Playing it safe isn’t a bad thing

For most of my life, I’ve tried to follow the standard path to “success” whatever that is. Study hard. Get into a good college. Make loyal and honest friends. Accept a well-paying job. Work on your career. Find a smart partner with numerous job prospects. As of now, these are the milestones I’ve been focusing on and is what is keeping me going. However, lately I’ve been wondering why hitting these milestones are even necessary, and why we put so much emphasis on them.

I’ve been a planner since I was little. What I mean by “planner” is someone who decides on what she wants and creates game plans on how to get it. This meant internalizing all the things a perfect first child should do to make their parents proud. As well, this meant that when things didn’t go to plan, I predictably had a slight melt-down and would once again modify the plan to accommodate the set-back. Then, continue on the same path.

Lately I’ve been living with someone who takes a more laisse-faire attitude towards life. Her perspective towards success both fascinates and irks me. This person doesn’t subscribe to the typical milestones that I set as life goals, so she lives in a very free and whimsical way, untied to any traditional idea of “a successful life”. This difference in definitions threw me off, because it made me further question my own idea of what makes someone successful. Is my idea of “success” a valid and personal one? Do I truly believe in it, or is it because my parents and society tells me that this is what you should want for a “good” life, the way to be “successful”. What do I want? Should I want these things? What are the pros and cons of each of these milestones? Why do we subscribe to them?

After many hours of mulling over these questions, I came to this conclusion (this might sound cliché, but perhaps every generation goes through these questions and comes to a similar conclusion).

I am in control of my own life. My happiness is purely in my own hands. My success is built on my own idea of success, which may or may not include a long career, a rich partner, or children, but if it does, it will be of my own accord. If I want any of these things, it’ll be because I deem them part of my happiness, not because of any parental or societal pressure. In the end, if I want something, I will go and get it myself. I am not patient enough to see if life gives me what I so desire. So, I shall create plans in order to achieve my success. Most importantly, I am happy on my journey. However, there are other forms of success, and it is in my best interest to accept and appreciate the other views of success, so I may continue to re-evaluate my own.

This semester has been a series of personal successes, gaining two research positions and doing well in my work. Hopefully my next mini meltdown doesn’t come until after the semester ends, but who knows. I hope to keep up the hard work, so wish me luck, as I pursue my own “success”.

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In Pursuit of Nuclear

Today’s energy consumers have gradually moved towards cleaner energy sources in response to climate change and environmental pollution. Demand for clean energy like natural gas and renewables has continued to grow, especially in developing markets like China and India. However, in the Middle East, a different source has gained traction. Demand for nuclear powered electricity has grown significantly, as generation capacity is expected to increase from 3.5 GW in 2018 to 14.5 GW by 2028 in UAE alone, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

Oil-dependent gulf countries, faced with their dependence on oil for economic continuity, are working to diversify their energy portfolios to gradually move their economies off of fossil fuels. One such method is through investment in nuclear facilities. The United Arab Emirates had led the race for nuclear, constructing four new nuclear reactors with help from Korea Electric Power Corp. The first of the four, Unit 1 of the Barakah complex, is expected to come online in 2021, once it meets all regulatory requirements.

Despite multiple countries utilizing nuclear energy for electricity generation, many countries that wish for this source of energy will find it difficult getting the okay for a new facility if it’s from the United States. To build a new reactor, the United States government must deem your country trustworthy, meaning the country can be trusted to not contribute to nuclear proliferation. As well, the US requires the receiving country to agree to the 123 Agreement, which involves the US’ production, processing, and handling of nuclear fuel.

Saudi Arabia has wished for nuclear facilities to balance their energy portfolio for some time. The country has been in talks with the US government for a number of new reactors, stressing “whatever the Iranian’s build, we will build”. However, the country demands the ability to produce its own fuel. This would give Saudi Arabia the nuclear technology it needs, as well as the possibility to pursuit nuclear weapons, which would cause a huge international power shift. Prince Mohammed has previously stated that Saudi Arabia would pursue the development of armed nuclear capabilities in haste if Iran was found to possess weapons of mass destruction.

Because of this high probability of nuclear proliferation, the United States has continued to deny construction of nuclear facilities unless it agrees to import enriched fuel from elsewhere. Saudi Arabia’s energy minister Khalid Al-Falih has rebutted this, stating that it is only natural to develop its own uranium deposits, and would continue to pursuit its own production of atomic fuel.

Will Saudi Arabia be able to come to a deal with the current US administration? With the current political opinion in the US of Saudi Arabia, it is highly unlikely, especially after the PR fiasco involving the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. We can only hope that Saudi Arabia does not turn to Russia or China to fulfill its goal of nuclear capability.

Good morning

6am: My faux sunrise lamp begins to emit its faint warm glow. I do not notice.

6:30am: The room is now filled with a comforting orange hue. Birds begin to chirp from this lamp, alerting me to the time. I still have not fully woken up.

6:45am: The birds are now much louder than they were at 6:30am. I press the lamp to turn off the birds. I am now awake, staring at the ceiling, stretching and pondering what is on my to-do list. Phone in hand, I go through my emails, check BBC’s app to see what news I missed during my sleep, swipe through instagram to see some inspirational posts (I follow a lot of self-love instagram accounts).

7:30am: I’m out of bed finally. Put water on the stove to make coffee. Grind the beans. Prep the french press. Cereal in the bowl, I open youtube and watch some educational video. The Defranco Show, Extra History, Bloomberg, and the Financial Diet are a few favorites. The water is boiled. Time to steep the coffee. Prep a quick salad for lunch. Coffee is done.

8am: Do a quick 15 minute yoga sesh. Shower. Get dressed. Listen to music.

8:30am: Brush teeth. Quick skin care. Get my bag together. Grab my lunch. Do the dishes quickly, then out the door!

8:45am: Off to class. Put on the news, or listen to a new podcast, or continue my audiobook (working through Hamilton’s biography at the moment). From then, it will be an hour and 15 minute drive to get to school.

This is my morning routine. I am very much a morning person, and if I don’t have my morning routine, I am a grumpy person for the rest of the day. However, I find myself lacking in enough time during the day to work on everything I want to work on. One of my goals for the year is the write and read more. I’m not much of an evening writer, as I’m much more awake in the morning. So, I hope starting tomorrow to begin waking up earlier to have an extra hour or so to practice writing, to get a further jump on my day.

To make this happen, I think an earlier bedtime would be helpful. Typically I go to bed around 10:30 pm, but perhaps a 9:30 pm bedtime would be better. That would allow for at least 8 hours of sleep. We shall see how this goes. Wish me luck!

In Another Life…

Have you ever had that moment when you watched a movie or seen in real life a character or person you wanted to be? Surely we’ve all found characters that sounded so fun to play or be.

For me, one of my other lives would be as the lone-wolf biker chick, the sexy, cool woman who travels on her own and doesn’t take shit from anyone. She doesn’t subscribe to social conventions and takes jobs here and there, but never gives up her freedom. She always seems so sure of herself in movies that have this character. When I walk down a street alone with my headphones in, that’s what I imagine myself like, as I strut to the Black Keys.

In another life, it would be a romantic to be a simple European housewife, whose job was to manage the home and cook to her heart’s content. Perhaps take in a book or two, and tend to the garden. A simple life, although entirely dependent on someone else’s salary. That I would not like. But having the time to enjoy the small things sounds lovely. It’s certainly a romantic fantasy.

And then, the powerful boss of a woman. She comes with the air of a commander, with a schedule filled with meetings, decisions to make, and business to be done. Her dress or suit is impeccably chosen, and she commands respect wherever she walks. Refusing to be unheard, she speaks with depth and grit behind every word, while still maintaining her femininity in the way she holds herself. Confident, sure of herself, she is a woman to be feared and revered.

Oh to be all three, if that was possible… Do any of these characters remind you of someone you know?

If I could sum up the qualities of these three women that I admire, it would be the freedom of spirit the first, the contentedness of the simple life of the second, and the self-confidence of the third. I hope this year to work on all three of them, to appreciate these different qualities in others as well as cultivate them in myself. One can be happy with who one is, while also striving to be a better you, the “you” you want to be.

A Cloudy Savasana

Anyone who has taken a yoga class can vouch that after a long and deep practice, one of the most relaxing (and well-deserving) poses at the end of the class is Savasana, or Corpse Pose. You are on your back looking like a comfortable starfish, and point of this pose is release. Release any tension in your muscles and let your body sink into the earth below it. However, the hard part is not the physical, but the mental. Release thought from your mind. No thinking. As someone who’s trains of thought leave the station at rapid speed, this is the hardest thing for me to do, to meditate and clear my mind.

Every class, I wind up going through a similar experience:

Me during Savasana: Clear your mind. Clear your mind. Clear your mind… Repeating clear your mind is thinking. Stop thinking…. *inhale… *exhale… *inhale… *exhale… You haven’t emailed Vivian about the meeting for Steven yet. I bet she’s emailed your now. You have to email her. Annnnd I’ve probably missed a call from Susan again. Always. Every time. Stop it! Blank! *inhale….*exhale… *inhale… *exhale……… I wonder what I should have for dinner tonight… maybe pasta? Or soup? I still have some stock from this weekend. Ehhh its too warm for that right now. No soup. Stop thinking! Clear your mind. Look at the black…. *inhale… *exhale…………………… Should today be a cheat day? I went to yoga today so that counts as a good day. Do I deserve pasta? Screw it, I always deserve pasta. I don’t have onions. Or garlic. I’ll run to Wegmans after work. Oh. Toilet paper. Remember toilet paper. And napkins. Darn it, time to sit up. 

Does anyone else do this? I hope I’m not the only one…Hi, my name is Becca, and I am a perpetual list maker. For me, to-do lists are hard to ignore. Lists for today, for the month, for the year, groceries. self-development, job opportunities, wines to try, anything. I’ll make a list of it.My mother drilled into me since I was little that there was always something to do and that one should never be idle. If you are smart, you’ll have the next two things already in your mind before you finish your current task. As great at this advice is, it makes it that much harder to be present in what you are participating in the now. 

The one thing I do to try and keep this from happening is keep a list of today’s to-do’s every morning. What do I have to get done today? If there are things I didn’t get to yesterday, I’ll just move them to today’s list. This at least helps get them out of my head before I go insane. But sometimes just seeing all the times you have to do on paper becomes daunting and I get anxious from a huge list. Which, in turn, makes it even more difficult to begin crossing off points on the list.

So, I divy up the list to must do’s ASAP, sometime today, and whenever I get the chance in the next week. That at least makes it less stressful for me. This method has worked so far. However, savasana is one of those moments where I just can’t help myself. It’s a work in progress, but just telling someone to clear their mind is much easier than just doing it, especially for a few minutes. 

How do you manage your to-do lists, and how do you stay present? I’d love to hear your methods and try something new 🙂  

Resolutions

Every year, usually after Christmas has come and go, we find ourselves looking inward with optimism. What can the New Year bring, and what can I do to ensure it’s a better year than last? We all make the inevitable goals of “more gym, more vegetables, more books”, or a different goal that never quite continues past the first two weeks of January. This year I am trying something new. I want to make a game plan that actually lasts. Start small, and make it into a habit. Difficult, yes I know. But I want to see how it goes.

  1. Don’t eat out as much. I’m sure I am not the only one that spends too much money on going out to restaurants and bars with friends and on food that I could make at home. I’ve told myself that there is no reason to eat out when you have leftovers. So this year will be the year of  cooking and leftovers. Why spend money on someone else’s food when you could learn how to make it at home. I love to cook, and it is something I truly enjoy doing. So, cook more! Save money.
  2. Read some more. I have a goal to finish one book a month. It shouldn’t take a month to read a book, especially me who loves reading. I read news articles and fun op-eds here and there, but it would be great to put a dent into my reading list, the list that doesn’t include school readings.
  3. Exercise more. Two years ago, I began exploring the world of yoga. Getting totally sucked in, I committed to getting 200-hr certified, and have loved it ever since. This past year, I had begun rock-climbing as something fun to do with friends, but ended up falling in love with it the same way I did yoga. Lo and behold, the gym close to my home gives me the best of both worlds, offering both a state-of-the-art indoor climbing gym, and yoga classes that are geared towards climbers. I couldn’t ask for more. Therefore, my goal for the year is to go to at least three yoga classes a week, meaning also climbing at least three times a week. Once school starts, I imagine it will be tuesday, thursday, friday, and sunday. Before that though, any time 🙂
  4. Write! I started this blog last year to help encourage me to keep writing. Someone told me that the only way to improve your writing is to write. I can somewhat agree with that. My style for this blog is a mixture of stream of consciousness with a “dear diary” kind of feel, but I want to explore different writing styles. So, the goal is to write a post every week. I’m sure with school I will have plenty of papers and memo’s to write, so I am not terribly concerned over those. However, this year I want to get into the habit of truly practicing and developing my own writing style. I’m excited!

 

These are the four physical goals of the year for me. I don’t think they are too much, and mostly pertain to my physical habits. As for mental, I have two goals I am working on.

Accept that you aren’t perfect, and never will be!!

The hardest goal I have set for myself is to accept my mistakes and own up to them. I am someone who tries to be perfect, and any mistake, I will try to fix right away before anyone knows about it, even though it would be much easier to own up to it, and ask for help. I need to be better about asking for help for things, especially when it’s something I’ve done wrong. This is incredibly hard, since I so badly wish to be perfect (typical oldest child syndrome). However, it’s high time I accept that I am not, and I won’t be. So save the headaches, and just roll with it.

Stop Trying to Get People to Like You!!!!

The second and somewhat less difficult goal is to be less accomodating. When it comes to others, I want everyone else to be comfortable before I am comfortable. This leads to deferential treatment of people when it isn’t necessary. In a business setting, this will only keep me at a lower level than my peers, when I should be at the same. To those around me, I wish to show that I am capable and respectable, without the need to be looked down. In essence, I should stop being so nice just to please people. This sounds like self-flattery, but I don’t mean it in that way. My tendency to cater to others is a bit of an insurance policy, so that they don’t see me as a threat. However, if I ever want to make a lasting mark, I want to be seen, heard, and not forgotten. So, no more bending over backwards to please people.

Welp. It’s down on paper (sort of). So, I’ll do my best, stick with it, and know that it is for the betterment of myself and my relationships. Happy 2019 everyone! Please let me know what your resolutions are this year!

 

 

 

No Room for Seconds

Hello everyone! It has certainly been a while since I have taken the time to sit and collect myself here, and pose more questions for you in hopes that they will bring about that spark of curiosity.

The past few months have been a whirlwind of change, from leaving my job in order to pursue my masters degree, to my sister moving in with me, and finding new hobbies and interests. I feel like everything has gone by so quickly that I can barely keep up with all this change.

Anyone that knows me will tell you that I am a perpetual over-filler. In other words, I bite off more than I can chew. My desire to do everything causes a lot of what I do to be a half-assed effort since I cannot dedicate enough time to each to be great. This has always  been a cycle of decreased self-esteem to rebuilding and committing the same crime in order to redeem myself, which is built on living up to my parents’ example (typical asian first child). It has always left a bad taste in my mouth, so I am working hard to cut down on my commitments and do my very best with the ones that I have.

My grandmother once told me that when you are a kid, you have all the energy and time in the world, but no money. When you are an adult, you have the money and the energy, but no time. Finally, when you become old, you have the money and the time, but no energy. So depending on where you are, use what you have to the fullest. I thought about this a lot, and I came to the conclusion that in today’s world, energy and money comes and goes, but no one has time anymore. Why is this? Because today’s society gives no room for seconds.

As a kid, to be successful, you are expected to get top grades, play an instrument, be a star player on a sports team, be student body president, start your own non-profit or do many hours of community service, along with maintaining a vibrant and healthy social life. With this being the norm for many of today’s youth (American and otherwise), the pressures on our kids and teens today is stifling, since there is always someone out there willing to work harder than you for the same opportunity.

Once you reach “adulthood”, you are expected to know how to pay taxes, manage a budget, take care of yourself mentally, physically, emotionally, and sexually, all without any proper guidance or direction. You’re constantly told that you should be pursuing your career, climbing up your ladder, have a healthy and stable relationship with yourself and with a significant other, manage a family, raise well-meaning kids, all while pursuing your passions and continuing to improve yourself intellectually.

This kind of image of perfection doesn’t exist. And yet, we hold ourselves to an impossible standard. I know I’m guilty of it every day. Life has a way to creating snags in our sweaters, raising speedbumps we weren’t expecting. So, as hard as we try to reach that perfection, there is always something missing.

Pursuing many things isn’t a bad thing per say. However, since time is arguably our most precious resource, it’s high time we treat it as such. Commit our time and energy to things that matter, things that contribute to our happiness and the happiness of others. Nowadays there are so many things that make us “better”. Focus on a few, and only once you find stability in the ones you’ve chosen can you begin to consider adding more. You don’t have to fill your thanksgiving plate to the brim the first time. There should always be room for seconds.

So, I ask you this, how do you choose to spend your time, and it is spent wisely? I’d love to know how you take care of yourself and what your priorities are, timewise. Please let me know!

I hope this stirred your cup of curiosity. It certainly did mine. Have a wonderful day, everyone!