Marriage: a broken institution?

laelene Post in general blog, relationships,Tags: , , ,
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I’ve gotten the feeling that Millenials are jaded by the idea of marriage.  Or, at least, have such high standards and low expectations that they’re rather pessimistic about the whole idea.  Call it realism if you want.  Or it may just be cynicism.

This issue seems to stem from our generation growing up hearing the sad statistics of high divorce rates.  Of course, many also grew up in such households, having to live a life in single-parent homes, bouncing between parents, and dealing with step-parents and siblings.  Perhaps that is why this generation seems so much more against marrying (especially at a young age).

Too many of our parents rushed into marriage and it either failed or they are unhappy together.  Now, I used to be deathly afraid of commitment despite no family history of bad relationships (only one relative has gotten divorced and it didn’t seem nasty), but when I found Panda, it worked.  This whole relationship thing wasn’t as terrible as I imagined it to be.  Likewise, for marriage, I think that it comes down to the right feeling.

If it feels right, why avoid it? Sometimes you’re just ready to make that leap of faith.  And that is what any relationship is – faith in yourself, faith in your partner, and faith in your union.  You need to trust yourself and your significant other to make it work.  Sure, you may be too young and inexperienced for that judgment call, but if you’ve thought long and hard, if you’ve both talked about it, and you both feel comfortable, it can be a beautiful thing.

You can never be fully prepared for marriage and all the complications that it entails.  I don’t judge people based on what age they choose to get married.  For some, it works.  Statistically, younger couples are more likely to separate, but that tends to be an issue of maturity.  If you don’t know yourself well enough and you don’t understand your partner, it’s not going to work no matter what other factors there are.

Sadly, there are a lot of practical reasons that drive couples to the altar: finances, convenience, right of kin, etc.  Some marriages are carried out due to necessity or pressure, but you shouldn’t get hitched for such mundane reasons.  After all, marriage should be a celebration of love and devotion.

So why does it seem that getting married actually tears many couples apart?  Stability.  Though it’s great to have in our lives, if that’s all you have in a relationship, it stagnates.  So many couples feel their relationship diminish over the years, if only because they know they have each other to depend on, through thick and thin.  So they stop trying.

It shouldn’t be so easy though.  Relationships should constantly be evolving and changing as the individuals do.  The moment you stop working on it, you have doomed it.  Think of it as a process rather than a goal to be reached.

Marriage as an institution needs a major makeover if it is to survive.  Though, perhaps it doesn’t need to be saved and Gen Z can come to age in a society where couples get legal civil unions.  I wouldn’t mind a secular institution that allows gay unions as well.

A reflection on college: what is it for?

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Those of you active on facebook have probably been tagged in the “25 random things about me” note by this point.  In case you haven’t it’s this note that someone started by writing 25 tidbits about him/herself (I’m just going to pretend this was a girl and use the appropriate pronouns) and tagging 25 people who she wanted to learn more about.  You are supposed to include whoever tagged you as well, so they can read what you wrote.  I think it’s the most passed-on note of all facebook history.  After I’d been tagged a few times, I decided it was my turn to continue the trend and I found myself reflecting on college:

“After I graduated, I thought I’d miss college a lot. Surprisingly, I’m ok. Possibly because I am still there all the time (at least once a week), but I think also because this is the only time I can get away with weeks of not having something/somewhere I had to go, certain times I have to get up, and no deadlines to meet. I spent a lot of time watching TV shows, which I haven’t done since middle school – Gilmore Girls, House, Pushing Daisies, and now Lie to Me. Now that I’m all but caught up on the last episodes of House and Lie to Me, I’ve been filling my time with a lot of reading. To some extent I’m learning a lot more than I ever did in school. From career advice to relationship advice, Asian American perspectives to Gen Y opinions, I’m covering a lot of ground. The great thing is everything I’m learning is useful!

Looking back and reading others’ thoughts on college is making me think of it more as a place to blossom and learn about yourself than to really learn anything concrete for your future. To some extent, yes, there are facts and figures to be remembered. But for the most part, it’s about figuring out what you want to do, how you interact with people, where you fit in the world, the type of people you should surround yourself with, etc. Except for highly specified fields, the degree you walk away almost never tells anything about your future. (I just realized this is starting to sound like something that should be a blog post. Sorry. I’ll go write up an entry on this instead.)”

Here I am, making good on that promise.

I’ve read articles on why this guy regretted getting straight A’s in college, tips on what college students should do to prepare themselves for their professional future, and a personal account of lessons learned outside the college classroom.  It all made me realize that there’s a bigger picture here, beyond the quest for perfect grades.

We enter college thinking that this is our ticket to that job we wanted.  And in many ways, it is.  Just not the way you’d expect.  People spend so much time agonizing over what major to study, what classes to take, and what school to go to in the first place.  Yet what matters more are the people you’ll meet, the skills (and not so much the facts) you’ll learn, and the experience you can look back on.

What should you be capitalizing on?  Networking, self-discovery, and lessons in life.  The spectrum of people you meet in college will trounce any high school experience you’ve had (unless you’re going to some small private university meant for a very specific demographic).  It is important to notice the types of people you get along with, the types who rub you the wrong way, and your interactions with them.  Life is largely composed of relationships and looking at your interactions with people can tell you a lot about your personality and preferences.

When I look back on my time at UCLA and studying abroad at the University of York, I hardly cherish the facts drilled into me as much as how my friends, organizations, and even living situations have shaped me.  From them, I have learned that I enjoy company and never want to live alone.  They have shown me how much I love to travel and meet new people in foreign cultures.  They have shown me how loyal I can be and what motivates me to get things done.  They have even taught me a bit about relaxation and what soothes me in stressful times.

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to know yourself.  What are your passions?  What are your fears?  It is only when you begin to understand the “why” behind the “what” that you can apply that knowledge towards personal fulfillment.  Find what drives you and use that to motivate you towards your goals.  And while it’s important to be aiming for something, it’s also important to know how you can get there while enjoying yourself.

The idea is to not take things at face value, but look for the deeper lessons to be learned.  Lessons about you as a person and how you fit into the world.  College is a great place for you to meet the best and brightest to learn with.

Side note:
One of the great things about blogging (or keeping a private journal/diary) is your ability to look back and see how much you’ve changed.  I kept a blog for about two years in the early stages of my college career and when I went back to read what I had written so long ago, I was surprised to notice how things have progressed.  Even if you don’t have access to that type of insight, I don’t know anyone who looks back on college and thinks, “Oh yeah, just another four years of my life.”  No, college is life-altering.  Take advantage of it.

Sleepless in my bed

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It’s early in the morning and I have yet to sleep all night.  This has been an ever-increasing problem with me in the past week.  I’ve always been a night owl, but now I’m up until brunch time and then I end up sleeping through until dinner.  If I have something to do during the day, I just take a nap before I have to go.  It’s not enough sleep, but I get through the day and usually pass out in the evening.  However, that sleep is never very restful and I end up waking up later that night, which just leads to another all-nighter.

I’m starting to get a headache from this, but there are so many things to occupy my time!  Sometimes I get overwhelmed trying to do it all and next thing I know, the birds are chirping outside and the sun has come out to shine again (or, in today’s case, just light things up through the clouds).  I have found so many blogs that may be worth following and now I just spent hours creating this website on Weebly.

My mom just got up to go to the local swap meet.  She loves to take a walk around there and try to haggle a few deals here and there if it’s something she needs.  In just two hours I should be driving down to UCLA to meet up with Panda and a friend for brunch.  At least I haven’t been sleepy or tired while driving!  That has only happened to me once in the past three or four years, as far as I can recall.  (I got off at the next exit and pulled onto a small street to take a nap.)

Should I take a two-hour nap?  Probably.  I’m at the point where my eyes start to feel heavy and I can sense the bags developing.  I also get ridiculously hungry at this time… grumble.

Etsy: eBay, handcrafted

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Recently, I discovered etsy.com through Katana, who has now set up shop on the site.  Etsy is a place for people to sell handmade items, ranging from jewelry to soaps to no-wedgie underwear and pillows!  I absolutely adore the novelty of this place and the allure that customizations can often be made by request and many of these items are original and unique.  It’s a fun place to explore, but handmade items come at a price!  So, for now, I won’t be purchasing anything, but when I’m ready to splurge, this adorable, simple necklace is first on my list!

I really like how this site took something that seemed outdated and brought a whole new life to it.  In the olden days, people made their own stuff because they had to.  All merchants chose to specialize in something for local customers and townspeople only had those choices.  Now, it’s like having one big village!  People from all over the world can browse what each person is good at and specializes in and sellers can change items per customer’s request.  It’s so much cooler to have something that you know is special, whether it was because you chose the color combination or you may have even contributed to the design!

The world really is getting smaller, isn’t it?  That’s not necessarily a bad thing as long as a sense of community is maintained and people don’t always retreat to their online havens.

Possible themes?

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I lay around all night, thinking about what kind of perspective my blog can offer the world.  Through hours of research in the past couple of days, I am slowly beginning to come up with an identity for myself.  At first, I thought about writing career related stuff, especially for college students and fresh college grads.  Then, I also wanted to incorporate a feminist point of view (and for me, that just means exploring how I view things being a female).  After that I started thinking about my interest in marketing and entrepreneurism and perhaps providing tips in those areas, as I learn them.  From there, I explored how my perspective is different as an Asian American and that is what I’m currently reading about.  So, in an effort to merge all these interests, I could create a “female Asian American’s thoughts and experiences in the professional world” type blog.

Of course, I also have a myriad of interests outside of those areas, so I really am struggling to try to keep a certain focus.  I adore traveling and immersing myself into other worlds, but I haven’t done that in a year, though I am about to leave for Singapore.  I love cats (and pretty much all animals), but my last one just died on Christmas.  I have an obsession for the military, especially the Marine Corps, but I don’t really get to interact with them anymore.  I am also fascinated with relationships and reading about all aspects of that kind of advice.  I find arts and crafts to be really cool, though I haven’t really had time to create anything lately (the last thing was my cross stitch).  I am a huge fan of food and I even take pictures of any and every meal that is vaguely interesting or tasty-looking.  Speaking of, I also take LOADS of pictures to document my life and those around me.

I think in the end I am just hoping that because everything I write about will be from my thoughts, there will be a theme or two that emerge from the way I write and what I choose to write about.  Am I just trying too hard to find it right now?

Twitter revolution

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For the past couple of hours, I have been entrenched in the world of blogs and Twitter, which seem to be at the forefront of social media.  I continued the slow trudge through the rest of the entries that Jess Goodman wrote on her blog after writing my previous entry and started to get curious about social media.  Link after link of related material led me to various blogs of famous writers, career coaches, entrepreneurs, and anyone else who has embraced this new trend.  I still have over twenty tabs open in my browser of blogs to visit and ideas to research.  It’s crazy!

What hit me recently (sometime between the last post and this) was the emerging phenomenon of Twitter.  Alarmingly, I haven’t a clue what it is or how to utilize it, but after reading up on it, it seems it is the new direction of the online community. I am sad to realize that as much as I pride myself on adapting quickly and being rather tech-savvy, I have been left behind on this front.  Thankfully, it’s not too late to get in on it, but to some extent I don’t want to.  I never really thought of myself as a traditionalist at heart, but I’m starting to see that part of me emerge.  I don’t want to learn about this “tweeting” and all the new lingo associated with it.  I don’t want to give up my Yahoo account for a Gmail one.  I don’t want internet access on my cell phone.  I don’t want to learn how to use a Mac.  I don’t want the pace of life to pick up even more!  But, it is the age of connectivity and sooner or later, that is how things will be.

Back when Facebook first began in 2004, I was graduating high school and resistant to this new concept.  It wasn’t until a friend whose judgment I respected greatly invited me to join that I decided to set up a profile.  Since then, I’ve never looked back and I absolutely adore what the site has done for me.  As a child, I moved every three to four years, and as a result of that, lost touch with most of my friends from my youth.  What memories I did hold of these lost friends enabled me to find them years later, on Facebook!  It was a great way to reunite with all those people who I had to move away from and now it is an amazing way to share the extensive amount of pictures that I take.  Throughout the evolution of Facebook, I have kept an open mind and though I am generally not a fan of the applications and the newsfeed made me a little concerned, I have always known that after the initial uproar, people would learn to use those new features.  It amazes me that time and time again, people will resist change, but then slowly they will adapt to it and forget how life ever was without it.

Now with the Twitter revolution, I feel like I am back in the summer before college, trying to decide if this trend was just a fad or something to start getting involved in.  And though I may not be entirely comfortable with it starting out, I will give it a try.  After all, it seems like every avid blogger (including my best friend)  is obsessed with Twitter.  There’s got to be a reason for that, right?

Grammar Police

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Today I realized how much of a stickler I am for grammar and spelling.  In fact, my obsession is borderline anal, yet I can’t help it.  It all started when I was reading through a random blog I came across and just couldn’t get past the mistakes the author kept making.  Now, I try to be open-minded and recognize that it’s not easy to maintain a blog with regular entries and never make a mistake.  So, typically, I glaze over those minor errors as I’m perusing other people’s writing.  However, this girl has taken it too far for my comfort.  When it gets to this point, I start to wonder if she put any thought into what she was typing.  She’s got some good ideas to throw out there, but I couldn’t prevent myself from getting distracted by the endless errors I encountered.  It was just too much for me.

Image has always been important to me.  Part of that is how you look (what you wear, how clean you are, how much makeup you put on, etc.), but part of it is also how you speak and write.  I immediately lose respect for writers who consistently make spelling and grammar errors or speakers who mispronounce words or use unconventional slang.  It makes them seem uneducated or careless, neither of which are traits I find help their credibility.  Despite that, I somehow couldn’t tear myself away and had to keep reading through Goodman’s blog, painful as it was suffering through typo after typo.  It’s unfortunate because I actually am interested in reading what this girl has to say, but I can only take so much at a time before getting impatient with her blogging.

I guess this only came up as an issue because I came across an entry by Penelope Trunk lamenting the emphasis on perfect blogging soon after I read a blog whose author hates spelling mistakes.  It made me rethink my personal vendetta against typos and in the end, I didn’t change my mind.  It’s true that occasional mistakes can and should be overlooked.  However, constant mistakes and inconsistencies are annoying and detract from the message.  So here is my response to Trunk’s points from “Writing without typos is totally outdated.”

1.  Spellchecker isn’t perfect.
I am an advocate of proofreading rather than merely spell-checking; it’s true that Spellchecker misses a lot of errors, hence the need to reread!
2.  Spelling has nothing to do with intelligence.
Spelling may not necessarily reflect intelligence, but honestly, nothing can measure intelligence.  There are so many different ways you can be intelligent that trying to measure it is obsolete.  However, spelling is a good indicator of attention to detail and like it or not, some people will also take it as a reflection of intelligence.
3.  You don’t have unlimited time, so spend it on ideas, not hyphens.
Though it does take time to be careful with your grammar and spelling, it shows a certain level of commitment to learn the basics early on.  Once you have mastered that, it is virtually effortless to construct coherent, error-free sentences.  It’s much more worth it to spend a little more time crafting a good image than to have opportunities thrown away because you were misrepresented as a careless, unintelligent person.
4.  Perfectionism is a disease.
Perfectionism is too extreme, but noticing typos is not exactly the most arduous task to undertake.  As long as people don’t dwell on periodic errors, it doesn’t hurt to improve this facet of your life, seeing as how the written word is so important to human culture.
5.  Use the comments section for what matters: Intelligent discourse.
I do agree that the comments section should not be wasted on people talking about these types of errors.  It’s up to the authors to be careful with what they write the first time around, making sure to proofread so nobody feels compelled to leave those messages.

P.S. – Did anyone else notice the spelling error in her entry?  Coincidence or just proving her point?

Blogworthy?

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I have spent a lot of time these past two days reading people’s blogs, mostly about the guy biking all over the Americas and Africa and the aforementioned Brazen Careerist founder’s.  I also read through one about three guys longboarding their way through South America.  All this makes me want to have a strong theme to my writing as well, but I can’t help but write about all aspects of my life.  I don’t really have a focus for a target audience, though I feel like I should have one.  I’m also trying to come up with a good title for the blog that would encompass the right ideas and give the right impression I’m looking for.

As of yet, I’m having trouble with this – perhaps I am going to need to do what Katana is doing and have two blogs to achieve this goal: one for personal writing and anecdotes, the other for a more professional and focused front.  So, I think I am going to continue to write about all sorts of thoughts that cross my mind here until I am ready for a pro blog, which will ideally go on my own website (which I still need to have).  Thankfully, maryqin.com is not taken and a quick search of my name yields all but one result for me on the first page.  I am hoping that the other Mary Qins out there don’t steal that domain name before I get to it.  I doesn’t look likely, but who knows.

An important decision: Singapore

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My best friend’s blog inspired me to pick up writing again and now one that she referenced has inspired me to take an incredible job opportunity abroad.  It started off when Katana mentioned Penelope Trunk’s entry on how that isn’t her real name.  This caught my eye not only because I use something other than my birth name, but also because Ms. Trunk started the website Brazen Careerist that Katana had recommended to me as a networking tool.  Interested both in the story behind her alias and background as an entrepreneur (especially a woman entrepreneur, which seems a lot harder to find), I went to her blog.

At first, I was unimpressed.  Here was a woman who had changed her name multiple times and wrote about it in a quirky writing style that didn’t suit me.  All those changes made her seem flighty, almost shady.  I had been expecting some sort of great revelation that led to her current name, but she didn’t even choose it.  The first time she changed her name would have made a good story, but the other times it was just giving in to pressures.  After reading the article, I hoped a second reading would show me something I had missed.  I was about to start on that when other links distracted me and before I knew it, I was engulfed in the opinionated advice of a career woman.

From working as a professional to working as a mother, tips on relationships to advice for the future, she covered a lot of ground.  I found what she wrote to be thought-provoking, whether or not I agreed with it (and mostly, I found I did).  She referenced Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness, multiple times, which won brownie points for me – I have read the book twice and will probably continue to read it in the coming years, or at least remind myself of the lessons held therein.

Hours later, I was still reading, scouring every entry that had an interesting title.  I read about her experience beinga block away from the World Trade Center as it collapsed, why graduate school has become a deadend, why working any job is better than taking nothing, how changing jobs should be in the normal course of a career, how my generation is unique professionally, that failure will come and failure will go (and only those things worth doing will make you doubt your ability to accomplish them), and so many other lessons.  Most were lessons I knew in the back of my mind, but never really took to heart.  Some were new concepts that just made sense.  And somewhere in the midst of all this, I realized that I needed to stop living in denial.

I want to take the opportunity in Singapore.  I am going to stop being afraid of failing, I am going to stop being afraid of disappointing, and I am going to try.  I may not have a definite plan, but I have goals, dreams, aspirations.  I have a vision.  It’s time to stir my passion and just go for it.  It’s not going to be easy and it will take a lot of time, energy, and effort, but what better time than now?  I have the least to lose – no job to quit, no family to care for, no rent or mortgage or loans to deal with.  I will, however, be terribly sad to be so far from Panda.  He is supportive of my hopes and career choices though, so we can work through it.  I need to stop being so scared of how difficult it will be to not see him for months when I can’t even go a week without going crazy.  Because you know what?  Once I’m over there, working, learning, growing, it won’t seem as bad as when I’m sitting here like a couch potato, with no real plans and no schedule to adhere to.  Plus, I’ll be living with Marylin!  I’m sure my “twin” can help me get through rough times and we can commiserate, since her boyfriend is also here in California (albeit up north).

The joy of weather

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As my mom and I wandered through a store last month, we saw a section of rakes on sale and it made me wonder who in the world would need one here, where all there are are palm fronds.  I miss having the seasons and I can’t recall the last time I raked a pile of leaves and jumped in them.  There’s something so simple and wonderful about that experience, which certainly can’t be replicated in Southern California, where all the leaves in one county would be required for such a pile.

I also miss the snowfall and waking up to a world whitened overnight, a thunderstorm with bolts of lightning illuminating the sky as thunder roared, and the various other phenomena to be found in other parts of the country.  I don’t mind being rained on, which is probably why I loved England so much.  It’s so nice to curl up with a hot drink and your blanket as the world outside rages on.  I always feel so safe when I am inside, hidden away from the downpour, yet still privy to watching it through the window.

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