This one is for you.

Dear You,

I begin this letter with a heart full of hope that you will begin reading it after putting aside every thought you have ever had about love and relationships.

When you are 13, you think love is when a particular boy across the hallway catches your attention and you think he is cute. And that one glance back from him in your direction is all that takes for love to blossom and for a happily ever after. But, when you are 26, you have been soured by the realities and practicalities of the world that you think love is nothing beyond a commitment in exchange for a status of marriage hood.

That’s where you are wrong.

Marriage is a lifetime of commitment pegged with countless responsibilities. But, it also entails a whirlwind romance.

Marriage can be a series of silent nights after arguments. But, it is also a sum of the morning kisses and hugs that you begin the day with.

Marriage is weekends spent running between grocery stores and in law’s place. But, such weekends remind you how you shouldn’t take the love that surrounds you for granted.

Marriage is not about who is right or who is wrong. But, rather, about who apologies first even when they are not in the wrong.

Marriage can be a boring routine. But, it only holds true when you embark it with the one that makes even ordinary seem extraordinary.

So hold on even when you think age is catching up on you. Don’t ever settle and sell your sell yourself short. You and love are worth far more than a contractual agreement.

The Gen-Y syndrome.

Pardon the post since everyone probably has dissected and reanalysed this issue over a zillion times. I finally just got hit real hard by this so just want to pen down my two cents worth.

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1. They are restless.

I wake up almost every morning feeling restless realising how boring and mundane life is. Work has turned the highly creative ‘us’ into mechanical robots. Robots that work towards fulfilling another’s dreams. Unless of course, you are one of those lucky ones, working towards your own dream.

2. They hate micro-management.

They challenge the older generations (narrow) mindset of how spending longer hours cooped up behind your office desk does not necessarily equate to greater productivity. They do not like to be picked on over nitty gritty matters. They like to earn well deserved breaks on their own accord. So, please don’t bother telling them to take a break when they are in the middle of finishing an uphill task.

3. They cannot live aimlessly.

They need to have a sense of purpose to feel at peace with themselves, and life at large. They are high-spirited individuals who want to be able to contribute to a greater cause and not just get by the day merely..existing.

I am definitely one of those suffering from this syndrome. Hence, the post at 2359 hours on a weekday night. What’s the way out? I don’t quite know yet. But, what I do know is that our voice is getting louder. So, be patient, changes are in progress. I’m quite sure.

What has working turned you into?

So the past 2 days I’ve been forced to ‘critically think’ and forget about wearing the hat of an engineer.

I began evaluating the perspective of work now that I’m coming to nearly 9 months in my current job.

Working has turned me into many things.

It has made me a lot more cynical about the corporate world. Most of the times, I get reinforced that it’s just made up of a lot of fake people making use of each other to climb the corporate ladder. It makes the think the more I stay in the job, the more I’ll start to accept the way of life and turn into literally “one of those people out there.” Something, I never believed in turning into when I was younger and more hopeful.

Working has turned me into extrovert and introvert all at once. During my working hours, I’m forced to interact with so many people. From dealing with difficult contractors to constantly updating superiors progress for the day to sharing a laugh or two with a colleague who is stressing over a pressing issue. Technology makes me feel so connected even when I’m out of office. Then I  begin to wonder if  Whatsapp didn’t exist, my working life would have been so different. I don’t have to be constantly by my phone waiting to respond to a text or a call. I don’t have to periodically open my office chat groups, which are at least 5, to check for updates. This bugged me during my initial first few months. I felt robbed of every personal space I had. Even on weekends, my mind isn’t free from work or my “to-do list” that is waiting to grin back widely at me, when I get back to my desk on Monday.

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One fine day, I slowly stumbled on my coping mechanism quite unknowingly. I was shuttling between places for meetings and was forced to have my lunch alone and that’s when I realised, VOILA, I love being alone during lunch time. It’s like my cheat code to survive the next 5 hours or so, before calling it a day. I can sit alone in even a fancy restaurant and just people watch. Everybody is dressed so prim and proper, minding their Ps and Qs and chatting away mostly about work or after work ‘plans’. And I’m there, just silent, enjoying my food, not having to worry about awkward silences on the table. Then I begin to wonder, what those people sitting opposite me, think of me. Are they envying me or they happy they are not me? The me who has no lunch partner. Would they kill to have lunch alone? Or, are they truly friends instead of just colleagues?

With that, let me log off from all this technology and have a bit of me time before I head to work (night shift) in less than 12 hours.

What has working turned you into?

Randy Pausch, a Man that humbles me.

I’m glad while I was growing up my desires to buy a new toy (though I don’t recall ever wanting a toy till I kicked a fuss and crying) or clothes and everything else were not put down with an answer along the lines of “there is no money this month to afford it, maybe next month”. Instead, they were often reasoned by logic as to whether I really need it, for how long would I use it till I get bored of it and so on. And often, the end result of all this ended up in me walking away silently, hoping my long face would do the trick. I might have spent a hour or two or at most a day brooding over the fact that my wants always got evaluated with my needs. No surprise the latter always won the tug of war. Plus, my long face didn’t do the trick in case you were wondering. Though sometimes, my dad did try to bribe me with alternatives. What he does best till today, I must add.

So anyway that aside, back to where I was, this bit from the Last Lecture by Randy Pausch humbles me each time I read it or remember it. The first time I read the paragraph, I re-read it just to let it sink abit deeper inside me.

Randy Paush with his family

Randy Paush was diagnosed of pancreatic cancer in Sep 06 and discovered in Aug 07 that he had “3 to 6 months of good health left”. He then gave a lecture titled “The Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” which was a raving hit on Youtube. This led him to co-authoring the book, The Last Lecture which he wanted to leave behind for his 3 kids. A legacy of life lessons.

Importance of people instead of things. He told a story of buying new convertible that he was so proud of and taking niece and nephew for a ride. Randy’s sister, the kid’s mother was telling them how important it was to keep car pristine and kids were laughing because at the same time he was pouring a can of orange soda on the back seats. His sister asked what are you doing and he said “it’s just a thing.” And nephew Chris wound up being really grateful because he had flu and wound up throwing up on way home. “And I don’t care how much joy you get out of owning a shiny new thing; it’s not as good I felt from making sure that an 8 year old didn’t have to feel guilty for having the flu.”

Randy Pausch lost his battle with pancreatic cancer on July 25, 2008 at the age of 47.

We are often get so caught up in our material pursuits that we lose sight of the things that actually matter. The simple things we have and often take for granted.

Self-help books always inspire me in so many ways. I gain so much knowledge even if it’s not about quantum physics or human anatomy. I get reminded of the small things that we often forget, I often forget, in the rat chase for everything else. I pause a minute, to take a breath, listen to my breath, smile and then continue reading.

Our wants are always going to be a never-ending list. The number 10 item in our wish list will be 10 times more expensive then the number 1 item. You’re forgetting the list tends to infinity. We are never going to be satisfied with what we have. Show me a millionaire who claims he’s satisfied with the money he has made and is going to devote his time to charity instead of business. Yes, probably the noble few out of the many who has grown sick to wealth or has his days numbered. Every other millionaire featured in Straits Times Invest column every Sunday and probably the Forbes magazine would reply that “there is no retirement for me cause I love what I’m doing.” That’s bullshit. You’re telling me he’s not getting the high from printing money. That he isn’t equating money with happiness.

We often think money can buy us happiness. We’re mistaken. Money buys us things. You’re going to be clothed even if you wear a $20 dress or a $5000 dress.

Money vs happiness. Let’s not allow the former to win the tug of war.

I’m done after this 2 excerpts from Life’s Little Detours by Regina Brett.

Every so often, I want to borrow someone else’s life. I take a sneak peek at some other woman’s journey and want to try on her shoes and walk around in them. I stare at my feet and compare my shoes to hers. Hers look prettier, sexier, hipper and way more comfortable. Of course, I have no idea how those shoes actually feel on her feet, only how I think they would look and feel on mine.

It’s easy to compare my insides to other people’s outsides and come up short. Every so often I get a blunt reminder of how my problems are really my greatest gifts.

A few years back, I attended a function of hundreds of movers and shakers in Cleveland. I felt intimated surrounded by a roomful of powerful mayors, congress members, business executives and judges. They all looked smarter, richer, and more important than I’d ever be.

One judge came up to me to talk. She was bright, rising star in the community. She asked me if I had children. I took out the photo that I keep tucked in my wallet of my daughter in her wedding gown. The judge studied the picture of my daughter sitting next to me in that poof of white tulle. Her eyes grew misty. “I don’t have any children,” she whispered. “I had five miscarriages. I wanted a child so badly. I can’t imagine what it’s like to have a daughter.”

She touched the photo to her cheek and closed her eyes, as if to soak up the kiss of motherhood, an imprint she could feel but never experience.

Every time I look at that picture, I feel newly blessed.

———–

What do I need?
Nothing.
What do I have?
Everything.

I’m not going to be a saint and start give up all my worldly pleasures and subscribe to the answers of this two questions. But, I want this to be a reminder to myself the next time I unknowingly fall into the trap of thinking that a higher paying job, a new bag, more flattering clothes, perfect body coupled with hair or a new gadget is going to make me happier. Only I can determine my own happiness, no one else. And, nothing else.