A follow-up to the cryptic post

OK, so this post was deliberately vague. But now I’ve got an update and I’m quite happy to share it. 🙂

In early July, I decided I was going to leave my employer. See, whenever I tell my story of how I ended up in Australia, it starts off the same: My friends and I co-founded a non-profit. We were trying to bring IT education to underserved communities. At that time, I was working for a multinational FMCG company and realised that I was just so much more alive and happy when I was working on the non-profit despite the late nights and “lost” weekends and zero pay.

That started off a journey that took me to the California, then Sydney, where I’m now based. I learned so many new things, met a ton of amazing people, and ended up doing things I never imagined. (Sounds cheesy, I know.)

I was attracted to my current employer because they espoused a human-centred process of solving challenges. I had a taste of it when I was in the US, and knew that I wanted to learn more about it. I was lucky enough to join a company which exposed me to and helped me grow in this area, but over time, a part of me started saying… but what about your dream of designing technology to help people learn? Isn’t that what you initially set out to do?

So I started job hunting… but I did it halfheartedly, so I didn’t get anywhere. Then stuff happened and I realised that I had to act now. So I told my employer I was leaving.

The pressure of pending unemployment lit a fire under me. I got really clear about what I wanted, and threw myself into the process. I applied to numerous jobs and reached out to people and companies that were interesting. I hadn’t networked for any of my previous jobs, so networking was all new and uncomfortable to me, but I persisted.

I read an article about how women only apply for a job if they meet the requirements 100%, but men don’t do the same. It made me think… If the employers are looking as those guys’ resumes, then they should be able to look at mine! So I became more creative in my applications. I applied for all the jobs I thought were interesting, even if I may not have 100% of what they were looking for.

It worked — I spoke to a lot of people to see what was out there and get clarity on what I was looking for. It’s funny because before this, I’d only applied to one other job this year. Then in less than a month’s time, I applied to over twenty.

Anyway… I start my new job tomorrow. 🙂 It’s an educational technology role in the non-profit sector. I am so excited to start, super grateful to everyone along the way, and also proud of myself for taking this leap and taking charge of where I was headed.

Funny how things can change in a month!

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Stories around me

This year is probably the year where I learned so much from people just by hearing their stories.

I’ve always been surrounded by plenty of people. I was always in some sort of club or organisation growing up and I carried that with me throughout life. (I’m the kind of person with a small group of close friends but with a large, loose network.)

I know that I’ve talked to people, but it only seems like this year that I really talked to people. Does that make sense? For some reason, it seems like the tone of a lot of conversations in my life has shifted. Previously, we’d talk about everyday things… it was about homework or work or what we thought of the latest movie. We’d talk about crushes and dates and relationships.

It was a lot of release… a lot of ranting and sharing and discussion about the usual things. But it would end there. I’d leave those conversations (obviously happy at having spent time with people) but with a general mindset of, “good to know, thanks for sharing!”

Honestly, I don’t know if it’s the content that has changed, or if it’s my mindset that has changed… but this year I’ve been having a lot of conversations with people where I’ve taken inspiration from them and learned from their experiences. Hearing about how they tackled situations gave me the courage with decisions in my career, lifestyle, work or relationships.

I used to hate it when people would say “I know exactly how you feel” and have no clue. I remember getting really annoyed at a guy who interrupted me one time and said how we were the same and told me how he went through something similar! Except he didn’t, it was a totally different situation. I was irked at being sorely misunderstood.

Maybe because we’re all wiser now, and my friends do not claim to know exactly how I feel… instead they tell me how they were faced with something similar and I can see how alike we are. How they’ve struggled with similar questions, and how they overcame. It reminds me, we are all in this together.

I didn’t realise how interesting people could be.

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Bills, bills, bills

I feel really old posting about finances. Ha!

a simple year‘s theme last month was money. I initially scoffed at the theme, because I generally consider myself good with finances. I could understand debt like student loans or mortgages… but I honestly couldn’t fathom how people could max out their credit cards and only make minimum payments each month by splurging on luxuries like nights out, vacations and shopping.

I wasn’t always so good with money, though. When I was an undergrad, I had a scholarship which provided me with my allowance. I remember being surprised that I had no more money left when I tried to withdraw one time. That was before online banking, and after the wake up call that spending money can be super easy and quick, I’ve been a lot more vigilant.

I’m one of those people who records each and every expense. I reconcile my accounts weekly. It gives me a better sense of where I am financially and where my money goes, as well as gives me a reality check not to throw my money away. It’s been working so far, I think! 🙂

Anyway, I realised I have to tighten my belt a bit more lately. It’s always hard to balance saving with living, isn’t it? I like how money enables me to enjoy life, but at the same time I know I have to make sacrifices for my future. Earlier this year, I was reviewing all of my utility providers and switching to cheaper options. I’ve recently switched my mortgage provider, too. (Somehow, when I was younger, I never realised that being an adult involved things like that… haha.) I’m also closing some of my subscriptions to stuff like Headspace and Smugmug and trying to find free alternatives.

It’s insane how these little things add up, and I have to be more conscious of where my money goes. I’m already pretty good with bringing lunch with me most days, and I’ve never been much for shopping. But I think I’ve been a bit lax about throwing money around lately, and being more intentional with my purchases should help with that.

At the end of the day, though… money isn’t everything. I need to remind myself that having such a close scrutiny of my spending and guilting myself when I spend a bit more than I should isn’t healthy, either. I think I need to find that balance where I am truly happy with not wanting a lot or spending a lot rather than overspending on a strict budget and beating myself up about it.

Balance, balance, it’s all about balance.

(I’ve just paid for a year’s worth of hosting and domain registration, maybe I should move to a free option next year?)

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On jewelry

As part of my minimalism thang, I got rid of most of my jewelry. None of it was valuable. It was cheap, gawdy stuff I bought years ago that I didn’t see myself wearing again. The funny thing is, I’m not a jewelry person at all. I’ve got these crazy tiny wrists so most bracelets and bangles are too big, I feel awkward wearing necklaces and I usually forget to wear earrings.

The thing I noticed with getting rid of stuff is that sometimes, I end up needing to replace it! Haha! But in contrast to the past, where I would get something just because it was cheap and looked cute, I decided it was time to build up a proper collection of pieces that I would see myself using regularly (and to pass on to my future kids when it comes to that, heh).

In case someone’s curious and is also looking for nice, affordable, everyday pieces, I bought:
Gold circle studs from Ernest and Joe
Silver tough love earrings from Lucy Folk

I recently got my hands on some earrings I inherited from my grandmother. When she passed away years ago, I found out she was leaving me, her only granddaughter, all her jewelry. When I first found out about it, I was touched at the gesture, but I don’t think I really appreciated it as much back then. As I said, I wasn’t really a jewelry person.

But now… I’m more selective of the material possessions I keep around me, and more appreciative of where things come from and the story behind them. And these earrings are special. When I put them on, I imagined how she must’ve chosen those earrings and worn them. She wasn’t rich, by any means, and these wouldn’t have been a frivolous purchase.

I like things with stories. Sometimes people say all you need are memories, but memories fade. I am happy that I can have something to remind me of her everyday.

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I don’t need a grand start

That’s what I’ve learned over a couple of decades of living. (I realise I have quite a number of these life learnings, now.) I remember, when I was in high school, a friend of mine told me he couldn’t join the track team yet because he wanted to start running again first. We didn’t have tryouts for the track team — anyone could just join, and as long as you were dedicated to practice you made the team. I found it bizarre. It was like saying I couldn’t join a book club because I had to read a ton of books first.

Anyway, I know I haven’t been writing here in a while, but I figured… I don’t need to make a grand re-entry back into updating this. I know I can sit and stew for weeks on the “perfect” blog post but… I’ll just go ahead and do it now. I’m writing this and it’s nearly midnight and I’ve had a long day. But I want to get into the habit of writing again… and putting this out there, no matter how raw and incoherent, is a great first step, methinks.

Which leads me into another related thing.
So my life this past year has been quite uneventful. OK, so I went on a holiday overseas (my first trip to Europe, yay!) and I’ve had a lot of great times with people around me. But things have been steady. A bit boring. Routine.

I figured it was time for change.
So I made one! And now I’m a bit worried because I don’t know how things are going to pan out. My friend told me that I should savour this time because it’s rare that we truly get periods of uncertainty. But I’m still scared.

And I realised that I’m never scared anymore. I haven’t been scared in a while. I haven’t been learning anything truly new and I haven’t ventured out of my comfort zone. For example, I still do a lot of dance. While I learn new routines and push myself in class, it’s still within my comfort zone of lyrical. So a couple of months ago, I tried a Brazilian partner dance, Forro. It was different. I stumbled a lot of times. I’ve never done a partner dance before. I don’t know if I’m sticking with it but it made me realise I’ve got a nice comfortable bubble around me. I’ve become a very predictable creature of habit.

I need to break out of this nice, comfortable, homey groove I’ve set out for myself.

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