Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Loudness

I have recently realised that I find many of my family members "annoying" simply because they prefer lots of external stimulations. So at a social setting, if there is silence for a few seconds, they feel the need to start a joke or make loud small talks. Conversely, they find me annoying because they find me so frighteningly quiet. I don't need constant social interactions. Moments of silence feel like blessing to me, even when I'm among friends and family.

Such incompatibility makes my family convinced that I am difficult to be around, and that it is me who must make the adjustments to fit in with society. Being introverted in my household is as bad as being gay - no offense to gay people, but my family is racist and discriminatory towards all kinds of people who don't fit in a very narrow profile of acceptable behaviour and lifestyle. My mom has openly told me many times when I grew up that she would be very upset with me if I were gay.

On the other hand, my bf finds me too loud when I get excited and start gesturing and increase my speech volume. Basically, no matter what, I am always behaving inappropriately. My goal in life is to find someone who will roughly accept me as who I am. I am willing to do the work to improve myself, but I need time and patience from others. I am tired of being incompatible with the entire world. Looking forward to a change of relationships.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Binging

I've been binge watching Taiwanese political shows, Inside Amy Schumer, and anything about Bill Sanders. Yes I'm weird like that.

Taiwan's political scene is a total gong show. But then as I mentioned before, the KMT (current governing party) behaves like my family (the party brainwashed by grandparents and their children, and possibly the oldest of my older cousins). It's like watching a train wreck.. I should look away but it's hard to cure my obsessive compulsive binge behaviour.

Amy Schumer.. as one of the reviews described her, becomes famous by being a "female version of a jerk". The jerk archetype is typically associated with the male gender, but she succeeds in her career by unapologetically playing as asshole-type character that most women don't dare to portray. I watch her show compulsively because some of the episodes are quite creative and she seems so confident, a quality which I sorely lack.

Bill Sanders... I'm amazed how consistent he can be for such a long time, even though he has been in the government and has had to deal with the other sleazy politicians all these years. But I'm not American, I can't vote and will just have to observe from the sideline. we'll see how if America is ready for a democratic socialist president in 2016. It would be super crazy if US votes in a president who is more progressive than the Canadian and Australian prime ministers.... well, one can always dream.

None of these have anything to do with my personal life right now.  I think I've using them to escape my less than ideal life. Need a strategy to substitute video binging with something more constructive in life... I will try to work on that for the remainder of the year, I hope.




Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Feeling more positive

After 2.5 years in Europe, finally I am going to get some visitors. I have learned a lot over the past years. I learned that I am really bad at picking up new technical knowledge and organizing them into a coherent report. I get distracted too easily and thus am very inefficient. I am terrible at socializing and would rather hang out with the fwb than to go out and find a better boyfriend/companion. As a cynical introverted pessimist, being surrounded by other negative, cynical, pessimistic, and introverted people just make my own conditions even worse. I am learning more about how my friends are like, who to be careful for and who to be appreciative about.

Luckily these days I am feeling better about myself. I went on a full day interview which didn't actually go that well,but I am in a position where I don't have to take the job so it's good practice. I learned where my weaknesses are, so i can improve on it if i need to go on more interviews. I met up with a yoga friend couple, who were extremely hospitable, which was very much needed, having spent so long with non-warm people here. Both events were really uplifting. 

I was sort of reluctant to take up the job because I didn't think I was ready to leave Europe. But the thing is, I came here so I could travel, but I haven't been traveling nearly as much as I had hoped. The last time I traveled alone to Edinburgh, I found it to be one of the coolest cities I have ever visited but I felt so alone the whole time I was there. It never used to be an issue a few years back. I think I am at a stage in my life where friendship matters more than adventures. For most people, that is probably always the case, but For me I have really undermined my friendships my whole life. That is why I have been able to travel so much on my own and could move to a country where i didn't know a soul for work purposes. However, I don't really care to do it again, unless a really excellent opportunity arises.

At the whole day interview, everyone kept asking me what are my career plans. I could not really give a clear answer. It's because  I have never considered my career in terms of which position I want to get. I have always thought of it as to be able to work on as many cool projects as I can eat my hands on, and hope that the skills and knowledge i acquire during the project would get me my next job. I probably should have said that at the interview but I didn't dare to. Also, most conventional thinking *is* about the position: to become a professor, a director, a manager, a producer, etc. 

I have been pretty depressed for the past few years because I wasn't given the resources to learn the knowledge that I need to do a good job. I have completed 0 projects so far (although 2-3 are close to completion). I have no good friends nearby. My relationship with parents, relatives, boyfriend, bosses, colleagues, and even friends back home are very crappy. Recently I am understanding the fwb a bit better than I used to. A couple girls at work have better personalities than others. My work contract got extended last minute. I think I have a good chance of getting the job I interviewed for (being acquaintances with the guy doing the hiring makes all the difference). I really think it's the kindness of people that have uplifted me from my normal depressed self.

I have decided it is time to reevaluate the positions of all my friends and acquaintances in my head. Some I considered to be my closest friends need to be lowered in terms of dearness. Those who are warm and accepting... I need to make the effort to interact with them more. 

I am happy to be feeling more calm and content recently. The sunshine helps. Let's hope the good mood continues. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Religious organizations: critical thinking vs. sense of fulfillment

Recently, Taiwan's media is full of drama about how religious organization take advantages of massive loopholes in the Taiwanese law system to evade tax, are non-transparent about usage of public donation money, encroach on lands not meant to be developed, and perform for-profit actions even though they are registered as NGOs. 

One of the main points from all these drama is the need for the government to quickly fix the laws so they can better regulate all organized religions. However, the focus of the media seems to be that since religious organizations try to teach people to be moral, shouldn't they hold themselves with morality higher than what is required by law and provide more transparent declarations of their financial statements? So the media people acted like hounds detecting the scent of wounds and went ahead to tear apart the organizations' flaws, exposing all their amoral activities, treating major and minor flaws with equal fervour in terms of judgement.

Well, internationally, from the Catholic Church, to ISIS, we know that all large religious organizations are composed of human beings, and are therefore bound to have problems despite the moral, well-meaning teachings of all holy books. Seems to be like the only way to fix the problem *is* to pass stricter regulations, because time and time again, it has been shown that self-regulation does NOT work, whether it's the financial sector, business world, scientific field, sports, education, religious field, or the government itself.

An interesting interaction I observed, was a debate between 2 cousins over the above mentioned issue. One of them, who is a member of the Taiwanese religious organization. She is angry and saddened by all the recent public criticisms over her beloved organization, which consists of a group of volunteers for whom she has high respects and with whom she enjoys working and volunteering together.

While I'm happy for her that she finds true happiness and fulfillment in life through volunteering work at the organization, along with a group of like-minded people, it also raises several questions in my mind:

1. Because this organization performs a lot of charity work worldwide, and because it provides a platform for good-hearted people like my cousin, is it okay for the members organization to ignore the acts of tax evasion, donation embezzlement, and other amoral activities, performed by higher management of the this organization in Taiwan?

2.  The volunteer activities that my cousin perform routinely (provide free dental care periodically for the poor), in a way, demonstrates the incompetence of the local government. In other words, if she lived in a country with better social care, like one of the Scandinavian country, then her act of charity would not be needed (ie. the government would pay for her service for those who can't afford it). Would she still feel fulfilled living in such a country, or would she feel at a loss? Because, realistically, the government can provide more comprehensive service coverage than a charity organization can.

I think about it because I feel the Swedes are a bit cold, since they feel that every social issue should be the government's problem, and the Swedish government does try to tackle most of the issues, but of course not with the same kind of fervour as a charity group. I never used to think this way, but recently I begin to feel like volunteering is actually a selfish act, meant to make the volunteer feel better about themselves. Having done many types of volunteer work in Vancouver, I do feel kind of hollow that I cannot easily find an organization to volunteer for in Sweden, since I don't speak the language. Shouldn't I be happy that the people here are so well taken care of? Not exactly. I think I feel happier if I have more opportunity to help out and feel useful.

3. As an outsider observing the news reports and blog articles, there is extremely like something is really wrong with the transparency of this Taiwanese religious organization, since it does not seem to want to be honest with its members or the public. Several of those who criticize the organization have done a lot of research and provide a lot of evidence to back their claims. Many of them are also highly educated and highly accomplished people in law, politics, social service, journalism, etc. Yet the members of this organization seem to repeat the same argument over and over again to defend their organization: our organization has done so much good in this world. How dare you criticize us? How does bringing down our organization serve the world? Does it bring you peace and happiness, or just a wicked sense of satisfaction? 

I'm pretty sure through constant digging of the public, the corruption and unlawful events will be continually dug up for examination by the Taiwanese society. For me, the scarier part is the apparent blindness of the members, that criticizing the unlawful aspects of an organization does not negative all the good it provides for the society, and that more transparency is good for everyone, including the public, the donors, the government, the members, and those who receive help from the organization. One thing that is really wrong is that this organization has brainwashed its members such that no one from within the group has spoken up in agreement about the need for improved transparency.

Another issue that concerns me is that its members seem to think that peace and harmony are more important than truth and transparency. This is, I guess, a central principle of Asian societies that follow Confucius teachings. The individual is not important. The prosperity of the organization, be it family, school, company, religious group, or the nation, is more important than any of the individuals. The teachings are more dogmatic and do not encourage critical thinking. I recall an earlier interaction I had with this cousin about some family issue. Her response was for me to reflect within about myself. I tried to share with her some of my reflections, but it seemed like her message was to keep reflecting; focus on what's wrong with yourself rather than what's wrong with everyone else. Don't just keep complaining about other people. While I partially agree with this type of thinking, I disagree with turning a complete blind eye on the faults of the others.  

Sorry about the super long post. I guess my question is at what point does a virtuous teaching (self-reflection) make you less aware about what's happening around you and how easily can biased teaching make you see the world through very biased lenses? I am of course, also biased by my way of living, my upbringing, my education, and by those around me. Are we all hopelessly biased or does critical thinking still has a place in this world? Why do I have trouble communicating with pretty much every member of my family with attempted reasoning? Maybe in another 10 years I'll be able to put my thoughts into writing that is a bit more digestible by readers. For now please excuse my mental garbage dumping.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Restless in Savasana

I used to be really good at savasana. At the end of every intensive power yoga class, I would happily collapse into my corpse pose and sometimes even fall asleep. It was not a problem for me to stay still for 5-10minutes and observe the trickles of electric energy moving up and down my body.

Not so with Bikram yoga. I'm still not so sure about the savasanas in between each seated postures. I understand what they are meant for theoretically, but practically I don't know if it works as well as they claim (to release the blood flow in the body after each compression posture). In the beginning I really disliked them, since they felt disruptive to the flow of the sequence. Now I have gotten used to them, and welcome the break after each posture. It's not that the seated postures are particularly difficult, just that the heat of the room really gets to me.

It's the savasana at the end of the class that's been particularly challenging for me.  So far I have been feeling totally restless at the end of class 80% of the time, with the desire to get up and run around, do a headstand, wiggle like a worm, go into urdhva dhanurasana. The most I could do though was to wiggle around until the teacher leaves the room. It seems like the 26 posture-sequence, with kabbalah baati breathing exercise at the end, is not an energy grounding practice. I could feel the heat generated by my body from the practice clashing with the heat of the room.

On the other hand, I always sleep very well after a Bikrams class (I practice in the evenings). That's one of the reasons why I keep going back. We'll see if my wiggle problem goes away after a few more weeks of practice.

This energy/emotion business is so interesting. Yoga and the heat really stir up a lot of emotions and thoughts for me, but not in a bad way. I think I'm the type who needs frequent, strong doses of external stimulations in the body in order to drive away the negative, depressing energy within me. The scientist in me wishes I could study this subject scientifically somehow, but I have no idea how this "energy/mood" can be objectively measured and quantitated. Ah well, someone smarter than me will invent the method/instrument some day.


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Fear

According to this article, there are only 5 basic fears, in which all our feels fall under:

1. Fear of Ego Death
2. Fear of Separation
3. Fear of Loss of Autonomy
4. Fear of Mutilation
5. Fear of Extinction

I am very lucky that at the moment, I don't have the bottom two fears. My hearts go out for those living in war-torn zones or high violent crime areas. However, all of my life I have been struggling with fear #3, and at the moment, I am especially struggling with fears #1 and #2.

Everything I do at work, I am trying for the first time, and hence I'm not very good at it. I am a bit upset that I have picked a field that is so unstable and advances so fast, that as soon as I barely master the skill, my contract will end and I will have to find a new job which will require me to learn a brand new set of skills. On the plus side it'll keep my brain very active. On the down side I constantly beat myself up for sucking at what I do every day, and I constantly worry that the boss will want to replace me and I won't be able to get that next job. This is my ego having a very low self esteem.

At the second level, I don't have many good friends right now, and my bf, due to troubles in his own family, cannot provide security. To him, fear for the loss of autonomy is a lot greater than the fear of separation. For me, my fear of separation is so high that I act all crazy and sacrifice some of my own autonomy, and of course the strategy is not working.

Because I find it impossible to connect with people here (also contributes to fear #1 - my ego hurts for sucking at building close friendship), my gut tells me I should leave this country ASAP. But who knows if the next place will be any better? Similarly, because of the vast difference of our backgrounds, my bf and I are not a good fit, but separation anxiety takes over me at the thought of splitting from him. We talked about breaking up, but while he seems calm, the thought of it makes it feel like my whole world is about to fall apart.

I think I need to learn to deal with my fears a lot better or else I will be a mess forever.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Trying to understand my family through observing Taiwanese politics

I have been following Taiwanese politics lately and been watching Taiwanese shows and TV. Basically missing home. However I was there not too long ago and pretty much was dying to come back to Sweden after barely 1 week.

Taiwan is going through another party change. The DPP party recently majorly beat out the ruling KMT party by winning the majority in the municipality election, and will likely win the presidential election next year.

But that's not my main concern. I felt that from observing the election campaign news footage plus the Taiwanese political discussion shows, I have learned a lot about my family and about the Taiwanese culture.

Many of the politicians are in their 40s, 50s, and even 60s, but if their parents were also held office in the past, the reporters would ask them, "Do your parents approve of what you do?" And in some cases, indeed the candidates' policies or decisions to run for office were deeply influenced by their parents. In a culture where you are never truly independent from your parents even if you have reached your 60s, of course I'm considered as a huge sinner in my family.

In Taiwan politics is considered as dark, corrupt, complex, and evil, and good citizens should not meddle with it. Most "good" families strongly discourage their good kids from participating in the political scene... which means, that, the country would forever be run by sons and daughters of existing politicians and gangster members... basically this attitude ensures that the political, social and economical condition of the country would never improve.

Good thing that a few capable people in their 40s and 50s finally found the courage to "rebel against their parents' wishes" and run for office. It sounds a bit pathetic from the western point of view, but it's huge progress for Taiwan. The younger people, who aren't so obedient anyways, have been very supportive by volunteer their time and efforts during the campaigns, and exercising their right to vote. Traditionally, it is very costly to win an election, and voting rate is very low among young people. As internet and mobile technologies mature, it because easier to reach people, to spread information, and communication becomes simpler, even among strangers.

I have been very excited following the progress of Taiwan, since I miss home very much. Sadly, when I returned home in Taiwan last Christmas, I found that my closest family members have not been following this progress at all. This is because the mainstream TV and the internet show different kinds of information. While you can look at many different points of views on the internet, the mainstream media are still much more biased. In addition, all kinds of media contain a lot of misinformation, and it takes a lot of effort to judge the correctness of a piece of information, which my family has no in wasting so much brain power on deciphering the information. The results is that where I see a rainbow in the horizon, they still see doom, and would rather ignore the doom and talk about my weight instead, and pretend there are no strains within the family by continually saying nice things, hoping the cracks and strains between the interpersonal relationships within the family will disappear on their own.

For the longest time I didn't understand this attitude. If there's a strain between person 1 and person 2, they should talk it out. They might not agree with each others' values, but it helps to see where the other person is coming from. But in my family the situation is more like:

"This is the set of (arbitrary) values. Since you are a member of this family you must follow. Because that's how it's always been and always will be. We try everything we can to keep people on track following this set of values. When people derail, we force them back on track. But when most people have derailed, and there's nothing we can do to bring everyone back on track, we just pretend everyone is still on track, because this is the best we can do. We cannot have a conversation about the current situation, because the values cannot be wrong. They must always be maintained".

This is the exact same attitude of the current Taiwanese president, who currently has <10% of public support. Since my family comes from China and came to Taiwan from the same ship (figuratively) as the original KMT members, the behavior of KMT is very similar with my family.

I don't wish to have a revolution in my family. I just wish people would acknowledge all the problems we have, face to face. But instead, I suspect everyone will continue to hide behind polite greetings that sound very strained and fake. Everyone is too busy trying to hide their own wounds to notice other people also have wounds and troubles. The ironic things is that we already know about each other's problems, so I have no idea what people think they are hiding. I guess it's like playing hide and seek. My family still thinks that by covering our own eyes, other people cannot find us.

This makes me really sad.