Sunday, August 26, 2012

Hierarchy of needs (edited)

Yesterday I was aiming to buy some new shoes. Some of my current pairs are too worn out that they would fall apart any second, so I need a pair of basic black and slightly bling shoes for special occasions.

Possibly one good (or weird, depending on how you see it) thing about me is that when I have a shopping target, I go to shopping malls by myself with only that target in mind and I don't get sidetracked easily by other things like clothes. I went to 5 shopping complexes yesterday just focusing on this one goal, and I've found some other shoes I like, but not the type I need. And after few hours of walking around, my right knee started to freeze up on me (old taekwondo injury) and I wrote the first part of this post sitting on a bench at Subang Parade waiting for it to get better (continued the rest of it at home on my lappytop).

The whole time walking around by myself puts me in my usual contemplative mood. Now I contemplate my plans for the rest of my life, assuming that I will always be single. I wonder if I should stay in Malaysia or go overseas, probably to Australia, most likely to Brisbane coz' living next door to the Gold Coast would be awesome. If I stay here, I have three important things, which is family, friends and good food, unlike the boring stuff in Aus. But right now, I so want get my own place coz' living with my folks is a bit of a drag. I'm almost 30 years old, I should have the freedom to run my own abode, decorate it however I want, put things wherever I want, without being nagged at every now and then for not following someone's occasionally ridiculous rules (even putting the shower head facing down is wrong? Sigh). Also, there's this dog outside my office now which I've grown to love to bits, but I can't keep coz' he's too big for a condo and my mum would complain about him anyway. My office mates call him Lucky, which I think is a boring name, so I call him Friendster, coz' he's really friendly and I spend way too much time on social media than I should. So I have this little dream on my own place where I will steal him away and it'll just be the two of us (and my other mini animals) at my place, where Friendster will be the 'man' of the house. Right now, that's the most exciting prospect I have in my life staying here.

If I go the Australia, it's much more of a gamble. Aus is a beautiful place, I would enjoy the sights and sounds, of course, maybe earn enough to set up good investments back home, help pay for my nieces' education, travel around the world, stuff like that. Plus working life is not as stressful. Socially, I could make a whole bunch of new good friends, and possibly even meet that elusive dream guy that is so hard to find. But I could end up being more of a loner than I already am, be taken for a ride by guys are just like the 'exotic-ness' of Asian girls but really aren't interested in the long run, and be strapped with high cost of living. So not really sure if it's as good an idea in practice as it is on paper. Aus would be nice to go to, if I had someone in my life to go with. At least starting a new life with someone makes it easier if things don't work out. Going by myself with no real idea of how things will work out is just really scary. Decisions decisions.

Some people might envy the fact that I still have this freedom to decide what to do with my life. Financially, I am secure enough to do a lot of the things I want to. I was even asked by a friend once why I need do I need a guy in my life when I can obviously take care of myself. I can afford to travel, go diving, do pretty much whatever I want, etc. The friend who asked me that was also the guy that recently blew my emotional stability out of the water for a few days, but he asked that question a long time ago, way before he ever got into my radar as a potential partner.

I have since also been asking myself the same question. Why hope for a guy when I don't need him and I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself? Why would I want to make myself accountable to a guy when I don't need to be accountable to anyone. I can just do what I want without worrying if he's not happy with it? I am quite comfortable being alone, in fact I am used to doing a lot of things by myself, like shopping for shoes, having meals, even watching a movie alone is fine by me. I know some people who can't even stand having a meal alone, and I have trouble understanding why these people hate being alone. I can only deduce that they are uncomfortable with the thoughts they get when in solitude, which most likely go along the lines off 'I'm so alone today, nobody loves me, sad sad sad'. I am tempted to write such people off as insecure weaklings, but I also realize that the good thing about such people is that they make the extra effort to be with family and friends, thus reinforcing relationships, which people like me aren't really bothered to do because we'd usually rather do some stuff alone than have someone tag along which sometimes is an inconvenience.

So again, I keep coming back to that question. I don't need a guy, I can handle myself alone, why can't I just be happy with that? If I could break that desire for companionship and just enjoy my singlehood, life would be so much easier. Wouldn't it? The problem is that desire is still not broken. My whole mental zen room that I created recently helps me to ignore that desire. But the desire is still there, jumping around my head, putting niggling thoughts in brain, whereas previously those thoughts would bring me down, now I see them in a disconnected manner, with a mixture of amusement and annoyance, like watching puppies whine outside my room trying to get in. But I cannot get the puppies to go away.

I now believe the why I can't get rid of that desire is because it's not just a desire for me at this stage. It's become a need. Logically speaking, there is never really a 'need' for anyone to have a partner and get hitched. The only things we really need to survive are food, water, shelter and security. Get all that down and you're set for the rest of your life. But of course, people are not that simple. Here's a little something I've been thinking about which I way back in university in a side subject I took called 'Managing Organizations'. It's a little diagram called Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.

Physiological need, as I mentioned, are right there at the bottom, after which is the need for shelter and security. Then you have all this other stuff above those needs, which funnily enough if you think really logically about it, aren't classified as 'desires', which would imply that they are unnecessary to survive. They are all also needs. Of course, you need to meet the basic needs at the bottom first before prioritizing the upper level needs, but of course, I and most of my peers have got the bottom parts settled, no problem. And most of us would already have, to some extent, the other stuff at the top. But the problem for me is that middle tier called 'Love and Belonging'. Yes, I know I have friendship and family right now, which meets that need in part. But in the long term, friends will not necessarily be around forever, my parents will not be around forever, and the rest of my family will have their own little families to take care of. And it is that worry of reaching that point in my life when I am well and truly alone that fuels the existence of those whiny puppies outside my mental room.

Also, I used to think that being comfortable with solitude means I do not need to be with people, which should logically make it easier for me to dispel the 'need' for companionship. I realized recently that I was quite wrong. In addition to Maslow's hierarchy, I'd also been thinking about the 5 love languages. If you don't know what I'm talking about, please see here before you continue.

In theory, different people express and experience love using one or more of the 5 love languages. For me, I had the problem of never being quite able to figure out which of those 'languages' are mine. I used to think that one of my love languages was Physical Touch, coz' with my ex-es, I really adored the physical intimacy of it. But I was not quite sure about the rest.

It was only after getting to know this guy recently (yes, that one who blew my emotions out of the water) and letting that little hamster wheel in my brain go crazy analyzing the whys and whats of everything that happened, that I think I finally figured out what my love languages are. I have three, Physical Touch is one of them, but it's not the main one. My main one is Quality Time. I need someone to spend time with me and really get to know me. I don't need a bunch of people like that, but I need just one person who makes the effort to get to know me, and whom I can talk about anything with without inhibitions or worry of being ridiculed. Which is why I enjoy all the little chats we had, even though for the most we were supposed to be doing something else at the time. But instead of doing that something else, I was getting his attention, which was nice. Physical Touch, for me, ranks pretty much 2nd, together with another love language which is Words of Affirmation. Another thing I also really enjoyed about him, is that he encourages me to do things I dream about. I never thought encouraging words was something that I needed, but when he did it, I realized that having someone to support you in your crazy dreams is really... pretty awesome.

Quality time, encouragement (words of affirmation), and hugs or other physical acts of affection is something I never gotten from the people whom I think I should have gotten it the most from, which is my family, especially so my parents. They show me love in another way, which are NOT my love languages, which is Acts of Service, which is the typical love language of Asian parents. And perhaps because I haven't really been getting the first two, that's why it took me a long time to realize that these are some of the things I need the most.

I know that I can get by without these things, as I have been doing for a long time. So long that I didn't think I needed them. Or worst come to worst, instead of being in the ideal situation where I have one guy who can speak my love languages, I can always just get them fulfilled through different people. But you know, it's not the same, and it would be kinda weird socially ("Oh hey, by the way, meet my two boyfriends. Hehehehe"). So until I get that need fulfilled, I think I will always be just a little bit listless in life.

I also wonder about what could have possibly led that guy to ask me that question, about why I need a man in my life. And now I think in some way, his inability to understand that reason is because the level of needs he's at now is different from mine. I suspect that he's missing out on two tiers on Maslow's little pyramid, which is safety and esteem. Because, as I mentioned in a previous post, I know he has not achieved what he wants to achieve in life, whether that be financial goals or something else, and his time is running short. I suspect that he feels he needs to achieve those goals first before he even considers a relationship, because he's a guy who would want to be able to take care of his family. Again, this is a suspicion, but based on what I know of his character, I don't think I am far off the mark. And it also makes sense since he has mentioned that he does want a family.

I also suspect that the fact that I am more financially secure that he is is unsettling to him, and perhaps makes him feel inadequate to be with me because in his world of logic, I do not need him because right now I can provide for myself far better than he can provide for me. Which to be quite honest, is true. I don't need him to provide financially for me. I mean, it would be nice to have a guy with some spare cash to treat me with nice stuff... but the one love language that I don't particularly care for is gifts. I don't treasure gifts, and I'm not a material person. I have never had dreams of a fancy ring, or romantic dinner, or a fairy tale wedding. I would rather have a simple dinner with friends for my birthday than receives gifts that most of the time, I don't know what to do with. I'm a girl who thinks giving people roses on valentine's days is stupid coz' they're going to die and there's nothing romantic about having wilted roses in your house. I just want someone to be there for me and keep me company and understand me. Someone who will not shoot down my ideas, even if they are stupid, or shoot me down even if sometimes I behave a little stupid.

So what is frustrating me right now, is that I think he has a completely different interpretation of what I need, which he thinks he cannot provide. And what he doesn't know is that he is already providing for me in the areas that I actually really need. And I would like to be there for him and support him in whatever secret plan he's up to, just coz' I don't want him to think that he has to do it alone.

The thing is, it's all still just a suspicion. I don't know if telling him any of this will actually make a difference to him, or whether it would be enough for him to know I would like to be with him for reasons other than security. I don't think I'm ready to ask him and deal with possibly more vague answers than I can handle. For all I know, he's actually really just not interested in me, and I'm just hanging on to a possibility that is a waste of my time. Heck, maybe he's just being polite because secretly he's in love with another girl that I don't know about. Ugh. So for now, I will continue to deal with these niggling little thoughts in my brain and carry on.

I didn't manage to find my black shoes, by the way. I did buy two other pairs of shoes which I really liked, but still do not have what I need. Seems to be a recurring issue with me, not being able to get the things that I really need. Lol.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Thought balls and humming

I saw a link to this site from an FB friend to one of those silly little time wasters that I don't usually waste my time with, but in this case became a rather funny coincidence.

The first three words I saw were 'love', 'you' and 'hum', in that exact order. It was only later on that I looked again and realized 'hum' is the first part of 'humour', but for some reason, I only noticed the first three letters. And I burst out laughing coz' at how freakily accurate this actually is for me, considering recent events (not that I believe such time wasters are meant to be accurate, but in this case it was, especially after looking at all the other words there and realizing none of them would apply to me, except maybe 'freedom'). 'Love' is pretty straightforward, after all, everyone wants that, not only me. 'You' of course reminded me of the guy I fancy. And 'hum' is being the state I need to be in now, humming a happy tune and taking it easy after another round of emotional derailment.

I'm quite happy with myself right now, as I am pretty much back to my normal emotional state after just a few days. It's especially good as now is holiday season and I was thinking how sad it would be if I was going to spend my free days at home drowning in my sad miserable state. I suppose I can attribute my quick recovery to having gone through similar situations a bit too often for my liking. This time though, I think I have come out of in a different manner than before. Previously I would just go through the motions of being bummed and come out of thinking, well, next time hopefully will be better. This time, I'm so dead serious about making sure I don't ever go through this again that I have really retuned my way of thinking, such that any thought I have now that I know may lead to the possibility of excessive disappointment, sadness, anger or any other crappy emotion later on, I now reject that thought.

My first step was my mental Mortal Kombat style assassination of my ever hopeful alter ago (a slightly disturbing side effect of video games and action movies, me thinks). Even then, two or three days ago I still had occasional sad thoughts hit me like a sack of potatoes, which put me in a sorry state that would have been really embarassing had anyone else seen me. And I figured I not only do I need to kick out hope, I need to learn how to reject all those other negative feelings that may suddenly hit me like a sack of potatoes.

So I came up with a new mental image of my remaining alter ego, Jade, now alone in a little room which represents my brain. In this little room, she sits and waits. Wearing a Tai Chi master-ish type robe, because that looks cool (again, too many movies). Every now and then a ball will bounce into the room, and those balls represent thoughts. So if a thought ball comes in that I know is a negative thought, or a thought that may lead to some sort of hurt, Jade immediately pushes it out of the room with the finesse of a Tai Chi master. Not in a urgent manner like how one plays basketball, but just sitting there, and when the thought ball gets too close, she just gently pushes it out of the room.

As unbelievable funny as it may sound, that image actually hekps put me in a rather nice peaceful zen place. Managing my thoughts as become like a peaceful game of ping pong in slow motion. Like when I start analyzing why that guy said the things he did or wondering if I should have done something differently, etc, etc, I take that thought ball and push it out before it can develop into worst feelings. And I use this for any other situation, like even being on the road and pissed off with another driver, instead of allowing that feeling of pissed off-ness to manifest into me spewing out some colourful words, I imagine taking that big thought ball and pushing it out of my head. And soon, I'm not so angry anymore, lalalaa. I know I haven't really had much time to test out my 'system', but so far it's been working pretty ok. Hearing about friends starting relationships or getting married used to make me jealous. I felt bad about being jealous, I didn't want to be jealous, but I couldn't really help it. And now I just like perfectly fine with it, happy for you, hope it all goes great. I'm in a state where, if that guy I liked announced right now that he was actually interested in another girl and getting married, it wouldn't upset me at all.

The sad part of this is that such a thought management process also requires that certain happy thoughts be rejected as well, depending on whether it on hinges on a matter that I know has the potential to affect me negatively later on. Like if that guy was to buzz me and make conversation. Usually that makes me happy. Now I cannot allow it to make me happy. Coz' that happiness leads to the thought that he cares about me. And maybe that means I still have a chance. And that leads to hope. And as we all know, hope is BAD. So I push out that thought from the beginning. I still chat with the guy, but that's about it. It's a chat between friends, nothing more. I just take it as it is and mosey along.

Of course, I'm not sure exactly how long I can or will stay in such a zen mode. In a couple of months or years, I may end up being in the same sorry situation again. In which case, there's still always alcohol. Also very good at managing thought processes and achieving a zen state, although you're not quite as much in control...

Friday, August 17, 2012

Dealing with disappointment

So today is Day 2 of emotional derailment. Today actually wasn't all that bad. There were times when I got really sad, and I try to analyze all the stuff he told me and why he said this or that, then I get angry at myself for still thinking about something which I know I should let go of since I know it's already a lost cause. But for the most part, I'm more emotionally stable than I expected to be. By the weekend, I should be pretty much back to normal.

I was thinking, in addition to recent events, and in the context of many events in my life, I don't know how it is for most people, but I realized I get disappointed so often in so many different areas of my life, that I come to expect it.

I'm disappointed with guys who I get too close to, and when they learn I'm interested, they tell me that they just wanna be friends, but then promptly disappear out of my life.

I've been disappointed with my mum for years, as everytime I do something I think is good, like helping out at church or helping out people I think need it, she has constantly discouraged me. Plus she had never encouraged me in pretty much anything that I do. This is why I no longer tell her anything about my life, because I've come to expect nothing but negative comments from her. I get disappointed whenever we go out for family events, and she tends to start an argument with someone whether it be my dad, or another relative, or even me, about a ridulously small issue, and said event which is supposed to be something happy, ends up being miserable.

I'm disappointed in my church members. Not all of them, as I have several friends whom I know from church whom I am very close with. But the ones I'm close to are all those who have left the church to go overseas, go to other churches, or do not go regularly, etc. The ones who are still religiously go to my church every week, actually those are the ones I'm disappointed in, because I realized that the majority of them really don't give a damn about my life. I have not been in a cell group for more than a year now. In the time that I decided to disappear from cell til now, after more than 7 years of going to that church, not one of them has asked me why I no longer attend, not even my cell group leader. These same church goers religiously attending every week don't even bother about anything I say on Facebook, and I think almost half my friends listed there are from church. Well, I know Facebook isn't the best place to keep in actual contact with people and for the most part I don't really care if certain people on FB are completely quiet, as most of the people I know there hardly use the site. But I do consider it a pretty good way to keep updated on what other people are doing or thinking about. And everytime I post something, even something sad going on in my life, I get comments from other friends, EXCEPT those regulars at my church, even though I know for a fact that many of them are active on FB and obviously see what I post. I just find it extremely strange that the people who are supposed to care the most about what's happening in my life, don't actually seem to give a hoot. They post to each other though, just not me. Not big wonder that these days I no longer feel like going to that church. Or any church in particular, because...

I'm disappointed with God. For me, He's just not there. I pray and get nothing. I ask and get nothing, except maybe a parking lot, or finding something that I lost. The small stuff. But when it comes to what's really important to me, nothing ever happens. Sad to say, I've also stopped praying, and this was not an easy decision. I tried for years to keep at it and persevere in faith and all that bla, feeling guilty everytime I fail. But I just got tired of trying and getting nothing. Sometimes I complain aloud and ask God if He's there, but not unexpectedly, I don't get an answer. I still believe in God as a creator. But nowadays, I just have trouble believing in the concept that He actually cares. I prefer to think that He created everything than left us to our own devices. Coz' otherwise I keep wondering why God allows all this bad stuff to happen to me, and I get angry at Him. And no longer have the energy to be angry at Him, so I choose to pretend He does not exist. So all my anger can only be channeled at myself. And I can deal with myself, coz' if I think I'm being stupid or not doing something right, at least I can try to work to change myself.

Well, it's not all that bad. I appreciate that I still have some good friends, and my father is a pretty cool guy in most ways, and I get along with my brothers. I have a good job, with good colleagues and manager, for which I am thankful. So I can't say that everything in my life is sad. But I still wonder why I experience so much.... disappointment.

I guess one reason is probably having too much expectatations or desires which are not met, in which case I could go the way of Buddha and train myself to remove all desire and expectations in order to achieve lasting happiness. I'm actually reading up on Buddhist teachings for that reason...not interested in the idol worship stuff though. That's just nonsense.

Another reason could be that I'm just a screwed up person in general, which is why I have bad luck with guys, church members ignore me, and God ignores me coz' I choose to ignore him. Perhaps if I actually started caring more about people, then all this stuff wouldn't happen... but I don't think my indifferent character is much worse than the average person, and yet people with similar character live less disappointing lives.

I must apologize again for all the depressing verbal diarrhea I've been spewing out on this blog. But hey, people, be glad for it, coz' you know when you meet me in person, I can easily be my jolly self, since I already have an outlet and you don't need to hear this stuff from me and get uncomfortable.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Jade has won the war

It's interesting how things can turn upside down in just a couple of days. A couple of days ago, I had confessed my interest to a guy and though the outcome wasn't not quite what I had hope, I got the impression that he actually had interest in me but needed time to settle some things in his life. Although he didn't say he wanted me to wait for him, I was still somewhat happy. I was happy because I thought, you know, at least this guy out of all the other guys I've been interested in before, actually has interest in me too. So it's ok if he's not ready. Even if he didn't ask me to wait, I like him enough that I wouldn't mind waiting for as I can, to see how it goes, just as long as I know that I have a chance. It was just a little happy bubble I had keeping me afloat.

However, my conversation that day with him was rather vague. Vague enough that I wasn't actually sure if my impression of his interest in me was correct or not. So I decided I needed to make sure, and this time I was perfectly direct about what I wanted to know. A few months back, he was the one who initiated conversation with me and from there we got to know each other better to the point where I developed interest in him. So today I ask him straight out whether his intention was because he wanted me as a friend or was he hoping for it to be more than that.

The simple reply was that his initiation of conversation was purely a friendly gesture, and that he's sorry that I misunderstood that to be something more.

And in one feel swoop my happy little bubble has been burst. This guy, whom I thought I had a chance with is just another guy in my long list that has no interest whatsoever. I. Was. Wrong. AGAIN.

Well, I've gone through this before. Shouldn't be a big deal, right? Just suck it up, accept that shit happens and move along and try to find someone else, right?


Today, I believe, is the breaking point of my proverbial stick, in which tension has gradually accumulating over many years. The feeling I had today, is the same feeling that drives people to drink themselves silly until they no longer remember anything. The feeling that made me slap myself, or pinch myself, or poke myself with something really hard, because that physical pain was the only way to distract me from wanting to cry. If I were someone more emotionally unstable, there are far worst things I could be doing to myself, but thankfully those are ideas I can keep well under control. For the most part.

I posted before about how I like to imagine myself as two different characters, whom I named Jade and Hope. As the name implies, Hope is the little voice that tells me that I can't give up. The little voice that says, there's still hope for me. I'm not a worthless scum of a human being that doesn't deserve to be loved. God isn't deriving some sort of sick fun out of watching my heart get shredded time and time again. Although it might really easy for Him to send some great guy into my life right now, He's keeping you waiting so you can develop some characterrrrr. Coz' character is important.... So everything I go through this situation with a guy, I've always come out of it, with still some hope that maybe next time it'll be different. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe. Each time I go through it again, I still have that hope.

Jade, on the other hand, is the little voice that just tells me life will be so much easier if I just gave up this desire for human companionship. That little voice that says, well, half of marriages end in divorce, and most of the other half end up like your parents (i.e. they barely tolerate each other). Why, Carol, why do you wanna go through all that? Just enjoooooy your single life and stop dreaming about a relationship that's going to bring you more headache. After all... you may be lonely when you're single.... BUT at least you're a gazillion times more emotionally stable than you would be in a relationship. I know people with this kind of mindset. They're not completely happy, but they're enjoying their life.

I think I might have been able to deal with this the same way again if this was just another guy whom I didn't really know... whom I thought was just kinda cute but I didn't really know him that well. But this time, it's different coz' I've become close to this guy, and I've told him a lot of stuff that I normally tell people. I've seen his character, and he's someone that I really trust.

And so that makes the rejection a bit too much to handle.

So here's the grand plan. I'm just gonna allow myself to completely emotionally derail for the next couple of days, and feel through the sadness until there's nothing left to feel. After that I am just gonna enjoy my single life doing whatever I want, coz' I don't need a guy. I don't want a relationship. I don't wanna hope for a relationship. Coz' I don't need to go through this crap again. I'm gonna use my money, and get my own place, live my own life and do whatever the heck I want to coz' I don't need to be accountable to a boyfriend or a husband, which is GREAT. And the best thing is you won't have to hear about me whine about a guy ever again on this blog.

In my own little twisted mind, I also like to imagine that Jade has Hope's head skewered on the end on the end of a sword, Mortal Kombat style. Just to make the little bitch doesn't come back to haunt me again. >:)

By the way, if you're concerned about how I'm doing, you don't need to ask, because I'll just say that I'm doing perfectly fine. It will be the truth soon enough.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The cat is out of the bag

Today, I told the guy that I like how I felt about him. Kinda did it a long-winded, beating around the bush  (and kind of hilarious, now that I think about it) manner under the context of getting his opinions on what kinda signals a girl can send to tell a guy that she's interested in him. I was hoping that he would get my hints and make the first move of telling me how he felt about me, since I try to make it a point to not make the first move when it comes to guys (I try, but I still fail). As it turns out, his definition of the 'first move' was completely different from mine and the fact that he initiated conversation and took the effort to get to me better few months back was already considered the 'first move' to him, which to him meant it was my turn to reciprocate, and to him that meant having to tell him exactly how I felt. That statement in itself told me what I wanted to know, which is that he is interested, so I thought, to heck with my rule, and I told him.

Unfortunately, the outcome was not quite what I hoped for. Turns out he's not ready for a relationship yet because he's in the process of making some life changing decisions and not ready to get involved with a girl yet. As you might imagine, my earlier happy little bubble was very quickly burst. My initial thought was "Why the heck did you tell me that earlier and get my hopes up only to shoot me down right after? Aaaarrrggghhh!!!"

Fortunately, I didn't say what I was thinking, and that initial feeling of frustration quickly turned into relief and... even a little but of happiness. Happy because I know how he feels too, and I wasn't being an idiot when I thought he's interested in me. And relief because that feeling of liking a guy and not knowing how he feels is to me and not getting the 'signals' from him that I'm hoping for... that feeling drives me a bit crazy, which also makes me annoyed with myself for allowing myself to get into that situation and get driven crazy. So the combination of going crazy by wondering how he feels and being annoyed with myself, makes me even more crazy. Which is why I very usually fail at keeping to my resolution to not tell the guy how I feel about him first. Coz' even if it turns out he's not interested, I would rather know it sooner, get bummed earlier then quickly move on rather than continue to prolong my self-antagonization. So now that I had it out, I'm no longer plagued by that feeling.

And after thinking about it for a while, actually I think it's for the best that he puts the relationship on hold. I've been chatting with him long enough to know he wants to commit and have a family, but right now he can't, for reasons he won't tell me, but I can kinda guess what they are. I'm guessing that he plans to work towards making a better life for himself, which in turns means he can better provide for a family....not that I know for sure, but it's my best guess. The fact that he has goals is, to me, better than a guy who no direction in life. And for him to decide to hold out on a relationship with a girl he likes so he can achieve his goals, whatever they may be, is an admirable quality in itself. Better than ending up with a guy who follows his heart but ends up being a 'scrub'.

A guy with a character like this is a keeper. And since he said he needed time to figure out his life before getting into a relationship, I told him that I don't mind waiting for him to figure it out, as long as I know I have a chance with him. And in another quite admirable response, he said he wouldn't feel right to ask me to wait since he doesn't know how long he'll take to work it out. In other words, I'm free to scout around for other guys. Which is a good thing for me, and it also kinda shows that he's thinking of me before himself. But like I said, a guy like is a keeper. And I would rather wait for him than 'scout around' and go through that whole stupid cycle of liking a new guy and most likely getting disappointed again. At least with him, now I know where I stand. And well, even though he won't tell me what his goals are, I would still like to be there to support and encourage him.

The best thing for me, is that he still wants to be close friends even after my confession of my feelings, which could have been potentially embarassing and even worse, result in the guy withdrawing and eventually no longer talking to me again (something I am quite afraid of, as it has happened to me more than once). Having someone I can trust to talk to about anything has been awesome, and I'm glad that after what I told him, we can still maintain that level of friendship.

So yeah, the response didn't turn out quite like I hope, but I'm still kinda happy. :)

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

The disturbing trend of poor money management

I've been surprised several times over the past couple of years when talking to some of my friends and learning about their financial predicaments. Said friends are those of my age, some even older, around 28 to 34 years old, and it just amazes me whenever they tell that they have no money. I mean, at this age, where most people are getting married and starting a family, these friends of mine who are unmarried and some of whom are still living with their parents, have absolutely zero savings and are living from hand to mouth every single month. I know at least 5 friends in such a predicament, and these are the people who are close enough to me that they would tell me about their financial situation. And since I am not really that close to a lot of people, the fact that 5 of my small handful of pretty close friends is in some sort of financial predicament makes me wonder just how many people my age are having financial issues as well. According to a recent survey, Malaysia ranks as the worst credit card repayers in the Asia-Pacific region, which gives me a further idea of how bad people are in this country.

People usually complain about how cost of living in Malaysia is becoming ridiculously high but salaries have not increased for the past couple of decades. To some extent, this is definitely part of the problem (which would hopefully be gradually resolved if the current government was replaced by one that was less corrupt and didn't constantly siphon off the people's money on useless mega-projects or buying handbags for a certain suspected murderer's wife. So for those who can vote, you know who NOT to vote for). The average degree holder usually starts off with a salary of about RM2000 a month. Assuming a person lives a moderate lifestyle, rents a room in KL and drives an average car, rent and monthly car repayment is at least about RM1200 a month, food at least RM400 a month, petrol RM200, groceries another RM200.... that already all your salary gone, with none left to spend on leisure. For people who can't get jobs with a better salary than this, I can kinda understand why lack of money is a problem. Although I find it strange that a salary can remain at that level of a miserable RM2000 a month after more than 5 years of working.

HOWEVER, most of my friends are staying with their parents and driving cars given by their parents (usually really old cars). So they are already saving on rent and car repayment, and if the parents cook and buy some of the groceries, this helps as well. I should know, because I'm one of them and I saved a lot over the years. But yet such friends STILL don't have any money. I'm not sure why, but I believe for some of them, it's also largely a matter of not spending money wisely, living beyond their means. And here's why I say this.

Case #1:
The most 'shocking' story I recently heard from a friend was when he said he spent RM400 to buy some movie-related paraphernalia which is a big interest to this friend of mine, and apparently this resulted in him having a grand total of RM10 left for food for the rest of the month (which was about a week). So I asked him what he was going to do for food, and he said go hungry until dinner time, at which time he can get dinner at home. I asked him why he spend all his money on something that isn't useful, when he know he doesn't have enough money to eat, and he simply said those items were on discount at the time. I asked him how he was going to pay for his car petrol, and he said by credit card. I was just blinking at him and kinda speechless at that point.

Case #2:
This was not really friend but an ex-colleague is no longer working at my office. Said guy is driving a Lancer. You would think anyone who bough a Lancer would make sure he would have enough money to pay off the Lancer. But one find day, he asks me through the office email if I can lend him about two grand. The story was that he was behind on his car loan for two months and the bank was threatening to take back his car the following week if he did not pay. And he recently withdrew some money to pay for his car loan, but while walking his dog near the area of the ATM, he got jumped and the money was stolen.
The first question is, why was he so brilliant to withdraw a large sum of money and then go walk your dog nearby? For me, I try to time my ATM withdrawals at such a time when I'm about to go home, so I can leave some of the cash at home to be used to top up my wallet I need to, and every day I try not to carry anything more than RM300 in my wallet, unless I know I have to pay for something more expensive. It's safer than withdrawing than walking around a whole day which means you are at risk of losing that large sum by someone stealing it or maybe you misplaced your wallet, etc.
The second question is, why buy such a expensive car when you obviously cannot afford it? Sure people may think you look cool in it, but trust me, all that coolness really evaporates into thin air when you have to ask people for 2000 bucks to help prevent your car from being empounded. Especially from a person like me who drives a freaking Myvi! Just so you know, I didn't lend him the money, but some people in my office did. And the repayment was late.

For some people, it's not so much living beyond their means, but more towards making bad career choices. A couple of people I know took a risk and quit regular day jobs to do sales job which allows them more freedom and flexible working hours, which is what they want, but they pay is based on commissions. I'm not against taking risks and quitting your job to live out your dream. However, some risks don't pay off and in such cases, you need to realize quickly when your risk is not working out and go back to working a 9 to 5 job, which may means no flexibility, but you are more financially secure and you get company benefits like healthcare, travel costs are paid for, etc (unless you work for a really shitty company).  For both friends, the risk did NOT pay off, they ended up struggling every month. Both of them asked to borrow money from me to the tune of about RM1000-1500. Fortunately, one did pay me in full in due time and was smart enough to go back to working full time although he's not happy with it.
However, the other friend is still sticking to his 'dream job' and promised to pay me back within a couple of weeks because he was waiting for a paycheck. That paycheck apparently never came, because it's been probably 2 months now and I still have not gotten back that money. My advice to him to get a secure job has fallen on deaf ears.

I do believe in the adage that if I ever lend money, it should be an amount that I don't need urgently to survive, and in this case, I can do without it. However, the fact that I have to ask my friend for payback and he's constantly having excuses on why he can't pay back (some of which I can verify to be true, which makes it even sadder, maybe) does result in a strain in the friendship.

And to be perfectly honest, I don't see the difference in having flexible hours compared to a normal day job. In such flexi-jobs, the amount you earn is based on how much work you put into it. If you're doing sales, you need to go out and make sales. And so you probably spend about the same time on such a job as you would need on a normal 9 to 5 job, in order to get the same amount of money, unless you do some sort of multi-level marketing thing, most of which are just scams to help the founders make big bucks (plus, those guys can be like a cult, almost worshipping whatever product they are selling and it's SCARY. I've been some of these talks, I felt like I was in an overly enthusiastic church, and the god was the product). So you end up working an equivalent amount of hours, BUT because sometimes you don't work the same hours as normal people, you end not being able to hang out with people because you have to work weekends or night time to meet clients. And the annoying side effect of this is trying to work out times to meet up. Like one friend of mine working of these 'flexi-jobs' asked me and a few other friends out on a working night to go hangout at a place where it's cheaper after 11pm onwards. The thing is, I and these other friends all work normal jobs, and therefore it does not make sense to ask friends who work normal hours to go out past 11pm on a working night to hang out with you, and also to save on a few bucks, which the rest of us don't mind paying for to go during more normal hours.

A friend of mine who is a financial advisor once said that it Financial Management should be made a subject in school, and seeing the way things are, I think things is really true. I cannot understand how people at my age and with similar level of education can go through each month with NO money. It's really really scary. If you're a friend of mine reading this and this applies to you, well, I'm sorry if I sound judgmental, and maybe you're in a situation for reasons not due to overspending but you really can't get a better paying job, in which case it's understandable. But seriously, if you can, at least make a habit to put aside a couple of hundred bucks a month or something. Start a different bank account just for savings and don't touch the money that goes in there. Better than nothing!

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Two options

So my last post (which was also about a rare emo status update on FB) is one of those few ones where I look back in hindsight and be a bit annoyed at myself for letting that one slip. It doesn't take a genius to know that the reason behind that was because of a guy, and that would also be the same guy I was talking about a couple of posts back about butterflies and stuff. (Which also makes me think how boring my life must be that I only seem to be posting about this).

So today I'm writing in a state of mind that is not fogged up by either the happy high of lurve, or the emo feeling of shit. I'm writing this in almost like a third person perspective looking at myself, and being amused at how after all these years, a 'crush' has the same effect on my emotions as it does when I was a teenager. And the thought processes are also the same as it would of a typical female teen. Happy when he's paying attention to me, but as soon as I get the feeling that he's lost interest, that happy high turns into a sucky low, resulting in the posting of vague Facebook post with hidden meanings. And as a typical female, I also overanalyze the situation. For example, when he's been chatting me regularly over the past few days, then for a couple of days he doesn't say anything. Then I start wondering if there's something I said in our last conversation that turned him off or made him lose interest. And I don't wanna start the chat coz' the past couple of chats I'm the one who starts the conversation first, and I don't wanna seem desperate. But he's STILL not buzzing me, even though HE's was the one who kinda started it overall. So I'm waiting in agony wondering what's going on while another part of me is screaming at agonized me and telling me to stop being an idiot, and if I wanna talk to the guy, JUST DO IT. But then I don't wanna do it coz' I still wanna seem desperate. Yadda yadda yadda blablabla.

And this is why crushes annoy me. I'm much more emotionally stable when I'm not having a crush. Seriously. And I'm still trying to discover if there's some sort of switch I can internally press to deactivate this emotional roller coaster I go through. So far I figure, there's only two ways to resolve this, which is either get a guy and be happy ever after (with of course all the minor shat in between that is normal of relationships) OR get a guy, have a whirlwind romance that ends in a trainwreck relationship which will effectively put me off from wanting to be in a relationship ever again. Obviously option 1 is preferable, but you know, option 2 is really not that bad once you think about it. I mean, I do enjoy the freedom of being single as well, and most times, this nagging desire for lifelong human companionship just seems more like a drag than anything. And yeah, such desire is only normal human behaviour, but at this point in my life of too many misses, I almost relish the idea being as emotionless as a Vulcan.

In the meantime, my current target and are still regularly chatting which makes me happy coz' it means I didn't say anything stupid to put him off after all. Yay!

Here I go again...