I had a short read of my very first post for this particular blog, archived under December 2008 and not the earlier ones which were migrated from my Windows Live Space. Reading over the things I wrote about two years ago, I almost scoffed at how serious and negative I was being. However now, I still acknowledge that it was a realistic and fair view of the things that were going on in my life at the time; I wouldn’t change the way I described my life back then.
Today, or around today, is about two years since I set my eyes for some of advancement or change in my life ever since high school ended. This post will be used to reflect on how much I feel my life has indeed gotten better (or worse) since the end of year 12. Several things to take note of: I will not use any headings to divide parts of my life up, because they are all linked together and influence each other, so it might be harder to read, but oh well. Furthermore, I will try to tone down on any course language I find myself using but if there are any extreme cases of such usage, it is because I don’t edit my posts before publishing; everything I am typing at the moment has only processed through my mind for like a split second. Finally, I’ll try to alternate between good and bad things, otherwise there would just be this huge slab of negativity; no promises though. Let us begin.
One thing that I’m really pleased about at where I am today is the fact that I can drive. At the end of year 12 I was only holding onto my L’s, without much driving experience. I honestly had never predicted that two years later I would be sitting on my green P’s with a new car to drive my friends around in. I am really thankful towards God for helping me get to where I am with my car and driving skills. They are really important to me, partly because I didn’t want to have to rely on my parents so much, and partly because I wanted to be of help to my friends. And most of that has worked out pretty well. I often get the car to go wherever I want (within fair distance of course) and there have been many times where my chauffeur services have been required, such as giving lifts to the kids at our youth group and the Hills people in my uni Christian group. Sometimes I still myself in awe that I’ve progressed so far with my independence in this field in the span of two years. I know other people would have the expectation to be able to drive at the age of 20, some even have new cars of their own. But I’m really grateful for what I have today and I definitely would never take it for granted.
Continuing on the topic of independence, I am also really happy with having the job(s) that I have now. As everyone knows, my Saturday job is as a receptionist at a local real estate. I sometimes feel guilty at my “pay” to “effort” ratio. I get paid a fairly decent amount for doing nearly next to nothing. Skills aside, I honestly don’t feel like I earnt my money and I try hard to really treasure my job even though it may feel that other people are deserving of it. I guess I’m glad my job isn’t as tiring as those that other have, and it really has minimised the amount of energy I lose so that I have enough to put into the other activities in my weekly routine. On top of my receptionist job, I’ve managed to get settled (slightly) into my dream of private math tutoring. Just like with my receptionist job, it felt as if I was simply “given” the math tutoring job (by God) because I didn’t really try hard to start it and yet out of blue one day I was told to start tutoring someone the very next week. At the moment I’m sitting on two students, both of whom are fairly talented (it definitely helps); and though that may not have been the number I had originally envisioned, two students is probably more than enough for one week considering how much stuff I have to get done. As such I have two sources of income, and in total my monthly earnings are quite considerable, enough for me to buy what I want (sparingly) and to not have to rely on my parents for money. I guess today I’m able to show to myself and to my parents that I can be more and more independent and to be able to do things by myself without any sort of assistance from my parents – even though it was the connections my dad with people that got me the receptionist job, and family friends that my mum knew who gave me students to tutor.
Speaking of having a busy routine, I can easily vouch that my weekly routine today is significantly more busy and stressful than everything I did in my HSC year. Outside of uni, I have made many commitments to church, to CBS, which take up quite a lot of time and energy, and even then I’m still trying to find time to enjoy anime, music, and gaming, and of course time to spend time with friends. I was initially really surprised at how busy things could be in uni and that has brought up many more issues for me to consider. The thing that has been on my mind the whole of this year is how much time I should spend on the things I want to do and the people I want to see. Clearly I do not have enough time to do everything I’ve wanted to do, and so I’ve been forced to prioritise and choose some things, and people, over others. And what still hurts me today are the things and people I’ve had to give up because I simply couldn’t fit them in my life. At the end of the day I do remember that we are all weak humans and we have many limitations; and though there may not be any point in trying to fit all 500+ of our Facebook friends into our weekly lives, we keep trying and can only succeed part of the way with God’s help.
I guess I’m sometimes upset at myself for letting some friends drift away from my over the last two years. If I had time to be idle and sit down for one whole day to think about every single person I’ve ever come across in my life, I would definitely be able to build a long list of people I’ve neglected. What makes things worse is that more and more people come into my life over the weeks and months. So, it’s not like I meet a whole bunch of people each month; but once a while I’ll come across a new person or someone whom I haven’t talked to for a long time but circumstances have suddenly changed to bring them back into my life. And so for me it sort becomes this system where people are constantly being pushed in and out of my life. As exciting as that might be, I definitely do prefer static long-term relationships over meeting someone for a couple of years and then not being able to see them for say a decade. So a new struggle I’ve come across today is juggling all the people in my life and making sure that I don’t neglect my role as a friend to them, because certainly there are people that have done it to me and that definitely hurts. It would certainly make me a hypocrite if I did the same to others.
Subconsciously, I’ve managed to change the topic to friendship and so I’d best move onto that. Over the last two years I’ve made many “friends” – under some sort of definition. Even today, I’ve still lost my definition of “friend” and “family”. I’m truly grateful for the all the people I’ve met at CBS, they’ve been wonderful companions to spend time reading the Bible, and going to karaoke with, just to name the activities we do the most. It’s been real encouraging getting to know more people from more different places, and learning about their background and such. I’ve also been really grateful that there are a number of high school friends, and even primary school friends, whom I’ve been able to keep up with over the last two years. Holding onto old friends I guess is a really important thing to be able to do. At the same time it is also important to meet new people. But due to the time restraints in everyone’s lives, sometimes there is little point in meeting new people and developing a relationship with them if you can’t even handle the ones that you currently have. As such I’ve been disappointed at some of the people I’ve “lost” over the years. But I guess there are some circumstances that cannot be helped and such is the harshness of life. As for my definition of “friendship” I suppose I’ve had to lower my expectations of people I want to call “friend” but at the same time, there are many caring people in my life who I would easily call “friend”. However, I guess I don’t really feel like there are any (or many) people that I would be considered to be “close” to. Perhaps that is just due to my personal definition of “closeness” and our limitations as man. Yet, there is still easily enough excitement and interaction within my life to put my mind at ease from this point.
I am very happy at everyone who has spent even the smallest amount of time on me; there are times when I feel undeserving of people’s kindness because I let them down and such. I know people have let me down at times too, but a wrong should not be paid back with a wrong. Like I’ve mentioned before, I find it hard to face my friends at events where I’m the center of attention, like my birthday party for example. I guess I still unworthy of being loved by others and perhaps these thoughts are going to linger in my personality for several more years to come. But two years in a row now I have been able to face them and not feel overly embarrassed or depressed from disbelief. There is still my 21st to face; and whether I like it or not, I will be forced to face everyone for that occasion. And I know by then I will grow up and become less ashamed, but only because I must. Again I reserve all my sincere thoughts of my friends for my speech at my 21st. Many people have touched my life in words that I cannot express (as clichéd as that sounds) and I know that it is because of them that I have been able to reach where I am today, with the personality I have today. The only shame I feel is not being to properly show my gratitude to those people. Words are something, but words are not tangible; which is why I normally refrain from giving speeches. But then again I am aware that there are people who only want words and not something tangible. The time will come.
I guess to properly reflect on the things I’ve done with my friends, I’d have to say that I’ve been going out more these days now that I’m in uni. Never really went out much during high school, but here I am wasting, I mean spending, time with friends doing random “fruitless” things like go have arvo tea in Eastwood, or crash people’s houses because there was nothing else to do; and then of course there’s karaoke. I guess having more of a social life today has made me enjoy life a whole lot more than the way it was back in high school. And today my life is full of commitments and fun; filled with busy-ness to the point whereby I don’t even have time to ponder whether it was worth waking up that day or not. Life has been “exciting” I suppose you could say. And I definitely prefer the way my life is now than it ever was in the past. While there was never really a need for a reason to hang out, or an activity for that matter, just chilling with 30 other people in front of George St McDonald’s proved to be an enjoyable time to pass. Or maybe that’s the cheap Asian way to have fun.
This last section is going to take a very dark turn. My word count says I’m over 2000 words by this point; so if you aren’t ready to read this next bit I suggest you take a rest now. The last section will be on none other than my parents. “Family” is a word that never held much meaning for me, and today it’s still just as meaningless to me. I know it should be something very important, and something we should treasure with our lives; shamefully, I just can’t personally find that reason. I know several of you have talked to me about my parents and such, as much as I understand your views I find it really difficult to make a direct application. To those of you who don’t my parents, who haven’t experienced them first hand, I suggest you stay quiet and read carefully.
My parents can be described by many things: arrogant, selfish, greedy, hypocritical. “Loving” is a word I would never use to describe them. And the more I think about it, the more I begin to feel that my parents have been the biggest, probably the only, burden in my life. Yes, now that’s saying something, very harsh I know, but hear me through. I suppose one way to sum up how unreasonable my parents are would be to use the word “chaos”. By that I mean, my parents are able to draw something out of nothing; sort of like God’s power, but they use it in a negative way.
Example one (and this one happens all too often): my parents would read some article or hear some item on the news about some young bogans who got drunk and decided to go for a joyride in their car on a freeway, crash, and die. My parents would immediately infer that I would be subject to the same thing. And so they say: “We don’t want you going out too much or driving for that matter, because we’re afraid of you getting drunk, driving at a fast speed and crashing.” Or take other news articles that relate to murders or stabbings in some area, irrespective of who was involved. “Oh dear, don’t go out at all because you could get stabbed!” So I make the rebuttal: “Then by your logic I shouldn’t step out the house because Michael Jackson could come out of the ground and rape me. Or I shouldn’t go to uni to study because with all that public transport and stuff, I could easily get killed too in the same manner as those reported on the news.” My parents wouldn’t hesitate to immediately scold me, before first considering what they said. Over-protective? Yes. Unreasonable? Most definitely.
What about the uni example? That seems legitimate. But in my parents that’s okay. If I had to stay back late at uni to get work done they would be like: “Oh well, there’s no helping it.” So where I am late at night doesn’t matter, as long as I’m doing something “productive”? A completely hypocritical logic. My parents think completely differently if things relate to something they can benefit from. So this is why I would describe them as greedy. Of course like most Asian parents, mine believe that study is most important; but for them, it’s because it will lead me to a high paying job, which in turn leads my parents to financially leeching off me. It’s not for my well-being but for theirs. And I know that this is true. For one, my dad won’t consider my privacy for second before barging into my room and searching it for something he could use. One day he came up to me and said: “So, I see you have [this object], [that object], etc…” despite the fact that I have hidden these objects carefully in my room, knowing he would always be peeking. The purpose of him asking is because he wants to “borrow” them for his purpose. Sometimes he’ll be kind enough to ask if I’m using them at the time, but otherwise he excepts me to forfeit my belongings over to him without a question.
Perhaps that’s enough rambling about that, there are way too many examples. But why wouldn’t I ever call my parents “loving”? Well this is because I believe “love” is a two-fold act. It is an act where the one doing it believes the other person will like it, and one which the receiver will also like it. Love is not love if the receiver does not recognise it as love. Sometimes this is problem with God’s love as well, and why many people don’t understand it. In as much the same way, the way my parents “love” me is by giving me things I don’t particularly need in the most dire of moments. So for instance, if I was having a bitter or stressed out day and I bring that attitude to the dinner table, my parents would read that as being ungrateful about the food my mum has prepared. Yes, it’s a miscommunication problem, and no, my parents are never able to give me what I really need, comfort. Not only so, but they can immediately change the situation from “okay” to “completely wrong” in an instant. I can’t even sit at the dinner and eat in peace without my parents picking at my “less-than-joyful” attitude. And then they’ll use that avenue to attack at some things in my personal life which are totally unrelated to the problem which doesn’t even exist (the problem they believe exists but is just a figment of their chaotic nature). They’ll attack my hobbies of gaming, my friends, they’ve even attacked my Christianity multiple times, and this is coming from my non-Christian dad, and my barely-considered-to-be-Christian mum.
Many problems I have explained above perhaps stem from my parents, particularly the one about my friends. Making friends has been hard on the basis that my parents have been quite restrictive on my freedom to go out and such. They’ve always had the nerve to say thoughtless things such as: “Why don’t you make all your friends have a social closer to home (my home)?” even though you all realise that the Hills is not really a mutual place to meet up and is completely unfair. My parents are unfair. One of the hardest things I’ll have to do in the future is to face my parents. I really have no idea how I’m supposed to “show my gratitude” to them, particularly because there isn’t really anything to thank them for, wait for it, when compared with all the times they’ve given my unnecessary problems. Everything they’ve done as parents I can say have been a good example of how not to be a person. I suppose you can say I am learning from their multitude of mistakes, which has lead me to be a better person (than perhaps they’ll ever be). So in a way, I have benefitted from their (mis)guidance, but of course that’s not particularly the best way to look at my situation. Nonetheless I still try to love them as best I can, with God’s love and help. Sometimes I believe they try hard, and sometimes they do manage to pull through for me. I just wished their kindness pulled through more often than it didn’t. But in all honesty, the only thing that has kept me tolerant of my parents is God and His love for me. He’s taught me other-person centered love as opposed to my parents self-centered love. I’ll continue to pull through even though I’m going to keep bickering my parents, that’s something I’m certain of. At the end of the day, they haven’t changed from the way they were two years ago, and I guess I should not expect them to get any better.
Of course it’d be bad to end off on that note, and I realised I have forgotten to talk about church. Having been at my church for over ten years now, I’ve seen it change and grow. And I am glad to have been part of it’s growth and such. Still, church work has been quite tiresome and annoying at times. Our pastor is still pushing us leaders quite hard; not in the productive sense but rather in trying to make us live our lives in the way he deems as right. We haven’t questioned what he’s been encouraging us to do these days, so I’m glad at least we’re all still on the same page working for the same goal. The last two years has grown me as Christian in way too many ways. Sadly, most of the things I’ve learned can’t exactly be expressed in words at the current time, but I know I have learned a lot of things to take into the new year.
With my age, I’ve been taking bigger roles at church which does reflect the skills I have gathered over the years. Of course this does mean more responsibility, pressure, and more work. So balancing all this work is going to be a huge challenge for me this year. But I’m glad to be serving at church in the ways that I am now; not because it gives me some sort of “power” or “position”, but because it gives me an opportunity to make use of what I know and am good at, to influence and help others grow in the way I deem right, as indicated by the Bible. There really is not greater joy than in being able to share the Word of God and seeing it change people for the better.
As for relationship with God, it’s been real steady over the last couple of years, though sometimes tiring. I know I can depend on God to carry me through the situations which are of most importance, like with my parents for instance. He’s carried me through all the workload I’ve been faced with over the last two years of uni. He’s given me wonderful people to be around with; people from uni, both Christians and non-Christians, my high schools friends, people from church. Even if my parents aren’t able to give me what I need, God has certainly given me the rest. As such my life is definitely brighter than what it was two years ago and this reflection post really is to show to myself that staying faithful to God really does pay off. He’s no genie, where I would expect Him to grant my wishes and desires, but He certainly is someone I can depend on to help me carry on in life. So here is to 2011!