melanie liang

To share my little thoughts and experiences in this big world

Month: January, 2014

Work-life balance is a personal choice.

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Went on a little tour around the area of Chinatown today and I realised that there are actually quite a significant number of artistic sights and backdrops to enjoy. I’m guessing that in the past, walking around this area had no meaning for me because I was too young and immature to be interested in history or to just appreciate the beauty of the different colours, designs and architecture of the buildings. And now that I can appreciate these little things in life much better, I just don’t have the time to do it. I’m really glad I took advantage of the little time I have before the semester gets crazier to just roam around and see what’s around me. It made me feel so ashamed of myself because I am always so eager to travel and tour around in various other countries, yet I know so little about my own and what there is to see. I guess there are always pretty things to see no matter where we are; we just got to open our eyes and our minds to capture them. So I really think it’s time that I do some domestic tourism when I have the time.

Now, when will I have the time to do so? That’s debatable. Many people tell me that there’s always time, it’s just a matter of prioritising. I totally agree. We will always make time for things that we want to do. We are the ones who decide how we divide our mental resources into doing various tasks every day, so we sacrifice on the things we place lesser importance on so that we have the time and energy to focus on the things that matter. So, there’s always time if I prioritise. But, well, domestic tourism isn’t in my priority list. It just so happens that my family, school, working, dancing, singing and so on have already filled up my priority list. So ultimately I think this thing about work-life balance is always a personal choice (funny how I always end up linking my thoughts to a bigger picture). No point complaining about which country you’re living in or which company you’re working at because if you choose not to devote time to, basically, be aimless and do nothing, it just means that “chillin’ ” isn’t one of your priorities in life and you don’t really place much importance on it. Rather, work is your priority because at this phase of your life it is of utmost importance to you that you perform well at work, which is why you are sticking to this job even if you have no time to relax and you’re not gonna quit any time soon. So in a sense, I can’t blame anything or anyone else for the stress I’m feeling because I chose to study in this university, and I chose to make my studies my priority.

Wow, I feel so much better already (: Time to complete my assignment! (Y)

Some shots my friend and I took while roaming around:

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Really like how the modern building of The Pinnacle @ Duxton juxtaposes with the old buildings. Reminds me so much of my summer time studying and touring around in Seoul~

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20140128-165707.jpgConcluding with my favourite shot of today. 

A very good day indeed! (:

Do what you love… if you can.

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REALLY?

Stumbled upon this interesting article on the Business Insider shared by a friend on Facebook, written by Miya Tokumitsu. While I think some parts seem a lil’ too extreme, I agree with quite a number of points made, which i’ve quoted below. Basically, I think that the notion of “Do What You Love” is something that the privileged can tell the privileged. I think I’m fortunate enough – I’ve had the opportunities to pursue an education – to have a choice in choosing my career path in the future. I am privileged to have a choice, privileged to choose what to do so that I can do what I (supposedly) love. But what about those people who weren’t as privileged? What about those people who are doing certain jobs because they need to in order to survive? We can’t tell them to do what they love. And in the future, which is so unpredictable, what if I don’t end up doing what I love? I mean I would love to, but sometimes you just need the right mix of opportunities and timing in life. A myriad of factors come into play when you ask yourself “How did I end up here?”. So, “Do what you love” can only be said by people who have reached that stage in their lives because they are fortunate enough to end up there (Of course they put in hard work as well, with a right dash of luck). Well, there are always exceptions but in general I think it’s a statement said from privileged people to privileged people and it just leads me to question how deep exactly is this social divide amongst our human race? With technology, we can easily share ideas, advocate new ideologies, empower one another etc. but while being caught up in all these do we realise that we are just a part of the population with access to these ideas and messages? We are just part of the population hearing messages such as the importance of “doing what we love”. How did we end up leaving so many people behind? I think that instead of DWYL, we should focus on finding happiness in many other aspects of our lives. Work is work but it doesn’t dominate our lives, right?

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“The problem with DWYL (‘Do What You Love’), however, is that it leads not to salvation but to the devaluation of actual work—and more importantly, the dehumanization of the vast majority of labourers.

DWYL is a secret handshake of the privileged and a worldview that disguises its elitism as noble self-betterment. According to this way of thinking, labor is not something one does for compensation but is an act of love. If profit doesn’t happen to follow, presumably it is because the worker’s passion and determination were insufficient. Its real achievement is making workers believe their labor serves the self and not the marketplace….

One consequence of this isolation is the division that DWYL creates among workers, largely along class lines. Work becomes divided into two opposing classes: that which is lovable (creative, intellectual, socially prestigious) and that which is not (repetitive, unintellectual, undistinguished). Those in the lovable-work camp are vastly more privileged in terms of wealth, social status, education, society’s racial biases, and political clout, while comprising a small minority of the workforce….

For those forced into unlovable work, it’s a different story. Under the DWYL credo, labor that is done out of motives or needs other than love—which is, in fact, most labor—is erased. As in Jobs’ Stanford speech, unlovable but socially necessary work is banished from our consciousness.

“Do what you love” disguises the fact that being able to choose a career primarily for personal reward is a privilege, a sign of socioeconomic class. Even if a self-employed graphic designer had parents who could pay for art school and co-sign a lease for a slick Brooklyn apartment, she can bestow DWYL as career advice upon those covetous of her success.

If we believe that working as a Silicon Valley entrepreneur or a museum publicist or a think-tank acolyte is essential to being true to ourselves, what do we believe about the inner lives and hopes of those who clean hotel rooms and stock shelves at big-box stores? The answer is: nothing.

….DWYL denigrates or makes dangerously invisible vast swaths of labor that allow many of us to live in comfort and to do what we love….

No one is arguing that enjoyable work should be less so. But emotionally satisfying work is still work, and acknowledging it as such doesn’t undermine it in any way….”

The article can be found here:
http://www.businessinsider.com/why-you-need-to-go-ahead-and-ditch-the-mantra-do-what-you-love-2014-1

Keep calm and take a selfie

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Truth be told, I actually like taking selfies. I think it’s fun, and sometimes I just have a good hair day. But sometimes I just cave in to the social desirability effect and pretend that I don’t like taking selfies because I don’t want people to think I’m narcissistic or anything you know. My point is, people do care about what other people think about them. We are social animals and we want to appear more desirable in our society, just like how animals behave in the animal kingdom. As much as we would like to like to say “I don’t care about what others think or say about me”, truth is to a certain extent we all care. And I think it’s important to care!

And sometimes, the more we say we don’t care, the more we actually do care because we’re afraid to receive criticisms and negative judgments regarding our actions hence we cover this fear by saying we don’t care in an effort to brace ourselves for the possible criticism that might come against us. We build up a “wall of ego” to protect ourselves from feeling hurt. Some call it having a high self-esteem but I beg to differ. Because having a “high self-esteem” is more than a label we place on ourselves to, again, make ourselves seem more socially desirable. Self-esteem has to be felt from the inside, which would mean that if you feel uncomfortable with someone’s comment about you, even if you claim that you don’t care, the fact that you felt that tinge of uneasiness inside you kinda shows that you have to put in effort to carry out the act of not caring; to reduce the cognitive dissonance that arises because the way you feel is not aligned with what you claim to feel. Am i making sense? Maybe not. I don’t know. My point is, when I hear things like “don’t care about what others think about you” etc., it’s actually really difficult to do that genuinely. And I really respect people who can do that. 

On a side note, imagine what would happen if someday all of us can truly say that we do not care about what other people think of us. We could all be so unrestrictedly expressive and be artists in our own way and that might be pretty cool….?

I’m on top of the world

Wanna know my thoughts on the whole Stephanie Koh incident?

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Nah…. I choose not to debate about such sensitive issues online. But what I can say from all the debate and flaming posts here and there is that

(a) To each his own. This mind is yours. You are you. You belong to yourself. People can think whatever they want to think. That’s why we can make choices. That’s why some people choose to leave Singapore, some choose to stay, and some choose to move over here. It’s okay. but….

(b) It is dangerous to voice out these kinds of thoughts when you know you’re under the limelight. Very dangerous. We are at the age of time when anything you say in the media can be held against you and that’s really pretty scary.

(c) I think that we should all learn how not to use our own cultural lens to view or judge the lives of other people. It’s just too different. We are all born under different circumstances, fed with different opportunities, brought up in different social contexts, so I don’t think any of us has any rights to decide which kind of life is better. Again as I said, to each his own.

I really dislike buffets.

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I really dislike all-you-can-eat buffets. Firstly, it’s always not worth the money for me. I can never finish so much food. Secondly and more importantly, it doesn’t make sense.

I understand the temptation to try every dish that’s being served, and taking a tiny bit of each is fine. But because of the “glutton mentality” that is married to the term “buffet”, I find that many people just force themselves to eat a lot because they want to make their money worth? First of all, it’s so unhealthy to do that. Your stomach can only expand that much. You can’t try to squeeze in your breakfast, lunch AND dinner into one meal it’s just not good for you. Also, it really doesn’t make sense to gorge yourself with so much unnecessary food when you are already full, when there are so many people in this world who can’t even gain access to one meal per day. 

What I’m trying to say is more closely related to the issue of overconsumption. It’s a little upsetting that many of us are consuming more than we need when there are many others who are struggling to obtain the basic necessities. But who am I to say all these? I buy things I don’t really need as well. (And regret later on)

I understand that the issue of poverty and food shortage is way more complex than we could ever imagine, with many external and internal factors involved. And I know it doesn’t make the situation any better even if we eat less because it doesn’t improve the way food is distributed around the world anyway. I also understand that sometimes there is really no point in comparing ourselves to people living in more undesirable circumstances because all this does is make us feel fortunate to be in our position and not theirs. (It’s kinda like comparing ourselves to Paris Hilton or something) It doesn’t do any help to them at all. After all, words without action are dead. I also understand that some people are just so rich that they just have to splurge on really extravagant things because they just, you know, have too much money even after doing some altruistic deeds here and there, so hey why not? I am also not suggesting that everyone should reduce our material possessions to the basics. As mentioned, I am in no position to say such things and honestly consumerism does boost the economy and everything. I too want to lead a comfortable life. Who doesn’t? I’m all up for making use of the opportunities that come your way as a result of you living under whichever circumstances you were being born into; and anyone who works hard to make good use of such opportunities deserve to live comfortably and enjoy “worldly things”.  But all I’m saying is that seriously, eating so much food unnecessarily is really harmful at several different levels. So for the sake of my health and as part of a quest to make sense of my being, I dislike buffets and I will want to avoid buffets as much as possible. 

This is just a random thought once again. Maybe I’m just being angst about every little thing today because of the flu bug that’s making me feel crappy. Oh well.

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Meanwhile, I stumbled onto this article while searching for the image to use for this blog post, regarding Hollywood celebs and body image. Unconventional thoughts. I think it’s a good read:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jenny-trout/jennifer-lawrence-body-shaming_b_4521379.html

The reason Jennifer Lawrence is allowed to be a body-positive role model to young girls and “chubby” women is because she is representative of conventional beauty. Jennifer Lawrence’s public image has been built on a foundation of fat girl drag. She can say she’s “obese” by Hollywood standards, but the claim is laughable when women like Melissa McCarthy also make their living in the same industry and aren’t afforded the privilege of unapologetic expression Lawrence enjoys as a conventionally attractive person.

The message of body acceptance built on Jennifer Lawrence’s soundbites only empowers those who are willing to ignore the fact that her statements reinforce our current cultural views, rather than subverting them.

Old Rich vs. New Rich

Found this stand-up comedy by Chris Rock about the difference between being wealthy and being rich. Really old video but I think it is so true and it is something that most of us don’t really think about.

Recently I’ve been thinking about the difference between the “old rich” and the “newly rich”, and hence I remembered this video I watched some time in July last year. I am pretty opinionated regarding this topic, but I would rather talk about this face to face with someone rather than stating my opinions online. All I can say is that I realised that maybe it is possible to distinguish between a wealthy person and a rich person; not necessarily based on the amount of assets they have or whatever, but based on their character and the way they portray themselves. I think the most obvious way to distinguish between these two categories is to see whether or not their mentality is aligned with their material status. Some people leading a “first-class” lifestyle in terms of material comfort have a second or third-class mentality. There is a clear disparity between their mentality and material status. And it shows. How they use their money, how they choose to portray themselves, their priorities, their vision – it shows. Of course, this is just a generalisation. There are always exceptions and this is just my own perspective. Nonetheless I just wanna show this video because I think it’s funny and at the same time it makes sense. Chris Rock!!! (Y)