t really appreciate movies unless there is popcorn involved, but then I’ll get scolded for eating it all before the movie starts.
  • Got to know more DG people. I agree with what A said though- she wants to find a DG that is transitioning into adulthood, just like us. Maybe at the most with 2 or 3 years of working experience. With my current DG, they are all seasoned working adults who have been in the industry for at least 6-7 years, some with multiple degrees. They can be a little more jaded and less…bushy-tailed and bright-eyed?

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Creative endeavours

  • Journaling, some water-colouring involved. I prefer markers and black pen drawings because those are easier to control. For watercolours, I haven’t gotten used to controlling the amount of water yet. Plus because I’m practicing on moleskine paper (although I did get a pad of mixed media paper), everything just buckles and turns out uneven.
  • Discovered Amy Tan, love her writing.
  • Returned to reading Jack Kerouac but I don’t like his style anymore.
  • Started on David Wallace but hmm.
  • Uploaded less posts? I feel like I ramble less now because I don’t have time to sit down and ramble.
  • Decorated my room- dad repainted the walls. I wanted light grey with a hint of pinkish undertones. For some reason, even though my dad used a priming base, it turned out to be light blue. I’m going to use fabric paint for the curtain over my door. Also, getting some flowers etc when the walls are completely done.

Health

  • Survived a meditation retreat for 12 days.
  • The chicken wings at ECP are nice, but not as good as the tze char ones in KL. Both were 45-minute waits lol. I didn’t update much on what I did during church camp but there was a lot of food involved (not hotel food), and not a lot of side effects from all the hokkien mee and prawn noodles 🙂 I didn’t mind eating because my DG has a lot of doctors so the odds of me dying are lower.

Speaking of doctors, I was in a car with three doctors yesterday because we arranged to cycle at ECP. I mentioned that I wanted to get a motorcycle license because I don’t like being in a confined space (car or cupboards etc) alone, and they immediately said “no that’s a bad idea!! We see a lot of RTAs!!” “What’s RTA?”Road traffic accidents.” “Ohhh.” “Do your parents know about this?” “I wasn’t going to tell them?” “When it rains the roads will be slippery!” “All the bikers I know have been in accidents.” They said it with such conviction I was like “ok, ok not getting.” But I still think it’s interesting to bike. Maybe dirt bike LOL.

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  • TCM tapered down again- new medication, my skin hasn’t broken out in rashes for about 1.5 months now. But with regards to my monthly buddy it is still very unstable, the days in between periods for most girls are about 28 days, I can range from 38 to 50 days ): Which means that my hormones are basically all over the place, and it is difficult to track my moods cause it might just be PMS.
  • Eating a lot of kimchi maggi mee without the usual stomaches!!
  • There is a super dark scar on my leg from cupping- the cup is heated and sucks out blood from the small needle holes she makes, which means that if the rim of the cup is placed on a needle mark that too big (not a hole, sometimes it is more of a small scratch because she pokes really fast), it will cause the skin to open, leaving a scar. I covered it with a plaster during church camp but it’s still purplish. I would say that my pain tolerance is quite good, I actually enjoy blood donations and ear piercings. But TCM is a different ball game, especially when the pressure points are around my knees and hip bones. During acupuncture and cupping I’m usually covered in cold sweat.

Words can’t express how grateful I am that I can eat all sorts of good food now with my friends. Hawker centres!!! In the past I used to fear outside food because of all the sauces and spices used. And contamination from the tze char woks, even if I only order vegetables and rice etc. Mentally I feel like I have been freed from a prison, I can share food with people now. And I can eat a lot of popiah without checking for rashes (subtly) on my wrists.

  • Started swimming a lot more. Got rewarded with a tan line and the feeling that I have aged because I am not as flexible anymore.

Side note: In the past year, I got to know two friends who got married at 23, and this morning I discovered a friend of a friend who also got married…this year. At 23. Still mind-blown haha. Maybe because I believe that marriage is for life and I can’t make life decisions at 23 LOL. I can only eat satay and watch people fish at ECP.

I also bought copic markers and random things at Art Friend. I love copic markers, but they are so expensive ): I really like the shades of pink and grey.

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