6 life lessons

Friday 2 October 2015

How much to share 

Over-sharing? Bland post? Or somewhere in the middle? If you've been blogging for years now, there comes a point where you're at a loss trying to translate thoughts into coherent sentences. I've been on all levels of the pendulum. The noise generated by social media is deafening. I'm often left bewildered trying to figure out how to filter out the infinite amount of information just to get to what I truly wanted to read.

Sharing your honest thoughts, struggles and the lessons we've learned build a kind of solidarity amongst fellow readers and bloggers. It makes us more relatable and helps to empower those around us too. On the other end of the spectrum, you've got the in-your-face bragger  (usually the same ones that love to share their ultra fabulous home, perfect husband, perfect holiday, kids that are smarter than Einstein) which you frequently see on Facebook that most of us unfollow. Everyone wants to celebrate each other's successes but NOT when it becomes like a boastful verbal diarrhea.


What to say 

Someone once told me that "I NEED to say it because that's how I feel and she's wrong." WRONG. The truth can hurt but harsh words - spoken or written can obliterate a relationship and the hurt can carry into eternity. It's ok to be opinionated but it's far better to use a bit of wisdom to ascertain when and how to voice it in a manner that does not offend the other person. I never quite understand trolls or those who get into spats on social media or in real life. It's petty, childish and ultimately, reflects badly on the attacker.

It's ok to disagree since we're all individuals. Otherwise, we might as well be robots. Why is it necessary to bend someone to our way of thinking? It's amazing what we'll say, all in the name of pride. We're more likely to build fulfilling lifelong friendships if we're more considerate towards one another. Sometimes adults behave far worse than kids. I've always believed that wisdom does not come with age but to those who seek it.

It's so much easier to point out another's flaw than our own. I'm just guilty as charged. Sometimes we over-analyze what the other person had said and take it out of context. A few kind words one on one can clarify the misunderstanding quickly rather than blabbing it on social media and turning it into an unnecessary warfare. I used to react and lash out when I was attacked. Having to learn to curb my tongue and behave the opposite of what I truly want to do is.........very very difficult. Self control is a sign of maturity. Easier said than done by the way but I'm getting there  s l o w l y. If the words thank you and I'm sorry were used more often, they'd be far less wars.


Self talk 

A close friend of mine and I started a mini bible study group recently. Just the two of us. One of our exercises was to list out our strengths. You'd think it'd be an easy task but I truly struggled. I've read all about self talk, regurgitate it often enough.....but to put it into practice? Difficult. I continue to draw my inner strength and wisdom from God that I may learn to be kinder to myself. To believe in Him rather than listening to naysayers.


To succeed at all costs

Asian or Jewish parents (or parents who are immigrants) have extremely high expectations of the next generation who are programmed from young to excel or else. Their life was excruciatingly difficult in the days where poverty was rife. Compliments are rare because the Asian culture is seeped in Confucianism which means one has to be "modest". I use this term lightly because most Asian parents love to compare and nothing makes you feel more worthless than being compared to someone else.

Unless you've succeeded like Bill Gates or Jerry Yang (Yahoo) or show material wealth,'re still rather lacking. Filial piety is observed without question so children are often pushed to set aside their dreams to fulfill their parents'. Life is dreary with no end in sight if you don't enjoy what you're doing.

Suicide rate in South Korea is the highest amongst the OECD countries. The pressure these kids are under is immense to the point where schools had to lock up access to the rooftop during exams. It isn't uncommon for a student to suddenly leave the classroom, walk up to the highest point and jump. While this is rather extreme, those of us who were educated in Asia would understand the pressure of performing well as anything less than an A is unacceptable.

Those in my generation are trying to buck the trend by finding our own successes whether they're big or small. I hope my daughter will have a different life where she's encouraged to find her own destiny. Money does bring happiness to a certain extent but not at the expense of everything else. I'd rather leave behind a legacy of relationships than material wealth that I can't take with me.


Being beautiful and popular 

The obsession with being popular is an epidemic these days, largely thanks to social media. It was definitely around when I was in school but your home was a sanctuary from peer pressure. These days, kids and yes, us adults too are constantly reminded how popular we are all day by the stats on our social media which is flashed on your screen every waking hour. In the world of blogging where statistics take precedence, it's interesting to see how there are those who are unwilling to know you because you're....well....not popular enough. It's glaringly obvious when you're at a fashion event and the organizers fawn all over the more popular blogger or social media superstar while you're left standing in a corner wondering why you'd even bothered to attend (after arranging childcare, dashing to the train station and running like the hounds are chasing you to make it there on time).

Popularity has a correlation with looks so it's little wonder that online beauty tutorials have sprung up like mushrooms. People are naturally drawn to beauty but how you make them feel will leave a lasting impression. Perhaps I'm older now and have been through similar situations several times around, I'm a little less bothered, though at times niggling self doubt does rear its ugly head. I've had long conversations with close friends who used to be the most popular kids in school. Being popular isn't what it's cracked up to be. Worshipping people is never a good thing as none of us are perfect and will inevitably fall short of expectations. Beauty and popularity wane over time and what are we left with?


Being self conscious 

Most of us are naturally self conscious. We worry about how others perceive us. It has taken me decades to come to the realization that it's a waste of brain juice and all it does is add more unwanted wrinkles. Why? Because people are more concerned about how they appear to others that they don't have time to worry about you. So what if your fly is undone or your hair isn't cooperating? No one died. Laugh about it and the world will laugh with you, not at you. It'll break the ice at a gathering and perhaps you'll make a friend or two. Be interested rather than interesting. People love to talk about themselves.

I was always this awkward kid who'd fumble through conversations trying to look cool yet had the opposite effect. I'm still not the best at parties and tend to avoid crowded events as much as I can.  I've since learned that they're many more just like me. I'll never be an extrovert but time and experience have helped me to discern those who're kinder and more empathetic from the pack. They're usually the ones that wear a few battle scars, overcame certain hardships and have interesting stories to tell.  It sounds rather corny but the saying....eyes are windows to one's soul is true.

If you've enjoyed this post, do check out Amanda of Online Stylist's 5 Unwritten Rules of Blogging and Lucy of Fashion Me Now's Lessons in Happy. Please share life lessons you've learned so far that have had an impact on you.


  1. Posts like these are why I love your blog, Marlene--thank you for some wise words to start off the weekend. I too am an introvert, and was picked on quite a lot as a consequence, I learned to be very careful about how much of myself I revealed and was always eager for other people to like me. In the end, I learned that you are the only person you can please 100% of the time, and if you aren't happy with yourself, it won't matter if everyone likes you! Gotta love yourself first.

    Not sure if this is an authentic quote, but I like the one attributed to Buddha: "Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without." Or, everything will be ok once you are ok with everything! Easier said than done, of course, like everything worth doing :)


    1. Thank you, Alissa. It's terrible how much bullying goes on (and still does) in schools. You're absolutely right about not being a people pleaser and looking after yourself first. That's probably why all the airlines always go on and on about putting the oxygen mask on yourself first before helping others. Can't help anyone when we're unconscious!

  2. Brilliant, the correlation of looks/popularity sickens me, what kind message is this for our children, for the young generation? We are entrenched in a Kardashian culture of shallow materialism.

    1. I see this happening in primary schools now. The kids are exposed to so much now. More so than when we were kids.

  3. The most important relationship is the one you have with yourself(any others is a bonus).
    I'm speaking from experience as a shy, highly-sensitive Asian kid who didn't like herself(I was often the target for bullies, naturally) who was desperate to fit in that box!
    Life is an lifelong & enduring education (you live and learn)! Wise words, Marlene.

    1. Boy, can I relate to you. It's always the quiet and meek ones that get trashed. On the other hand, I'm thankful that I've learned what NOT to do from the experience. I suppose that's why those who had struggles previously tend to be more compassionate and empathetic because they've walked that path.

  4. I really enjoyed this post, Marlene. As usual, you are spot-on in your observations and thoughts. People here (well - many I've come across, unfortunately) definitely tend to measure one's wealth in money rather than strength of character. Humility and kindness seems to have gone out the window where I am, and it is incredibly frustrating. :(
    S in HK

    1. I can't imagine living in your world and dealing with this every single day. It must be a struggle trying to build genuine friendships when everyone's looking at each other as a competitor in material wealth.

  5. Brilliantly written Marlene and you echo so many of the sentiments that sometimes run amok in my head since entering blogging as a business. I hate it when you see relationships ruined due to some people's over-ambitious or envious nature. I don't believe you have to trample on others to get anywhere near the top - surely it's better for each of us to support each other. After all, blogging is so diverse and personal, there's room for all the incarnations!
    Thanks for the link back to OS blog! xx

  6. Thanks for sharing some very nice words and candid experiences. You hit all very relevant points in dealing with one's daily struggles in life.

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