Ambition over Money, vice versa.

After a slew of smart aleck-y responses back at my friend on Facebook chat–which in text, the tone can be easily misconstrued–my friend asked me, “What’s wrong? What’s on your mind?”

I will preface that the “witticisms” were not very original. I was caught off-guard by the two questions. Did I sound distraught? The questions seemed random and out of the blue. I imagined as someone who joked around often, my witty retort would be received as nothing more than witticisms, and not sharp attacks towards a good friend.

While I was taken aback by my friend’s reaction, I’ll admit that I’m never 100% all right, but I can’t say I’m someone who is necessarily depressed or distraught at the moment. I often find ways to be excited and amused, but my thoughts and tendencies to overanalyze leave me cynical about society and the world. The lingering uncertainty of the future leaves me tense and at unease.

I’m a recent college graduate who has yet to find a job. The uncertainty of the current economy and the unstable fluctuations in the job market leave me very reluctant to apply to anything–afraid of the emotional sting of the potential rejection that may come my way–even though my student loans are tugging at me and giving me a forced reality check. I came across a job description for an entry-level at a upper echelon government consulting firm early this month. The qualifications fit me to a T. Most notable was the amount of experience sought for, and I fit that due to my internship at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It all seemed perfect until a few days later when I discovered that the slot had been filled.

I came across an article on Elle about choosing between creative ambition over being financially stable. I am reluctantly motivated by money. I’m motivated by money out of necessity and the desire to acquire material goods and cultural experiences that I did not have the privilege of having as a child, not because I feed off of having an excess in my bank account–although any amount will surely help. I enjoy what I’m doing right now and for the past couple of months since I’ve completed my summer internship in DC: reading literature and blogs to become engaged in others’ thoughts and perspectives, and playing the guitar. I’d also like to spend some time to draw: my love. I’m also in the midst of organizing a citywide, intercollegiate youth summit for Asian Pacific American student leaders.

But unless all of that fun turn into sources of revenue, I am wasting away. I am giving up the potential to receive financial resources of which I need. Desperately.

I can’t help, but feel that I’m fighting a losing battle against a capitalist society that is controlled by the elite who push for the ever widening wage gap. Will I ever live comfortably in the middle class, and provide my future children with the best resources they could possibly have in terms of nurturing their interests, education, and health?

As my boyfriend and I were heading to the grocery store, I thought about Walmart and the poor. Walmart caters to the poor with its low prices. By widening the wage gap, Walmart’s customer base widens. The beneficiaries of Walmart becomes not the customers, but the people who run the corporation. It’s systems of oppression such as this that push me to want to do better, but I also feel exhausted by this as well.

I feel that I am highly capable of so much, but I’m lost as to where to go. I sometimes feel I am not worthy. I know it’s not unusual, but considering what I have accomplished as a young adult, I should be proud of myself.

I don’t think I can or will be until I can become financially independent.

It’s a logical circle I keep twisting myself in.

 

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The Unstoppable Passing of Time

Time keeps on going. Will it ever stop?

On Friday, I went to the Backstreet Boys with my friend Jenn. We had agreed a few years ago that we would go to one together when the opportunity arrived after missing the chance to attend a local Nick Carter (our favorite Backstreet Boy) solo concert at the time. This 2013 In A World Like This Tour is the boy band’s 20th Anniversary (imagine that!).

It doesn’t feel like it was too long ago when they were my obsession. I fantasized about meeting (and dating) Nick Carter one day. He being the youngest made the idea seem more possible, but us being 10 years apart in age made the idea seem all the more unlikely.

The ’90s is the decade of which I’m most nostalgic. While I was around for the bulk of it (minus the 3 months of the decade of which I was barely out of my mother’s womb), I had only caught and experienced the tail end of it in terms of pop culture before beginning to explore my own interests in music beyond the Cantopop that my parents had exposed me to. It was towards the end of that decade that my friend and neighbor Malik exposed me to Spice Girls, and a classmate to Britney Spears. Eventually, that interest opened the way for Backstreet Boys. Malik had a videotape of a Backstreet Boys music video compilation that he showed me one day. The band slowly grew on me, and I was eventually hooked onto their melodies. My interest in them grew stronger with “I Want It That Way” (I remember first hearing it while on vacation in Florida, and being over the moon about it coming back.). Malik and I would try to sing and dance to that song over and over again. We emulated them, and wanted to rise to their level of success. I can’t believe that was almost 15 years ago.

With each passing second, I grow more and more further away from the past, and holding onto it becomes more and more difficult. How can I savor those moments that I will never get to experience again except in retrospect through nostalgic daydreams and longing for the pleasant memories of the past?

The entire Backstreet Boys concert (minus the new songs from their latest release “In a World Like This”) was a callback to the pleasant days when the Backstreet Boys were at the peak of their careers and moving with a strong momentum. Jenn and I were singing and screaming at the top of our lungs like nobody was listening, and dancing like nobody was watching. We gushed over Nick Carter, especially over his gyrating that seemed to deviate from what the rest of his bandmates were doing, and over his being on our side most of the time.

Recently, I’ve been looking at pictures of the guys, and you can see the effects that age has had on them. They mentioned it during the concert that in 10 or 20 years, they may not be able to do what they’re doing now. This tour may be their last opportunity to bring us back to the old, golden days of our fanaticism and their success.

After the concert, elated by the experience, Jenn and I promised that next time a Backstreet Boys concert comes around, we’ll be purchasing VIP/pit tickets. I thank her for making the last minute decision to purchase closer tickets over the far away ones that we had originally purchased. At the time Jenn was deciding over which tickets to go with, I was hesitant over how much I really wanted to see the Backstreet Boys live, but I didn’t want to pass up on the opportunity. I thought they were washed up, attempting to relive what they no longer had. Boy, was I wrong! They may be attempting to relive the past, but so was I! They were not washed up. They were fine, and promoted the positive energy I’ve always felt when listening to their music.

Now, I’m trying to relive the experience I had on Friday by playing them incessantly on Pandora and Spotify.

Speaking of time, I’ve been reading Anne Frank’s diary. I never had a chance to read it in elementary school (people kept asking why I was reading it now). She mentions a lot about mental growth and age. Like Anne towards the end of her life, I’m no longer the naive, inexperienced little girl–the girl I was when Backstreet Boys were at the peak of their success. Sometimes, I long for those days, but at the same time, I have more freedom in decision making that I did not have when I was younger. I am in close quarters with a boy that I have developed an attraction for, and who I care about.

I can talk more about Anne and her development later, but one thing I will add is that this girl was wise beyond her years. I did not write so intelligently, or contemplate over matters to the extent that she had. Even if I did, I failed to properly articulate those ideas in ways that people could easily understand. People would have thought I was crazy, out of my mind if they had listened to me.

Sometimes I wish I could turn back time. Impossible as it may seem. But I wish I could, so bad, baby.

– Backstreet Boys, “Quit Playing Games With My Heart

Good night,

ML

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