New year’s old resolutions

For the purpose of this post, see: Two Sides of a Same Coin
For the ‘other side”s take on this topic, see: 2014 Resolutions

Warning: I was too lazy to call for the usual help to my good friend Thesaurus.

2014. A new year. A new beginning.

There’s always something exciting about the end of a semester, a year, a job, any significant period of time, because as good as those may have been, you somehow expect and hope that even better things lie ahead for the new semester, the new year, and the new job. Stupid human beings that we are, always hoping, always being positive, even when nothing rational tells us it is actually going to be so. Even in the most mundane and daily situations I am hopeful. I am hopeful that after I work out and take a good refreshing shower, I will somehow open a text book and study. Yeah well, what usually happens is Thank you shower, Hello again Netflix. So it is not surprising that for 2014, a whole new year, 365 brand new days, I set myself some pretty high expectations and a goal I had never before even thought of. No more the usual “I’ll stay fit” or “I won’t procrastinate”.

The year of 2014 would be the year of KINDNESS.

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My obsession with Kindness began with this article: The Difference Between Being Nice and Being Kind.

I think I’m a rather nice person. Yes I said it. And did I also tell you that modesty and humility are two other qualities of mine? I know, I’m full of surprises like that. I had no problem with being nice (why would anyone?), until I came across the aforementioned article. And it hit me. I am nice, not kind. This was a problem, since clearly, the article was telling us that as decent human beings, we should focus more on the latter characteristic. I have difficulty saying no when people ask me for favors and I have a hard time letting annoying people know that they are terribly annoying. “Sure, (smile) I can translate that 200 word text for you for tomorrow (smile), no problem, my pleasure”. What I don’t add is the cynical and sour “for no fee, when I have tons of things to do for myself, but well, that doesn’t matter, does it.” What is worse, after I’ve smiled my face off, I’ll probably go bitching about it to someone else. I may not like you, but I certainly want you to like me.

Genuinely kind people (…) aren’t concerned with whether or not other people like them. Kind people can be assertive and set good limits.” Everything I’ve said so far contradicts this. I am very concerned with whether or not people like me and I am definitely not good at setting limits.

The nice person is careful not to offend anyone and wouldn’t dream of expressing a “negative” emotion. (…) Nice people stuff down their feelings, not wanting to be a bother to anyone, but the problem with this is that emotions can’t be kept down indefinitely. Feelings and needs are meant to be expressed and when they’re repressed, they find another outlet.” And for me, I think that ‘another outlet’ has been Facebook, not in the sense that I pour down all my feelings online (at least I don’t think I do), but in the sense that I’m easily annoyed by what I see on Facebook, and go into irrational rants about what I have seen.

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Yup, been there, done that. If I blocked more people than I already have, my FB wall will probably show nothing but Huffington Post News and Buzzfeed posts, along with TV shows.

I have only myself to blame because if I really wanted to avoid being annoyed, I would simply quit Facebook.

What could possibly be so annoying on Facebook? Well, what isn’t, I ask in return.

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Ring a bell?

People constantly feeling the need to show off and remind others of how tired they are, how hard-working they are, how misunderstood they are. People desperate for attention, for love, where there is none. The list goes on. I’ve been so annoyed that I dedicated two posts to this ‘disease’ some time ago (here and here).

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Oh yeah, ‘those’ people…

I thus realized that I was not being kind, not trying to understand why people would behave in such ways, and just discrediting them for being stupid and… well, annoying (how many more times can I used that word?).

If I were genuinely kind, as the article said, it would “be in my nature to care“. I wouldn’t for instance, “let my emotions leak, in the form of snarky comments, whining, needling, sarcasm, passive-aggressive behavior or even outbursts of rage.”

So I decided to be kinder, which essentially for me meant not being easily ‘disturbed’ by the general Facebook population.

2014 was going to be the year of Kindness.

But then…

Do you actually know how many different types of annoying people are on Facebook? Do you really, like really, realize how annoying these annoying people can be?

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Yes, why? why?

And…

Do you know how much fun I have talking about these people? Why, I asked myself, would I deprive myself of this pleasure and fun pastime, which, technically, doesn’t harm anyone, when I’m already depriving myself of Twix bars at 10:00 pm or a whole half a pound of truffle brie with some good wine? Why would I quit Facebook when it provides me with my daily dose of joy?

After all, “kind people have good self-esteem and because they love themselves as much as they care about others, they expect to be treated with respect“, the article also says. And gawd do I love myself. And so far, I’ve been treated with respect by people I’ve been nice to. “Kind people are happy people to begin with” and yes, I’m a happy person. “Nice people are needy people who inadvertently create more and more unhappiness for themselves.” – nope, not me. I absolutely abhor neediness.

So I concluded I was both a kind and nice person (I already warned you and made clear that I did love myself) and that if I was easily annoyed by Facebook, there was an absolutely rational reason behind it: some people are just annoying and it is only natural for me to be annoyed.

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It’s you, not me.

So screw being Kind with capital K. I’m kind with small k and am happy with it.

And here’s to my never-changing new year’s resolutions: work out regularly and be fit, try to wake up before 8:00 am, focus more on my studies.

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2014 is going to be awesome.

Disclaimer: Clearly I was just having fun with my own silly interpretation of Marcia Sirota’s not-so-silly and serious article.

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Goodbye 2013, Thank You 2013

For the purpose of this post, see: Two Sides of a Same Coin
For the ‘other side”s take on this topic, see: 2013 wasn’t so bad

(The December post has been delayed… like… a lot… due to… erm… busy schedule, not laziness)

As I wave goodbye to 2013, I feel like I have to take a moment to look back at those past 365 days and assess what kind of year this has been. And since I’m usually critical and cynical about things in general, I thought this was a good opportunity to shake off that sarcasm of mine for a while and be, actually, thankful. And thank God, 2013 has given me a couple of things to be thankful for.

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I am thankful for the people; the new ones, the old ones. I am thankful for the new people I’ve met, for teaching me that it’s never too late to make friends, that once the initial awkwardness and dread of ‘mingling’ is over, it will all be worth it. There is something particularly enchanting and heart-warming when a ‘new friend’ picks up a jewelry you’ve been eyeing for some time, turns around, and says “This is so you”. I am more than thankful for the ‘old’ people I had to leave, for they are the only reasons I miss Korea like I never thought I would, for giving me memories to miss and to long for. And both have made me realize that no matter where you are, it’s the people you are with that matters. Boston wouldn’t be such a charming city if it weren’t for my sister (who, suddenly, when I finally join her in Boston, has field work and conferences all over the world but Boston…hmm…) or for the new friends I’ve met. I wouldn’t miss Seoul if it weren’t for the lunches, dessert, drinks and laughs I had with my dear old friends. And I often imagine, how much lovelier and more awesome Boston would be if I had my old friends here with me.

I am thankful for being here, on so many levels. Being in Boston doesn’t only mean I finally got to live outside of Korea, on my own, after I was old enough to make the decision and to go through the petty little things, as well as the big major steps, to make it happen. It means that I finally got back to all the sister-things I used to do – watching movies at the cinema, binge-watching TV shows at home, bursting out in hysterical laughs, having coffee. Maybe this shouldn’t be the first thing that comes to mind at my age and at this stage in my life. But well, what can I say, it is.

On a more serious note however, being in Boston also means I finally got to open and step in the door that I think is my goal in life, for now. While waiting to come here, I often wondered whether this was not simply a fleeting infatuation of mine, like so many I’ve had. What if I had the wrong idea about what studying more meant? What if after a semester I realized that staying at school was the most excruciating thing ever? What if I ended up disappointed, disillusioned, and lonely? True, not all my classes were mind-blowing and not every single hour felt like a blessing. But overall, I wouldn’t exchange the few moments of excitement and eagerness I had during this semester for anything. I still have only a faint idea of what my main research subject will be in the future, but for once, the unknown is not so scary or daunting. I’m thankful to have the confirmation that I was not living in a bubble and to know that maybe, I’m not wasting my time doing this.

I’ve always loved JD’s last comments on Scrubs on endings. I thought about them when a close friend of mine graduated from grad school, and also when I myself graduated from GSIS. And although his words are about endings, I think they could just as well apply to new beginnings.

“Endings are never easy. I always build them up so much in my head they can’t possibly live up to my expectations and I just end up disappointed. I’m not even sure why it matters so much to me how things end up here. I guess it’s because we all wanna believe what we do is very important, that people hang onto our every word, that they care what we think. The truth is, you should consider yourself lucky if you occasionally get to make someone, anyone, feel a little better. After that, it’s all about the people you’ve let into your life. (…) As to the future, it didn’t seem so scary anymore. It could be whatever I want it to be. And who’s to say this isn’t what happens? Who can tell me that my fantasies won’t become true? Just this once…” 

So here’s to being thankful for what I have, and for what I will have.

The best things to be thankful for are often what we already have.

The best things to be thankful for are often what we already have.