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Believe in yourself

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It’s the final countdown: Eight more days before I’m officially free from the agonising hours of cramping copious amounts of academic information into my memory and regurgitating them out in a three-hour session. I’m so excited and so lazy at the same time. Instead of focusing on the present and the things I have to do NOW, I keep fantasising about the future, which is detrimental to my productivity.

I recently tweeted that I’d be more productive if I read less, watch fewer TV shows and stop taking so many naps in a day. It’s true, you know, maybe if I didn’t have a TV or Internet, I’d have found a cure for cancer or win a Nobel prize by now. Haha!

In the past one month of not blogging (because I was busy with two major projects), I sense a fear growing within me and I shall verbalise it now, so you can help me chase the demons away.

Sometimes I lay awake in bed at night wondering: Many people have said I will accomplish great things in my life, but what if I never fulfil my destiny?

What happens then? Am I doomed to wander the earth like six other billion faceless souls living ordinary lives? Scary thought, huh?

I guess this is where desire steps in and forces me to stay focused and brave and disciplined. I also realise I tend to be more philosophical on Sundays. It’s like I let my thoughts culminate the whole week and I pour them out to you.

So I will end this blog post on a positive note, because we all need encouragement at times to spur us forward (especially more so if you have doubts as often as I do). If you were looking for a sign that you’re on the right path, here it is.

BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. There’s no one better at fulfilling your dreams than you. So go for it.

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The first step towards getting somewhere

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“The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.” —Unknown

Very true and wise, don’t you think? I’m been feeling so lazy recently it’s crazy how one can just lay in bed all day watching TV and playing on the iPhone. I’ve lost that bit of motivation somewhat in waking up early to have breakfast and get started on existing work or driving for more new business. I’ve been too … comfortable. And it scares me.

I recently attended a course on entrepreneurship, which discusses about the types of entrepreneurs, entrepreneurial traits and whether they are born with the qualities and if their circumstances that made them that way. It was a good module, because I finally learned how to spell “entrepreneur” correctly without struggling after the “p” part. Haha! But seriously, it taught me to look at myself — my behaviour in general, my attitude towards situations or people and my surroundings — and I have determined that I currently lack drive, because I’ve been too comfortable with life.

I still read a lot, but I’m not progressing any further with the new information and knowledge I’ve been absorbing like a sponge. I’m on a plateau and I need a push off it. I need to remind myself how thrilling it is to be filled with vigour in clinching new business, the pride in churning out quality work before the deadlines and (this is the most important bit) the joy in receiving that paycheque at the end of it.

Deep down, I know I’m born to do more with my time in this world. But the only way for me to do that is to stop sitting on (actually, it’s lying down most of the times) the plushy bed and get up (to work on the computer) to do stuff — useful things that will lift me up from the plateau to the peak of a menacing-looking mountain with a nice snowy cap. Perhaps I should take notes from a true entrepreneur, Richard Branson, who wanted more in life and dared to set up so many businesses and challenged the norm and was not afraid to fail and keep trying. In doing so, he became a knight for his bravery in the corporate world. Maybe if I ever falter and revert back to lazy mode, I should just keep asking myself: “WWRBD (What would Richard Branson do)?”

Sounds like a great doable plan. I have a totally smug expression now. If only you could see me now.

Right, so it’s five minutes more before my alarm rings for me to get ready for one full day of work. I’m gonna head out there to try seizing the day for myself. I hope this blog post has sort of inspired you to do the same. Carpe diem!

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It’s okay if you haven’t achieved anything yet

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So I opened my Feedly app and this image and headline was the cover page of the day’s top news. With over 700 “shares” for this article, there must be plenty of people feeling the same way as I do. Coincidence? I think not.

According to a Facebook employee, you don’t have to achieve everything when you’re young. That’s a relief because I was getting worried about my lack of stellar achievements in my 30 years on earth.

It’s true what Anthony Sharwood said on news.com.au: If you don’t have the most happening career and the most Twitter followers and the greatest this and the most excellent that, you might start to look at all your successful friends and wonder ‘Why isn’t my life like that?’. And then you might begin to feel pretty down on yourself.

If you’re sighing sorrowfully now like me, the following might just change your entire perspective for the better. Kejia Zhu is a 29-year-old guy who was born in China. He grew up in the UK and now lives in America. Here’s what the Facebook employee has to say about the pursuit of success in his blog post:

“Do you sometimes lie awake worrying that you aren’t succeeding fast enough? Are you tortured by younger peers who have global businesses, penned acclaimed books and a string of iron-man medals? Do you count down the years until you can no longer make the 30 under 30 list? Take a deep breath. My 92 year old grandpa has some advice for you.

“He is a tremendously accomplished individual and considered by many to be a pioneer in biomedical engineering. I visited him in Beijing recently. We were taking an after dinner stroll. I was pestering him for details about his career, looking for tidbits that might help my own. What was he like at my age? How did he work? Is there a secret a routine? He stops me mid-sentence: ‘You know, my career only really took off after I turned 58.’

“Hang on, what?

‘Yes, I’d say the 10 years between my 60s and 70s were my busiest.’

“I was floored. Here is a man who helped revolutionise medical technology and he did it in his twilight years.”

Kejia’s grandfather had gone through various hardships in China, because of the political turmoil and World War II. He found success only in the late 1970s.

“My grandpa’s story made me reflect upon the worship of youthful achievement and our drive to get it all so early in life. I, like many other insecure overachievers, feel an urgency to do big things. Deep down I know this anxiety is root in fear. That I’m not actually any good. That I will waste my shot at life and be a disappointment. So I strive for a quick success because I need to validate my worth. After that I can relax and everything will be plain sailing. Right? Instead, this warped expectation more often leads me to behave in a manner that’s unsustainable and counterproductive.

“It’s easy to forget that our careers extend for decades beyond our 20s and 30s. The truth is significant works usually take a long time. Whether it’s business, academia or the arts, most of the contributions made have been the result of many years of toil. It’s just that we hear of the young overnight success because that’s a more attractive narrative. Even then, those rare few who achieve a lot early in life do not simply stop. The race doesn’t end with the win.

“My grandpa had no choice but to wait a long time for his opportunity. It’s likely he would have achieved even more had be moved to the West. However, had he missed his moment, I dare say he would still have had a fulfilling life. Without the acclaim and recognition he’d still be the jovial, curious and industrious man I love.

“His advice to me: ‘Don’t be in so much of a rush. Be easier on yourself. Comparing yourself to what others are doing is a waste of time.'”

Kejia’s grandfather dispenses one last morsel of wisdom—an old Chinese saying “大器晚成” that roughly translates to “A big construction is always completed late.”

Encouraging, huh? If you had been holding your breath and worrying yourself sick this whole time wondering if you will ever get to the metaphorical “top”, you may exhale now. Take a chill pill and be patient.

Something else Kejia said to news.com.au struck a chord in me:

“It feels like I was part of the generation groomed to feel like they could and should achieve everything. I, for one, have been anxious about living up to this expectation and could see many of my peers felt the same, though it was never talked about. …

“Despite some early successes, I feel rather unremarkable here, which is a good thing. I wanted to be in a position, where I could feel like a rookie and soak up the learning. I do think that the high achievement-driven attitude that fuels this area has a negative impact on people’s expectations of themselves.”

You know what the moral of this blog post is, don’t you? Don’t fret over whether you’re the smarter than everyone else or if you’re way ahead in the rat race. Just know what you want in life and do things in your own time and trust that the universe will do the rest.

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Do something for your future self today

Always put yourself first.

Always put yourself first.

I thought this would be inspirational for everyone, since it’s Monday again — the start of another work week. Oh, the horrors. I haven’t been able to log into WordPress via the iPhone app, so some intelligent tech person has to sort that out pronto. It feels weird to be blogging on my laptop, since the last time I did that was months ago. That’s how useful the WordPress iPhone app has been, but I think the new iOS 7 is screwing some of its functionality. SORT IT OUT, WordPress.

So I spent the past two days trying to juggle several things at once, and have successfully not accomplished a single thing. This goes to show how bad I am at multitasking, but also how good I am at procrastinating. It really depends on which perspective you prefer to see. Ahem.

On the bright side, I have sort of formulated a long-term plan for my future. What’s next is to overcome my fears and hesitation in detailing the steps to achieve it and then, of course, carrying it out faithfully. But right now, I have six 1,200-word essays to finish by end-September and one 3,000-word coursework to complete by 7 October. Argh! I felt like I have wasted my whole weekend doing nothing of importance. All my 48 hours were not being utilised well, because I had to sleep, eat, shower, entertain friends and watch TV. Somehow, writing this blog post feels like more precious time is being taken up too. Sorry, my loyal readers, I was only being brutally honest. That’s why you love me! Ahem.

So, I am going to do something today that my future self will thank me for. Spend the next 40 35 minutes doing a quick draft of one essay before I watch the derby match between my beloved Manchester United and those City wannabes. And sleep by 1:30am, so my liver can be super productive and start detoxifying my body.

Do something today that your future self will thank you for.

Photo credit: The sweet Internet

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Obsessing over Jaime and Julie

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Photo credit: The Internet

These past few days weeks I’ve been obsessing over two really, really hot female celebrities who are best friends IRL. They flirt, squabble, tease, laugh and are so close that I (plus all the fangirls/sci-fi geeks/nerdsbians over the world) really think that they should get married and walk off into the sunset. That’s how insanely good they look together. /me swoons and fans self.

I’ve been following their Twitter feeds, their fans’ Tumblr, Vine and YouTube (sometimes Pinterest) links and I still can’t get enough of Jaime Murray and Julie Benz. That’s how addicted I am to both of them as of 1 September 2013. It should be illegal for anyone to be so incredibly beautiful, funny, genuine, intelligent, snarky and gay-friendly at the same time. /me cannot stop hyperventilating and drool.

Because of Jaime and Julie (yeah, we are on a first-name basis now), I’ve recently learned new words like “nerdsbians”, “fangirls”, “fangirling”, “trolling”, “shtako” and, not forgetting, “squeee”. Argh, so hot!

Is it socially acceptable to cancel on friends at the very last minute just to stay home to google and refresh the shit out of the inter-webs just so I can gaze/watch/sigh at new tweets/pictures/videos of Jaime and Julie? Because that’s what I did yesterday and I have no ounce of regret or remorse. I didn’t even care what was on TV; I just wanted more Jaime info. I didn’t even want to start writing my business proposal which was time-critical, because Jaime > work.

You know there’s a game where out of three people, you choose to either marry, fuck and kill them? I’d so marry and fuck Jaime and kill everyone who gets in my way. That’s how massive my crush is for her right now!

And then I read about how she loves her lesbians for being “so intelligent and snarky” and how she graciously accepted her coronation as the Queen of Unicorns (and dragons) and how she even helped a girl propose to her girlfriend in front of the audience at Dragon Con. Oh and that Brit accent and caustic wit. Can she be anymore perfect? /me continues to swoon.

NB: The only thing that could make this even more awesome than it already is would be that Jaime has a gorgeous gay partner in real life. Omg that would be my fantasies come true! Make it happen, somebody!

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Goodbye, Google Reader

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And just like that, Google Reader was gone. I kept refreshing the page throughout 1-2 July, hoping that Google will change its mind and let its Reader carry on its unobtrusive existence in the vast world of Internet apps and software. No such luck, as google conveniently marked all my feeds as gone on the afternoon of 2 July. Thankfully, I had gone to the Takeout page earlier to download an archive of my feeds.

After five years of using Google Reader, I’m not sure how fast I can wean myself off or even forget the easy accessibility and simple functionality of this amazing app. In short, I’m still depressed.

I’ve downloaded Flipboard as a replacement… It’s pretty for sure—very visually appealing, especially if most of your feeds are predominantly images. And it has a wide range of selected (pre-curated as many people are so fond of saying now) websites, which are pretty awesome. Except, well, there will always be an “except”, this means everyone who uses Flipboard will tend to read the same stuff as you, know about the same things as you do and be influenced by the same opinions as you have. Also, it’s not great when I’m taking the train and it goes underground, the reception goes to shit and I can’t update any pages properly—it takes too long for images to load. Sense my frustration already?

I’m also trying out Feedly now, but I am still miffed that something’s lacking. For one, I can’t search for an article I read or saved on Feedly itself. The functionality of its search engine is only applicable for websites I want to subscribe to. I have to manually retrieve any article I want by browsing through all the websites or pages I had marked all as read in order to find that article again. Previously on Google Reader, I could search for any topic I fancy in the search bar and it was no hassle. And whenever I have to click on a link, it loads inside Feedly instead of taking me to the Chrome browser. SIGH.

I’ve downloaded Reeder yesterday. I have yet to try it, but I sure hope there’s some positives out of it. I mean, how can it disappoint me further than I already am. I just want to browse my favourite, regular feeds or add new websites to read without hassle and search for any topics I remember reading about previously with ease. Is that too much too ask for? Evidently, yes.

This article from TechCrunch depicts my sentiment accurately, right down to my very angst and sense of loss.

The rest of the world may “merely surf the web” for any info they want, or look at their tweets or Facebook for the latest news, but I actually prefer to get my news or info from reliable, trusted sources I had carefully curated personally. Looking at my Google Reader in the morning when I wake up, at night before I sleep and whenever I have some free time had become my thing—my solace from the hustle and bustle of the Internet where everyone wants to dictate what you know and how you know it. Google Reader helps me cut out all the distracting white noise and allow me to look at the essentials. Even the writer of this TechCrunch article agrees.

But Google Reader was special because it was one of the last remaining places on the Internet you could really call your own. In every other way, the nature of news reading on the web these days and the social services that now dominate your attention are crafted by others who dictate what you will read and when. Whether browsing through an editorially run news site, parsing your Twitter stream or reading your Facebook news feed, the links before you are those that others have deemed important.
There’s value in this signal, of course — a sense of what’s trending in the larger world allows for serendipitous discovery. But it’s also a relinquishing of control. Oh sure, you can choose who to follow, but it’s not the same as choosing which news sources’ feeds you will subscribe to, why, and how often you will read them.
In Google Reader, I’ve gleefully stuffed websites into collections like “B-List” and “C-List” and “Can’t Miss” and “Panic Button,” instead of more proper names like “top tech sites” or “Apple bloggers.” It’s my decision which headline collections get scanned with a glance, and which writers will see me devouring their every word.
Meanwhile on Twitter, every missive is as important as the one that preceded it. A photo of your cat. News from the war. A beautiful sunset on Instagram. A government overthrown. It’s a real-time firehose of information that you dip into as you can. There’s no unread count. You just refresh and refresh and refresh for more.

Ever since Google’s announcement this spring, many new services have stepped up to help fill the void Google Reader leaves behind, but none will ever fill its shoes. None of those that now vie to become the new incumbent even have search built-in, for example. A few promise “yeah, it’s coming” but too many startups begging for a second look think that merely supporting RSS feeds makes them a Google Reader clone.
Google Reader wasn’t a list of things to read. It wasn’t a collection of RSS feeds.
It was your own, personal Google. A search engine built on top of the sites you cared about. A Google News with the stories you wanted to see. A taxonomy where you chose the labels, and drove the SEO. Google Reader was your web, your slice of the Internet.
Social media, now, is theirs.
Reader’s death isn’t the end of a product, it’s the end of an era. We have protested, bargained, begged, and cried. Now we have to accept and adapt.

Google Reader, thank you for giving me five great years. Goodbye.

P/S: Fifteen days later, I’m still gutted.

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The value of a moment

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“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” —Dr Seuss

It’s true, you know. Until moments and events become the past, you will never realise how much they had affected or influenced you.

More frequently than ever, especially in the past two weeks, I’ve been mentally kicking myself for letting the love of my life go. She was amazing, gorgeous, intelligent, humorous, with good fashion sense, a perfect body and an ability to whip up amazing meals. She was truly one of a kind and yet I let her go, because I couldn’t see how much she meant to me then.

Ever since then (and I really believe this is a curse she laid upon me after breaking her heart that one last time), I have never been able to trust or love anyone wholeheartedly. While others have loved, lost and found new loves, I’ve been stuck in quicksand but someone had set my drowning in slow-mo. I feel like I’m doomed to repeat my mistakes in relationships. Over and over again. This is one unpleasant Groundhog Day I wish I can wake up from and kick it out of my memory.

Still, there’s this sinking feeling in my heart that I can’t get rid of. I think I’m getting better though. I can’t really say how or why, but my mind is less cluttered. I might not seem to be doing anything important in my life right now… But at least I can feel myself healing emotionally.

It’s consciously telling myself that I will move on, instead of giving myself a hard time about the mistakes I made or things I should have done. It’s learning that I have to forgive myself and let go. There is no point in putting myself in “mental prison” for the past.

Yes, there are days when it’s harder than usual to let go or not dwell over the past… But I keep moving forward, no matter how long or slow it takes me to make that one tiny step. Progress is subjective; commitment to letting go is visceral. Wow, never thought I was such a deep thinker, eh?