Les Petits Contes

About life's little observations, which matter. About hilarious situations, which illuminate. About stories which offer immense possibilities, open endings, different interpretations and perspectives.

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Location: Singapore

A nature lover; sun-worshipper, manic book-collector, dessert-devourer and a magnet for hazards

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Things I Learnt in 2011


Last year I wrote about ending up with an open-ended, unfinished necklace. It was to be my 2011 symbol – to be open minded, and to ‘’leave a little window open’’.

Indeed, I closed the year with a few items open, and not knowing how it will pan out this year.

The year was full of ups and downs, mostly downs, and lots of struggles. What the dean said at the recent graduation ceremony summed up my attitude and how I’d approached the year: ‘’Adversity should make you a better person, not a bitter person’’.

On the very last day of 2011, I went for my annual check up at my gynae’s. (Yes, I procrastinate when it comes to such things). We chatted and she asked if I had any concerns, and about my paranoia over breast cancer. I told her I’ve seen too many recent cases of friends having breast cancer, in particular a very young colleague below 30. She said, yes, ‘’Singapore is a very cancerous society, we are all very stressed…’’ (I am quite sure she meant it metaphorically, as in ‘’we are very toxic’’ – toxically rude, ill-bred and ignorant.) I told her, ‘’but my friend is not stressed at all – in fact, she has everything that she needs and more: beauty, wealth, a loving husband and even a doting mother in law!’’. ‘’Then God wants to enrich her life… if everything is perfect, you will never get to appreciate what you have’’.

I know it sounds like a harsh comment, but I could not help agreeing. Coco Chanel, who led a very tough life before her success, once said, ‘’many people have money, but few are rich’’.

Maybe I am deluding myself, but I learnt the following few things in 2011, which gave me a few priceless lessons in humanity (or lack of it):

Never judge a book by its cover
Always easier said than done. The people who have gone ‘’above and beyond’’ to help me have been strangers, and ‘’unlikely strangers’’ too. One was a security guard – our much maligned ‘’foreign worker’’ – who saw me drenched and shivering near his shed (where his construction site is located) as I took shelter during a downpour while out running. He chatted with me and loaned me his umbrella and said I could return it the next day. He said he trusted I would return it, as he’d seen me running past many times. Another incident was more recent. I’d got out of a taxi at the cab stand of One Raffles Quay and had walked quite a distance towards the office tower to meet a friend. I heard a girl running behind and frantically saying, ‘’excuse me’’ a few times. I finally turned around and saw a very pretty and well dressed office lady tottering on high heels and panting, holding out the book I’d left in the cab, and smilingly said, ‘’excuse me, I think you left this book in the cab…’’ I was very touched, as I am seldom impressed by the ‘’CBD area-type’’ ladies in branded clothes and stilettos…

Kindness comes from friends you least expect
I am still grateful to a particular acquaintance who sends me leads and job openings almost daily, and made introductions to her friends and acquaintances, and even brainstormed ideas about job search, after she’d heard my horror story. Also very heart warming to have a friend who took me out to lunch just ‘’to cheer you up’’, and who sends messages regularly to enquire. She herself is a single mum trying to juggle part time studies with work, and a father who suffers from dementia!

Maturity is…
I read somewhere that ‘’maturity begins when we’re content to feel we’re right about something… without feeling the necessity to prove someone else is wrong. There are enough morons in the office and in the ‘’headhunting’’ arena to make even a retarded person look like a genius… enough said.

Machiavellianism is very much alive and kickin
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I used to wonder what the whole point of being evil and Machiavellian is. Now I stop asking – some bosses are just pure evil incarnate, insecure, shamelessly dishonest, and heck, my attitude to this is, ‘’what does not kill me, makes me stronger’’.

Charlatans, fraudsters and hypocrisy thrive… and die
They ‘’thrive’’ and survive for three months in the office, to torture and cheat their subordinates, and then, even Machiavellians who hire them realize their mistakes…

So, do I wish for a better 2012? No, I wish for a better, and stronger, me.

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