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Perception.

I've been struggling to write this post for awhile - writer's block. Tried a few rounds of these long posts that go and on. But, I realised with kindness, there doesn't need to be that much to it. It's a simple post without flair.

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I have four favorite examples on kindness that have shaped my feelings on kindness, and help me remember to be kind when sometimes, it can be a bit harder to be.

1. Family Motto
One thing I've seen some of my Mormon friends and their families have is a family motto - something that they teach the kids growing up, and ground them in. When I have my own family one day, I already know what mine is going to be one day - "work hard and be kind."

When Conan O'Brien left NBC's tonight show a few years ago, it wasn't under the best of circumstances, but his last monologue towards the end really hit home for me.

"All I ask is one thing, and I’m asking this particularly of young people: please don’t be cynical. I hate cynicism, for the record, it’s my least favorite quality and it doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen."

2. Helping Others
I was reading this story about how this waitress in Singapore who, as a single Mom, was working really hard but did not have enough to tide things over. One of the regulars at the restaurant noticed her gloom and had asked her how she was doing and she had told him a bit about her situation.

When she gave the bill that day, the customer left her with a $2,000 tip. She intially didn't want to take it, but his response was, "We have two hands, one is to work hard and the other is to help others."

I don't think, nor do I think most of us can be that generous, but I think one thing I can do is to be kind in smaller amounts, and in simpler ways. And, if we are fortunate to help others, we should, that's our blessing in life, and something for us to share.

My college professor once recounted a time when he was in a third-world country. A woman with a kid was asking for a handout, and when he looked in his wallet, saw that he had the equivalent of $10 as his smallest note. He had only wanted to give a dollar or two, so he walked away. Then it hit him - that $10 meant nothing to him, but it meant the world to that woman and her kid, he went back and promptly gave that to her.

A quote from the waitress also said about the man that gave the $2000 tip:
"However, I am really touched because he always clears his own plates, telling my colleagues that it's okay and to relax. Whenever I serve wealthy people, they are usually very proud. But.... is humble and always greets us, saying thank you and everything."

That's what I hope people say about me. Those are the little bits of kindness, and courtesy, that I hope to show others every day.

3. Empathy
"Always be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle you know nothing about."

This is something that I struggle with. I often get annoyed or riled up, especially when I'm driving. Or, someone's snarky and I take offense to it. The thing is, most of the time, people aren't rude on purpose. Or, if they seem annoyed, it's not you (some of the time). One way or another, being kind is ALWAYS a good thing. If I retaliate to someone making a snide comment or being rude (in my eyes), it just makes the situation worse, never better. Being able to empathise, and remembering that people have their own trials and tribulations and issues makes it easier to always be kind with someone and make their day just that much better.

4. Kindness is a Choice
Trying to sum up Jeff Bezos' story about kindness is a bit hard, but the gist of it is (and you should read this commencement speech anyway), is that he made a comment as a kid that he thought he would be praised for, but instead made his grandmother cry.

His grandfather, who has never once scolded him, only uttered this sentence in response. “Jeff, one day you’ll understand that it’s harder to be kind than clever.”

And, as Bezos said is there is a "difference between gifts and choices. Cleverness is a gift, kindness is a choice."

We choose to be kind, I choose to be kind. No matter what the situation is, whether it's something as simple as clearing the table at the hawker center to help the old uncle or auntie out, or turning the other cheek when someone is yelling at you, kindness is always a choice.

I don't profess to be perfect at this, noy by a long shot, but one of my goals, my life goals, is to be kind. Little acts of kindness that make the world a better place.

I hope that when people happen to be talking about me, they'll say things like, "Ee Chien's nice, funny, wild, a bit wacky sometimes. But, the thing that's coolest about Ee Chien is that he's kind."

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Work hard and be kind, and amazing things will happen.


I was just looking to see who to invite to my "small group" birthday party this year, and I realised the majority of them came from work, and there were hardly any people from people I know from work. That really got me into panic mode, because it triggered my emotions about what I'm most insecure about.

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Growing up and having friends was easy. Parents arranged playtime, and in elementary school, I hung out with the kids whose parents my parents made friends with. Then I went off to secondary school, and had another group of friends I hung out with.

In Secondary 3 (9th grade), I switched over from a local school to an international school. At the point, I lost touch with the majority of my friends from local school. If I'm being honest with myself, part of me wanted to just be cool and hang out with my "cool" SAS friends. That was a mistake.

Fast forward to my mission and college, I made some wonderful friends there, and friends that I still keep in touch with. But, as we graduated and started moving to different places, we definitely have not been in contact as much. Leaving the Mormon Church also meant that some people who were my "friends" weren't so much my friends anymore.

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I know that moving home to Singapore has always been the right decision, things are so much better here. But the one thing that's been lacking, perhaps, is a core group of friends, and that scares me. Honestly, it's the one thing I'm probably most insecure about. I see so many of my friends who have a good group around them - people they have known for years and grown up with, people they hang out with and travel with. Me? I have friends, but I don't feel particularly close to any of them, or feel that I can really count on them when the going gets tough, except for a couple people.

When I moved back to Singapore, work was my life for two years, till Uber got acquired by Grab. That means my work friends were my work family, and also my real friends - it was hard to find the time to meet people outside of work. When the acquisition happened, I guess that bit of my world got rocked a bit, another friend group destabilised. With work, I think I neglected a lot of the friendships and relationships I wanted to rebuild too. So, there's no core group that I always hang out with, or have inside jokes with, or really connect with.

Because of those insecurities, I've realised the way I interact with people, whether in person or in messages or whatnot, can be a bit weird or intense. I latch on to something I think might have potential, and panic when someone isn't as responsive or as reciprocal with their feelings. I wonder sometimes what's wrong with me, where people can be friends with me and have fun, but not build that closer bond or friendship.

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The other thing - some others have siblings and bigger family units they rely on. I have no siblings, and I'm not really close to any of my cousins. I think one of the things that terrifies me is that one day, when my parents and aunts and uncles pass on, I'm just going to be... alone. Sure, there will be friends from work and social events and whatnot, but no one that I can really call family, you know? A lot of the time, your friends become your family. An an only child, your friends are your family.

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I've been getting out there and spending more time with people, and with the bar, it helps. But, I'm tired, well, I don't want superficial friendships or relationships. I want to build meaningful relationships that are real and mean something. I guess that takes time and effort on my part.

That's life, I suppose.
One of my Thirty to ThirtEe goals has been to have less things. Over the past few months, I've been going through my cupboards and shelves and closets at both of my places, trying to get rid of things.

Clothes, books, DVDs, random trinkets - the crazy thing is, no matter how much I get rid off, there's still more. In that sense, it makes me realise how much money I've spent (and wasted) over the years buying things.

To lighten the load, I've been doing three things:

(a) Giving Things Away
This has been nice to do, and I believe has a lot more meaning. There are books I've given away to friends because I think they'll enjoy it, and I can share a little bit of the joy I got from reading that book, with them.

For clothes, and some other things, I've been donating them them to MINDS. The Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS) has four thrift shops around the island where they sell donated items. They also have their trainees with intellectual disability tend to customers and to handle the job of sorting and tagging the sale items. I really liked giving to them, and was a more personal than giving to The Salvation Army. 

(b) Selling Things
I've been putting items up on Carousell. Sometimes, it's a pain in the butt, but other times, I've been able to sell a thing or two! It's funny how getting $5 or $10 is so fun, and it's gives me some satisfaction that I got some money back from something that someone now has a use for!

(c) Throwing Things Away
Some things, you just can't do anything with - empty boxes, random trinkets, dusty things that have no value. You can't sell it or give it away, but you keep it for one reason or excuse. Getting rid of those things and seeing the clean, clear, empty space can be a wonderful things.

It's so interesting how having less things and items in life can be so freeing!

I'm not going to stand on a pedestal and say that buying or hoarding things is a bad thing. People find their happiness and relax in different ways. But, as I've cleared my cupboards and shelves, it's been so nice to have less things to have and lose. I spend less money buying things that I don't need. Instead, I can save and invest that money, or I can use it for experiences - travel, meals with friends etc.

I've been working to follow this more minimalist track. There's a book and a show that have really inspired me - The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, and Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things

I really do aspire one day to have 5 pairs of shirts and 2 pairs of jeans and 2 pairs of shoes etc. It'll take a bit of time, and for practical reasons, I might not get exactly to that, but I'm excited to get somewhat close to it. The funky thing is, no matter how much I get rid off, there seems to be more! Well, one day I'll get there.


A luggage full of things to be given away

A couple of my friends and my Dad have been asking me what I want for my birthday this year, it being the big 3-0 and all that, you know?

I've thought about it a bit. Sure there are a couple things that I wouldn't mind getting here and there, and some things I aspire to materially. But really, there's nothing that I really want that I don't already have.

Things are things. I've been working to declutter these past few months (another blog post). Here's the funny thing (no pun intended). Every time I get rid of things, I hesitate, hemming and hawing about why I should keep it. But, during the times I have just gotten rid of this or that, I've never thought about it again. It's been a good reminder that I'm really lacking nothing, and things are just things. 

All I want, really, is to be happy in life. That happiness, I believe is derived from other "things" in life.

1. Friends and Family - You know, the Uber ride that came to a screeching halt (and that provided two months of free self-reflection) really made me realise that while work is good, it's not everything. The amount of hours and blood and sweat and tears taught me a lot, but I don't ever want again to neglect the more important things in life - namely, relationships with my friends and family. I want to deepen my relationship with my parents and aunts and uncles. I'd like to, instead of trying to increase the number of "friends," strengthen and build on the ones that I already have and care about. 

2. Good Health - Most of you know that I was born, with TGA, which meant open heart surgery at 5 weeks old, and a mini stroke that left me with a benign brain cyst and slightly crappy right hand. From young, I've gone for checkups year after year, and been on, (and now off!) medicine. I've ben doing well, and would like it to stay that way. I've seen relatives and friends suffer from various maladies, and it's really hard. My hope, and wish and prayer is that I can stay healthy, and not get into any serious accidents. 

3. Healthy Bank Account - I've been lucky enough to be financially secure in life, but Uber fun-employment also gave me a glimpse of what it could be like if I can build up a nest egg that allows me to live of the interest. That's more material, but I honestly want to have the freedom and ability to work on things that truly bring me and others happiness without having to worry about a pay check. 

4. Peace with Myself - I have made so many dumb decisions in my life. With each of those decisions, I've learned a lesson or two. But, there's still more time with a lot more mistakes to make and get over. I can only hope that are aren't terrible, terrible mistakes going forward. I know myself. I get worried and panic easily. I doubt myself a lot, and that has lead to some not so good decisions. As I get older, I'm going to work on those (not so good) natural tendencies, and overcome the natural man to be a better, more calm and confident person. I want to look back and say, "Hey, that's something I learned." But, I want to be at peace with myself. No regrets, no regrets.

This is a prime example. I'm finishing up this blog post at one on the morning, and I have 23 blog posts to write, but only 3 days more to write the rest of the posts. One thing to make peace with, my procrastinating.

By the way, I really dislike chocolate cake.







"Wow, where's that?"
"Why you never jio?"
"That sandwich looks divine."
Such are the messages, comments and conversations I've participated in over the years on Facebook and Instagram, two social media conduits that I used to actively participate in.

For about two weeks recently, I decided to take a break from social media. There was a catalyst, and that catalyst got me thinking a lot more about my social media usage not just in relation to that situation, but as a whole, as a reflection of my day-to-day life.

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The two-week fast gave me time to reflect and think about WHY I'm on social media, and how I want to build a healthy balance with my usage.

1. FOMO
Viewing posts or stories, I see people having fun, and sometimes think I should be out with them. That sense of FOMO is frustrating, wondering why you weren't invited to this or that. Sometimes, I would be the one that asked "Why you never jio?"

Taking the break from social media relieved me of that. In doing so, it made me realize - what other people are doing doesn't matter. I spend time with the people I want. That's the thing - it made me realize that I need to control and take charge of my own happiness, and that happiness isn't defined by who I'm with, or what I'm doing. I'm not saying I'm not still somewhat affected by it, but it's a lot better, and its given me a better understanding of friendships and relationships. Those who matter, will continue to matter. Your true friends, those close to you? They are all that matter - everything and everyone else is secondary.

Taking a breather from those apps has relived me of the FOMO. I do what I enjoy doing, and that's it. No feeling bad messing out on this BBQ or that party.

2. Validation
Each like, each comment, each message is an addiction, at least it has been for me in times past. There have been times where I keep refreshing the app - drag down on the screen, waiting to see that red circle pop up, or that flag popping up that tells you someone has liked or commented or shot you a DM. I've wasted minutes, hours, days - doing just that. There are so many more things to do, and so many more ways to interact in person.

Also, the content I've posted has been vile, as I've taken a good step back to ponder on it - I enjoyed showing off, driving my car, or eating at a nice restaurant, or some fancy travel destination. There are many ways to validate yourself. That's no good, and it's not nice. As I've spent more time away from social media, I've found more time to read more, binge on Netflix (not the best alternative but I'm learning things sometimes), have more time to write thank you letters and blog posts. I don't need someone telling me they wish they were doing this too, or eating that too.

Enjoying these things is something to enjoy privately, not publicly.

With this break, I've been learning to build my self-esteem and validation from the people who matter, and they don't exist in my phone, they exist in real life.

3. Relationships - When I was talking to Suyeon about this topic while on the break a couple weeks ago, she recalled a time we had dinner where she noticed I was on the phone a lot. There wasn't anything terrible urgent. I just kept checking different apps. My parents have, on multiple occasions, asked why I've had to have my phone out constantly at the lunch or dinner table.

"What's so urgent," they've said, "that you can't wait an hour to check or respond, and spend proper time together?"

And really, what is? When I've been with my parents, or friends, or my ex, what's been so important that I can't check it later and focus on them? (This questions will beget another post, more related to cell phone usage).

Social media relationships are superficial - you're not with that person, but you're messaging back and forth, neglecting the people who are sitting right in front of you. Scrolling through posts or stories, you're constantly looking at each other's lives through the lens of their phone, what they want you to see - the best parts.

I don't pull out my phone at dinner as much anymore. For the two weeks, I actually didn't even take pictures of my food from 5 different angles. I just dug into the dishes, and it was delicious. It's also helped me to be more focused and less distracted, and I have better conversations with people at the meal table. 

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I've been guilty of that - having a high, having fun and posting about it, then the lows when I'm bumming at home, scrolling through my phone as I see people partying the night away.

Post captions, posts themselves - they're all meant to make us look cool and hip and good - but, to what end? Are we actually "cool?" Are we actually having fun? Or, are we just showing off to the world - "LOOK AT ME!" That takes away from the real fun, the laughing and the joking and the fun, because we others to see just how much fun we're having. Ironic, isn't it?

I don't mean to make this sound like a platitude, but it's happened to me personally, and I hope that this post in some way helps me process my thoughts, but also helps you if you've been in the same boat as me, or currently feel the same way too.

I'm back on social media. It's been hard, don't get me wrong. I still fall into my old habits, but I'm getting better at managing my usage, day-by-day. Of course, it doesn't help that Hayden and I are taking over our barn in just under two weeks, and I'm in charge of the social media aspect of it.

All things in moderation.


When one reaches certain milestones in life, one takes the time to look back and see where life has taken you thus far. As I approach 30, I've been taking some time to look at the past, the decisions made and lessons learned - this one are some of my reflections on my path away from Mormonism, and losing my religion. This post is a long one, so skip what you'd like.

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Most of you know I spent the vast majority of my life growing up as a Mormon (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). I haven't actively participated in the church for 4 years now. Some have wondered and asked. Losing the religion of your youth, your formative years is not an easy thing. It is hard and heart-wrenching. Imagine giving up two years of your life to teach something you no longer believe in, it is hard.

From a young age, I tagged on with a family friend to the church. At that time, my Mom was not actively participating, but wanted me to go along to learn good values. My Dad's never been a part of the church. 

Church was fun - we sang songs, had lessons about God, and I had a good group of friends there. When I graduated from high school, I was almost 19, and my parents told me it would be best for me to serve my mission, then do four straight years of college. While I was at the Missionary Training Center in Manila, my Dad called. He wanted me to stop the mission thing, and come back home. I refused. Landing back in Singapore (where I had been called to be a missionary), my parents were waiting for me there. They told me they had spoken to Church leaders, and I had been taken off my mission. Devastated, I headed to BYU a couple weeks into the semester, ending with terrible grades that year, though I suppose that's beside the point. I was determined to go back on my mission, the experience of losing it strengthened my faith even more. I was convinced that God was just giving me a trial that I had to overcome. It strengthened my faith. With my mom, we convinced my Dad, and I headed back out into the mission field June 2008.

Before my mission, I had read a bunch of things online with what Mormons consider to be "anti-Mormon literature). It dealt with historical, social and cultural issues that the Church has. Reading that actually helped me strengthen my belief as I read apologists perspectives, as well as chatting with other people. It allowed me, on my mission, to better explain to people our perspective as similar challenges based on these assertions came about as we met people. The mission was tiring and tough, but it taught good lessons, wonderful friendships, and I learned a lot about myself and what I can accomplish if I put my mind to it. Also, I thought that one of the things I had developed was an unshakable faith in the religion, in the Church.

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I headed back to BYU after my mission full of faith. I jumped right back into Church, with its lessons and activities. All was well. It wasn't till my senior year of college that things started to go downhill just a bit. The thing is, there wasn't a turning point, there wasn't one big comment or event or historical fact that took my down a different path.

One by one, precept by precept, I came to understand certain things bout the Church that doesn't jive with my view of Christianity, of how the Jesus I know would act and treat his children, or allow his disciples and leaders on Earth to act.

To illustrate where I'm coming from, I'm providing a few examples here. Please note that this is my personal interpretation. For facts, please, please read the CES Letter.

All this wouldn't be a huge problem for me, knowing that while God is perfect, his followers and leaders of His Church aren't. BUT, when a church claims they are the only true church on this earth, and continue to received modern-day revelation from God, that's where, for me, it gets rather hairy. From something where there can be big mistakes and issues, there shouldn't be.

A few examples:

Polygamy/Polyandry - I'm actually not opposed to the practice, but how it happened, and what transpired irks me. In a church essay on polygamy, it states that, "The revelation on marriage required that a wife give her consent before her husband could enter into plural marriage. Nevertheless, toward the end of the revelation, the Lord said that if the first wife “receive not this law”—the command to practice plural marriage—the husband would be “exempt from the law of Sarah,” meaning that he should just marry another wife anyway.

Blacks and the Priesthood - this is one that the Church has always struggled with. For more than a century, church leaders taught as doctrine, that blacks could not be full members of the church because of the curse of Cain. Fast forward more than a hundred years later, the Church changed its stance, stating that it was a policy, and they aren't 100% sure why this was the case. We know why.

While Joseph was fairly progressive, and gave Blacks the priesthood, Brigham Young was a blatant racist. To quote him,
"You must not think, from what I say, that I am opposed to slavery. No! The negro is damned, and is to serve his master till God chooses to remove the curse of Ham."

The Church tries to paint its historical position, in an American Racial Culture. But, again, the church purports that its prophets received revelation from God. I don't claim to know the will of God, but there have been countless times in the Bible, and Book of Mormon, where God's people went against the teachings or feeling of the day. For more than 100 yaers, the church and its leaders, though apparently directly inspired by God, chose to uphold this morally reprehensive act, when God's church often stands against what is wrong. 

Richard R. Lyman - The church claims the spirit of discernment, where it's leaders can sense, tell, when something is wrong, and God reveals to His prophets to ensure the church and its leaders stay on the straight and narrow. For 18 years, an apostle committed adultery, till he was caught and ex-communicated. For 18 years, he sat side-by-side with prophets and apostles, giving talks and counseling people, with no one non the wiser.

The Church and Gays/Lesbians - Today, the Church has chosen a new group of people to marginalize, from Blacks, on to the LGBT community. While the world moves in strides and understands that biologically, people are born with their sexual orientation, the church and its leaders continue to preach that it is a challenge that God has given them to overcome. Children, whose parents are gay, are not allowed to be baptized till they are of legal age, though the church itself states that it is a commandment to baptize them at age 8, and the Bible teaches that the sins of the fathers should not apply to their children.

I have a confession. Do you know? I used to be afraid of gay people. I would cringe when they seemed more effeminate or masculine (depending on gender). That was solely because of what the church taught me growing up. Then I started being friends with them and realized how we're all just the same people.

Tithing - While the Church owns more than $32 billion in equities alone, with billions more in real estate and other investments, the current prophet commands that paying tithing is the way out of poverty - commanding Africans in poverty stricken countries, no less.
"We preach tithing to the poor people of the world because the poor people of the world have had cycles of poverty, generation after generation," he said. "That same poverty continues from one generation to another, until people pay their tithing."

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I don't have anything against the Church per se. The majority of members I have met are good, kind, caring and God-fearing people, who have their own beliefs, and I respect each and every one of them for that. One thing that irks me though, are people who speak to me and other people who have left that left the church in a condescending or pitying manner.

To be clear about this: Yes, from your perspective, it seems that I have left the straight and narrow path, and you're sad that if I don't return to the Church one day, that we won't get to hang together in the Celestial Kingdom. Please, please do not feel sad for me. I am so much happier, and so much more at peace than when I was actively participating in the Mormon church. I see so clearly now. Once, I saw things in black and white. As I started my journey out of the church, I saw things in shades of grey. Now, I get to see life in so many different colors. I am grateful for that.

I wrote a Facebook post about this a couple years ago, and I'll end with it again.

1. I am happy and at peace with who I am and where I’m at. Telling me that I’m missing out on true happiness does not help me, nor does it help you. Your "missionary work" is pushing people away, not drawing them in. Please be my friend, assuming that I’m not happy presumes that anyone outside the LDS faith cannot be truly happy, and that is not true. No religion has a monopoly on true happiness, because each person finds it in their own way.

2. Making comments suggesting that I should come back so I can be “prepared to meet my maker” or pick myself up because we all “trip from time to time” is condescending and uncalled for. Just because I don’t believe the LDS/Mormon Church is the end all be all does not mean that I have “sinned” or am not a real Christian. People (including me) who have stopped attending church have real and honest questions that would be better served with thoughtful and respectful answers, rather than assumptions that presuppose some sort of sin or lack of trying.

I don't expect you to stop attending Church, I respect, love and appreciate the positive aspects of it along with the life lessons I've learned; but, please realise that I need for you to accept where I am at this moment. Don't judge me. Don't tell me what to do. Don't tell me how to feel. I am mourning a great loss because I’ve lost something that’s been a part of my life and who I’ve been for the vast majority of my life. It's not a path easily chosen.

I do have full and abiding faith in Jesus Christ. That’s all that matters to me, and I hope that's what matters to you too. I want to be your friend with no conditions attached, I love you for you, please love me for being me.

If you ever want to have a respectful and healthy discussion about my doubts, I’m always happy to chat. Thank you!

Ending here with one of my favorite LDS children's songs. That's all that matters. 
I've been taking some time to declutter - to get rid of things that I don't really need, and that's been good.

It's a little similar for social media.

While I have been taking a bit of a social media fast/detox, I've also realized that' it's not the worst thing to clean up on the digital end a bit too.

For the next year, I'm going through my Facebook birthday list every day. There are two things that could happen there:
1. I wish you a happy birthday
2. I unfriend you

I figure, there's no two ways about it. I either care for you, or like you, or know you well enough to with you a happy birthday, or you're an acquaintance I don't really care about, so no point scrolling through and seeing each other pop up from time to time on Facebook.



via GIPHY
It's not something that people bring up often, and certainly not to my face, but I've had a couple things happen this past month that have made me realize that I often take people in my life for granted.

I was reflecting on it and thought I'd ask my Dad whether I did take him for granted. I mean, in the back of my mind, I could certainly think of instances, but he seemed pretty fine with the question and said, "Sometimes. Between parents and children not unusual to take each other for granted though."

When I went home a few hours later, he seemed a bit agitated, and I asked him what was up.

He had been thinking about the question and said, "You know, sometimes, you go in and out, take the car and don't really spend time at home. But also, why do you always put your parents last? You make all your plans, then you ask me whether I'm free to fit in that last time slot you have. Shouldn't I be one one of the first people you ask and prioritize?"

That hit home for me. Part of the reason why my girlfriend and I got into fights was precisely this. I made plans with other friends, and at the end of it all, I looked for the open spots to "fit her in" the remaining time I had allocated.

Same with how I have treated my mom, my aunt.

That's not a good trend.

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Why is it, that with people close to me, I deprioritise them. I take their time for granted, I take them for granted.

Why? Why have I put acquaintances, other friends first? It's something I'm still reflecting on, but if I'm being honest with myself, I guess I want to build that friendship, or seem cool, or get their validation as I hang out with them.

The funny (well, maybe more unfortunate thing) is this - those people? They don't really matter. Sure, they're fun and all that, but the people closest to you are the ones that are there for you in times of trouble, they're there when the going gets tough. Ok, that's still the wrong way of looking at it.

The people you're close to are the ones you priortize because you do love them, and care for them. And, I've learned that I don't want to put myself in a situation where I realize that till it's too late, and that person is gone, or that person gives up on you, because you didn't show them your gratitude, love and care. It's easy I guess, you assume they'll always be there for you, and I've subconciously, or at times consciously taken advantage of that.

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I mentioned this train of thought to my aunt, and told her I was going to change that, but she pushed back and asked if that was just all talk.

Well, I've got to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. I've started to doing that - putting them first, planning with my mom and dad and aunt first, and sometimes moving appointments and events to fit their schedule and timing. Time with them is precious, I've got to keep that top of mind, and do the same with others around me.

So that's one of the Thirty to ThirtEe goals that I’m stretching past the 30th birth-date, prioritize and spend quality time with the people who matter in my life. I do wish I'd learned that sooner. 
I was heading back to my Mom's place from my Dad's and figured I'd take the MRT back to save some money.

To get to work from my Dad's, I take it from Steven's to Bugis, then switch over to the Green line to get to Tanjong Pagar. So, I thought that to get back, I had to go that same way, which would take me 13 stops.

I happened to mention that to Denise, who was rather alarmed that I was taking that route.

"Take it one stop to Botanic Gardens," she said. "Then it's just four stops to Buona Vista."

Crisis averted.

That saved me 8 stops and quite a bit of time.

I started staring at the MRT map and realized how many stations and lines they've added. It made me realize how out of touch I am with the public transportation system.

Rode an Ofo bike back to my house from the station.

You know, if you really want to save some serious dough- Grab ride (ridesharing) for $11 or an MRT ride + Ofo rental for $1.81, you can. At the same time, you get some exercise in from the biking and walking.

One of my Thirty to ThirtEe goals (and beyond July) these next few months to take Grab or taxis as little as possible, and instead do this MRT/bus/bike-sharing transportation model. 

Onward, Singapore!