“Are you depressed?” Mum asked inquisitively as she watched me get ready for work this morning.
“Uhh no, why?”
“All your clothes are black,” she answered. “You used to wear red, purple, blue and the like.”
For the record, I like black — it's clean and it's simple. And the only reason why I used to wear colors when I was younger is that I had to wear a uniform in school (a uniform that's not in any way black). It doesn't reflect my mood, emotions and personality in any way. And I thought it's the most practical color since it matches everything. And most importantly, the color looks good on me. I look taller, slimmer, more elegant and trendier. And I'm not one of those people who have to plan the night before what they're going to wear the next day… I don't like unnecessary effort.
The thing is, I love fashion (hence, my perpetual state of “broke-ness” due to shopping sprees). I'm not fashionably-impaired. And this is not due to the fact that I follow trends. It's because I wear what looks good on me no matter what Cosmo and Vogue say. I don't like people who follow trends just for the sake of following it — especially those who don't know that it doesn't look good on them. Have some spine, people!
I used to be envious of my old colleague in my first job out of university. I would always see him by the side entrance of the building where people would smoke. He was probably in his late fifties, early sixties… and he worked in the accounts department. He was in charge of mundane tasks like collecting payments from our clients and chasing them when they didn't concede.
“I don't see you often enough here, princess,” he would say to me as I light my menthols.
“Been busy… busy helping this thankless company to make more money,” I would reply back. “What's eating you?”
He would always have this stern look on his face.
“The usual,” he would answer. “I'm bored. I'm bored with my job, with my life, with everything.”
At that point in my life, settledness was all I looked for. It was probably the worst I've ever felt — and I was willing to trade anything for routine. Having a routine meant stability for me… and having the assurance that what I did that day will be more or less similar to what I'll be doing the next day. And I didn't have that. I yearned for it. Even though he constantly despaired about his boredom, I secretly envied him that he actually had something to be bored about. Whereas I… I had to constantly worry about my financial instability (with my not-so-budding career), the uncertainty of my living situation, my direction in life (or lack thereof) and probably the bipolar disorder that I never knew I had.
In hindsight, it was probably all the pressure that I put on myself. It's because I was foolish enough to listen to what social norms say… and to get affected by the people around me. I'm glad it's all over now (not totally but a good chunk of it is gone) but now and again, I get taken back to those conversations we used to have.
“So you're busy going around meeting with clients?” he would constantly ask me as if he doesn't know what I do.
“Yeah, piling up the miles in my car.”
“You're lucky,” he said. “You're lucky you don't have to stay in our horrible cubes in front of a computer the whole day.”
If only he knew…
On being in love:
My good friend, Kai, once told me that he's never been in love before. And he's 30 years old. My instant reaction wasn't of pity or of sullen condescension. Instead, I understood.
Though I believe in soulmates and love, I surmise that there are people out there who can live happily without it. I don't know if it's called settling, but I do know of people who don't mind just being with someone that they can live it (as opposed to someone that they can't live without). They're more practical about it — “As long as we care for each other, and we're there to be each other's companion, that's all the matters.” Fair enough.
Really, people ought to stop thinking that they deserve the finer things in life just because they came from a good social circle and obtained supreme education. Just because you came from a family of bankers, went to Harvard and snagged a job in Goldman Sachs — that doesn't mean you're better than anyone else. It doesn't mean that you deserve that six-figure bonus or that shiny leather office chair more than the equally hard-working community college graduate working a few floors below you.
In the ideal world, people ought to be rewarded and measured according to how smart, how driven and how good they are. Everyone runs the same race and at the end of the day, it all depends on how fast you run in order to win. And it's the same concept with life, it all depends on how hard you work. Connections and education — I think of them as agents that help you reach the end of the race. You do the running, not them. It's still up to you.