Monday, November 25, 2013
J's a junior designer at one of the biggest architectural firms in the city.
E's a paralegal at a successful law firm.
C's a manager at a hotel where presidents come to stay at.
Some power company I have...
It has been less than three years since we all graduated college yet everyone seems to know exactly what they want and where to get it. J had already moved from one successful firm to another with a huge pay raise this year, E's interviewing to move on to a (or the) mega tech firm's legal team, and C has an offer at hand to another great hotel in the city, with raise and a promotion.
What the hell have I been doing...? This question haunts me during the night when I'm alone with my thoughts.
All this time I thought this city never slept because of its vibrant social and entertainment scenes but I guess everybody has been up all night working on their careers and moving one step forward each day, while I was left alone writing gibberish in my notebook.
While our conversation consists of various interesting topics such as men, politics, religion, food, gossip, and other cool but less closer friends, sometimes it becomes a battle of who's the most career-oriented of us all. It's like a competition but everyone trying to make it sound like it's not.
"Uh, I worked until 9 PM last night."
"I worked until 10. I'm worse"
"Hey at least you guys don't have to get to work by 6 AM"
"Well, I might have to work on the weekends, so i think my job sucks the most"
They say these as if they're complaining but what they're really trying to say is, 'this is how busy I am', 'this is how dedicated I am to my work', and 'this is how much valuable I am to my company'. As if working more hours simply add value to their lives.
It is all too easy to look around and come short when compared to all the people who seem more successful. For someone who has wanted to move on to another field but has been stuck in the same job for over 2 years, I feel like a failure. I've been job searching for over a year and have been unsuccessful, while my friends are sky rocketing through their careers with flying colors.
Because of this peer pressure that really no one but myself is giving, I have been telling myself that maybe I'm not smart enough, maybe I'm not talented enough, and that maybe I'm not good enough. These thoughts were driving me crazy. There are countless articles about how all millennials are plagued by anxiety because of self doubt like these; some of them even blame the economy.
Once you lose that self-esteem and self-confidence, the city can be a harsh place to live in. Even those after work happy hours you used to enjoy with your friends become uncomfortable and there's nothing worse than when you find yourself not being truly happy about your friend's success.
I still struggle to constantly remind myself of this but what millennials should really know is that peer pressure is overrated. It's not high school anymore.
Everybody has a different timeframe. It feels like you should know where you're going, where you want to go, and how to get there, NOW. Especially when you're surrounded with friends like mine, who are all very talented and driven. It kills me that while some of my friends found their passion as early as middle school or high school (how??), I still don't know what I want. I majored in Finance, I'm currently working in Marketing, I feel like I want to write for a career, but also want to have my own business someday. Who knows where I'll be in 5, 10, 20 years from now. There is no magic age when you will automatically know your way. Some people found their thing at 5, some found success at 50. I think both lives are just as meaningful if you let it be.
Success is more than that dream job. Would I be truly satisfied if I had the perfect career but meaningless relationships? Would I be truly successful if I were rich but I had no one to share it with? Would I be truly happy if I had everything I could but I wasn't healthy? Success is defined with more than one factor. While I do think your career can bring you significant amount of happiness in terms of achievement and passion, it's definitely not everything. So why stress over only a portion of what will make you happy? I've seen plenty of people who found happiness and success elsewhere.
There's not much you can do in your twenties that will ruin your future. I'm a perfectionist. I'm a planner. I'm an over-thinker. I'm a wuss. When it comes to taking leaps of faith and taking risks, I'm a sore player. But I find that the most successful people in the world have taken tremendous risks and had adventurous experiences to get to where they are today. While some of them might have been geniuses who instantly figured out their path at a young age but most of them were just brave enough to jump and swim in unfamiliar waters. Because no matter how bad of a swimmer you are, rarely is it the case that the current in your twenties will drown you. Take that unpaid internship. Take that time off to travel. Start that garage band. Launch that online business. Whatever mistakes you make now, you can learn from them, recover from them, and move on.
Comparable happiness is not sustainable. This comes back to my friends. The peer pressure. I mostly feel this pressure and anxiety when I compare myself to my friends. If I were more successful than my friends are right now, would I be happier? Probably. At that short moment. But comparable happiness vanishes as soon as someone who seems to be better off comes along. If you don't know where your true happiness comes from, where you find true meaning from, it's not sustainable, and you'll be back to ground zero of self-doubt. Miserable cycle. You should learn to be happy without comparing yourself to others.
At the end of the day, aren't we all just searching for happiness? At his famous commencement address at Stanford, Steve Jobs mentioned how "You can't connect the dots looking forward you can only connect them looking backwards." It doesn't make sense now. It doesn't show light now. But it'll all make sense and you'll connect the dots later in life. So let's not panic just because finishing that puzzle board is frustrating. Hang in there.
Friday, November 8, 2013
I was having lunch with my interns and one of them brought up a friend of hers, let's call her Amy for the sake of this post, and how she decided to move to a whole new continent because of a boy she fell in love with and how crazy we all thought it was.
My intern described Amy as a person who always does what she wants, gets what she desires and worries about the repercussions later. She told me how Amy once told her parents that she will take time off school because she wants to travel Europe and that since she didn't have any money she demanded her parents "lend" her the money for her trip. She traveled Europe for a month in the middle of the school year.
She also told me how Amy had many interests in her life and everytime it changed she didn't hesitate to reroute to pursue them, which resulted in her changing her college major three times. She still doesn't know what she truly wants to do or where to go but simply believes it'll come to her naturally when she's ready.
Then, Amy met this boy, a Portuguese eye candy who happened to be traveling around the area she lived and the two fell in love instantly. They spent days and weeks together traveling around her country and when it came time the boy had to return to his home in Spain, she realized she didn't want to live without him. So she decided to leave with him to a whole new continent, to a whole new country, and to a whole new life, without hesitation because her heart told her to do so.
"What about her visa?" I asked.
"She said she could leave and re-enter the country every three months or so for the time being and apply for a full visa later." My intern answered.
"How is she going to support herself?" I asked.
"She said she'll be a waitress or something." My intern answered.
"What if it doesn't work out between them?" I asked again.
"She said she'll either come back home or travel some more." My intern smirked in disbelief.
I couldn't understand. Being the cautious-thinking, detail-planning, list-writing person that I am, I couldn't understand how someone could be so spontaneous, so careless, and.... and... so brave. Something I was never able to do or be.
Of course you can't live life like a child, thinking you can do anything you want without thinking about the consequences. But what better time than in your twenties to be irresponsible, carefree, and adventurous? Some people, including me, might still think it would be a bad decision for Amy to move to Spain just because of a boy she met only a couple weeks ago, especially when according to society, she should be working on her career now.
But judging from what I hear of her, even if things don't work out, I think Amy's the type of person that'll be okay with it. Even then, I think she'll consider the experience as an exotic and exciting story she can share later in life. Because she followed her heart, and to her that's all that matters.
I'm the type of person who over-thinks and over-plans everything. I'm also the type of person who constantly analyzes the reality and adjusts plans accordingly. Someone once told me that because I was so realistic, it seemed as though I have no romance in me. But what it all really comes down to is fear. I fear of the unknown. I fear of failure and disapointments. I don't welcome surprises or abrupt changes and get stressed out when things don't happen the way I plan. But because not everything can be planned and predicted, I stick to what I know and what I am comfortable with.
Although I think YOLO is one of the most stupid abbreviations of today's generation, I certainly understand why so many of us use the phrase. I have always wanted to break away from the chains and obstacles I set for myself to follow my heart. In that sense, I admire Amy for her bold choices and her bravery. If she doesn't have to ask herself the what-could-have-been questions her whole life, that's probably good enough for her; Because what she fears are not failures but regrets.
After all the inquisition, I could only say one thing. "She's got some balls."
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
I'm pretty positive there's more than a few out there who are just as guilty as I am with the things below. But nonetheless, let's keep it in the DL.
1. When I listen to music, I secretly imagine myself singing the song on a stage full of crowd cheering for me
2. I enjoy reality TV and every ounce of back-stabbing drama that comes with it
3. I check out my friend's boobs, abs, and ass when we change at the gym locker room
4. I tried multiple times to figure out my boyfriend's facebook account password and failed
5. I eat the left over cake in front of the fridge in dim light, because if I eat it anywhere else, it'll be official that I'm eating cake at 11PM and I can't have that
6. I check out other women's body figures on the street and pick one that I would rather have than my own (not in a pervy way...I promise). "Woo, I would love to have that body" "Wait, no no I would rather have hers"
7. I used the dictionary more than a few times playing 'Words With Friends'....
8. When I'm at social events and I don't know anyone there, I take out my phone and act as if I got a funny text from a friend, when in reality I'm just shooting blanks at my phone background
9. Sometimes, I imagine what it would be like if I decided to not work on my career anymore and simply marry up
10. I steal pens and notepads from work.. and scotch tape, highlighters, post-its... I also use the company's pitney bowes to mail out stuff that's not work related... this is a sickness
11. When guys approach me at the bar or club, I tell them I'm just here for a girls-night-out but what I'm really there for is reassurance that I'm still attractive and still desirable
12. Kicking back with a good book and catching up on my sleep on a Friday night.... is amazing
13. A lot of the times I'm too tired or lazy to wash makeup off my face before bed. If I'm in a hurry the next morning and the makeup looks pretty good, I "re-use" my makeup from last night and just head out. I know... gross..
14. Despite the poor writing, I fairly enjoyed the 'Fifty Shades of Grey' series
15. When getting shots, I like to look at the needle and get a strange sensual feeling when I feel it going it
16. I'm scared as hell of changes but I don't want people to think I'm stagnant
17. I listen to the same song over and over again until I master the rap and casually drop it at karaoke sessions like it's no big deal
18. I get a weird satisfaction of extracting black/white heads and stare at what came out with fascination
19. I don't know if I still love him or if I'm just used to the idea of us together...
20. I never really liked 'The Notebook'
I'm denying all of this if you ask.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
The other day I saw a man with a clean-cut appearance holding a box of chocolates, snicker bars, caramel candies and rice crispy treats.
"I'm selling each candy for a dollar. I only have one caramel left, it seems to be the best seller today." He shouted.
I recognized the box he was holding. It was the exact same box of candies I used to sell back in high school to my classmates to raise fund for our choir group trip. Sure, I probably bought more of those candies for myself than I should've but the candies were mighty good and so was the trip that we took on a beautiful spring day.
"I don't need to be doing this. I really shouldn't be shouting to sell candy either because I have to use my voice to teach my class tomorrow. But this is for my students at my middle school in Queens. This will really help reduce the cost of their class trip."
I was sold. Yes, he had those rice crispy treats that I can't refuse but it was unbelievable how passionate this teacher was in selling those candies. Any respectable adult would decide that it's easier to pitch in a couple bucks rather than wander the subway of New York, selling candies to complete strangers. But this teacher genuinely cared for his students. I bet his students were selling those candies somewhere too, just like I did back in high school, and he wanted to be part of the effort.
I think these are the teachers that really change your life. The ones that actually care. And the ones who are actually happy with their jobs.
He probably enjoys teaching students, enjoys having influence over them, and enjoys being part of a joint effort to raise money for their class trip because he knows that it'll mean more to them than if he just gave them the money.
I started wondering what would make me care enough, inspired and motivated enough to start selling candy in the subway.
Needless to say I bought five candy bars from him, including the rice crispy treats. It was probably more candy that I should've had that night, but who cares. I helped him out and he inspired the heck out of me that I wrote this post immediately on my cell phone on the subway ride home.
We all search for that thing, not necessarily a job, that inspires us, keeps us motivated, energizes us, and most importantly makes us happy. The great journey of your twenties is the start of that search and all the process inbetween and that's what makes the experience amazing.
I hope I find my thing, sooner or later, because you don't have to work a day in your life if you love what you do, even if that means I have to sell candies in the subway.
Monday, October 7, 2013
On the bridge of now being in my mid-twenties, I have realized that I'm stuck in the middle of being a child and an adult. The legal age you can drive is 16. The legal age you can vote and marry is 18. The legal age you can drink and gamble is 21 while the legal age you can start renting cars without the extra fee is 25.
So when does adulthood actually begin? My mom once told me that she thinks she became a true adult at 50.
I've recently started listening to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' album. They have some truly heart-touching lyrics and this one song called "A Wake" spots on how we all feel about our generation of lost twenties.
"They say thirty is the new twenty
And twenty is the new thirty shit I guess
Makes sense, cause fifteen year olds seem twenty
And twenty five year olds seem ten"
There are some things I've learned in my mid-twenties that I wanted to share. Sadly, there are not that many.
But here goes anyway:
Sometimes, the "just do it" mindset is more important than trying to be perfect. I'm a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to certain things and while that can be a positive trait, it can also be a drag; like this blog launching a few weeks(yeah, right) later than I originally planned because I didn't feel it was ready. Sometimes just doing something is more important than trying to perfect it. Becuase, like this post, somethings will never be perfect.
Being liked by everyone means you have no stand. I used to be a need-to-please-all kind of girl. I truly wanted to be liked by everyone and didn't take criticism all that well. A wise-man told me though, that being liked by everyone meant I was a push-over and that I didn't have my own stand, or at least I didn't care to share it. It's okay if some people don't like you. Sometimes, it's your opinions, principles, and values that matter so much more than being liked by a couple more people.
Everyone has problems of their own. No matter how fabulous their facebook pictures look. I should know; I tweak my photos as if everyday is full of excitement. Sometimes it makes you feel bad becuase it looks like your friends are always going to amazing restaurants, attending fabulous parties with their friends, traveling to the most adventurous places, etc; they're all tweaking too. They all have problems of their own, just like you and me so no need to get jealous.
Try to see the good in people. Everybody has one. Even your boss. Trying to see good in people improves the relationship you have with them. Improving the relationships you have with people in the end makes your life that much richer and happier. It's really not that complicated. Just hard.
Learn to say no. This kind of goes back to my need-to-please-all personality, but I wasn't very good at saying no and turning people down. As a result I wasted a lot, and I mean A LOT, of my time and effort helping out people that did not deserve it. I learned that I should rather focus my time and effort on those that do deserve it and well appreciates it.
Best friends change, good friends don't. Along the course of your life, you will brand that one person you spend the most time with as your 'best friend'. You text each other everyday, plan your weekends together, and share all your deep secrets as well as some shady guy problems that you dare not speak to others. But have you realized that your 'best friend' from middle school is different from your 'best friend' during high-school, and college, and post-graduation? In that sense, I think best friends are overrated. They change when you go off to college or relocate for work or some stupid arguments spring up and you suddenly feel like you can't take them anymore; but good friends, they never change. They're just there. Even after you've been distant for a few years, whenever you do speak with them it feels like you've just seen them yesterday.
You will be betrayed, hurt, and disappointed by people. And that's okay. It still hurts when it happens and it requires me a significant amount of energy to get over it. But I've learned that it's okay to get hurt; I'm sure I've hurt some people along the way as well, whether it was intentional or not. Sometimes, you have to let those people go but who really matter are the people still next to you despite of it all.
Call your parents more often. I realized an amazing fact that I've been denying all these years; that my parents age too. I can visually see an additional wrinkle every year and I begin to imagine a world where they just might not be there for me anymore. That thought is as scary as things can get but regretting not talking to them more often after they're gone will be even more scarier. Call them, visit them, vacation with them, and just spend as much time as you can with them. Believe it or not, they won't live forever.
Start building your wardrobe as early as possible. Having ten Forever21 tops rather than one good quality 100% cashmere sweater used to be okay in college. After all, that's all you can do if you want to sport all the trendy clothes with a limited budget. But after some time you realize that low-quality (don't get me wrong, I still love H&M and Forever21) but cheaper clothes that don't last for more than three laundry cycles end up costing a lot more. You also become afraid to go anywhere near a stove with your polyester shirts on.
Have a Monthly Budget. I've heard this so many times from my mom during high school and college but I never stuck to it until I started my real job. Setting a realistic budget is harder than it sounds. At first, you can only think of big chunks or fixed spendings like rent, phone bill, gas, and groceries. Then you realize you have to regularly buy tampons, shampoo, a friend's birthday gift, eye liner, pair of socks and so much more that you never gave real thoughts to include in your budget. You have to know where your money is going to know where it shouldn't go and where it could go.
Sunscreen! Sunscreen! Sunscreen! I cannot highlight this enough. I used to be a tanning bed lover too. But even then I was still conscious of the possibility of getting skin cancer, so I only got tanned every once in a while. But did you know that sporadic tanners can get skin cancer too?! It's just like smoking. Some people smoke for 3 years and don't have a single organ affected. Some people smoke for 3 months and get lung cancer. You just don't know. The only way for your to avoid this is quitting your tanning habits and wearing sunscreen. Not only does UV rays cause skin cancer, they also cause aging of skins and discoloration. Use a sunless self tanner if you really want that bronze glow and wear sunscreen!! (yes, even during rainy and foggy days).
Being honest with yourself is harder than it sounds. One of the hardest things I had to admit was the fact that among all the part-time and full-times jobs I've had, being a waitress was the most fun (and I'm an assistant marketing manager right now). I didn't want people to think that I lack creativity or that I'm not smart enough to hold a "real job" at a desk or that I would prefer a job with simple tasks of serving someone else. But admitting that fact made me realize that I enjoy encountering real people than sitting behind a desk. I like planning and organizing a physical space and I'm good at reading people's needs by their facial expressions and non-verbal cues. I only figured that out after the impossible task of admitting I liked something that most people might not think I should.
Confidence is attractive. People with confidence have a more attractive posture, gesture, language, and facial expression without them trying. Note, this is different from being arrogant. It seems like it's a vicious cycle, where you're only confident if you're attractive, and you're only attractive if you're confident. The way to break this cycle is to fake it until you make it. Fake your confidence and once you actually see the attractive side of yourself, other people will too.
"Travel is never a matter of money but of courage" (Paulo Coelho). My sister told me of this quote. It would seem that time or money would be the biggest obstacle in traveling, but it's really the lack of courage. Believe it or not, it takes a certain amount of courage to take time off work, to go somewhere unfamiliar, and to let yourself be open to new things. Many people told me that I should be traveling as much as I can in my twenties because traveling in your twenties is different from a vacation; it's a life-altering, eye-opening, life-changing experience.
Learn to let things go. There’s so much more coming your way. Or so I've heard... What do I know? I'm only twentyfour!
Maybe by the time I can list about 50 things, I'll step into adulthood and have some f-ing clue about life. But it's just comforting to know that I'm not the only one struggling. Because two is always better than one.
Friday, October 4, 2013
It's hard to find women over 30 who wear blue nail polish. They either move on to less intimidating hues of baby blue or boycott the whole palette. Blue is such an exuberant color for your nails that somehow women outgrow them... I don't think they should. They should always be able to wear blue.
I love kicking back with a 'Friends' marathon and I've been doing this every so often that I probably watched all the episodes at least 10 times (there's 10 seasons, so I've watched 100 seasons worth of Friends; talk about obsession). One episode where Monica wears blue nail polish (and this is season 4 so I'm assuming her character is about 27 years old), pretty much sums up what most 20-something lives are like. Monica, struggling to carry out her career and desperate for money, agrees to cater for her ever so skeptic mom's party. While she crews up again by dropping one of her blue nails in the quiches, she ends up proving herself to her mom that she's a talented chef.
Life in your twenties is all about getting to know yourself, seeking approval from your parents/friends and somehow keeping those two tasks at balance. We struggle to define ourselves, have unbearable amount of self-doubt, and in the process encounter so many rejections and failures that we sometimes crumble under the pressure.
Because we are so determined to get to our destination, or where we think we should go, and in a timely manner, we forget to stop and smell the roses. While I myself am struggling to define the meaning of my life and trying to figure out what to do next, I hold the quote from Gabrielle Moss dear to my heart: "Spend your twenties learning how to mentally block out trend pieces about the importance of reaching specific life milestones in a timely fashion."
When Bronnie Ware, a woman who worked with the dying for years, wrote a list of the top 5 regrets people have on their deathbed, it blew my mind. Of all the regrets, not one of them said, "I should have worked harder" or "I should have studied more" or "I should have achieved my goals earlier." No, it was all regrets about not being true to yourself, not being able to live the way you want as opposed to what people want.
I constantly try to remind myself that this is not a race. That just because a friend of mine seems to have found her life goal(or has she?), that I should force myself to find one right now too. I'm pretty much lost right now but finding my way shouldn't be a burden; it should be the great journey that I should be able to appreciate and enjoy as is. Because like blue nail polish, life in your twenties is exuberant, vibrant, passionate, and dynamic. We should never outgrow it.