I'm a simple girl with a li'l dream, of seeing her humble works in exquisite print, to share with all who feels for words, writtenwith an unsupressable urge. So indugle in my fantasies, and plow your way through my memories, greatly appreciated you will be, if you can leave your comments here for me.
Sometimes I wonder if I am too nice. So much so that I suspect people are starting to take advantage of my kindness and good nature.
I have always been told that I have a high tolerance level - particularly when it comes to people. Perhaps there's really some truth in that observation. I couldn't help but wonder - am I constantly being taken for granted?
The people who actually do that - I find are not merely limited to strangers and acquaintances. Friends, colleagues and even family members - are probably as equally guilty in testing my patience, if not more.
I have met people who have bitched about me to those I know and care about, and yet have the audacity to ask me for favours.
I have come across people who could not deliver what they have been told to do, but yet expect to be rewarded handsomely.
I have seen people who could not take nor follow simple instructions, and yet think they deserve more.
I am torn when people let me down, and yet continue to behave as if they have done nothing wrong.
I am especially disheartened by people who know I would be upset with their actions, but yet don't have the decency to stop making excuses for themselves.
I even struggle with those who explicitly lay their cards out on the table stating their demands/goals, and yet are so unwilling to make personal sacrifices to achieve them.
Somehow, these people have it in their heads that they can get away with it - taking me for granted. I am beginning to think that they have mistakenly misjudged my silence for approval, and my calm disposition as an endorsement of their selfishness.
I don't think they know me at all, and I don't think they are even vaguely aware of how I feel about them. Perhaps because of my amazing ability to tolerate such nonsense and hold my temper in check, these people have eventually convinced themselves that I wouldn't mind / I wouldn't be angry / I wouldn't react - no matter how audacious / selfish / unreasonable / demanding they are.
Perhaps because I have always held back my stinging opinions so that I don't hurt the people I care about, they naturally assume their self-serving actions and decisions will not bother me one bit.
How wrong can they be.
Just like a pressure cooker, there's only so much shit one can hold under the cover. I will obviously hit boiling point one day - and I can only hope when that day finally comes, these people who took me for granted can find a good place to hide their sorry faces - so that they don't get my shit exploding all over them.
"Most human beings have an absolute and infinite capacity for taking things for granted." ~ Aldous Huxley
For the most part of my life, I see myself as a conformist. A traditionalist. A conservative. I believe strongly in the concept of loyalty - to my friends, families and loved ones, my job and undoubtedly my country too.
I grew up feeling a strong sense of pride in the nation that has been transformed by the likes of Lee Kuan Yew and other forefathers - from a small fishing village to the multicultural first world city state that it is right now. I swell with pride too when people from other countries complimented Singapore of being a safe, clean, green and stable country, something many of us tend to take for granted, especially for the younger generations of Singapore who never had to go through the devastation of war/terrorism.
Never mind that people are laughing at us for our chewing gum policies, our tough stance on vandalism and the fact that we have campaigns to remind ourselves to be courteous, kind and gracious. At least we don't have kids running around in schools gunning down other kids, or citizens trying to blow themselves up in front of our embassies. I was steadfast in my loyalty to the country I grew up in, and I accepted the fact that although we were not perfect, our leaders have tried their best.
I believed in that for a long time. When I first became eligible to vote, I have no qualms expressing my allegiance to the ruling party. I couldn't understand why my parents and the older generation I speak to think differently. Couldn't they see how far we have come, the progress we have made, the strides we have taken and the brand we have established for ourselves on the global platform - despite being such a tiny island state? I never knew why they were so embittered, why they were always full of angst, and why they were always frustrated and emotional, especially during the election period.
I have always brushed them off as a bunch of grumpy old people who probably have nothing better to do than whine and gripe, an aging population who was always finding fault and perpetually impossible to please.
I stepped into my mid-20s and was once again eligible to vote. By then I had a job, but was struggling to make ends meet as I was laden with education debts and the need to support my family, having lost my dad at age 12. Being the traditionalist that I am, I thought it was normal for a young professional like myself to go through such struggles - as everyone around me seemed to be in the same boat. It wasn't a big deal - you just have to work hard.
I never thought to rely on the government because I believed its money and time would be much better spent on people who needed them most - the poor and destitute, the aged and lonely, and the handicapped and terminally ill. My struggles were nothing compared to these people, hence I made absolutely no demands on the government to help ease my financial burdens. I scoffed at those who complained incessantly, and assumed that they were merely a bunch of spolit brats and ingrates who had unrealistic expectations of a government who had already done so much.
My vote once again went to the people I felt then would be the best team to sustain Singapore's growth, the team who could best take care of Singapore and its people's interests.
I stepped into my early 30s and for the third time I was given the opportunity to vote. For the first time in 10 years, my belief, trust and blind loyalty to the system - started to waver. People who know me would know I worked extremely hard, depended largely on myself and am a hopeless optimist. My glass is always half full, unless you emptied it.
But at age 30, I was still struggling to make ends meet. I had no savings and I saw no way out of this low-middle class life except to work, pay my bills, pay my taxes and leave whatever morsel of income I have left for basic necessities. I started to understand why life was getting tougher, why our belts were getting tighter and why my money was always getting smaller - no matter how hard I worked or how much I earned.
In the last 10 years, the cost of living would have doubled in some areas, tripled in others. My salary only increased by a single digit percentage - supposedly to curb inflation or to offset the pain of GST. It was no longer enough to work hard. I couldn't see my money at all because they all went into the necessary living costs that I must incur just living and breathing as an ordinary citizen. Food costs, utility bills, transport costs, income tax, healthcare costs - all of which increased year on year, subtly draining me of the very little resources I have left. I started to wonder if my votes have created a money-sucking monster, and the warnings of my parents and the old people I have scoffed at previously for their lamentations and gripes, started to haunt me.
For the first time in my life I wondered - what if what they have been complaining about all this time were actually true?
Despite the nagging feeling that something was not quite right with the system, I fed the monster for the third time. Why? Because at that time, I chose to be logical and rational. The Opposition was unfortunately not united and were, I thought, an irrational bunch. Some went on a hunger strike, some lashed out at the PM in public, others were merely stirring up emotions of the people by focusing on petty issues. All I could see was the Opposition fighting among themselves and falling out with people who they were supposed to ally with to build a stronger case for themselves as to why we needed an Opposition party.
My vote of confidence hence once again went to the party I thought would let me down - less. It was probably a decision I'd live to regret for the next five years to come. The speed of growth - although good for the Singapore economy, has left me gasping for air. The bills kept piling, the taxes kept increasing, and the costs kept escalating.
I started to wonder: Why couldn't the leaders I have voted for slow down a little and see that our salaries have not grown at the same accelerated rate as the economy? I couldn't keep up. I needed a break - a significant and long-term one. Not one in the form of a $400-$500 share package for the entire year, which adds up to meagre sum of less than $2 a day. Hell no. I couldn't even take a train AND the feeder bus back to my home with that amount.
Five years have passed and once I again I find myself standing at this same crossroad - with the power to exercise my vote. This year however, I started to view politics in a very different light. I started to take it more seriously and read voraciously to help me understand the systems I have helped created with my votes. I started to attend rallys, read their manifestos, devour all the online and media reports from various alternative sources, and critically scrutinised each and every speaker on the Opposition parties - just so I can understand what they have to offer.
This time, they did not fail me. The Opposition have reconciled their differences and got their act together. I witnessed a strong sense of unison and a deliberate effort to orchestrate their campaign strategy - so that they could contest in almost every constituency. I can see the silent respect each party attributes to one another, and the consistent message all the parties try to bring across to everyone - in terms of the challenges we have been facing, the pain we are currently going through, the feelings and emotions that are raging in all of us in response to a government who seems to have stopped listening to and caring about its people.
For the first time, all the Opposition parties have put in place people I can look up to, people who have the amazing passion to make a difference, people who genuinely wants a positive change and people who wants to do it the right way. I salute each and every one of them for their selfless sacrifice - as every Singaporean knows, the path of an Opposition is one that is often fraught with difficulties, obstacles and persecution. Just like the Christian way of life.
In its pursuit of growth and profits, the system has stopped listening, stopped caring and stopped consulting. As I read stories after stories of how the financially strapped citizens were kicked around various government organisations in their quest for financial assistance; how brutal some officials were in oppressing those who couldn't afford to have a proper meal much less pay their utility bills; how families were coerced to sleep in tents on the beaches or void decks as their homes have been seized by the government for defaulting on loan payments; how some have resorted to throwing themselves in front of an oncoming train because they have no one else to turn to - my heart broke and I realised how wrong I was. I was wrong to trust that the people whom I've put in place with my votes would take care of them.
I was slapped with an even harsher reality as I read with utter disbelief, the breakdown of salaries these leaders get to earn as ministers. No wonder they were blind to the plight of the people. No wonder they were ignorant of the struggles we go through. No wonder they could not emphatise with our pain. No wonder they have lost touch with the people and were deaf to their cries. No wonder. The amount of money and power they are reveling in - have completely de-sensitized them to the reality of the lives of the ordinary Singaporean. They are no longer obligated to serve the people wholeheartedly and fight for their causes. They simply have too much to lose.
It is with a heavy heart that I write this note - to apologise for my oversight, and for feeding a monster time and again and allowing it to balloon to such catastrophic proportions. It is my folly, and I am sure the folly of many young people to come - because I was once that young, impressionable, nationalistic, idealistic, loyal and passionate voter who believed that our leaders could do no great wrong, and who could bring us to greater heights better than any other parties could.
I now know why I had a thought once, that if I ever have a kid, I will send him/her overseas - as Singapore has become too costly, too rigid, too stifling for any kid to grow up with their own voice and freedom to be creative and expressive. I never knew what sparked that thought - but I guessed like so many people, although I have felt the effects of an uncaring system, we were still in denial - choosing to believe in the best of the people we have voted for.
I have no wish to influence anyone with this note, as it was written more for myself, as a piece for my own self-reflection. But if you happen to be reading this, just know I have come one full cycle, and I have been on both sides of the fence. Know that I have read, heard and seen enough to form my perception of the system I have once trusted, and I am committed to make a change.
As a Chinese saying goes:"When a student fails, the teacher is at fault. When a kid misbehaves, the parents have failed their duty." Hence similarly, when the system turns its back on the very people it is obligated to serve, the voters who put these leaders in place are responsible.
Come 7 May 2011, I urge all of you - please vote responsibly.
People have always wondered why I sleep so late. Some even believe that I don't ever sleep. I used to tell them I work better at night. My productivity and efficiency levels are interestingly much higher after the sun sets on everyone else's ass. Of course, I didn't convince that many people with that crappy excuse.
Then I explained that because I have a regional portfolio and report to our HQ in London, I actually have to work two shifts. Hence, when everyone has knocked off for the day, my 2nd shift would have started as that's the time when London clocks in at work.
That went down better with the skeptics - and I was let off the hook for a while. It wasn't long before people started to question if my bosses were barbaric tyrants, and my story was starting to make them look like unreasonable assholes.
Eventually I realised that I am in fact trying to maximise my waking hours as much as I can - with the objective of living my life to the fullest. I want to stay awake as long as possible so that I can do all the things I really want to do (which I can't when I am at work) - be it blogging, Facebooking, surfing the net, downloading (whatever), watching TV, gyrating to Xbox Kinect's Dance Central, listening to music, reading my favourite book or planning a party.
Every hour I spend sleeping is an hour of opportunity cost - at least for me and all the things I want to occupy my life with. If time is not a perishable commodity, I would have loved to store it in my cookie jar to be used at a later date. But precisely because it's not at my disposal to use as and when I want to use it, I am compelled to consume as much of it as I can whenever I am awake.
The funny thing is - I do love sleeping as much as I love staying awake. I am such a walking dilemma.
“Soon will I rest, yes, forever sleep. Earned it I have. Twilight is upon me, soon night must fall.” ~ Yoda
Many people have told me that I have a pretty high tolerance level. I guess when you have lived and interacted with unreasonable people for over 30 years, you will probably develop tolerance as a force of habit. To illustrate this: Assuming a normal human being is typically tolerant 50% of their time, my tolerance level will at least be at 200%. At least.
Some people do not know their limits. They will keep pushing all the buttons just to set me off. I am someone who can be pretty calm and collected, even under the onslaught of extreme pressure. But there will come a time where I will retaliate - and when that time comes, I shall show the antagonists no mercy.
I am like a rubber band. You stretch me a little, I tend to propel very far. You stretch me too much, I will snap. I will snap back so hard that you will feel a stinging slap to your face. I may even draw blood, if I snap back hard enough. Which I will, especially when provoked.
You wouldn't want to see that.
Everyone has his/her boiling point. Mine's probably a tad higher than the normal Jane and John Does, which is why it usually takes a hell lot to break me. If I am in a forgiving and reflective state of mind , I may allow myself to sink into self-pity and depression. I will probably even beat myself up for allowing people to step all over me, treating me like shit.
But should I be in an unforgiving mood, I will withdraw and shield my heart with a humongous block of ice. I wouldn't let you see my pain or my seething anger. All you will get from me is my utter disdain. When that happens, you will finally realise what it means to be disregarded by yours truly. I will flick you off my shoulder as if you are an irritating, contemptuous pest. I will have you know that you are not even worth a milisecond of my precious time.
I am not trying to be petty, malicious nor vindictive. I just want to make a point that if you keep chipping at the same rock, it will wear thin over time and eventually, there will be absolutely nothing left. Works the same way for patience and tolerance too. So you can piss me off once, twice and many times over. If I've tolerated you even after the 100th time, you are probably someone I care a great deal about.
But even then, if you keep hacking away at my pride and leave me with nothing, you can rest assured that you will receive nothing from me in return. Absolutely nothing. Not even a glance, a nod or even an acknowledgement of your pathetic existence.
As what I have updated on my Facebook today - "I may have a high tolerance level, but that doesn't mean I have to maintain it."
I finally understood now why JadeFalcon is such a cynical person - and why he would always rather choose to think the worst of people instead of giving them the benefit of the doubt.
Recently, I found out things about my friends which threw my life off balance. Though a self-proclaimed cynic, there are still some individuals in the world I tend to have a soft spot for. Despite all the selfishness and callousness I see going around in the world, I continue to harbour a tiny hope that there are others who are different.
Whenever I watch BBC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, the overwhelming outpour of love, support and humanity from the community - helps fuel that hope. Maybe that's why I couldn't stop watching it - I need to sustain my faith in humans.
What happened with my friends - the incident came dangerously close to snuffing out whatever little hope or faith that I have left. I was greatly disappointed and couldn't understand how self-centred they have become. I never realised. What compels a person to think only for himself/herself? How could a reasonably intelligent person have no qualms indulging in wrongful acts, totally oblivious to the hurt and pain they will eventually inflict upon others? Why do people allow themselves to sink deeper into sin, not once but again and again? And why do they eventually only see their own pain but not their flaws when they are rudely exposed? Whatever happened to guilt, remorse and repentence?
Over the last two weeks, I asked myself those questions over and over again. I couldn't help but wonder - if they were not my friends, could I have been so understanding, tolerant and forgiving? Would I have taken a much tougher stance? Would I have discounted my own values and tried to see the situation from their point of view?
Maybe not. Most likely not.
So I stayed and listened even when I felt so let down. Couldn't bring myself to walk away. It grieved me to see them falling apart, but it hurt me even more to realise they are no longer the friends I used to know. Subconsciously, I find myself keeping an emotional distance - so that I can remain objective and not play judge and jury.
Somehow I feel that I have lost them forever - although they are still around me. Then again, I never really knew the "real" them.
I can almost hear JadeFalcon say, "I told you so."
“Love never dies a natural death.
It dies because we don't know how to replenish it's source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.”
~ Anais Nin quotes (French born American Author of novels and short stories, 1903-1977)
For those who have watched American Idol, you would know who Chris Medina is. He was the guy who made me cry and broke my heart when he shared the story of how his beautiful wife-to-be suffered a traumatic brain injury after a terrible car accident. He was the one who made me cry again when he was ousted from the Top 24 in American Idol. I teared again when I heard his latest heart-wrenching single, "What Are Words".
Could anyone love the way he does? Where does he get his strength from to go on day after day - taking care of his now handicapped girlfriend? How will his life be from this point? How long can he hold on to his love for her? How long can he wait for her to recover - assuming that is even possible? He is but only 26 years old....
At the American Idol audition, Steve Tyler went up and gave Chris' girlfriend Juliana Ramos an emotional kiss before saying to her,"Hey girl, I just heard your fiance sing and he is so good cause he sings to you all the time. I could tell… That’s why he sings so good because he sings to you."
My eyes stung with tears and it absolutely broke my heart to hear that. I was overwhelmed with deep sadness for both of them. Times like these, you wonder if God was testing their love. Times like these, I count my blessings and treasure my loved ones even more. Times like these, I pray that the Lord will not put me through such ordeals - because it will be too much for me to bear.
If this was indeed a test, I pray that the Lord will have mercy on this young couple, and make Juliana Ramos whole again.
I have not blogged in a while. A long, long while.
I guess it's always easy to use "I am busy" as an excuse. Looking back, that was a pretty lame excuse. I seem to have time for every other useless activity in the world such as updating my status on Facebook, checking in on FourSquare and microblogging on Twitter.
I have become such a lazy slob.
I used to think that blogging is such a therapeutic exercise for me. I used to love the fact that people really liked reading my blog, and frequently engaged me with their comments and feedback. I used to enjoy blogging about stuff that was going on in my life - and verbalising my opinions and thoughts via this online platform.
Somehow, work killed all of that.
Perhaps the perfectionist in me is standing in the way between me and my blog. I am always looking for the perfect reason to write, as I want every post to be meaningful. I often struggle between blogging for the sake of having something on this page everyday, and writing about something that matters to me or the people around me. Gradually, because I couldn't find a good reason to write, I stopped blogging.
Another lame excuse I agree.
Perhaps as I grow older and older, I start to withdraw more into that little private space inside the shell. I become less willing to share my views, and more hesitant to baring my soul. I don't want people to know too much. I probably don't care either.
Perhaps I am too hard on myself. My boss told me I needed to have more faith in myself, and that I should stop putting myself down. I didn't even realise I was doing that. I always think people around me deserve better. Don't ask me why - I just feel so.
Perhaps I lack discipline. I have left this blog to rot and gather dust the same way I have let my health slip, and my weight to balloon. I am so good at lamenting, but damn lousy at making the changes that will make me a much happier person.
Perhaps I think and worry too much. Perhaps I am lost and still not found. Perhaps I am just exhausted from carrying so much weight on my shoulders for so long.