Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Life's A Bitch And How To Handle It

“I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.” 
― Augusten BurroughsMagical Thinking: True Stories

Some days you are on top of the world; you seem to have the Midas touch and everything you do seem to bear fruits. You think there is nothing you cannot do out there in the wild wild world. Some other days (most days for some) you feel and think you are the most unfortunate person on this planet. You despise those people who seem to be enjoying their lives. You could be broke, or sick, or heartbroken. Life's a bitch, isn't it?  

Well, on the flip side, life being a bitch is what fueling millions of idea out there that inspire great works in bookstores, Hollywood, concerts and the clothes you wear to your high school dance. 
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I'm sure you've heard (OK, I assume) that life's like a wheel. And the whole mechanics with a rolling wheel is there will be ups and downs. All of us would love to be on top all the time, yes? We prefer to be happy than sad, that is why we love doing anything that would help us to be happy; watching our favorite movies, hanging out with our friends, playing a sport that we love; all sorts of things. But unfortunately, that's not how life works, see? 
The Wheel is turning...
1.You're broke: you don't have enough money to pay your bills and the bank keep on calling to ask for your car and house payment. You can't sleep at night, worrying sick about what might happen tomorrow. For a moment there, you are never getting out of this grave.
2. Then, you have somehow found a way to pay the bills. And when you drive to work, all of sudden, the sky's bright with hope and you're slowly back to your feet, up and running. When you've reached your office, your boss smiles at you and compliment you for your good work last month. 
3. Then, you meet a girl in the cafeteria. You can't take your eyes off her. So you ask help from your friend who knows her for her number (or) you walk to her table and start a conversation. And now that you're having a crush on her, the wheel starts rolling again (although do keep in mind the wheel is constantly rolling). There are going to be mixed signals; the standard routine of courting. 
(And the wheel keeps on rolling...)
But, can you identify the pattern yet? There is a time limit (and how long you are stuck on either one depends on you) and you should always keep this in mind. While you're at your lowest point in life, you (and I) can easily be overwhelmed by depression. You have the mixed feeling of depression, disappointment, aggression and there is a possibility you might be thinking of isolation, losing interest from what you used to love doing before. There are doctors that can help you to remedy the mental aspect, but I on the other hand am writing this from the bitter experience that I had gone through. 
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It hurts, you know? The scar that the series of downtime had done to me was never really healed, but in my future attempts it proves to be really useful. The wound has helped me to deal with the failures much better and I am stronger than I was before simply because I have decided to learn from the past; so can you. 
Therefore, it is important that you keep a positive mind. Don't let the negativity control you. Some experts can go on for hours talking about the power of positive thinking and I believe them. Positive thinking can really make a huge difference to your lifestyle when everything seems to go wrong. 
Hold on there. Hold on and soon enough, you'll be on your way up again. Overtime though, once you have toughen up enough you'll stay on top much longer than before. If, however, you are letting the negativity control you then your time at the bottom will be extended. It's your decision and I'm sure you'll find your way soon enough.  
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Saturday, November 22, 2014

What To Do When You Are Not Good At Something


“Do your best and let God do the rest.” 
― Ben Carson

"I don't do well in Math, you're right! 'Cause you never studied. I don't know how to write, you're right! 'Cause you've never written before." I listen to a lot of these type of videos these days. I like them because I can relate well to those strong messages in there and it helps that I wake up every morning feeling motivated and excited to live. It does wonder!   

Truly does. I know how lonely it can be when you are doing and pursuing something very different to the rest of your friends. And do not ever underestimate the power of your friends have over you; if you give that authority to their words and doubts, you are defeated even before you really try.

Back when I was in school, students were segregated according to their academic performances. I was (and it had really boosted my ego and made me arrogant for ten years or so) part of the Elite class, the cream of the crop. The government defended this segregation by claiming it would be more helpful for the weaker students with their subjects. For the Elite class, teachers could teach at faster rates while for lower-ranked classes teachers taught them more carefully. It was the first taste of the hierarchy of life. And looking back at those years, I feel this was not how it should be done.

I had done well in school. I had passed all my exams with flying colors, made Head Prefect and represented my school in National quizzes and various other competitions. 

Then, after high school, a lot of people (especially my parents) had expected me to perform equally well at college. That was when reality really kicked in. I was lost. I could not understand what the lecturers were saying during lectures and for most of my exams, I was only aiming for a pass and not fail. 
This time, I was the one who felt stupid. My confidence dropped and I did not think I would be able to survive college. Whenever I was not good at something, I whined and complained "I am simply not good at it." 

I am not saying I did not try though (especially programming). But sadly and unfortunately, I convinced myself that I was simply not clever enough to understand any of that.

Now, almost eight years since I had first stepped into college, I am still not good with programming but not because I am stupid. It is simply because I did not program hard enough to be competent in the subject. There are a lot of platforms where I could learn programming on my own; one of them is YouTube. However, I did not do it because I have failed in trying harder. I did not practice hard enough to be good in it and I had the guts to blame my stupidity for it.

Eventhough I am still not good at it, I am not repeating the same mistake ever again: by accepting my failure in understanding something because of my stupidity. No. I fail to do something well simply because I have to try harder on it.

I have, by a thousand miles, become a big advocate of "no one is stupid". I believe everyone is capable of something (and everything). The only difference that sets one person apart from the next is the ability to keep on trying when the tide is high, when the only solution to being good at it is by working and trying harder.

This is a perspective that I wish to impart on you today. Don't make the same mistake that I had done before. You have failed at something today because you have failed to try and work on it.

You are not stupid. You are not.  

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Biggest Flaw


“I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.” 
― Augusten BurroughsMagical Thinking: True Stories

I was always bad being at the receiving end of negative comments on my works, my opinions and basically the way I live my life. Even more so with strangers. They don't know what I had gone through, so who are they to say those things? I thought I was just this way with strangers and that I could actually listen to comments from my closest friends and family. I was wrong. In fact, I refused to listen to anyone's view on me

I guess I was being defensive most of the time before because their opinions did not matter. I had been alone in my struggles. I did not see those who criticized me, around me when I was starving because I did not have any money to buy lunch or dinner. I did  see them anywhere when I was struggling with what I was doing whenever I was struggling to complete a project for a client. I had this pathetic belief that I was always alone in the world, in my struggle and no one came to help. No one... 
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Or so I thought. Turned out, I was


It was the fear of the truth that had stopped me from listening to their opinions about me. I was afraid of all the bad things they said to me because they spoke the truth. 
You see, I refused to be accountable for my own flaws and this is my biggest flaw. I had been to an interview before, and I was being interviewed for a Technical Writer position. The interviewer was so kind to begin the interview by asking, What books do you read?
I named some of the authors that I love and she said, That's good but those authors that you had just mentioned, they are not really good writers. You're young and yet, you limit your book authors. Why is that?
I began to think furiously how I could answer her question calmly. At the time, the little devil in me whispered, Who does this bitch think she is? Who is she to "claim" the authors are not good writers? Their books are best-sellers, what does she have? 
I had interpreted the conversation in a wrong way, to say the least. Many months later after that meaningful conversation had taken place, I still think about that. When I look at all the books I have read so far, I realize she is right. I have limited my scope. I am being too far selective in the books I read that it could be the one stumbling block to my progress as a writer.
That was only one of the criticism that I had received. I had this concern (genuine concern) that a lot of people out there wanted to see me fail. Even the world wanted me to fail. I was wrong. I was nobody and I was not important enough for a lot of people out there to waste their time on me; in bringing me down to failure. It was a paranoia that was borne out of a belief that I was the center of the universe. I refused to listen to other people because I was the one that mattered; they should live around me and not the other way round. I was a narcissist at best. 
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But over time, I realized that it was stupid to look at the world that way. If I were to be dead today, no one except for some of the closest and family would remember me for the longest time while the rest of the world would go on with their lives like any other day. 
I realized too, while it is important to ignore what other people think of me and what I do, it is also important to listen to the truth. It is equally important for me to accept the truth and work harder to improve. I lied myself too many times before that I was not concern with what they think, but truth was, I did care and it hurt.
Although it is still hard to swallow those bitter pills today, but I have learned to force myself to listen and analyze where I can improve and how I can them. This is part of growing up after all. 
This is my biggest flaw. I had ended relationships with my ex-girlfriends and some really good friends because I was hurt by what they said. I had ended these relationships because of the ego that had taken control over me. 
This must stop. And it stops by listening and working on it.   

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Early Days of Struggle And Why Its Good For You


“Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.” 
― Rosa Luxemburg

You open your Instagram and start scrolling down, stalking at your friends' lives. 

"Oh, she's in Paris. Oh, he's just bought a new car. Oh, they're married."

After awhile, you are slowly exhausted mentally and finally decide to close it. But, something suddenly change. You start to look around you. All of a sudden, a lot of questions are running over your head and you start to feel overwhelm. 

And some of these questions trouble you, somehow...because these questions are asking something very sensitive and something you wish you can avoid or delay to another day. But this time, you cannot escape anymore. The questions are demanding for answers that you wish you don't have to answer.
  • What am I doing with my life?
  • Why am I torturing myself like this?
  • Wouldn't it be easier for me to lead a life like the rest? Go to work and look forward to the end of the month for my paycheck?
  • How am I going to pay for this month's bills?

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You keep on asking, asking and asking. You begin to think there is nothing you can do to get you out of this shit hole. You start to think there is no way out.

After awhile, you mask those genuine fears by pretending everything is alright when it is not. You go home at night, afraid of your life...afraid of the future...afraid of what's going to happen to you. You lie in your bed at night, no more pretending and no one to impress, tears start trickling down your cheeks. You question everything that you are doing now. You begin to hate yourself for being in this mess. You think the end is nigh...

Are You Afraid?

If you are, then it's good It means you are doing something last. If you are not, then you are not serious enough about what you are doing. The fact that you are afraid simply means there is no other option than to work harder to make it work. It means this is something you really want. Although sometimes your fear paralyzes you, you still keep on going. That deserves a round of applause. 

If you fail today, tomorrow and for the next thousand attempts, if you keep on trying and trying harder, will you eventually make it? I do not have the answer to that but chances are, you will smell and taste your fruits of labor before long. 

You are resilient. You never give up. And the first taste of success will only remind you of those dark times and you are committed to work even harder. The fact that you have struggled during your early days will only help you to appreciate your success even more...even if it's not a major one.

I speak from the heart when I say there will be lights soon. There will come a day when the sun rises brighter than the other days. There will come a time when those dark times and those failures cannot affect you like before because you are now much stronger. 

Success isn't overnight.

That much is true. Don't believe those pyramid schemes that promote get-rich-quick-methods. There is no such thing and even if you do make a lot of money at first, you do not have a solid foundation to support you as soon as everything falls apart. 

Those who have gone through those early days of struggle are standing atop a solid, firm and strong foundation. They may hate it but the next time they are in that phase once more, they'll be quicker to stand up again because they understand the blood, sweat and tears of early struggle. 

It's good for you because you learn more about you. 
It's good for you because you are accepting failures as part of your lessons.
It's good for you because you learn to appreciate every tiny and major success that you shall get throughout your journey. 
It's good for you because you will learn to keep your feet on the ground. 

Don't give up because of these early days struggle. Stay on and hang on. There will be light soon and the sun will shine brighter than the other days. 

 And you are not alone. You are never alone...
Because I believe this is your beginning and this is not your end. 

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I Have A Dream Today


“You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.” 
― Dr. Seuss

One of my favorites motivational speakers is Les Brown. His choice of words, the message that he deliver through his speeches and the sincerity in his voice makes him stand out from hundreds other speeches I have ever listened to before. I believe everyone and anyone can listen to him once in awhile. I hope, like me, you will find his words comforting and give you strength. 
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: Les Brown
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I don't know what that dream is that you have. I don't care how disappointed it might have been, as you have been working towards that dream. 

But here's what I know, that that dream that you are holding in your mind, that it's possible. See sometimes we can't say, I can do that

But what we can say,that it's possible that I can have my dream...As we run towards it, as we work towards it, day in and day out.

But people who are running towards their dream, life has a special kind of meaning.
I was willing to take a chance and most people won't do that. Most of the people that you talk to, to try to bring them into the business - these are not risk takers. Most people have done all that they're ever going to do. They raise a family, they earn a living and then they die.

You are going to incur a lot of disappointment, a lot of failure, a lot of pain... A lot of setbacks, a lot of defeats... but in the process of doing that, you will discover some things about yourself that you don't know right now. 

What you will realize is that you have greatness within you. That you are more powerful that you can ever begin to imagine. That you are greater than your circumstances.

The other thing is that most people, ladies and gentlemen, they get comfortable. They stop growing, they stop working on themselves, they stop stretching, they stop pushing themselves.

While you're running towards your dream, I applaud you for believing in yourself.Because that's what life is about. Stretching and challenging. Looking for ways that you can begin to improve yourself. 

Do it! Your dream is possible. Do it! People who are unstoppable and unreasonable, people who are refusing to leave life just as it is, and who want more.

At times when I feel defeated and lost in my journey, listening to his words really fill my loneliness. He speaks as though he is standing right beside me. I hope you will find how comforting his words are, and I wish you all the best in your future undertakings. 

It will not be easy and it will be hard. But don't lose faith. You are here for a reason and the simple fact that you choose to read this entire post (and probably other articles in this site) prove that you really want to change. 

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Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Recipe To Simple Living


“Edit your life frequently and ruthlessly. It's your masterpiece after all.” 
― Nathan W. Morris

I'm clearing away my desk: I am selling away most of my belongings, and that includes my Xbox 360. My friends' eyes widened when I told them this and said (gasped), "Are you insane?" I told them XBox would be the first. More will follow. 

This is not an on-the-spot decision, I can assure you that. Some of these stuff, they have been with me for a long, long time. But I have given this a lot of thought and come to think of it, most of what I have now, I don't really need them much (or at all).

The thing that would be the most difficult to let go would be my books collection; only problem is, I haven't read any of the books I've read before anymore.

I guess I still have them with me (wherever I go) because I keep telling myself, "One day, One day I'll read you again." And there's the reason of course: a lot of sentimental values

Besides, I can raise up a few hundred dollars from these to be honest. Most of them are old stuff and it's better than sitting around in the house, layered with dust and all.

I'll be fine. I had a laptop once; used it a lot to play games, you see? But a few months after I got the laptop, I desperately needed money and I had no choice but to end my relationship with it. It was hard but life goes on...

I am still OK today; sad and hard to let it go but life went back to normal a few weeks after that. I've learned a lot how to let go and get used to changes. 

 At first, I was worried about my works; how would I work on my book without "the machine"? A lot of my works require a laptop. Fortunately, I was living with a housemate who had an extra laptop, so it was not really an issue in the end.

On the other hand, I now have more time working on my books without the laptop primarily because I am not using it to play games like Defense of the Ancients (DoTA) anymore like I used to. Sometimes I could spend more than eight hours playing DoTA. Imagine that.

the logic behind the decision

The more I thought about selling most of my posessions away, the more it make sense to do it. I walked into my cupboard and I saw most of the clothes in there had not been worn for months, some for years already! They would fit in nicely into a box, to be donated for charity I think. 
The cabinets will go too. They eat too much space in the living and bedroom. 
Over the years, since I had graduated from college, I had moved to a new place, once every year (on average); last year, it was twice. Every time it was time to make the move, it was always a tiring process. I had to carry around a lot of boxes with me, not forgetting a few large plastic bags and three luggage. My car's an MPV, so this kind of car can become really handy, you know? But even with an MPV, I had to make three or more trips to move all my stuff from my old place to the new. 
I have read a lot of blogs that write about selling their stuff away and focus on being minimalist instead. It is not an easy process though; it hurt to see my Xbox got carried away by a stranger. But when I got home and looked at the place where the game console used to be, there was nothing I could do anymore. Life simply goes on...

Xbox = playing games = no money; while writing = blogging = books = money = revenue = alive = bills paid = no time wasted on games. That's the simple logic
I'm not waiting for 2015 to make this my New year's resolution. I'm doing it now and instead of waiting for the New year, I'm aiming to finish off all of them before the turn of the new year. 
I'm also considering to let my car go, no matter how much I love her. I'm seriously considering living without a lot of stuff to carry around with me anymore. Or worry about.

I had finished playing Diablo 3: Expansion packs till the end before I sold the thing off. So, all is well.  

2. Image source: Rebloggy
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Friday, November 7, 2014

Planning The Escape

is spinning

“It's easier to bleed than sweat, Mr. Motes.” 
― Flannery O'ConnorWise Blood

I got a job interview. It was after several months of trying and it seemed I was not going anywhere with the "business". The situation was bad. Financially, spiritually and physically, you know? It is an urban jungle, where I live. Just as the poor people in Rome two thousand years ago had struggled with their daily expenses, so do we today who are living in big cities like Kuala Lumpur, Berlin, Singapore, New York (or wherever you are from).
I had a big gap in my resume' then when I was not working for any registered company. It was close to almost a year and my business was not going well, so I made the hard decision to look for jobs like any other normal people would do. I had to eat and pay the bills, and I gave up--I couldn't take it anymore. I kept telling myself, I'm not going to suffer anymore. I chose the easy way out and applied for a job instead. 

And eventually I got an interview with XYZ Company for a business analyst position. On the day of the interview, I put on my old long-sleeve shirt, with the green tie that I had stashed somewhere in my cupboard before and hurriedly looked for the file where I kept all my certificates. 

The interviewer was a thin, bespectacled man with a strict, long face that looked like a donkey; a strict, angry donkey. Or so I thought. 

Just as he had walked into the interview room with a copy of my resume' in his right hand, we shook hands and then sat down on the swiveling office chairs. He began with an interesting question, why are you looking for a job, Cliff? (Somehow, some people still go around calling me Cliff. I got used to it though.)

I can see that you ran your own business before, so why apply now? What happened?

I told him what happened. 

What happened that day, instead of a job interview, I thought it was more like it was an appointment with a psychiatrist. He shook his head slightly and I could almost see a shadow of a smirk on his face. 

He continued by telling how he got his company up and running. He told me how hard it was in the beginning and there was no stopping him because he believed in his ideas. He would not let anyone or anything stop him and it would be best if I could follow his footsteps.

That interview was just one of many encounters with strangers that had generously offered me the strength I need during the hard times. Yes, it was unbearable and I wish I could just forget everything and focus on job-hunting like the rest of my friends. 

My story is a story that I love to share over and over with any of you. 

It's also an inspiration for my new book too. In my pursuit to achieve my life ambition to become an entrepreneur, I went broke a number of times, owed money to some of my closest friends and even considered moving back with my parents back home. Majority of my projects failed and made little or no money. Nothing--nothing seemed to be working and it was really stressful. That was when I finally decided to self-publish my own books, to start bringing in the adequate revenue each month to keep me afloat.

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During those hard times, it is important to identify the key  factors that could keep me going. I still looked for jobs (after the interview), not entirely convinced that I should stick on with what I was doing at the time. But after a series of bad luck in job interviews and a few good luck turned up on the side of the court with some of my own clients, I lingered on. 

I kept going by being absolutely terrified to fail. I did not want to disappoint my parents, and I am doing it for my own kids.

Sometimes, I would suddenly have an outburst and became really frustrated with everything when I could not help but compared my life to the others around me. They were climbing their respective corporate ladders well and there I was, on the ground floor still struggling to find the nails to build the ladder. I was really angry that I was not able to make money from doing what I love. I was a captain without a ship...

This fear kept me up most nights. I rolled over and over on my bed, too many to think about. That was one of those earlier moments that kept me going with this blog. I worked at nights, writing and reading so I could achieve what I set out to do: 

financial freedom and living a life as an entrepreneur.

I began to read more motivational and inspirational sites; that by reading and learning about a lot of people who had been in difficult situations before, made my journey less...err...lonely. 

It was not always positive with me. I was this pessimistic son of a bitch who turned down a lot of life opportunities before. Positive thinking did not come naturally for me. But I made an effort to force myself to think positively. 

It was a slow process, but little by little this whole image of Mr. Positive slowly becomes a part of me. What choice did I have? And I'm glad I did because my effort paid off. There were a lot of small (but OK) mini projects that could help me pay the things I need to pay. Every tiny project then grew into a snowball. 

It is important to keep on reminding myself that every small step is bringing me closer to my goals. Maybe not today, but I am a little bit better than yesterday. My piece of advice: If you are Planning to escape from whatever dark hole you're stuck in your life currently, planning is the easy part really, it's the escaping phase which requires persistence, determination and commitment.

I had gone through some really dark and difficult moments of life, but I am still committed to my plans nonetheless because I believe in what I do. I have decided that I would not bow to these pressures. There might be hiccups, but hey, that's the wheel spinning, isn't it? 

My friends, I have not accomplished everything that I set out to do, but the journey is simply amazing and great. I have learned a lot. I have learned how to bootstrap. I have learned how to survive in this urban jungle. Don't get me wrong. There are still nights these days when I could not sleep but the fact that these ambitions are still alive within me, that's what most important to me. 

I am not saying it will be easy for you, but every step that you take from here onward, it will make you a stronger person come the next sunrise (if you hold on and endure). I promise; but only if you are willing to learn and train yourself. 

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