Life is short, no time for not knowing yourself

Thoughts, Uncategorized

Recently I have been thinking a lot – on the way to and from work, while driving on “autopilot” – what is the meaning of my life and how should I spend it?

I have followed quite an unconventional and windy career path. I was a PhD student studying computer science for quite a while, taking my time to care for my first born all the while. Then I opened a children’s boutique and photo studio from the expanded garage of my home. I then worked in the IT department in my university, after that I worked as a contractor in a small IT consulting company, now I work for a large insurance company. I still wonder if I am making the right career choice, but I know that I need to put the bread on the table for my kids so I know that current choice is necessary.

The reason I am racking my brain so hard recently is because I increasingly feel that life is too short and I really need to figure out what I should do with my precious time.

I opened my photo studio after my aunt passed away. A bold move – considering I had no formal training in photography and had only started to do it for not long because my daughter was born and I wanted capture all those cute moments as much as I could. But having witnessed my beautiful and smart aunt in a rapid decline of health, succumbing in the end to ruthless cancerous growth inside of her body, I realized that people are mortal and we don’t really know what our tomorrow will be like. I asked myself: if I die the next day in an unexpected event what would I be most regretful that I spend my time on? The answer : dragging my feet in the PhD program. I had already passed the candidacy test, all that’s left was to write my dissertation. But I could not find a topic I was interested in and motivated enough to work hard on. I saw no light at the end of tunnel but was too chicken to give it all up. It was at that moment when I determined that it was time to call the quits. A fresh new start, doing what I WANTED to do.

Honestly photography business was hard. Especially at a time most families can afford a decent camera and take their own pictures. Still I believed that we offered more than a snapshot. I had a great experience that allowed me to interact with many young families and document some of the most precious moments for them in an artistic sense. But as a business in a small college town in a rural area, the money was not great.

When my husband moved to a new job in North Carolina, it was not too difficult for me to also find a job in IT sector. It pays better than my photography and store business, and it requires less time on nights and weekends, which had become increasingly precious since I had a family with children. I told myself that I would still do photography, just in a more leisurely way, on my own schedule.

I ask myself this question a lot: “What exactly do I want to do with my life?” My answers at different time vary. Sometimes it’s “I don’t know”. Sometimes it’s “Start a company”. Sometimes it’s “Find a cure for cancer”. Sometimes it’s “Be a stay at home mom”. Sometimes it’s “Become a hacker”. Sometimes it’s “Travel the world and see different places.” But I don’t seem to be able to come to a definite conclusion, I am always wavering. 😉

The other day I read the book “When Breath Becomes Air” in one setting. It was brutal to read about a dying human being to come to terms with the knowledge that his life is ending soon. Reading about Paul Kalanithi seeking answer to his “meaning of life” question, I realized that a lot of times people don’t really think about how unpredictable and fragile a human life is. By the time you are aware, it is often too late. And we are constantly making compromises between ideal and reality. We base our actions on prioritizing short term and long term goals. But often times we are not conscious about how limited the days of our lives are.

I came across the essay “Life is short” by Paul Graham today. It was illuminating. It tells us to avoid B.S. and make room in our lives for those things that are important to us. It says that one way to figure out if something matters is to ask if you will care about it in the future. Because life is short, you should try to get more out of your life and savor what you do have in your life. I could not agree more.

I also think that it helps to find answers to following questions, to know yourself better, to figure out what are the important things in your life. Once you know who you are, it is arguably easier to live a meaningful life.

  1. What makes you happy? What do you like to spend time on?
  2. How to be well-rounded yet remain focused? What are your true interests, what are distractions?
  3. How important is money to you? How much money do you need to make in order to live the life style you want? When are the times you are just chasing money that you don’t need?
  4. How long do you expect to live? In each stage of your life, what kind of physical and mental states would you like to be in? What can you do to achieve that goal?
  5. How to be confident yet receptible to suggestions and criticisms?
  6. How do you assess your success and failure? How do you learn from your past to guide your future path?
  7. How to balance the needs to take care of yourself and help others that you care about?
  8. How to have a optimistic outlook of life yet be prepared to handle unexpected setbacks calmly?
  9. How to stay motivated by the things you want to achieve but be appreciative of the things you do already have?
  10. How to minimize the time wasted on things that are not important? Maybe it is not as hard or conflicting as you have believed to just stop doing them.

 

You see, life is such a brilliant paradox, it is beautiful and ugly at moments, joyous and painful, short and long, easy and hard, new and old, boring and exciting, unpredictable and foreseeable, selfish and altruistic. Life has so much to offer, it has so many levels, facets, corners, dimensions, we need the self identity to guide us through.

Life is short, know yourself, don’t waste it.

 

 

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What’s wrong with Donald Trump? And why he should not be a president…

Politics, Thoughts, Uncategorized

I have been disturbed from day one when Donald Trump was elected President. The idea just didn’t sit well with me and now it is more and more clear to me why he should not be the president. The reason: he is A Narcissist. Right, narcissist, you hear me right. Let me explain…

Narcissistic are people who have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism. — Mayo Clinic

Does that sound familiar? No, still not so sure? OK, here is an easy checklist from Psychology Today to help spot a narcissist:

1. Unilateral listening

What he wants and what he has to say is all that matters. In a meeting there is no moment for “what is your opinion?” So when he discusses issues, his opinion is always important and right and others’ are always wrong or of minimum importance. He dismisses, negates or ignores other people’s comments and concerns.

Have you watched his first press conference as president-elect? He didn’t even give a chance for Jim Acosta from CNN to speak -calling CNN “fake news” – let alone to listen to what they have to say.

2. It’s all about me

I know more, I know better, I’m more interesting, When we talk, it’s mostly about me. In conversations, I take up most of the air time. Almost all of my chatter is about what I have done, what I am thinking about.

Listen to the speech Trump gave at CIA headquarters in Virginia on Jan 21st, 2017. It was supposed to be an assurance to the intelligence community that – despite the earlier inflammatory tweets he has given likening CIA to Nazis – he supports their work and will listen to what they have to say. Instead he went on to talk about his favorite topic – himself – analyzing how many people attended his inaugural address. He also went on about how he has the most appearances on the cover of Time magazine (by the way, untrue, Richard Nixon can claim that title).

3. Rules don’t apply to me

I can have affairs, cut into a line where others are waiting, cheat on my taxes, and ignore rules that get in the way of my doing what I want.. Rules are for other people to follow.

Trump has consistently filed appeals, petitions and challenges to lower the tax values of his properties all over the country that resulted in millions of dollars in reduced tax and hurt local governments. While you and I are expected to abide by tax laws, those simply don’t apply to Mr Trump the big guy.

4. Your concerns are really criticisms of me, and I hate being criticized.

If you insist on my listening and taking your concerns seriously I’m likely to get mad. I hear your concerns as disguised ways of criticizing me. Criticism hurts. I can criticize others, and often do, but if you criticize me you’re hurting my feelings so I’ll hurt you back. So if you say you are at all unhappy, that’s a way of indirectly criticizing me. Since “it’s all about me” your feelings must be about what I have been doing.

Instead of receiving daily intelligence updates, the president-elect reportedly only listens to it once a week, claiming that hearing such classified information would just get repetitive. “I get it when I need it,” he said. “I’m, like, a smart person. I don’t have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years.”

When CIA released information with “high confidence” that Russia interfered with the election by releasing Democratic National Committee emails through WikiLeaks, Trump felt defensive. “I think it’s ridiculous,” Trump said on Fox News. “I think it’s just another excuse. I don’t believe it.”

5. I am right. You are wrong. So when things go wrong between us, it’s always your fault.

I can’t be expected to apologize or to admit blame. I’m above others and above reproach. If you expect me to say how I’ve contributed to a problem, I’ll get mad at you.

On Jan 27th 2017, Trump issued an executive order to ban certain refugees, visa holders and green card holders from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering US. As chaos, confusion and delays were experienced at the airports across the nation, Trump blamed Delta airline for all of this on Twitter, claiming their computer outage as the real culprit.

6. I can be quick to anger. When I’m angry, that’s your fault too.

If I’m mad, it’s because I’m frustrated by what you are doing. My anger is your fault. I’m only made because you … ”

On Nov. 21st 2016, when Trump met with television executives and anchors in a closed door meeting held at Trump Tower, he allegedly complained to NBC that the pictures they use of him as unflattering. According to New York Post, Trump is especially mad at CNN, calling CNN journalists “liars” and they should be “ashamed”. Trump kept saying, ‘We’re in a room of liars, the deceitful, dishonest media who got it all wrong.’

Now I hope that you see clearly as I do that Trump is a typical Narcissist. And the bad news is, because a Narcissist sees himself as grandiose he would seldom subject himself to the actions of overcoming the issues – after all he is too proud to admit he has any flaws.

A signature Narcissist fatal flaw that would disqualify Trump as a president is the inability to empathize. Empathy lies deep in a healthy human being, whilst sorely missing in Narcissist. When a Narcissist hurts another person, he could not understand the hurt and offer consolation, instead they see that reaction as a criticism and will deflect that criticism by blaming the other person. You see, he hurts the other more. You will see NO REMORSE and they will see their offending having NO CONSEQUENCES.

When a narcissist becomes a public leader, the damage could be devastating. He could be charming and offer empty promises to gain your support. He could even show a fake empathy fooling a group of people that he cares about you. However, when what you want is not what he has in mind, he would NOT LISTEN to you. NOR DOES HE CARE.

After the Narcissist establishes his control over his subject, the thin veil of empathy will fall and you see a person who you trusted turns into someone who just wants you to do what he tells you to do, not listening to what you want. You will feel deeply betrayed and unable to trust. After you experience the hurt from a Narcissist you would never look at anyone the same again. You would be cautious wondering if the next person you encounter is a just another well disguised Narcissist who in the end will throw away all your emotional investment relentlessly and hurt you without even acknowledging it. Those pure, safe and innocent feelings will be gone should we never encounter a Narcissist in our lifetime. We will be aware that such predators exist and they are forever looking for innocent people like us to not be savvy enough and SAY NO to them for their exploitation.

The suggestion for the course of actions is unanimous – end the relationship and RUN AWAY- as far as you can. You can’t fix a Narcissist. Many failed attempts may precede the painful realization the Narcissist does not empathize, they can’t feel your pains. Then, now free yourself with this knowledge.

We must recognize that the lack of empathy is a sign of a human being having the capability of hurting and damaging us greatly. Such people are unsafe and dangerous. We must escape! If you can’t escape, you need to learn to protect yourself from them at all cost.

I have warned you.