The Final Chapter

Not every story has a happy ending, least of all
Someone whose track record is as bad as mine.
No matter how hard I try, how deeply I fall,
The pages turn to dust, as if by design.

Time after time, the thing I want most eludes me.
Night after night, I dream that it will be my turn…
To love and be loved, to eventually succeed;
Instead, I lie awake and watch my dreams burn.

I’ve run countless races, so don’t say I haven’t tried.
My heart’s been broken and mended too many times.
I truly thought he was the one, but once again, denied –
As if winning was somehow a crime.

There were many good things about us, we just didn’t fit.
And so, this is our final chapter. This is it.

The 5 Love Languages

It’s no secret that I’m not very good at this relationship thing. I think not being able to keep a long term relationship is different to not knowing how to love someone. I do the latter pretty well, but somehow cannot lock down the former. Sometimes, in my extremely mopey moments, I like to see what my exes are up to – and they all seem to have girlfriends now. Yes, even the druggie, the alcoholic and the guy who never wanted to leave the house. So what exactly is wrong with me that I just can’t keep a relationship past the 3 months mark?

I’ve done a lot of introspection the past few days and have come up with a few thoughts.

  1. I give up too easily. 
    Even as I tell myself time and time again that I want the next one to be forever, I don’t put in the necessary effort to effect that. If something isn’t going exactly the way I envisioned, thoughts of breaking up start forming in my head. And the minute that process begins, it’s incredibly difficult to get things back to the way they were before.
  2. I’m not the best communicator.

    “Bottled up inside are the words I never said,
    the feelings that I hide, the lines you never read.”

    I’ve never been an open book, so it is difficult to read me. If I am annoyed, I’ll usually keep quiet until it reaches the boiling point… and even then, I’ll act out in a very passive aggressive manner. I think it is because I don’t like having difficult conversations. I often struggle to transcend my feelings eloquently into words. A lot of times, what is obvious to me is probably not obvious to someone else. I definitely need to work on this if I ever hope to have a successful relationship.

  3. I have a different love language.
    According to the website, this is how my love languages are ranked:
    9. Quality time
    7. Acts of Service
    7. Receiving Gifts
    6. Physical touch
    1. Words of affirmation

    I don’t think this list is complete. The one other thing I value is public acknowledgement – It isn’t enough that only your closet friends and family know about me. I want your extended circle of friends to know too. I’m a sharer of photos and memories, not merely a keeper of them.
    I also value gifts and small gestures a lot. A chocolate or a love note goes a long way. I need to know that I am always on your mind, so 1 text a day simply won’t cut it. I have to know that I am a priority in your life, not just a convenience.

  4. My parents’ messed up marriage.
    My parents don’t have a  good relationship – in fact, I’ll say they have the worst kind of relationship: the kind where neither are happy yet they’re forced to stay together. I’ve grown up watching this disaster of a relationship unfold and perhaps this is why I’m somewhat commitment phobic now. I don’t want to have the pathetic ruse of a marriage my parents have. I don’t want to stay in something that isn’t right for me. I want to have the freedom to leave whenever I want to. I feel incredibly sad for my dad, who is literally the greatest. But he’s stuck with a dead weight who is constantly criticizing, never apologising. I’m worried that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and that I am more like my mother than I like to admit. The horror.Of course, it doesn’t help that they are still living with me. (Not for long I hope!) It’s hard not having my own space. I think it’s best to stay single for now, and give this relationship thing a proper try once they’ve moved back to China.

Review: The Winner’s Crime

When I was little, I used to sit on the couch and read the whole day. There was little else to do in the small town I grew up in so I immersed myself in lengthy narratives and fictional escapism. It’s been a long while since I’d done that… until I came across The Winner’s Trilogy on Goodreads. It was listed under the fantasy category but resembled romance more so than fantasy. Perhaps that’s why I love it so much. There’s just something about forbidden love that draws me in.

There are many things to like about the series. So much so that I finished the first 2 books in 2 days and have ordered the last installment. One of the things that annoys me about the fantasy genre is its many story arcs and impossible to pronounce names. This trilogy has neither. Each facet of the story is interesting and I didn’t skip over any chapters. In fact, I read every line! The author, Marie Rutkoski, is an English professor who studied Shakespeare. The writing is phenomenal as a result. (None of these fanfiction-turned-author amateur types).

This series really showcases girl power. The female lead is incredibly smart. The dialogues are clever and the plot interesting. There’s never a dull moment. Marie has really captured the essence of the characters and each one is developed in such a way that really makes the readers connect with them. Their world is described with vivid imagery and each character is fleshed out enough to make them relatable but not so overbearing that they end up a nuisance.

It’s a great trilogy and easy to read. The only fault is that it’s SO romantic that it plants this impossible notion of love in my head that I know doesn’t exist in real life. I suppose that’s why they call it fantasy!

Review: Quiet

When I first picked up this book, I thought it was a self-help toolkit that would teach me how to be more out-going, more extroverted. A few pages in and I realised it was the opposite. Susan Cain wasn’t trying to get her readers to be gregarious at parties, instead, she painted a beautiful picture of why the world needs introverts (and had the research to back up the claim).

As a deep introvert, this book was a refreshing and enlightening read. I still wished I could be more gregarious but it’s made me appreciate my placid temperament a lot more than I used to. While the tone of Cain’s writing was decidedly leaning towards celebrating introversion, it was not completely as one sided as one would expect. She presented all facets of the broad personality spectrum and often had interesting anecdotes to share.

It was evident that many years of research had gone into this book and it was not penned by a lazy author. Even though Cain came from a law background, her materials were as psychologically insightful as factual. The gist of her message was clear; the world needed more introverts and that over reliance on the extrovert ideal could yield undesired consequences (such as unguarded risk taking and having bold speakers stunt better ideas of quiet thinkers).

Throughout the book, Cain made one continuous assumption, which was introverts had brilliant ideas lying dormant in their heads and most were simply too shy to compete with the loud mouthed, energetic extroverts. I’m not sure if I completely agree. I feel that often, introverts are quiet not because they lack the courage to speak, but rather they haven’t got anything clever to say. In that case, introversion isn’t so powerful.

Have a listen to Susan Cain’s TED talk:

Four years and one month

Today is my last day at EY. What a bitter sweet moment. I have made so many good friends and memories during my time here, saying goodbye is incredibly hard. I am not an overly emotional being… I was probably the one one who didn’t cry at my valedictory, but today I was on the precipice of shedding a few tears.

Leaving was not an overly difficult decision though. Sometime last year I realised I was not cut out for the auditing life. Not that I minded the work… but the hours were just insane. It was not an oscillation between peaks and troughs… it was rough all the time, and often I would wake up in the middle of the night panicking about work.

“And I realized that there’s a big difference between deciding to leave and knowing where to go.”
Robyn Schneider, The Beginning of Everything

I didn’t know where I wanted to go. I just wanted to get away. I was even looking forward to a few months of unemployment, living off the grace of my parents. As luck would have it, I received an email from a recruiter. One of those generic mails that I normally trash… but that day, I decided to reply, even though I didn’t really meet the requirements set out in the job spec. I didn’t get that job, but they kept my CV, and a few months later, a new position opened up.

I’m usually not someone who believes in fate and I don’t go around sprouting “everything happens for a reason”. But sometimes it really does feel like that. I have a 2 week break before starting my new job and I am really looking forward to the new adventure. I will miss my friends at EY terribly. My new colleagues have some big shoes to fill.

Anger Management

“I was angry with my friend
I told my wrath, my wrath did end
I was angry with my foe
I told it not, my wrath did grow”
– William Blake

I got angry with someone last week – really angry. And I’m not the type of person to lose my temper… but the stress of having to run with multiple clients and the lack of sleep just got the better of me. I’ve barely had any time off these past two weeks, often only leaving work after 10pm. Even though I knew it was going to be crazy, it was still a shock to the system.

Up till now I have been fairly fortunate in that I’ve always had a strong team. I knew I could count on them to get things done… but I guess that luck has run out. The hardest part with being a manager isn’t so much the difficulty of the work – but rather the people management. Now that I am no longer the one doing the work, it is so much more difficult to keep things under control.

I realise that coaching and helping under-performing teams is part of my job, but boy it is an enormous task. I am not a micro-manager so having to check up on someone frequently is not ideal. While I understand there is a learning curve, I also expect there to be a degree of critical thinking which is unfortunately lacking in many people. I think that part makes me upset the most. Really wish there’s more sense in this world.

Freedom of (hate) speech

It’s taken me a while to write this, mainly because I was worried I’d be fired for expressing a dissident view. But then I remembered a quote by Edmund Burke that encouraged me to be brave and to fight for rational thought. In case you’re unfamiliar with the story, the gist of it is that someone made an insensitive post on Facebook that likened black people to monkeys. It received a lot of back lash, the general consensus was that her comment was racist and many people called for some form of punishment including criminal proceedings.

I am not debating whether or not her post was racist and offensive, because I believe that to be irrelevant. I am a strong advocate of free speech, regardless of its propensity to cause offense. Being offended should not deter people from expressing themselves, irrespective of how valid those views are. Offense is a subjective thing, and if we use that as a yard stick for measuring the appropriateness of speech, then nobody would be allowed to say anything as it may offend one person or another.

Instead, we should use harm as the basis of measurement, not counting intangibles such as hurt feelings. In other words, if words lead to bodily harm (such as verbal bullying causing suicide) then that should be punishable. However, if the only consequence was a bruised ego or a flare of indignation, then that should not be cause for reciprocal hatred, death threats or a call for legal action.

I can’t imagine how one unknown individual’s brisk comment could be cause for any sort of harm, even psychological harm. The back lash on the other hand is a different story, as reports claim Penny had to be hospitalised due to the severity of the reactions to her post. It’s the difference between one person casting a stone and a thousand each throwing one. The power of the mob outweighs any individual and the scary bit is that it is near impossible to tell who dealt the final, devastating blow. This is dangerous as responsibility is so dispersed that people are even more inclined to be purposefully malicious.

The bottom line is that we all say mean and hurtful things. Many of us will make inappropriate jokes that borders on racism, sexism, etc. And we should be free to make them without censorship so long as no significant harm comes from it.