pretty little things

As it nears to Boxing Day and I anticipate Boxing Day sales (and even see some sales already starting), I’ve revisited the lists I wrote of all the things I want to buy.

Do most other people do this?

I have a list of all the clothes, home items, electronics, furniture, and other miscellaneous items I want to  buy. I save some of them for the distant future, and put some of them in my near future box.

As I calculated how much it would cost for everything in my near future box, along with the holidays I’m going on soon and the lack of income I will make over the Christmas and New Year’s break, I started feeling anxiety about money, knowing I would dip dangerously low in my account and might have to draw from my savings account which I try to keep strictly off limits. This was coupled with the reminder that I recently drew from my savings account when I moved and my goal has been to replenish that amount and more besides that to pay off my student loans and save up more for my emergency fund. The sobering fact was it seemed it would be several months of working before that goal fell underway.

Then it occurred to me. Do I need to buy these things on my near future list? Or do I relegate them to the distant future list … the list of things lingering in a murky hazy vision of who I might become, that may or may not ever be realised. Case in point – me wearing knee high boots. Every year, the item is put on my list and every year I do not buy it. But I still dream about the me in knee high boots. She is gorgeous, sexy, sophisticated.

I suspect a theme. Maybe I’m using these items as a representation of who I want to be and the life I want to lead. In putting these items on a list to be fulfilled in future, the items become something for me to fixate on. I spend time pondering when to buy the item, what the item will look like, where I will get it from. I imagine walking the streets in my knee high boots. I imagine going to parties in a little black dress. I write songs and play beautiful music on a dream keyboard. I live a peaceful blissful life in my ideal home, which will be complete and idealistic once I have my fluffy white rug, succulents, mirror, mood lights, vintage dresser, and comfy dress.

When I put off buying these items or I cannot for practical reasons, it feels like I am putting off living the dream life I want and putting off being the ideal me. I feel, on the one hand, sadness that this future is delayed. On the other hand, I feel relief that I don’t have to face the pressures of having this life or, horror of horrors, the possibility that this life isn’t just within my grasp.

Therein lies the problem for me with materialism.

Sure, I want these items because they are pretty, they will be enjoyable and for many of them useful to have, and they will make me happy to buy them, own them, look at them, and use.

But at the same time, I use these items as a way to invest meaning in my life.

I use the anticipation of buying items as a way to feel content with my life and self despite feelings of inadequacy and restlessness and lack of purpose in my current state because I can imagine that once I buy these items, these feelings will be quelled.

But what is to say they will be?

Has owning something ever made you feel complete?

I always get this feeling when I am decorating my room. I have an image of what I wish it to be and I imagine how fulfilled I’ll feel when it is complete – what a complete joy it will be to live there. But I add some of the items on my list, and I feel the same even if it gives me a transient joy to see their beauty. It isn’t enough. And I tell myself it is because I suck at interior decoration and I just need more items to bring it all together. Nothing ever looks as good as in my imagination. But I’m getting a sneaking suspicion that this is all lying to myself. Up to a point, items can make me happy but after a basic level of cleanliness, comfort, and utility, they cannot transform my life, my mind, and my feelings about living in an environment.

When I have a keyboard in my apartment, I’m sure I will play it every day and write many songs and learn covers and advance in skills and record my own music and finally advance from this musical stalemate I’ve been in. When I have a keyboard. This longing for a keyboard keeps me excited and the price keeps it at bay. But what happens when I finally get the keyboard? Do I finally achieve my dreams or am I crushed by the overwhelming weight of expectation? My parents have a piano and I play it sometimes when I am there but do I spend all my spare minutes there playing it? Do I even play for thirty minutes ever day I spend there? No. Why would the magical keyboard of my future change that? So do I really want a keyboard? Do I want to be faced with the reality of my mediocrity, my lack of inspiration, and the drudgery of hard work?

That’s to say … this list of pretty little things weighs on my mind. It fills my mind with a bit of anxiety and stress as I imagine how I will get these items, how I will pay for them, and which item I will get. But if they were really valuable items that I needed and wanted, wouldn’t I get them? Wouldn’t I be actively working to get them? If they were just things I fancied, why should they be on the list? If I’m never going to actually get them, there is no point dreaming about them in my spare time. But why don’t I get these things I actually value and would use?

Maybe it’s because they don’t really represent things that would add value to my life. Maybe instead they represent the life I want and at the same time the life I fear. Until I can start living this life, they come with feelings of hope and promise but they end up in feelings of lack and a yearning for something new to anticipate.

From now, I’m going to try not to have a list of items at all. Instead, I have goals. Things I want to and places I want to go. And if the need or pressing desire for an item comes along, I can take it. But the honing in and obsession with the item has to go. The items will not give me fulfillment and the limiting of my goals to items keeps me from putting in the effort to achieve them and confronting the possibility that they could be beyond me. It keeps me in stagnation.

This Christmas, we head toward growth.

2019

Last year’s New Year’s Resolutions was a list of both goals and little things I hoped to tick off my bucket list. However, the first real fight in my relationship (which happened to occur just before Christmas) and the subsequent evaluation of the viability of the relationship made me realize that I didn’t have a clear sense of my values, beliefs, and goals. Although I knew what I was against, I felt like I lacked being for something. This really encouraged and propelled me to examine what my values and goals were and put them clearly into words.

This evaluation fit perfectly into the timing of New Years. The start of 2019 was in fact a perfect time to put these goals, beliefs, and values into being. This year, I’ve put a lot of thought into my New Year’s goals and they’ve been informed, created, and shaped according to my values … according to the image of the person I aspire to be and the steps needed to become that person … according to my world view … according to the image of my ideal partner (I believe you should emulate what you want to see and you will attract that – also there’s the issue of hypocrisy and all that) …

So really, my New Year’s goals are not simply goals but the attempt to evolve into my ideal self, to transform my self, to make the most of this life I’m living, and to get back in touch with who I am, who I want to be, and who I need to be. I have made some more general goals based on my general goals and values but also goals intended to help me achieve the general.

So without further ado, this year, I resolve to …

Learn and discover

I love learning. When I am unable to find happiness, my thirst for knowledge makes life worth living. It gives me meaning. I treasure knowledge and I treasure growth. I could never become my ideal self if I remained stagnant. I wish to be always growing because only then can I become the best I can be. My motto for this year is to never fear change and to strive to be always better than before.

That’s change and you can only achieve that through learning. But also, learning is one of the most rewarding things I’ve done. Discovering new things, feeling new experiences, and meeting new people opens up your eyes to the beauty and diversity of the human experience.

The goals

  • Practice French everyday (Learning another language introduces you to an entirely new culture and a new way of thinking and seeing the world. I’ve wanted to become fluent in French for so long but I’ve never stuck at it at a consistent enough pace to do that. I hope this year is the year that I do.)

 

  • Say YES to more things (This prompts you to do things outside of your comfort zone that you’ve never have dreamed of doing but that can change your life.)

 

  • Talk to people when you get the opportunity. Listen and share. Be friendly and sociable (I struggle with social anxiety so this will be different but I do crave human connections and socialization is a powerful education system. Uncovering the minds of people is not only key to understanding humanity but it brings so much joy and light to both people involved when there is a connection between two people.)

 

  • Go on a getaway out of Auckland (I have hardly traveled in New Zealand and while I would love to travel the entire world, it’s not easy with limited money and time. But I’m sure I can fit in one little getaway within the country and I’m excited!)

 

  • Join another club (I may not have time for this but I think it’d be a great idea to join a club related to one of my goals this year … perhaps French?)

 

  • GO TO COUNSELLING (I keep putting this off. I really think I should at least give it a try. My extreme emotions, depressed periods, occasional suicidal thoughts, constant identity crises, and social anxiety scream GET HELP  but I always find an excuse not to go. In the vein of self improvement and learning, I should do this.)

 

  • Surround yourself with people you want to be like/admire (This will really prompt self growth. I want to surround myself this year with people who uplift me and inspire me to grow.)

 

Spread love and positivity

 

  • Don’t say things about people that you wouldn’t behind their back (I try not to do this, but sometimes I fall back into gossiping because … hey, it’s fun sometimes and a way to bond with others. But it’s also a great way to create rumors and I would hate for other people to gossip about me. Gossiping at heart is about having fun by laughing at other people and judging their lives. Do I want to bond with people if the only way we bond is through our worst selves?)

 

  • Don’t judge other people. Be empathetic

 

Raise awareness and make the world better

 

  • Volunteer with psych work/mental health (My psych degree and possible goals to work in the field in future fit hand in hand with my desire to help others and my passion for spreading awareness about mental health.)

 

  • Write more about race, sex, and LGBT issues connect with my Chinese heritage (As a Chinese bisexual woman, these issues directly affect me and that’s given me a strong connection and passion for helping people like me … and simply people who are different. But I haven’t found a way to really put this passion to use. I love writing, however, and I always have something to say on this topic, so I think that would be a perfect project for me.)

 

  • Stop using disposable cups and straws (Get a damn reusable one. It’s not that hard.)

 

Study and work

These goals are intended to get me closer to gaining a career that I love, am good at, and that makes a meaningful change in the world. I haven’t settled on a single career to aim for but I would like perhaps to work in publishing, academia, or the entertainment industry. I also have an interest in careers and recruitment, libraries, and mental health.

  • Achieve a B+ or higher average (so I can do an honours degree if I choose)

 

  • Apply for jobs/opportunities that relate to the following careers: writer, editor, librarian, literary agent, research assistant, careers/recruitment, fashion, entertainment, music, teaching

 

  • Get research experience in English (and psych)

 

  • Get an internship/summer scholarship or job related to my job goals.

 

  • Apply to work at my university’s newspaper/publication (I actually applied before and got no reply but I’m willing to try again(

 

  • Engage in tutorial and lab discussions. Cultivate relationships with classmates and tutors/lecturers. ASK QUESTIONS. Go to office hours (Aside from gaining connections that will help me in my career, these actions simply make the university education richer and more impactful.)

 

  • Get my CV professionally evaluated

 

  • Go to careers workshops and postgrad workshops

 

Personal 

These goals are generally little things I want to do that will positively impact my mental health and help me establish my sense of personal identity.

  • Make my apartment room feel truly home (I adore my apartment and I do consider it my home. But I think that I could make a few more touches in terms of decor that could make it feels as homely and cozy as possible … if I have the money and time, I definitely will do this!)

 

  • Apply for NZ citizenship (NZ is my home!)

 

  • Get my restricted license (I’ve booked a test so let’s hope it comes to pass and then I pass.)

 

  • Cook at least one proper meal a week (vegetarian) when I’m at my apartment (Because I need to save money and eat healthily ya know.)

 

  • Get a part time job for a weekend day (For money.)

 

  • Go swimming often (Swimming is one of the few forms of physical activity that I love and I recently bought a pair of prescription goggles so I’m all set for the water this year.)

 

  • Write music. (Record it eventually. And record song covers.) Play music. Sing and dance. Perform as much as you can. Possibly buy a keyboard? (Music makes me really happy. I don’t have a keyboard at my apartment, sadly, so I’ve been considering making the investment to buy one, since I love the piano and always write songs on it. I would definitely make use of it. However, I don’t know if I have the space in my apartment for a keyboard and I’m hesitant about spending the money.)

 

  • Try out making YouTube videos (I’d like to make them in both English and French. I just want to try making them to see if I enjoy it.)

 

  • Read the classics I haven’t read yet (Of course I don’t aim to read them all this year or even all in the next ten years. But when I have the spare time, I think it would be a great idea to pick up one of the classics I have yet to discover.)

 

  • Make new friends and find my own “second family” (I have friends but haven’t found a group that I really mesh with. But I would absolutely love to find a group of people I enjoy being with who have similar values as me. I can’t guarantee I will accomplish this but the goal is to try.)

 

  • Do something everyday that makes you happy

Those seem like a lot of goals and they are. But they are all important to me and make me feel so excited for the coming year. Attempting these goals is like making peace with myself. These goals … they are necessary. And at least I do have a year to accomplish them. It’s going to be a busy year but a big one I think.

fear and ambition

I’ve talked about struggling with a lack of motivation and a desire for greatness. It’s a terrible combination.

But I’m here today to talk about a different aspect of ambition … it’s partly linked to my previous post. I’m talking about fear and ambition.

I have many goals I want to achieve and possible career paths to follow and knowledge I want to attain and ideas I want to realize. But so many of them require a huge amount of hard work, knowledge, talent, creativity, and effort.

And I think, I can’t possibly expect that I can gain that knowledge and that I have that talent and creativity and that I’ll be able to put in that hard work and effort.

I’ll leave it to someone else to do it … someone better, more qualified than I am.

And it’s partly motivated by laziness, this impulse, but it’s also motivated by fear.

Because … what if I can’t EVEN if I try?

Wouldn’t that be the most demoralizing? So it’s better to just not try.

Excuses. They’re all excuses.

I find it very hard to believe in myself. I am afraid … fucking terrified … that I can’t achieve anything that I wish. I know I won’t achieve everything because there simply isn’t enough time. But I’m terrified that I won’t be able to achieve just one. I’m terrified of the confirmation of my own incompetence.

But you know what? Fuck that fear. It’s pride. I don’t want to see how lousy I can be. But trying will do nothing for my goals other than bring me closer to them. Maybe I still won’t reach them but what’s the harm in that if I wasn’t even going to try in the first place?

I want to shoot for the stars. Goddamit I really do. I always have. But I shy away from it because I’m a coward and I’m proud and yes, I’m really fucking lazy and I lack resilience and I lack willpower.

But I’m still here and I’m still dreaming … in the rare moments when I forget myself and let myself dream.

So today I make the resolve to stop letting realism dictate my actions. I’ve always been a rather practical realistic person. It’s always been about what is possible and what is probable and what I can expect. And I really thought, I’m just being realistic and that’s a good thing because it saves me from disappointment.

No, it doesn’t. Because I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed at how much I think I need to limit myself and at how much I let myself be limited.

I can be a bit of an all or nothing girl. So if I’m going to have a goal … I want to have confidence in it or I simply won’t do it. Because I don’t have confidence, I need something else to put all into … I need some other 100 percent. For me, that has to be determination. That means putting my all into it. I don’t want to put in all and receive nothing to show for it.

If I choose a smaller goal, I could put in all and be sure to receive something to show for it.

At the end of the day, we all have one life. We can choose how we spend it. And yet, I think that if we’re going to die anyway, maybe it doesn’t really matter so much if we don’t reap rewards.

I would rather risk it and know that I chanced that my all was enough.