My heart was filled with thankfulness. After publishing the "2018, My Top 10 Gains and Fails as a "3-in-1" Mum (Part I)" piece few days ago, I have received lots of warm and encouraging words. Thank you for recognizing that I have made some sorts of achievement! I did have experienced many failures along the journey. A part of me thinks I have lost even more than what I have gained. Nevertheless, I have learnt to be always optimistic after falling down several times, and to always reflect on the lessons from every happening. Now, please join me in cherishing my biggest failures in 2018!
My Top Fails in 2018
1. I struggled for over 20 hours in labor and the bad memory still haunts me today
2. I failed 10 interviews before securing a job opportunity
3. I broke the relationship with 3 people who used to be very close
4. I could have spent more time with my family
5. I failed believing in myself through external criticism
1. 23 hours waiting and fighting - there's something to be learnt other than being strong
23 hours. One can take a flight from Singapore to Chicago. 23 hours. I have experienced the longest and most unbearable wait during the past 27 years. I was exhausted. Tears kept falling off my eyes. I listened to comforting music and it just didn't help. I repeatedly grabbed, squeezed and released my husband's hand. The last moment I could remember is - I was shouting to the doctors and nurses around the bed, "give me a cut! give me a cut!"
At times when I share this story, people ask me, "did you use epidural?" The answer is yes. In fact, I was so afraid of pain that I asked for an injection before I could open a finger. Prior to that, I have already stayed in the delivery overnight. The pain killer's effect somehow faded as time flew. After 12 hours, I was at the maximum amount of medicine whereas I still felt increasing contraction pains. Having endured another 3 hours, I went across the above mentioned scene. This was in 2017, but I just couldn't get rid of the bad memory today. That's why I considered it as a 2018 pitfall.
Every mum wants the best for her child. So did I. Therefore I chose to give natural birth even though my OB advised to schedule a C-section. One of the lessons learnt from the experience - making decisions more from rationality than emotions. I might then have less struggles and more confidence to embrace the role as a new mum!
2. 10 interviews in 2 weeks...and all failed!
I have read a Chinese blog the other day. It wrote that one should not be searching for a job through the CV submission method after he/she turns into 30 years old. Network and referral, according to the writer, is the key to address one's career success.
It kinds of poured cold water on my head. Because I am, not yet 30 y.o. but approaching, have submitted more than 100 copies of resumes during my 1-month job hunt. I have tried asking for referrals. Most of my requests faced silence. Some people were kind enough to help forward an email. But the result wasn't ideal either.
I've soon realised the battle: until you are "someone", you may win recognition and receive people's willingness to connect/work with you; however, to become "someone", you may usually need to go through a lonely journey.
I couldn't express how happy I felt when I received the first interview call. A year since I have been working from home, I didn't know where to start for make ups and office attire. Soon, there was a second one, third one, fourth one...I have traveled to 10 different offices and met over 20 recruiting officers within 1 week! I ran in heels, talked and talked, until I had to ask myself, "why there's no following up news?"
Now, if you ask me what I have learnt from failing so many interviews, I would say, "constantly reviewing your performance and thinking what could be done better." Find yourself a second pair of ears as well, if possible. For me I borrowed my husband's. He offered many good advises which upgraded my interview skills in the next upcoming rounds. In fact, ever after I have accepted my current job offer, I have received several phone calls to discuss about contract. Such small achievement doesn't uptake the importance of learning from previous failures. Just like Bill Gates wrote in his latest piece, "Today of course I still assess the quality of my work. But I also ask myself a whole other set of questions about my life. Did I devote enough time to my family? Did I learn enough new things? Did I develop new friendships and deepen old ones? These would have been laughable to me when I was 25, but as I get older, they are much more meaningful."
3. Time took away memories, and also relationships
One of the biggest, saddest encounters in 2018 is the loss of 3 close connections. 2 of them were friends, 1 is my mother.
People say that becoming a mother will strengthen the relationship between generations. To me, it's the opposite. My mother, being a school teacher all her life, tends to present herself as a positive figure to all surrounding people; except for the supposedly closest family members. The more often I hear her complaining about her life, the more I feel like detaching from her. Yes, I used to think she only gives the softest side to me, until I found all I have been accepting were negative energies. I tried listening to her for over 3 days and nights though my eyelids were heavy, encouraging her with cheerful stories and warm words, telling her that she's loved, spending 24 hours on the road to visit her during my 5th month of pregnancy, sending her handwritten letters and festival gifts,...I was finally drained. All my patience was gone.
I wouldn't judge my mother's behavior as she's lived with it for half a century. I am grateful that she gave birth to me and raised me up. She's experienced lots of uneasiness as well. I just share a very, very different attitude towards life against hers - I always hope to give the brightest sunshine to my dearest families.
After a fight during my confinement period, I decided to temporally remove my mother's contact from WeChat. I stopped talking to her for a month until I feel mentally and physically ready to take on her negativity at times. Working as a communications specialist by day, I feel many times that I was hopeless when communicating with my own mother. Sadly, I still don't know how to fix it today.
I have also lost 2 good friends whom I knew since I came to Singapore. We were allocated into different universities but we did hang out quite often. We revised for exams together, gossiped together, shared with each other our girlish dreams and secret loves. Our paths went divergent upon graduation and embracing new life events at different stages. We lost in touch. After giving birth, during a late night feeding, I found we have not contacted each other for over 1 year. I reached out asking if they'd like to visit. I might use a wrong way of expression. I might be too abrupt. I arranged three times and was given last min no show notice again and again. I began to sense disrespect and I decided to let them go.
Getting away from someone is painful. Like I've written in my previous article, I feel these losses count way greater than my gains. I have also learnt that building and maintaining relationships require a lot of time and input, just like Herminia Ibarra has written in her article. Something I hope I could do better in 2019.
4. Work and life balance? All goes to time management
This is a short summary. But a big warning. I spent too much screen time in 2018! If I have ever better leveraged the "wasted" time, I could have more valuable moments with my families and friends, studied something new, and read few more books.
5. Becoming the biggest enemy of myself
Now, you must have a good impression of my biggest failures in 2018. I have questioned myself several times because of these failures, which leads to another big failure.
I was raised up in a strict family environment. I was told not to be proud after making some achievement. I was forbid from wearing "girlish", "showing off" dresses. I was trained to be humble, passive and give all my respect to the others. "Other people always have a better say than you." My mother likes saying this. In result, I have grown up with inferiority deep inside and become very sensitive towards criticism. I have also developed the personality of keeping everyone happy rather than I myself. Whenever I experience a failure, I believe the problem comes from me.
No. There's a huge gap between healthy self-reflection and wiry self-doubting. I will continuously work on identifying the dividing line. At this very moment of starting a new year, I want to remind myself that I don't need to always look strong, inspiring and positive. That all I have to do is being myself.
At the end of my article (as well as my 2018), I would like to sincerely thank those who have supported me and shown kindness to me during the past 12 months. If you feel like talking to someone or sharing your own retrospect, please don't hesitate to contact me!
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