October 20, 2011 § 1 Comment
So, I stuffed my life into a car and I’ll be driving off to my next adventure – my first full-time “adultlike” job out of college!
The next chapter of my life will take me to a very…appropriately inappropriate location for me. This city needs no introduction as it is world-renowned for its ridiculousness.
Hello Las Vegas, my new home :)
* * * * *
I said a lot of goodbyes. It was odd. There was such a sense of finality to everything – the last hike, the last meal, the last hug, the last goodbye, the last bit of eye contact…I’ve moved around a LOT in the past and I’ve never felt such a weighty lightness of apprehension when saying goodbye, but this time around was so…oddly momentous. Oddly final. Weird.
Special thanks to the following people who’ve made my short stay in LA a little less lonely a lot more friendly:
CS+GC: Our friendship makes no sense sometimes but I love it. And sometimes I don’t understand why you guys are so nice to me but I really appreciate it all – the love, the laughs, the edibles, the gifts, the time, the presence. <3!
YN+NP: We’re goin’ to Greece and I am so happy that we all agree that it is perfectly normal to sit on trees at nighttime for fun. Let’s squat and stare at wormholes next time :)
BC: You are the best Republic-of-Chinese guy friend a Korean can ask for. I hope to see your tooly business picture covered in a gold frame next year :)
DJL: heheheh diaper buddy. Enough said. I’m happy we reconnected :)
JL: I lurve you and your openness and your energy and your heat strokes and your ability to make me speak and your ability to expand yourself. You are truly precious.
LW: We only met up once but you enlightened me. Spread that to others :)
KS: We’re not even really friends and I don’t think you read my blog but your warmth disarms me and I appreciate your kindness.
HL and company: You guys + me = odd bunch of awkward Koreans. Twas good :)
EC + IH + SP + DC + EL + CO + CC+ MC + HL + JL + YW + BN = <3 & thank you :)
KY: I’d be a mess without you. Thank you.
* * * * *
Goodbye, pre-adulthood student life and wanderings and ability to remain unaccountable for anything serious. I enjoyed our time together.
* * * * *
…Okay, I should’ve ended the post there but I’m about to drive off soon and I’m feeling oddly scared and sad. Here are some quotes that will keep me afloat and brave today:
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” – Ian MaClaren
“Don’t take any of it too seriously.” -Cher
“Life is like one big Mardi Gras. But instead of showing your boobs, show people your brain, and if they like that they see, you’ll have more beads than you know what to do with.” -Ellen DeGeneres
“You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.” -A.A. Milne
“Fill yourself with silence, you will find life, And your body shall flourish upon earth.” -Amenemope
“Just keep swimming, Just keep swimming, Just keep swimming swimming swimming.” -Dory
[Added quote thanks to JHC: “Shut up and swim” -Michael Phelps. lawlz.]
October 8, 2011 § 1 Comment
I’ve been in hiding for the past couple of days because I’m facing a lot of uncertainty about stepping out into the real world AND I AM CONFUSED!!!
You know, here’s the thing about life – it’s a relentless circle of ups and downs. Just as you think you’ve reached a happy place in your life (e.g., graduating high school, graduating college, landing a cool job, etc. etc. etc.), you realize that what you actually come across is ANOTHER uphill to climb! And the higher you go, things become more complicated and convoluted and the roads start twisting and intersecting and intertwining and some roads are well-traveled while others aren’t and you are like WTF am I supposed to do?!?!?
So now that I’ll soon be employed (my first day is November 1st!), here is my current “adultlike” preoccupation:
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ MONEY $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
Honestly, I’m not a big fan of money and the way that it skews people and taints relationships. That’s why I’ve tried to avoid it as much as possible. My family didn’t have much money as I was growing up and money was a touchy subject that we avoided because it bruised egos and begot worry lines on my parents faces. Naturally, I avoided the subject of money and I hated asking for money, negotiating for money, being in need of money, talking about money, and even thinking about money.
That’s not to say I don’t like buying stuff and all the pleasures money can provide for you. Don’t get me wrong, of course I’d rather have money than not have money – but money is just a weird and uncomfortable concept that I placed in the backburner of my mind in favor of more idealistic pursuits like “learning” and “passion” and “beauty” and “love.”
I still maintain my passion for idealism, but as I encroach my first full-time job and face financial independence, money is not to be ignored. Like, at all. Like, as in money is screaming in my face. It screams at me in many tongues and volumes, but I’ll pander on about one issue today.
* * * * *
So here’s a common transgression of conversation that I’ve been experiencing these days:
Them: So, what are you doing with your life?
Me: I got a job
Them: Omg congratulations!
Them: What are you doing / What company will you be working for?
Me: I’ll be doing tech/designy/businessy stuff with a cool online retailer
Them: Awesome! Are they going to be paying you well?
Me: Uh…yes? no? maybe so???
That last question really bugs me. Because, well…I don’t know how to answer it. I’m not talking about the objective numerical value here – what perplexes me is the underlying principle. What does a salary mean? What does “being paid well” indicate?
…so I went for a run and started thinking about what it means to be employed.
What exactly is the company paying me for? Why are they giving me money?
The obvious answer is “you’re working for them.” Duh.
But let’s look deeper here. What is “work”? Work and employment comes in various forms, but essentially it is an exertion of one’s energy and time. This can mean physical labor via picking shrubbery, washing dishes, busing tables – or it can mean mental labor via interpreting the law, keeping numerical accounts, strategizing business plans, and so on.
The type of work I’ll be doing is of the latter sort and it got me thinking about the relationship between me and my employer. Essentially, employment is an of exchange of different commodities – I give my brainpower, work ethic, creativity, analytics, and time in exchange for a monetary amount we call “salary” (along with some other stuff) from the employer.
So “salary” means what exactly? I guess it indicates a tangible value the company puts on my brain and my energy. And for a business to thrive and from a numerical/HR point of view, an employee is valuable if and only if he/she brings more value to the company than what they pay you. In essence, the company needs to profit off of you in order to keep you around.
…Where am I going with this? I don’t really know.
But it’s weird isn’t it? Once you’re employed and kind of in the real world, you can be seen as a commodity. And your value is represented numerically by “salary” or “net worth” or “assets minus liabilities” or whatever other fancy terms people like to use. Oh, my favorite is the “credit score” which is basically like your SAT score for life and personhood in the United States.
But the thing is, how are you supposed to know what your inherent value is? How do you put a price tag on your brainpower? What factors determine your market price? Is it relative to what your peers are making? Is there a “Big Man” up there that stickers a price tag on you? How does this system work?!?
…And then when I think about who I’m making money for…which, in essence, are the big investors and stockholders and etc…I get super weirded out because I start wondering how much are they making? And who are they working for? And round and round we go~
* * * * *
Anyways. Okay, let’s get a bit more grounded here. I’m super stressing these days because I’m apartment hunting and thinking about personal finances and how much I’m supposed to spend on housing vs. saving. vs. investing vs. buying stuff vs. taxes vs. utilities vs. wondering about my parents retirement vs. brothers college vs. blahblahblahblahblahblah omg. And with parents who are not really in tune with the American monetary system or multi-generational relationships with family-friend tax accountants and lawyers, where do you start?!?
Le sigh. Sometimes, I do wish I had the benefit of a rich uncle who knew all the answers. Or the networking-savvy personality who can sliver his/her way into insider circles and whatnot. Unfortunately, I don’t fall within either of those categories so off to the shelves we go!
If anyone’s as confused as I am about finances, here are three books that serve as a good entryway into the intimidating world of personal finance and investment strategies:
1. On My Own Two Feet: A Modern Girl’s Guide to Personal Finance by Harvard MBAs Manisha Thakor and Sharon Kedar. A good start for personal finance newbies. An no, you don’t have to be a female to reap the benefits of this clean-cut simple yet extremely informational book (image via manishathakor.com).
2. My next recommendation for finance newbies is The Random Walk Guide to Investing by Burton G. Malkiel. I haven’t personally tried any of the methods in this book (uh, you kinda need money to start investing. darn.), but apparently this guy knows what he is talking about when it comes to safe investing (image via tower.com).
3. And for a less conservative and intriguingly bold approach to personal finances, superseller Rich Dad Poor Dad is quite a juicy read. Author Robert Kiyosaki’s methods make my money-conservative heart beat a little quicker, but the author is quite compelling and persuasive. Again, I haven’t personally tried his methods so I am in no way recommending you go out and start buying/selling houses and whatnot – but it’s a different perspective so it’s worth reading (image via wikisummaries.org).
* * * * *
And one last thing before I go. Goodbye and thank you sir Steve Jobs.
The man’s words and actions I really took to heart. They fueled my gap year of amazing randomness, they imbued confidence in me when my parents were discouraging, and encouraged me to really follow my inner voice which led me to get hired at a cool company. And who knows where else they will guide towards.
Thank you Mr. Jobs. You continue to inspire.
“Keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”
“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”
October 2, 2011 Enter your password to view comments.
September 25, 2011 § 6 Comments
Okay, so let me start off this rant by stating that I’m in the final stages of the hiring process and will receive my contract of employment next week (pending on the background check…omg I hope they don’t find a reason to retract their offer. that. would. suck and the thought of it is freaking me out so I’m gonna stop thinking about it). This hiring process has been long and arduous and I’m quite pleased and grateful to be so close to official employment.
However, all the happy and nervous giddiness aside, I just spent the last three hours watching a TV show about lawyers and I had a minor freak-out moment that many Asian-Americans may be familiar with:
Shit. I’m going to start working. And I’m not pursuing a PhD or an MD or a JD.
…does that make me stupid? Does that mean my intellect is deteriorating? That my self-worth is somehow is less than those of my peers in graduate programs? Are my parents going to love me less?
Those last statements may or may not sound silly to you, but this is actually a really serious consideration for someone brought up with hardcore Confucian values of academics/education being the foremost determinator of one’s self-worth. Straight A’s mean you’re kind of a human being (A+’s will give you a leg up), B’s mean something is kind of wrong with you, and C’s are just unquestionable death. Not an option. Like, at all. The two letter grades after that do not even exist.
Naturally, from the moment I uttered my ABC’s, my self-worth was intricately tied to my academic records and all the pretty little A’s and ninety-something percents on exams (though, let’s be real now, anything less than a 100 was reason enough to bang your head against a wall and cry yourself to sleep while eating fried chicken alone on your bed with crumbs and ants sprawled all over you. Obviously.).
Despite the high standards and resulting performance anxiety, these grades and percentages are quite comforting really – because during elementary and secondary school, you KNOW when you’re good. You have distinct letters and numbers to clearly define desirability and its opposite – a 4.0+ GPA meant you were succeeding, anything else meant you weren’t.
Okay, obviously I’m exaggerating a bit. A 3.9 GPA was acceptable.
…and the rest of academia is not much different. You KNOW how to measure success: go to a top ten school and restart your strings of letter grades and numbered exams. Maintain a high GPA. And then you can take some tests and get high numbers on those and then you can go to a top-ten law/medical/graduate school with a recognizable name so that finally you can be a successful human being your Asian parents can proudly puff up their chests for or smile about.
But um. Hold up.
What if that’s not you? What if somewhere along the line you realize that maybe that’s not the path for you? What do you do? I mean yeah, you ‘get a job’ or ‘pursue different paths’ or ‘experience different things’ but on a fundamental level, how do you measure success in a professional setting?
When you enter the workforce, how do you gauge that one is on a “good” path? Is it your annual salary? Bonuses? Sales? The car you drive? The purse you carry? …Um, is there anything NOT monetary or materialistic to gauge your level of success in the business sector? Performance reviews maybe!?
I’m really not sure. And it’s freaking me out because well, for one, academics has been my thing for so long. It was something I was good at and I could soundly measure my “success” with visible grades and percentages. But when it comes to the workplace…wtf. I have NO IDEA if I’ll be good at it – actually, given my lack of networking skills and poor team-player mentality I’ll probably suck at it for the first couple of months.
Secondly, with academia, you know what the pinnacle of excellence is – JD from Harvard or Yale, MD from Stanford, publications in Nature, etc etc etc. And without such clear-cut measures…how do I measure my success? How do I “prove” that I’m doing really well? It’s definitely not salary, nor would it be material goods…nor performance reviews really. So wtf is it?? How do you know you are succeeding or on the way to success without institutionalized well-established checkpoints?
WTF MAN. DEAR NON-ACADEMIC WORLD, YOU ARE CONFUSING.
Omg and I have to buy a car under my name and find an apartment and apply for credit cards and make monthly payments so I can build up this imaginary concept called credit and pay attention to utilities and health benefits and retirement plans and mutual or index funds and buying a kitty-cat companion AND not get fired during my first week of work AND make sure I don’t gain a million pounds from stress eating AND make sure my brother stays on track and make sure my mom doesn’t die of stupid lung shit and make sure my dad isn’t lying when he says he has retirement savings and deal with all the other unexpected oddities of life.
Bring it on baby, bring. it. on. I just spent a year soul-searching in five oh-so-exotic-yet-tourist-catered locations and yoga-ing and meditating my brains out and now I’m so zen that I’ll make mountains move with my breath and curve water droplets with the dancerly delicacy of my nimble fingers despite my round-and-heavy-figure and bearlike facade. And yes I’m being sarcastic (but not really) so please do not take anything I say seriously.
And on a side note…sigh, all jokes and exaggerations aside, I really am going to miss academia. I loved theorizing about what it means to be a conscious human being given current research on cognition. I loved writing about the ethical implications of new neuroimaging techniques. Loved giving powerpoint presentations comparing and contrasting research papers on the relationships between neurophysiology and eating behavior. I loved sounding smart and knowledgeable on an exclusive topic. Sorry, I can come off as pompous but it was a serious high – to comprehend something deeply that not many people have access to or would want to. To systematically understand something about being human. And to explain it to others. That was cool. Who knows, maybe it’ll be part of my future. Actually, it’s kind of related to my future job function in a way. That’s actually pretty cool too.
And. Wow. This whole blog post is not too well-organized or well-written.
…SEE?!?!?!? THIS IS PROOF. MY INTELLECT IS ALREADY DYING. I’m gonna go eat some fried chicken by myself and bang my head on something now.
GOOD NIGHT FRIENDS. I DONT KNOW WHY YOU READ THIS BLABBER SOMETIMES BECAUSE THERE ARE SERIOUSLY BETTER THINGS YOU CAN BE DOING WITH YOUR TIME RATHER THAN READING ABOUT SOMEONE’S FIRST-WORLD WOES.
Oh. One last thing. Sorry, this may be too much information but as a reader who consciously chooses to subject yourself to this, I might as well be 100% open and frank. My boobs hurt. I think I’m going to start my period soon. Which is good because I think it’s coming late this time around because of stress. My uterus must be really excited.
That is all.
Bye for reals.
September 21, 2011 § 2 Comments
…I’m afraid that sometimes
you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
’cause you’ll play against you.
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you’ll be quite a lot.
And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance
you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.
On and on you will hike,
And I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.
You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)
-Dr. Seuss, Oh the Places You’ll Go
* * * * *
Or, alternatively….get ready for some hilariosity:
This is it! This moment right now is the youngest you’ll be.
For the rest of your life. Just wait and just see!
So maybe step back and take a good look
You’ll be even older when you finish this book.
On this milestone people will tell you you’re great.
All your friends will hear, too, of their wonderful fate.
Max dominates baseball, he might even go pro.
McGill plans to sing songs in a traveling show.
Sally Sue’s got a trust fund, she’s set for life.
Omar wants to make partner at Figgleston-Schlife.
But just for a second
Now how can that be?
Not everyone’s special,
Chances are better,
though you don’t want to believe,
That most of your goals
will not be achieved.
You’ll set out today to follow your dreams,
But you’ll quickly discover that life’s not what it seems.
It’s awkward, it’s lonely, and you’ll have no assurance
That you won’t have to serve coffee just to get health insurance.
It’s not what you hoped for or what you expected,
But it’s just a first job so don’t feel too dejected.
Save those schmoffled-up feelings for next month or next year,
Because you’re just getting older and it gets much worse from here.
You’ll soon sink to a place that you think is a low,
But then it gets lower, you’ll learn how low low things go.
Call up your friend’s parents and your parent’s friends.
All social interaction is now a means to an end.
If a person can’t help you, he’s not worth your time.
Finding a job is the only think on your mind.
You’re focused and driven and determined to succeed,
But you WON’T, my dear child. GIVE UP! CONCEDE!
You thought college would help you find a good job,
But all that it did was turn you into a slob.
Four years of sweatpants and ramen and booze,
You set your sights high, but guess what: YOU LOSE!
You can’t do a damn thing that will help you pay bills,
Because your liberal arts college taught you no applicable skills.
You don’t know how to make spreadsheets or balance accounts.
And in the work force that’s about all that counts.
You can’t get a job and you’re totally broke.
What will you do? Why, you’ll become a big joke!
You’ll call up your buddy, old Billiam Blovel,
And say, “You know, Dude? I’m gonna finish that novel!”
But you won’t finish that novel. It’s not very good.
You wonder why you ever even though that you could.
“A novel? A novel?” You’ll stop and you’ll say
Before stupidly thinking, “Of course, a screenplay!”
You’ll waste a few weeks, a few months, a few years
Until you come to embody all of your fears.
You’ll live with your parents, who love you less and less,
While your life crumbles around you in a big, heaping mess.
But don’t worry, kid. It has to get better.
I mean, RIGHT? It’ll definitely get better.
Just keep waiting around and one day you’ll see
That your life isn’t as bad as it maybe could be.
You probably won’t starve or anything like that.
In fact, in all likelihood, you’re going to get fat.
Sorry to disappoint, but I’m telling the truth.
Your high expectations are a product of youth.
But they’re stupid, cliche, and surely will fall,
‘Cause you’re not smart, or talented or special at all.
But mediocrity is normal. It’s what the word means
So, come on, kid, just give up your dreams.
-Susanna Wolf and Jeff Rubin on this site
uh so…on a side note, i think im hired. no papers are signed yet but its kinda really happening. O.O