Start-Up Snob

Apparently, since I started working this month, I’ve not only my ability to type normally on my macbook, with the regular international keyboard (I work on a German keyboard at work), I’ve also grown really fond with the start-up culture, and thereby becoming a snob.

My previous full-time employment was at a large company with over 15,000 employees worldwide, with a brand name everybody knows. My current company is officially about 2.5 years old and is projected to break even this summer. It’s very strange, very amusing but very fascinating. I thoroughly enjoy seeing increasing success just within these three weeks of being there!

H works at a huge company, so they have a budget for everything. While currently enjoying his two weeks off from accumulated overtime (Start-uppers be laughing at this), he told me about his dinner event with his department that would take place tonight.

H: So we can’t have dinner together tonight.

I: Oh ok. Hmm I feel like we haven’t cooked for a while. I miss cooking.

H: We’ll be cooking tonight.

I: Really? At a colleague’s place?

H: No, at a cooking studio.

I: (snortles) Big companies.

Am I right?!

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Masterpiece

Yesterday H and I had a good long video chat. We haven’t had one of those in a long time, usually because the connection gets in the way.

Honestly, it was mostly one-way – I had a lot going on that day: two interviews, in person and via telephone. He listened patiently, intently and responsively. He was happy to see me excited. I was happy to elaborate on the nitty gritty details and see his responses to them. It was fun. I missed it. He’s my favourite person to talk to.

That evening, I was watching The Voice of Germany (I’m a big fan), when Jessie J came on and performed her new song “Masterpiece” with the hopefuls. I caught some lines of it and was already in love with the song, I searched them up. It was one of those songs that clicked instantly with me, because I felt exactly like this at this very point in my life. I would love to belt it out:

I still fall on my face sometimes
And I can’t colour inside the lines
‘Cause I’m perfectly incomplete
I’m still working on my masterpiece

And I, I wanna hang with the greats
Got a way to go, but it’s worth the wait
No, you haven’t seen the best of me
I’m still working on my masterpiece

And it made me realize that H makes me feel exactly the same way as this song. Even though it’s been a tiring journey, he believed from the start that I was working on my masterpiece, even way before I realized it. (Such a great feeling.) He believes any visionary leader would take me under his/her wing. He has hopes and dreams for me.

As I inch ever closer to starting my career here, I, too, started to have hopes and dreams for me too. I, too, believe that I can take anything that comes my way and make it great. I’m not going to give up and go home and whine about this place.

I’m going to kick some ass, you’ll see.

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.

Being Replaced

On my birthday last week, my replacement arrived. She shall now be known as R.

If you’re confused, I meant my replacement at work. R joined the department initially to join the team of another. I was undecided on my boss’ response every time I went to her. She told me there isn’t a replacement for me yet. I was frustrated but somehow assured.

And then, swiftly and subtly, there she was. I had to teach R my roles and responsibilities, introduce her to my project, and then I learnt that she would be taking over my desk.

I’m not bitter, because I haven’t been fired. I’m leaving for a greater good. I’m excited for my greater good. I’m dying to go for my greater good.

But have you ever been replaced? It’s a strange feeling. It’s not just my projects but my place in this department as the youngest chick that the old folks find adoring. The chick in the band of brothers who sticks it to them during lunch. I think I’m being replaced everywhere.

It’s a different feeling having an addition and having a replacement. I’m a girl, of course I think this way. I wonder if I’ve left any form of legacy. The band of brothers are happy to have a girl, any girl, to join the lunch crew. Boys.

But they call me ‘bro’. So maybe there’s a slight difference.

I have nothing against R. She does seem nice. I was introduced into this department as a new addition to a team that was expanding. I took over the cubicle that was empty. It was abandoned, and people used to go to it when their computer wasn’t working.

To know that R will take over my cubicle in 2 weeks’ time, and that my cubicle will be scrubbed down till there was no evidence of my working there these past 22 months – it’s surreal.

I look forward to that day. But it sure as well will be bittersweet.

Careful What You Wish For

Have you ever heard Let The Rain by Sara Bareilles?

I love it. It falls perfectly in my playlist named “New Beginning”.

In fact, I love it so much, I sang it today on the way to work.

Let the rain come down
Make a brand new ground
Let the rain come down

I sang it as I thought of it while admiring the skies. It had a full
spectrum of weather. Near home, it was the perfect sky, the sun was
shining the skies were blue and without a cloud. On the other side, it
had dark clouds looming.

I remember making a joke or two in my head about how I’m cycling into
the darkness, joining the dark side, whatever. My head is dorky, don’t
judge.

And then I started singing, and I cycled on.

I went under a bridge, where sounds were loud. I started belting it
out. Then I got out of the bridge and went back to singing quietly.

Midway through, I felt a drop from the sky. Okay, it’s okay, it’s
gonna be a drizzle, I can handle this. I pedalled much quicker. I can
do this.

I cycled past a park with more shade from the trees, and I thought the
drizzle was getting lighter. Cool, see? I can definitely do this. Now
I’m about a kilometre away.

I got out of the park and realized the drizzle was getting heavier.
No, no, don’t do this.

Then I got off my bike, because I had to show my pass to security, and
there’s a nightmare of an incline ahead where it just saves me a lot
more energy to push my bike, rather than cycle up.

And it started to pour a tropical downpour. Really quick, really
heavy, dogs and cats.

I got my umbrella out, thinking – wow it just couldn’t wait. I was now
500 metres away.

So I pushed my bike with my right hand, and held the umbrella on my
left. As I slowly walked to the security guard, the dogs and cats
became more like bears. Not your usual teddy bears, soft and fluffy. I
mean big wild bears.

The guards laughed as they stood under a shelter, and I yelled to
them, “Why is it so heavy? WHY?!” One wished me good luck. Thank you.

I continued pushing my bike. My right hand thought it was gonna fall
off. I quickly got to where I needed to go to park my bike, and I got
to shelter. I was already soaked.

Then I walked through the hallways and looked out the window, and the
rain was already so much lighter.

I’m just glad I have a towel in the office. Trying to dry my skinny
work pants (without taking them off) was another challenge.

Made me wonder what could’ve happened if I sang “Let It Snow” instead.

(I still love you, Sara B!)

Wenig ist mehr (less is more)

Wenig ist wirklich mehr.

I find myself following more and more closely to this line these days, there’s so much truth to it, I’m not sure why it isn’t an actual equation.

It works in almost every case I can think of. With fashion, the floral suit from top to toe doesn’t work, but the plain top and floral pants are to die for. Diamonds from top to toe is actually an eyesore, but one sparkly rock on the finger and everyone’s talking!

With friends, it’s the small group discussions that get it going deep. It’s the few that really get you, that really care about what your life has been up to. And not the ones that say “how’s it going” without caring for the answer.

With work, it’s in the emails. I try to keep them short and sweet as much as possible, going straight to the point. I hate lengthy emails that basically tell me one thing. I mean, yes we all care for courtesy but too much is not worth my time.

With love, the fewer hours spent together, the greater it feels when you are actually together. I’m beginning to really see that now. T-91 hours.

Hopefully I can apply that to packing this Friday night. Challenge accepted…

(Errr honey, I’m gonna need to use your toothpaste, soap, towel, t-shirt…)

Fahrrad fahren (to ride a bicycle)

I’ve started a new thing recently. I’ve started to cycle to work.

Where I’m from, there are only several types of people on a bicycle:

  • Anybody if the bicycle is in a park where cycling is leisure
  • Kids cycling to school
  • Older folks cycling their grandchildren to school/childcare
  • Foreign maids who are cycling to go grocery shopping
  • Foreign talent who are cycling to their nearby offices

So cue a girl in office attire and flats who clearly looks local – on a bicycle – to work. I’ll admit I haven’t seen one of those myself. Personally I don’t think it’s a big deal, but it’s been terrible because it only made me more conscious of how bicycle-unfriendly this city is (cyclists don’t have the right of way on the roads or pedestrian paths, and they don’t have their own designated cycling paths!), but amazing because it gives me the buzz that work doesn’t.

Basically I’ve been trying to create my own buzz since work hasn’t been giving me a buzz. (Today was a much better day though.)

I’m also restricted in attire as I’ve only limited number of top-pants combinations, and I’ve to wear the same pair of flats more often than I’d like to. I’ve also been teased to death by my colleagues.

Again – where I’m from, it’s neither seen as smart nor cool to cycle to work.

Nevertheless, the advantages far outweigh the issues. For instance, I hadn’t realized how much I’m saving in terms of bus fare. I’ve realized that it takes about 50-60% of the time needed compared to public transport. I’ve been feeling amazingly refreshed and awake when I arrive in the office. (Also doesn’t hurt that S thinks it’s sexy being sporty and eco-conscious. Clearly he’s not from here.)

How else has it changed me? It’s become sheer torture waiting for public transport. Thankfully I’ve got a good book to read that I’m bringing around on the days I’m not cycling to work.

This makes me think of a song…

I want to ride my bicycle!

Quote

“Take a job that you love. I think you are out of your mind if you keep taking jobs that you don’t like because you think it will look good on your resume. Isn’t that a little like saving up sex for your old age?”
– Warren Buffett

What a line.

Work and extra work

I suppose I’m thankful for my current job for several things.

I came into it with no concrete job description. It was made up along the way. It was probably unintentional that so many little responsibilities fell into my lap along the way.

Truth be told, I often feel isolated in my department. We work individually because of the nature of the job. Some days I feel happier because more people are talking to me, fulfilling my need for human interaction.

But with these little responsibilities, I get to see the world outside of my tiny department. And I’m thankful for it.

It’s so easy, fashionable even, to term them extra-curricular, be unhappy about the unnecessary additional workload, meetings, deadlines. It’s so easy to shirk them, say it’s the lowest of my priorities – go away, try to get it out of your hands.

But in actual fact, I’m so glad I get to know more people through this. I’m glad to be tasked these little things.

This must sound really bizarre.
(And evidently brings up an issue of job fit!)

2012

There it is – a brand new year.

I would love to say “Whoa. Where did the time go?” But I think this year didn’t exactly zoom by. It did feel like a year ago that I did the annual reflection.

That’s not to say the year wasn’t eventful. It was, and that’s also why at this very point, it feels extremely far from the events of last year.

  • Career

Can’t believe I’ve stuck with my job all this time. As a product of the new generation, it’s safe to call it an achievement to have it made it past a year of being with the same company. I think I’ve grown through it, the ability to separate emotions from business, networking internally, dealing with external vendors, being now called a “bro” by my lunch group, etc. There are greater responsibilities now, and there is a greater comfort level where I’m sitting now – and that comes with slight fear and knowing that there’s still a lot of room to grow – maybe within the role, maybe within the company, but also maybe out of this city I call home.

  • Family

I lost a loved one at the start of the year. Sometimes I worry that I’ve forgotten how things were with her around but sometimes I dream of her and her indirect ways of showing approval for the things I do. Sometimes I feel so sorry for her, for leaving behind a broken extended family that only held up with her presence. The extended family is definitely screwed up, but I’m keeping my nuclear family close, and I think we had a pretty good year.

  • Friends

I don’t think I’ve realised the fragility of friendships until this year. The ability to drift apart through space and time, and the ability to think – ah heck it, it’s too much trouble, and if you don’t care, I don’t care. With the evolution of technology, somehow keeping in touch becomes a greater pain in the butt – how was that possible? I decided to lay off social media like Instagram and Twitter, partly because I didn’t want to know everything about a person before meeting them, and partly because I would like to know what friends would like to tell me in person, i.e. not through the broadcast of social media. This year definitely saw me through the making of several new good friends, the ups and downs of sustaining some old ones, and how the ones with the best fit are gonna stick around through it all, without much effort at all. I’m truly blessed in that area.

  • Love

I remember someone telling me not to give in to the stereotype of long distance relationship being difficult. It’s true that for most of the time, it is easy peasy. I love him, he loves me, one of us is in the wrong city. When we meet, it’s heaven on earth; when we part, it’s hell. There are so many ups and downs in a long distance relationship, god knows my poor cousin had to hear me out so many times. If it isn’t a cyclical moodiness of realizing how far apart we are, it is just insecurity. It’s tough to get a healthy balance of dependence and independence necessary. But at the end of the day, it’s about what works with us, and I think we did a pretty amazing job keeping it going, reigniting the spark every so often, despite – till date – having no expiry of the long distance in sight. But it’s clear we have a similar goal and I’m blessed to have someone love me from 10,000km away.

  • Personal development

Participate in two more 10km run, check. Picking up a new language, check. Picking up a new sport, check. Let my hands go crazy with art and craft, check. Read more books, check. Read the news more, check. Spend less time worrying about what others think of me, check. Travel to new destinations, learn to pack really light, travel alone, check check check.

And for the new year? Apart from the usual blessed and healthy family and friends, I sincerely hope for career enlightenment, at least for the time being. Remaining active physically. Exploring the kitchen more. And cohabiting with the boy.

I’m ready, 2013. Take on me.