Confessions of a Non-Shopaholic

You know that feeling that you get, when you see the perfect red dress hanging in the store window and your hand instantaneously reaches for your wallet…?

Well, that’s not what it’s like when I go into a store.

When I go into a store and see the perfect red dress with a price tag that’s way too expensive, I immediately turn to the other dress that’s hanging on the 70% sale rack.

There’s no tug of war between my heart and my credit card – I don’t even own one, let alone know what an overdraft is except for the red minus signs that I see on other people’s accounts.

And that’s where my problem is.

I’m a NON-shopaholic. Which means I have trouble parting with my money.

Which means that I never buy anything I like even if it makes my heart skip a beat.

I never have spontaneous but thrilling shopping sprees that leave me feeling guilty afterwards.

I have nothing cool to show off to my friends, no style, no periods of experimentation.

I’ve even resorted to cutting my own hair which has made one side look longer than the other.

And I don’t know how to stop.

Because I am turning myself into a friggin’ bland frog.

Apparently, when people like my mum see me, they see “a girl who could look so much better if only she tried to dress up once in a while.

But I’m afraid that I will run out of money and become poor and homeless for the rest of my dying days,” is the excuse I always give.

Most people think that people who overspend have no idea how to handle their finances. But you know what I think? That people like me who never spend have no clue about money either, or are too afraid to make any decisions about money.

But I have really been thinking hard about the consequences of such obsessive saving. That in the end, I will not get to enjoy a full life, or even my best life.

Because think about it. If I always exchange that perfect red dress for the cheaper, uglier one, then I might as well be telling myself that I am only worth 70% of the best thing there is out there.

And sometimes, life’s too short for ugly clothes.


To strong women in fiction

Growing up, I found myself drawn to stories about women who weren’t necessarily strong to start off with, but who, after time and effort, cultivated their own sense of purpose and strength.

Since today marks the first day of the year according to the Chinese calendar, I am dedicating the new year to these three women in fiction:

Princess Weiyoung – I love her will to live. She taught me that even if your entire family is massacred, or you have just been demoted to a servant, you should always believe that your life is worth living, and that you deserve to live well. Which makes it that much more satisfying when she ends up becoming queen of Great Wei.

Mulan – The scene where Mulan’s dad wakes up in the middle of the night calling her name, gets to me every time. It makes me think of my dad and what would happen if he had to go to war. Mulan definitely showed me a selfless side to bravery, that it isn’t all about proving your strength, but protecting your family as well.

Alanna – this one is a childhood favourite of mine. I first read Tamora Pierce’s book, Alanna the first adventure at age 13, and it has stuck with me ever since. She taught me that even if I suck at something, I can still become better, if not great, through sheer practice. Alanna was the reason why, as I child, I wanted to become a female knight, until I realised that a knight was not a viable career option and even if it were, it just wouldn’t be the same in a modern, non-medieval era.

These are the women in fiction who have shaped who I am, and sometimes when I lose sense of direction I turn to them and ask, what would they do?

So, if you don’t have any strong female role models in your life, think of a character in fiction that you admire and strive to be like them.

Maybe my next role model will be someone closer to the 21st century?

Most embarrassing job interview

Remember how I thought I would never get a job because I was terrified of interviews?

Well, there’s a reason for that.

And last year, I encountered my worst interviewing nightmare.

So here I was, sitting nervously in front of three guys, when I go to open my mouth to speak and sweat starts dripping down the side of my forehead.

Literally. Huge. Sweat. Ugh.

Not like a brisk-walk-to-the-park kind of sweat, but like a heavy, quarter-marathon sweat. And it was falling down the side of my face at the speed of one inch per millisecond. My hair was partially in the way, thank god, so it might have blocked the worst of it, but my face was on fire and I could feel it getting hotter and hotter.

Eventually, 15 minutes into the interview, one of the guys had to get up and turn the AC on. Even more embarrassing when they notice.

Needless to say, I didn’t get the job.

And yes, I was heartbroken, for weeks actually, until I drove myself to an empty car park and sat there flipping through screenshots of inspiring quotes I had saved up for a rainy day. And after that, I felt much, much better.

Just goes to show, a box of quotes is all you need for a rainy day.

New year, new thoughts

When I was a kid, I honestly believed that I would never find a job.
My logic was that all jobs required interviews and since I was very shy, I’d never be able to talk to the interviewer.

This sounds a bit weird and kind of extreme, but it sort of makes sense if you knew that I didn’t start talking to my classmates and teachers until I was 7 or 8. Not because I couldn’t speak, but because I chose not to. I was petrified.

So by the time I reached 12, I started believing that I was never going to be able to find a job when I grew up.

This put me quite a bit behind my peers, because at 15, when they were all starting to look for jobs, I kept delaying it until the next year and then the next.

I didn’t get my first job until I was twenty two years old.

And then, it felt kind of liberating.

That was the first time I had broken a decade long childhood myth about myself. And ten years is a whooping long time to think this way about yourself. And I’m NOT OK with thinking that way about myself anymore.

This is why New Year’s resolutions have become so utterly important to me.
It’s a chance for me to hang up old fears, try something different and find out what other myths I can debunk about myself.



My New Years’ Trip To Fiji

Fiji, I want to remember…

The fire lighting ceremony and the way the performers kept smiling at each other as they played their instruments.

The feeling of ecstasy I got after I took a photo with them by the sunset beach.

I want to remember stumbling across big and small moments of entertainment. Like when I saw a staff member dancing across the lobby to the music playing downstairs.

Or when I passed the Kama lounge and saw a group of holiday goers dancing around a Fijian guitarist.

I want to remember the look on the faces of the elderly couple who danced with each other. It was pure joy.

I want to remember the faces of the village women as they hugged us goodbye. I can still hear the shouts of BULA! as they welcomed us in.

I want to remember my delight when I saw three warriors greeting us on the shores of Vusama village.

And I want to remember my surprise when the three warriors turned out to be young boys, not grown men, peeking curiously back at us.

I want to remember the people who made my stay at Robinson Crusoe Island very entertaining. I cannot believe you forced a bunch of strangers to dance ridiculously with each other.

I want to remember the final dance on the sand when everyone broke out into their best moves and I’m glad that I turned around just in time to see that little boy killing it on the dance floor.

I loved riding back home on that small boat, in the dark, with the breeze blowing my sweat away and the ocean within touching distance. It made me feel like I was on the Nile river and that I was heading towards an adventure.

I want to remember all of that.