Monday, November 30, 2009

With Quarter Life Crisis

I think the first time I encountered the term “quarter life” was when I was looking for internships (from the internqueen, actually). It seems strange because all I heard about before was “mid life” and of course the crisis that comes associated with it.

Quarter life crisis has become a more common concept. Books have been published about it. Articles have been written devoted to it. Some TV news segments have been done on the topic. I personally have very mixed feelings about it, because according to this Huffington Post article that identifies the "symptoms," I definitely am experiencing it right now, yet to admit that seems like I am almost using it as an scapegoat. And I know for a fact that some of the issues I am facing have nothing to do with my age.

And just because it’s “normal, and everyone else does it” doesn’t mean that I should fall prey to it as well. I hate being peer pressured into anything. At the same time, apparently my need to “have it all” and often “insisting to do it alone” are also signs that I am going through a quarter life crisis. =_=

I know what I want to do with my life; the trouble is how to get every piece of the puzzle in place. I disagree with the idea that 20-somethings are still “figuring themselves out,” or at least as applied to me. I think the core of me is fully developed and pretty set. The minor things might change but that’s it.

And apparently quarter life is even more difficult for women?! (*grumble* of course, again)

Most authors say that this is kind of a “rite of passage” that’s inevitable (…like puberty?). Good news is that it shall pass. I am going to try to make this phase of my life go by faster then.

Anyway, I have looked through some online articles on how to survive your 20’s/quarter life (ok I admit that most of them happened to be by Christine Hassler. I am sorry! But I like her advice the most). Here are the best ones. I paraphrased most of them and the phrases in quotation marks are direct quotes.

1. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice – I actually do this often, but whether or not I take the suggestions is another story. Some sources say to browse through the self-help sections at bookstores as well.

2. “Up your financial IQ”- I really agree with this one, and I really need to do it.
3. “Know that you’re not alone”- Yes, it’s comforting to know that I am not the only one messed up.
4. “Don't wait for permission, approval or validation” – I whole-heartedly agree with this one! Case in point: my tattoos and recently dyed blue and purple hair.

5. It’s ok to rely on other people…- such as friends and family
6. …but then remember to have some me time – AKA self-reflection and self-investigation time. This one may seem silly especially if you’re a busy person with little resources (um, who can afford a soul-searching journey right now? In terms of money and time?), but honestly, being alone by choice is pretty awesome sometimes. I love watching movies and TV shows by myself because I don’t have to contain my emotions for others’ sake.

7. Balance and prioritize- Eh, I think I do that pretty well. Otherwise I would have breakdowns every month. However, sometimes it really seems like those two things are mutually exclusive of one another.
8. Appreciate what you do have… - Hmm, I probably don’t do this frequently enough.
9. …but a pity party is allowed once in a while- it’s okay to just wallow in sadness or anger in a given time, because it helps you get the upsetness out and then you can move on.

10. Stop comparing- Ie. don’t be jealous of your peers. Know that everyone’s different and are in different situations.
11. Be in the present- In other words, stop being nostalgic about the past and worrying about the future… I think this one will the most difficult one for me to follow. I have extremely good, detailed memory of the things I want to remember, and I am a planner.

12. Stop overanalyzing things, including yourself- But I like and am good at critical thinking and looking at things from multiple angles!... This is going to be another hard one.
13. “Know That 'Having It All' Is a Myth”- Very hard to accept when I want to be the best that I can and improve myself and all that jazz!...

…and then there are a bunch on career, which I personally think I can do without.

That’s all I got. Hopefully I can practice what I preach.

*Sources cited 1 2

Friday, November 27, 2009


Berktown has been so quiet and empty for the past few days. The kinds of people I see around campus can be categorized into the following groups:

(1) international students
(2) out of state students
(3) a few Bay Area locals who were just hanging out in Berkeley
(4) people who are on the way to somewhere else
(5) homeless people

Yes, it’s quite depressing. It’s like being single on Valentine’s Day. You know it’s just like any other night, but the fact that you know other people are doing something special makes it slightly difficult to be alone.

This Thanksgiving is arguably the only “real one” I have ever experienced. My nuclear family is immigrants and we do not really care about this holiday. For the past two years, I went to a boyfriend’s house for Thanksgiving, but I felt that I was experiencing it from an outsider’s point of view. Literally it’s their relatives, the people they have married, and then me, both times. It was like I was making a guest appearance in some other family’s gathering. And before that, I think I just thought of Thanksgiving as a freebie day off from school.

My friend Melissa’s family was going to kindly adopt me this year, but at the last minute, I was informed that our entire huge extended family are all going to one of my aunts' house because one of my uncles is here from Taiwan, and he’s not here often. It was super fun. About 50 Taiwanese-/Chinese-Americans under one roof. A lot of Chinese food, alcohol, and picture-taking were involved. ☺

It’s really weird to think about how much our family is going to expand. And even weirder to imagine how I am going to fit into all of it in the future. I have about 20 first cousins alone. And some of them are already married. Few even already have kids. At my cousin Amy’s wedding last week, the group of us 18-25 year old first cousins was talking about making a bet about which of us will get married soon.

Anyway, I am thankful for the following.
… that I am still very close with my brother, despite rarely seeing him anymore
… for my friends who have helped and supported me in any manner possible
… for UC Berkeley (even though I have very, very severe senioritis, I have really learned here)

… realizing that my extended family is pretty awesome and that I do like them (long story short: I didn’t meet most of them until I immigrated here and when they first met me, I was too young and spoke terrible English. And then after that I became more occupied with school and stopped attending family events. It was more like I didn’t know them enough to like them, but recently from Amy’s wedding and Thanksgiving, I have gotten to know them better.)

… for health, mine and other worthy figures' in my life
… that Taiwan is still there, not bombed, in the middle of a war or anything
… that this year is almost over and 2010 will be a brand new year (2009 has been very rough on me, but hey, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?)

Monday, November 2, 2009

With How People Don't Take Marketing Seriously At All

I am so fed up about the fact that in general, people do not think marketing is difficult or complex. Oftentimes, they think it's common sense because they are exposed to it every day.

But let me ask you this: Do you know what a good portrait painting of a person look like? Right, it should look like the person realistically, of course... Does that mean everyone who knows that can paint good portraits? NO. Do you know what food tastes good? YES. Do you know how to make every single dish of these cuisines then? NO.

And this kind of "If I have experienced it enough, then I must be good enough to do it myself" logic seems to strangely only apply to marketing for some reason. For instance, I don't think anyone without proper training and education would walk into an accounting firm and demand a job because he or she "deals with money all the time." Unless they're crazy, I guess.

Most people (educated, and or successful people included) do not understand the delicate subtleties and the intricate planning that go behind marketing. The computer that you're using right now to read this? What the model is called and how much it's priced were carefully calculated by a group of marketers, and the packaging that it came in? Ditto.

The ad that you saw in that magazine you read at the dentist's office? Strategically placed in a section with content that would not contradict the ad's message or lead the reader to something else other than the preferred meaning AND the ad was placed in that magazine based on the demographics and interests of the magazine's average reader in order to optimize the ad's effectiveness.

All the commercial websites you go to? If it's a good enough company, the website design was carefully made in order for the highest usability to ensure the best user experience and to draw attention to the most important aspects of the website. If it was a REALLY good company, they probably have conducted focus groups to make sure the first time users have no problem navigating their websites that they are going to the sections that they're supposed to be most focused on.

Everything I mention IS part of marketing. Product naming, packaging design, brand management, media planning, product marketing... and there are so much more to marketing that those aspects, too. A lot of times, doing anything in marketing requires evidence from research, of the current market, of competitors, and of consumers as well.

It's totally fine that you don't understand what goes on in marketing, but please, do not downplay the difficulty of marketing if you have actually never worked on it or even learned about it in some way.

Here's a little anecdote: This person I used to work with in my student organization (I am not going to name him) really did not see the point of marketing AT ALL. He told me that it's like that baseball field thing: "If we build it, then they'll come." His argument was that if the product is good enough, then people will want to buy it. After he resigned, he somehow got involved in this crowd-sourcing marketing campaign for an energy drink. And guess what? He ended up apologizing to me and telling that marketing is a lot harder and more complex than he imagined.

...Why can't everyone just respect each other's job? Is it because people just think of marketing negatively? But somehow, I don't agree with giving plastic surgery unless the person were deformed, but I am not going to say, "Oh, liposuction is so easy to do! Anyone can stick a needle in someone's stomach and suck all the fat out!" The fact that you don't like something, doesn't mean that it loses its significance or level of complexity.

You can dislike marketing, but don't you dare tell me that it's easy. If it was easy, then all of our commercials would be reduced to "BUY THIS PRODUCT RIGHT HERE" over and over again, every product's name will just be what item it is (a PC will be computer type 1 and a Mac will be computer type 2), there'll be no need to have different prices for products within the same product category, you'll be wearing the same type of clothes as your grandpa, everything will just come in one color, everything's packaging will be in plain brown paper bags or white cartons, and everything ever produced will get bought, and there is no need to worry about surplus at all.

Yea, why don't you have fun with that.