Category Archives: Daily Life

Adult Friendships – Almost as bad as finding a man

The New York Times ran a story on how hard it is to make new friends and keep them as an adult the past weekend.

Another story also published the same weekend, talked about finding friendship online.

As someone who had experiences with online dating and not succeeding it in, the articles resonated with me.

Why is making friends so hard as adults?

According to the article:

1) Amount of time spent with friends

2) Unable to maintain Proximity

3) We only meet people at work

4) Social status issues

5) Family issues (I don’t like your husband, your son fell out with my son)

6) We get more judgmental/picky when we grow older

7) Different values/ideas about what friendship should be

 

Wow…. that list looks a bit like the list I have for why I am not getting dates.

I too have many friends who after getting into a relationship, got married or have kids, disappeared from my life.

Friendships require almost as much attention, care and time as a boyfriend and husband requires.

But not everyone need or want a friend that is beyond the superficial and not everyone feels the need to especially if they are often accompanied by their family.

Fortunately, most of my friends are single.

Unfortunately, most of them are pretty much anti-social.

As someone who has been ticking the single status box for some time now, I want not only to widen my social circle, but to make friends whose relationship with me go beyond the superficial.

I do have one positive experience of making a friend (who later became one of my closest confidant) in my late 20’s.

Base on this experience I came up with a list of what you should do

How to make friends as an adult

  • Location : One might say anywhere is a good place to meet friends. I disagree, I think it is easier and a lot more time efficient to do it at places or events where the purpose is either shared interest or to make friends. Eg. Meetups (www.meetup.com) . People are already open to friendships in these places and ready to make acquaintances with new people. That mentality is important.
  • Give everyone a chance (unless they creep you out or you know for sure they just want to be fuck buddies) Just like dating, you can’t tell who another person is simply by their looks or first impressions. A person you find boring might have a lot in common with you, sometimes people don’t talk too much when you first meet them, could be nerves, could be they are not good talkers with strangers. But as long as they don’t trigger the “possible serial killer/stalker” bells, give them a chance
  • Initiate the second contact : It’s difficult, no doubt about it. You’ve got to be the thick skin one here. Don’t just think that if the other person wants to be friends with you they should initiate the contact, if you think that you had a pretty good chat and chemistry (see not much different from dating) take a chance and initiate the second meeting. I usually initiate the next 2 gatherings myself, if the person is interested to maintain the friendship, they too will start to invite you out. But if they don’t it means they are not serious about becoming friends.
  • Push through the ennui: When you are making friends, you always have those initial small talk that are the same. Where are you from? What do you do? what do you like etc and etc…It can get to you after a while, asking the same questions and answering similar ones, but push through, everyone is different and even if that person doesn’t become a friend, it is always interesting to meet new people. I had several interesting conversations with people I never met a second time.

 

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Vipassana Meditation Kuantan 10 days

I registered to join the Dhamma Malaya Vipassana Meditation Centre 10 day course in December of 2016. It was a  course that I had been thinking of challenging myself to do for about 2 years since I found out about it from a friend. What made the ultimate push was actually being able to get that many days leave at the end of year rather than a mental readiness. All in all, the course actually was 12 days rather than 10.

So what is Vipassana Meditation?

I’m not even going to attempt to explain it. There are tons of information about it as thousands and thousands of people all over the world have tried it and no matter what language you speak, you will most probably be able to find a review of it in your language.

But for those who are interested, check this link.

https://www.dhamma.org/

There were a few reasons why I wanted to do the retreat.

1) I  had tried various meditation techniques before and had success with a few of them but for a while I had problems going back to it, I just couldn’t focus. I wanted to get my focus back and I thought not having access to the internet and not talking could help with that.

2) For a few years now, the end of the year from Christmas leading up to New year usually meant eating a lot,shopping and parties. I wanted to try something different, to go into the new year alone (mentally). (The retreat went from prior to xmas to the 1st of the new year).

3) I use social media a lot, I spend HOURS on youtube. It felt like if I did this it would be a kind of digital detox.

The Experience

The mediation center in Kuantan is situated inside a palm tree plantation site. Apparently the owner is also a fan of Vipassana. It felt tranquil and sets your mood in the right place as you drive in. Once I arrive, there was a registration process which was slightly chaotic (all of the people who runs the courses does it on a volunteer basis, thus I can understand why it would be slightly chaotic).

Once registered, you are to hand in your personal items like phone, wallets and passport. They don’t check your bag , so if you decided to not follow the rules of not bringing books, pens, laptops, it is actually possible to do so.

I’m not going to go through each and every single event of the program as there are many blogs that do give details. I recommend reading those blogs to get a good idea of what to expect and also what to bring for the trip. Necessities change and is different for a different meditation center as well. For example, i remember a lady saying that the center provides clocks but when I reached there , the center no longer does that. A lot of people have watches on , but I don’t. I always relied on my phone for the time and with my phone in storage, I spent 10 days without knowing what time it was and it was pretty uncomfortable at first as there was a schedule to keep to. But at certain parts of the day, like start of meditation or meal times, a gong sounds to let people know. And there is nothing like a continuous few minutes worth of a loud gong sounding at 4 a.m in the morning to wake you up.

I have to admit, the first 4 days I was there, I regretted it. I asked myself what I was doing there. There was nothing to read, write or occupy my time before I slept. I always read something, write something and having done nothing much but just meditate for the whole day made me feel restless at night and I wanted to read something every night. I ended up reading labels on my toiletries bottles. Not all at once, I rationed them out to be read.

The funny thing was the first three days, I had some issues with mediating, I seemed to get what I later felt were junk images whenever I start to meditate, I couldn’t seem to settle down, my brain was racing ahead in front of me. But it appeared that having no distractions does seem to work, from the fourth day onwards, when I meditated, I didn’t see that rush of images no longer assailed me and although I still had stray thoughts, I was able to be more mindful.

There were many sensations that the teachers said that we might have, from a tingle to other sensation that I would say I did not feel at all. Which is difficult to admit to when you are called to have a short group talk with the teacher sometimes. But I will always say that I don’t feel that sensation. Having practice meditation before, I realize that different people will have different reactions. And even if you felt or see something this time doesn’t mean you will feel and see it another.

Sitting cross legged all day long is by no means an easy feat, as the hours lengthen into days, I saw more and more people pad their buttocks with cushion, folded, rolled into different positions. More and more chairs started lining up the side of the meditation hall as more and more people requested to sit on chairs to meditate. There was one guy on the men’s side of the hall, who simply sat on what I would call a rug. He used no cushion and was able to sit perfectly straight throughout for hours (please note that even the teachers slouch when in their meditation pose). I noticed the guy eventually tried to sit on the floor with nothing between his ass (well, he did wear loose pants) and the cold hard marble floor. In a later session I noted that the rug was back. I guessed his buttocks disagreed with how hardcore he could get.

We ended the meditation on the second half prior to the last day by ending the oath of silence. Most people were nice and friendly and quite a few asked me about my coughing (if you have ever read my blog, you would note that I have a back drip issue that causes coughing, going on vegetarian does not seem to help at all.) So quite a few noted me coughing during the Looooong meditation sessions and asked me about it. Some offered advice and I was appreciative of their concern.
Although I did exchange numbers with a couple of people, we never contacted each other after the trip. It was to be expected I guess, as most of the time we had went through the experience in solitude, there was no bonding involved to the point where one would need to remain friends after.

I stopped meditating about 1 month after I came back. Although it was an interesting technique that was taught, I did not feel it was suitable for me. I still felt that using the chakras to meditate or to concentrate on the breathing alone worked better for me.

There are times I feel that my body/mind/spirit needs meditation and  times when I don’t feel it needs it. I wish I could do it on a frequent basis to master it so that when I do need it, it doesn’t feel so hard to gain the benefits.

Things I learnt from the trip

1) The amount of information and media I consume a day does actually fill my head with so much junk that it makes it hard for me to slow down the body and brain.

2) It is possible to live without your phone, internet and any sense of time

3) Cold water showers hasten the timing of your shower

4) Being unable to exercise is excruciating

5) Lizards makes loud noises at night

 

 

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Blogging again

My blogging has been really sporadic.

I am unsure why that is, because unlike most people around me, I am fortunately (or unfortunately) have a lot of time to think, process my experiences and blog. Yet I had not done that.

You must be wondering why I have so much free time. No, I wasn’t let go of from my job or found a good partner who allows me to stay at home. My company just does not make full use of my skills is all.  I’ve read that it is very common that companies are often hiring over skilled workers and then making them do mainly work that is repetitive, routinized and does not require much brain work. I sometimes wondered (darkly) if people will have a higher chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease because of this.

But health should be a personal responsibility especially mental health, so instead letting my brain cells waste away, I decided that blogging again, writing without having to create characters and plan out plot lines would be one of the ways I maintain my sanity.

So, hello again WordPress.

I missed you.

Being single is …

There isn’t anything wrong with being single. Just as there isn’t anything wrong with couples who don’t want kids or not being married even though one has kids.

But yet the world at large and even crossing different cultures, societies make it seem that women or men who do not get hitched or are in a relationship are failures somehow. It results in such men and women having to find all sort of excuses.

  1. I like being single
  2. I ‘m single by choice for career, freedom etc.

etc, etc.

I’m single. Not in a relationship. And it is not by choice.

The advice and comments about my singlehood from friends are not positive. If I ask advice from  them, they would say things like I am too picky or not casual about sex enough or not making the effort.

It is disheartening enough not to be able to meet someone you like who likes you back but worse when your friends make remarks as though finding a partner is as easy as picking up groceries and that the entire problem must be 1. i am just not pretty enough or 2. I have a horrible personality.

The funniest thing is that such thinking does not just come from married people or people in a relationship, it comes from people who are single themselves and finding it a hard time to find the right guy themselves!

Relationships are not easy. It is even  harder to find someone who wants the same thing as you do and be attracted to you (and you to that person) at the same time. I still harbour the hope of finding someone who I can share my life with at some point but in the meantime, I am happy with being single too. And even if I never find that someone special, I will still live my life as best as I can.

The world doesn’t always give you what you want despite you checking all the boxes and I just want to reach out to all those singles out there who are not single by choice that you have nothing to be ashamed about or be beating yourself up about.

 

 

Men are confusing creatures

I met a guy at a gathering the other night.

We had a really good conversation and he asked for my contact which I willingly provided. He also said that he would like very much to meet up with me a few days later for lunch and I went off getting the impression that he was interested in me.

Prior to the “date”, he messaged me a few times and asked mainly how my day was and what I was doing.

Today, we finally met up at a cafe which I recommended. His attitude seem to had a 180 degree change since he last messaged me.
He seem impatient to get the lunch going and he said he made plans with a friend to meet at the gym.

The cafe we were in was meant to be one where you can slowly take your food and enjoy the meal and maybe have a chat later.

But he seemed to anxious to get the food ordered and once he noticed I had my last bite of my chicken, immediately ask for the bill…

After the one and half an hour lunch, we parted with him giving me a handshake.

I have a strong feeling that I am not going to be contacted by him anymore.

Men can be such conflicting creatures sometimes.

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I was offered a job three months ago.

It was a job that I had been seeking for the past two years. I wanted to go back to being a trainer and a company offered me a chance to do so.

Things did not start off well and I knew by the end of the first month, it was a wrong choice.

I decided to stick with the choice anyway , but did bring up to my boss the problems that I faced working in the new environment. He seemed understanding and supportive up till one day my probation was to end. He didn’t even drop the bombshell, he got into a meeting room with HR, half the world across from me and had HR give me the news that they don’t think I am a good fit.

It would have been nice to get a “Good luck and Goodbye ” from the man who hired me. But it looked like he was too much a coward to do so.
I amicably accepted the compensation offered and left the office, after packing my stuff.

My life currently has screeched to a stop.

I was looking back at my Changing Directions articles and realise it was the one thing I was secretly wishing for. Being pulled forcibly out of the corporate environment. But in taking the new job, i had to let go of the online part-time work as well and so my fall back plan had disappeared too.

I wanted to make sure I do not lapse into non-activity and decided to start journaling my Jobless days.

http://journalofjobless.wordpress.com

 

CHANGING DIRECTIONS : PART 4

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Changing Directions : Part 3

            I’m contemplating leaving the job scene for a year while I concentrate on trying out something else. When I mentioned this idea to someone, the first thing he said was “Mid-Life Crisis?”

           I wondered if that is what most people think, that whenever someone starts questioning if their current way of life is for the best, it means they are having a mid life crisis.

          I don’t think I am having a mid life crisis ; as much as I am examining my life base on my five year look-back. I do this almost every four to five years, looking at what I have done, what I am doing and whether it is a waste of my time and whether I have done anything I really wanted to do. I did this when I was in my early twenties, after the “look back” I left a really well paying job, went to London on  a working holiday visa and looked for a job.

        My reasons for leaving were very different then. I wanted to see the world and test my resolve to be a truly independent person for the first time in my life . I had no friends in the UK, I found lodgings , got  a job by myself and made friends . I did feel the experience gave me a lot of confidence in being able to take care of myself.

        This time round, I woke up in the middle of the night  one day and found myself asking what I was doing with my life.

        It can be an exhausting and depressing project, this search for meaning.

        My work is neither challenging nor interesting nor moving anywhere. I’m equally ambivalent about searching for a new job, afraid that I would end back up in the same “crisis” five years down the road.

       This decision would probably be a lot easier, if I know what is the alternative to this mundane existence. The opportunity, the motivation and the drive is just not lined up yet.

       And the fear of watching my hard earned savings start  to depreciate has also created a huge block that slammed back any impulsive jumps I had decided that I wanted to make.

      But I haven’t been completely idle; while going through life and its banal routine, I churned out a book and is on my second attempt at creating another universe with another book.

      I haven’t sold one copy of the book yet, not sure if that is a sign from the universe or society telling me to keep my day job but it IS an option.

      I also started working part time online, earning an extra income. It isn’t much but I thought it would provide me with another option to survive if indeed I am to go ahead with plans to quit my job and spent more time on non-income generating activities.

     It’s still not the perfect set up yet, but I think I’m starting to stack up a solution that I could live with (literally).

Changing Direction 1

Changing Direction 2

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Changing Directions : Part 2

My mid-life career crisis is unfolding before my eyes. I decided I need to do something about it despite not knowing what I want to do or what I like to do.

I like to follow a logical process whenever I am stuck so I decided to at least write down what I KNOW I want about my job.

I think for most people, even if they do not know what type of job or career they want, they do have an idea of how they would like to work.

How I would like to work

1) Flexibility in hours

2) Ability to work from home when required.

3) Able to take leave without having to check my emails or be in contact every day.

4) Work that challenges me

5) Work that earns me enough income that I can lived on

I did noticed that this list has changed a bit since I started working. This is after all a mid-career change crisis. I find that I am less willing to take compromises especially in regards to flexible working hours and work that will challenge me. Also I am mentally prepared for a drastic paycut if I can find something worthwhile and satisfying to do.

Unfortunately, the reality of the current job market has decided to crash in on me. Despite a few promising interviews, I have yet to land a job yet. It doesn’t help also that most HR practices silence when it comes to giving post-rejection feedback.

I found the difficulty in getting a job really contradicting to what i am reading in the news. Which is that there are still several opened positions and companies are having a hard time filling them. I spoke around with a few friends in HR as well as with recruitment executives who had called me up. They confirmed my suspicion that companies now are extremely picky. No longer are they happy with a 60-80 percent fit in a candidate, they are now looking for a 100 percent fit. Expectations are much higher now and with more curbs on foreign workers, companies thus are having a harder time to fill positions. Yet companies do not seem to mind taking six months to

one year to find that perfect candidate.

Sigh…not good news for me I guess.

 

Changing Directions : Part 1

Changing Direction : Part 1

change

change (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

There are plenty of jobs available in this world, even in the U.S whose economy is not doing so well currently. Companies make all sort of effort to make a less glamorous job appear more appealing. Human resource personnel seem to have believed that a nicer sounding title will make up for that lousy paycheck and lack of appreciation. It’s the easiest to implement solution that has been taught and widely used by the HR practitioners.

This rings especially true for mundane, repetitive work.

Sadly the thrill of having a nice sounding job title typed in Arial 12 in your resume only goes so far to fill that hole in your soul.

When asked what is the most disappointing thing about my job, I wrote down satisfaction and appreciation.

Years of selling out to a stable job and salary have finally taken toll and I officially declared my soul numbed and quite possibly I am but a shell of a person left.

A few months back, as I faced impending retrenchment (the threat of which still looms like a black cloud above my head). I approached the threat first by panicking, second by checking if I have enough money to tide me over and for how long. Eventually I arrived at the third stage which was figuring out what I was going to do next.

I have to say I am still stuck at this stage(been probably stuck at this question for the past 20 years). Although my job is currently going to remained safe, the thought that I might get retrenched and that I would no longer be required to go into the office and be another unappreciated , under-utilized employee with no career advancement actually lifted my spirits. I attempted one or two interviews before I realized that I would just be placing myself back in a environment where 80 percent of the time I am not fully using my skills, am numb and feel utterly colorless.

This brought me back to the same question which I was not able to find an answer to all these years and the inability to answer the question held me prisoner to society’s (and my parents’) idea of how I should earn my living.

What SHOULD I do?

A job which I love or  A job which I do what I am best at.

Figuring out what I am passionate about is another conundrum. Figuring out what I do best is worst, fire sirens sound at the smoke coming out of my head.

Let’s be honest , I am mediocre.

And as Albert Camus once said “Idleness is fatal only to the mediocre.”

Working without any interest or passion for your work results in the idleness of the brain and it has indeed proven lethal for my soul.

But can one who is mediocre metamorphose into something else?

To be continued….

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On Lifts

I take the lift everyday.

lift bij Den Haag centraal

lift bij Den Haag centraal (Photo credit: Gerard Stolk (peint la maison))

You probably find this statement mundane and bears no mentioning, but I don’t take the lift everyday when I was in London or Japan.

Living overseas made me realised just how much lift-taking I do here in Singapore.

Intelligent Lifts

The building in which I work is pretty ancient.
I heard they upgraded the lifts a few years prior to me joining the company.
It still takes forever to get down 32 floors especially during peak hours (lunch and end of the day).

Anyone who has worked on the upper levels of a tall building will know what it is like to squeeze into a lift and see at least 10 buttons lit up beneath your own floor.
Old buildings are being torn down and new buildings are sprouting up all around our building.

A visit to some clients recently brought me to some of these shiny new symbols of modernity. Security for new buildings appear to be pretty tight.

Most require identification cards with a photo and all information are scanned and saved.

Some even require the employees of the company to come down to the lobby to escort guests up.

But what has amazed me thus far is how the new lifts are built for effiecncy and speed.

New intelligent Lift systems has a keypad instead of a up or down button.

You press the floor that you are going to on the keypad and it assigns a lift number to you.

The next person might be assigned a different lift number depending on the floor he/she is going to.

To further impress guests, the receptionist at the lobby can also pre-press the floor for you at the desk and inform you which lift to take.

The new lifts are not only efficient (since you bunch up people going to certain floors together) they are also extremely fast getting to the top floors.

Most of these new lifts also comes with television screens to entertain you so that you don’t have to just stare at the digital numerals changing as the lift takes you to your designated floor.

When I first saw the keypad system, I thought about the sweet old lady who lives a few floors beneath my flat.

Although lift technology has been in Singapore for quite a few years, there appears to be a group of people that thinks the lift will come up faster if they press the up button even if they want to go down.

Due to this novel way of using the lift, I often see someone in the lift when it comes up to my floor and follow me down to the bottom and vice versa. And when the lift stops at again at the floor which this person came up from, it often closes again with the culprit acting puzzled as to why the lift stopped at a floor with no one at the landing.

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