Uncertainty

S and I have a very different perspective in life, especially when dealing with uncertainty. He adapts as he goes. In actual fact, so do I, but I do a lot of worrying in between.

When I start off with a new project, I’m worried, excited, fascinated, nervous, all wrapped up in one. I wonder what it is like, I worry about screwing up, I motivate myself, etc. He is calm and composed.

He was starting on a new rotation today, so I asked him how he was.

I: How are you feeling? Are you nervous?

S: No, I don’t know what to expect.

I: That’s exactly why I would be nervous.

S: But I don’t even know who I am meeting. 

I: Yup, and still.

S: It’s just the first day.

Man, what a weirdo.

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Being Too Comfortable

A year and a half ago, I knew what I wanted and I was searching for it.

Things didn’t go according to plan, and this became plan B. Then S came along, and plan A became increasingly an ideal plan. Before I knew it, time flew by and the end of 2012 is in my face.

As we await the truth of 21.12.2012, that is whether we all perish or not, I’ve been reminding myself not to get too comfortable with the current situation.

I work in an environment where more than half of my colleagues are anticipating their impending retirement in their positions. We don’t have the best pay but we have really great corporate benefits. I’ve settled down and have a lunch entourage I can always count on to make the days a little better. I always have some people I will IM on a daily basis to make things livelier. I am comfortable with everyone in my department. I have networked reasonably far and wide in this company. Of course there’s always more I can do, I’m not saying I’ve done a perfect job.

But every now and then, especially now, I remind myself to get off my chair, wipe off the dust and evaluate if I’ve been sitting on my ass for too long. A little over a year couldn’t have been too long, but it was never what was planned. And I’ve been talking about wanting the same things for ages. Rereading some information online has made me realize I’ve done it the easy way, found an obstacle and quickly placed it in a KIV (keep in view) corner.

I’ve realized how easy it is to fall into the trap of being too comfortable with what works. I’ve been so comfortable on this chair that when presented with the world as my oyster again, I hesitate. I wonder if it is worth giving up this peace I’ve been having.

And gosh, that was scary. I’m glad I found it every now and then. It, being the conscious effort to get off my chair to take a look around.

I need a different chair. And I need to first get off my ass before I can plonk onto another chair.

And I’m not really talking about chairs.

pride and irony

Interestingly, just as I heard a national day song playing on TV, I was reminded that one year ago on National Day, I had missed the entire parade as I was having a Skype interview in hope that I could do an internship in New York.

One year later, I’m having the same discussion, but for a different country (Deutschland, ja gerne) this time. This has come up again and again and again.

It’s enough of saying I need a change, and the world is my oyster. I know the general change I want, and I’ve the biggest push to date.

I’m sorry I don’t feel rooted here. I don’t feel contented. I don’t feel satisfied and whole. And I’m sorry it took a song (that is supposed to invoke nostalgia and national pride) to remind me that I’ve just done this a year ago. It failed then, but the next time I try (possibly next year, depending on how things pan out), I will be prepared. I will try even harder.

I know it’ll be tough. But damn it, I need to try and make my own mistakes.

I just need time to zoom by a little quicker now, if you don’t mind…

Leaders that suck, and those that don’t

I always think that having a good leader is half the battle won.

Superficially, I always thought that a good leader is a good speaker. I haven’t been in close proximity of a leader of sorts for most of my life, so I hadn’t known what to look out for in leadership.

Sure, you learn in school that good leaders, well, lead.

But that was more of a function than a trait. The job scope of a leader is to lead. But it’s only in recent years that I experienced different styles of leadership. And the leaders that I particularly like share a similar trait.

I’ve definitely encountered bad leaders before. In one stint, the leader was known to be a disciplinarian who yells at people with poor judgment. He wasn’t in close contact with the ground, and the fellow employees around were unmotivated. Everyone encouraged me not to stay on in the company because of him.

In another stint, the leader was only concerned about bottom line. Because it was a small business, it was clear whenever he did or said things, they were just for the bottom line. And nobody liked it. We felt like slaves.

But the leaders that I particularly liked had one thing in common. They were extremely personable. Even if they are many levels above you; Even if their pay checks are multiple fold of yours; Even if many people reported to them; Even if you’re just a small fry; And even if the number of years they’ve been with the company is longer than the amount of time you’ve been alive.

And when you’re personable, people naturally want to listen when you speak. This has nothing to do with a flair for speaking. You don’t need to speak like Obama. (He really is a brilliant public speaker!) But when you’re personable, people feel like you understand them. You don’t make them feel small. You make them feel a part of the team.

And most importantly, this motivates people to stay on. This makes me want to put in effort for them. This makes me want to work under their care.

I’ve been fortunate to have met these people. Just like parenting (I’ve always been on a lookout for what kind of parenting traits I want to have based on observation – I know this sounds weird), but these good leaders have been inspirational. They may not be CEOs, but they are impactful all the same.

And they’ve made me realize what kind of employee I want to be – and if I end up a leader – what kind of leader I want to be.

Be personable, folks, and the world will be pleased to be behind you.

Filial Piety

Filial piety is so bizarre.

It’s not the concept that I find bizarre. To be good to your parents, to be respectful towards them – that I completely agree and understand why. But how do you display filial piety? That is the question.

I recently met a friend from the past, we reconnected one random day while bumping into each other on the train and discovered we had so much more in common now than ever before. And both of us have ideas and plans of travelling the world and working in a different country. We shared the same joy for being in a foreign land, and had the same adrenaline rush of overcoming that adaptation barrier.

But being an Asian in a conservative country where filial piety is of utmost importance, we know it breaks our parents’ hearts that we want to get away from our mother land, that we’re not within x kilometres radius from them. If and when we do move away, we won’t be there for them whenever they need it. We can’t be there to take them on weekends just because. We can’t fulfil the Asian idea of being a filial child, taking care of them till they’re old; giving back everything they’ve given to us, which also means sacrificing our hopes and dreams to be with them, like they did for us.

But I constantly wonder if there’re other ways of displaying filial piety.

It doesn’t help that there was recently an article about how an ex-classmate had such thoughts about moving away but she was willing to wait as she had an ailing father. While I congratulated her on an article well written and published, everyone else was complimenting her on being the perfect daughter.

I love my parents, I really do. I appreciate that they’re so amazing. I appreciate that they made do with circumstances and painstakingly brought both my brother and me up. I admired the fact that my dad stayed still in a job for stability to ensure we had everything we needed. My mum stayed home to watch us.

Now, both my brother and I have wings. We have our own ways of thinking. He will soon be married. My future is unplanned and I like that I could go anywhere I wanted to. My parents were a careful balance of strict yet liberal with us, and I guess because of that we could go anywhere and do anything we wanted but we knew how to stay within the boundaries.

When my grandma passed away, my dad told me that he will always want to remain in Singapore, and that he would give me his blessings if I did move away. And while that was all I ever wanted to hear, it pained me to hear that as well.

We were always brought up to consider our parents’ feelings, and to really look deep into what they say. If they said they didn’t mind an issue, were they just being nice? Did they really not mind it? This was one of the cases where I knew that it would pain my dad but he loves me so much that he would rather have me happy elsewhere than stay here for them.

I think I always knew that I would want to be out of this city. I’ve prepped them up when I went away on exchange. I prepped them up when I returned and constantly raved about Europe. I’ve prepped them up when I took up the Skype interview for an internship in New York. I even searched for jobs in UK, France, Germany and Switzerland upon graduation. And I think they got the idea when they found out I was dating a foreigner. I think they got even more certain when I started doing a lot of travels without ‘adults’ (as in parents) or tours.

While I haven’t got a solid plan to leave yet, I know I will eventually regardless of the outcome of my current relationship. It is never about feeling like Singapore is insufficient for me but I’m in love with going through the process of adapting to a foreign city, and it isn’t just for holiday sake.

So now the question is, is there no way of being apart from your parents and still show that you love them? Would moving away mean one isn’t filial? Is this all very selfish?

Thankfulness

Holidays are commercialised. I mean, we don’t even celebrate some of them officially as a city/country. But nevertheless I’m gonna roll with it because it’s a holiday with great intention.

Et voilà, things to be thankful for:
1) a happy & healthy family
I’m thankful for my parents who occasionally drive me mad, and probably vice versa. This applies to my brother too but I know they’ll be there. Hmm I hope I can still say this when (or if) I make life changing decisions against their favour! Lol

2) an amazing support system
I often say I’ve not enough friends because it’s terribly difficult to ask for company these days. But I know I can still always speak to them and they’ll offer me a listening ear. I’m glad to have support even in crazy times, and shared angst in terrible times. Empathy works wonders, really. I’m thankful for these amazing friends. 🙂

3) a job
I’m thankful for my job. I don’t necessarily love it yet, and I hope I do when I eventually get a sense of ownership and belonging. But I’m thankful that I’m earning and I’ll be able to rejuvenate (coughtravelplanscough) as a person every now and then.

4) life’s surprises
I’m thankful for all the surprises life has sprung on me. It often makes me question whether the path I’m taking is the better one and often I find something else to be thankful for. All the little roads I had to take to be who I am today, I’m glad I took them.

5) love
I’m thankful for love because it taught me to be the kind of person I want to be. Past loves have taught me so much and present love taught me to appreciate.

I’m thankful that I have all of the above to keep me going, and make me glad to be alive.

So to those who celebrate it: happy thanksgiving! What are you thankful for?