Monday, January 30, 2006

Assumptions Make for Asses - A Story To Consider

I was reminded this morning about the importance of not making assumptions (or presumptions, for that matter). Allow me to present to you this anecdote, in story form.

Once upon a time, there was an HR person who set out to interview prospective employees for a job with her partner company. One day, after a good interview, she made an offer to one of the applicants. The applicant considered the offer carefully over the course of a few days, but in the end felt that it would not be in his best interests to take the job.

However, by the time the fellow informed her of this decision, she had already made announcements to everyone saying that he would likely take this job! As a result, the applicant's news was very disturbing to this woman. Because she had made a presumption, she found herself in a very awkward position with both her company and her partner company. She felt very angry and looked for someone to blame. She decided to blame the innocent applicant, and so she accused him of being difficult and unwilling to take her job. She demanded to know why, and insisted on his returning her phone calls and giving her an explanation that she could go back to her companies with.

Now, boys and girls, discerning readers and intelligent people, who was at fault here? The applicant looking for a job, or the evil mean HR woman who made too many assumptions about the applicant?

Happy Chinese New Year


Gong Hei Fat Choi!

It's the year of the Dog. May it be a prosperous and blessing-filled one for you!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Wholesome Family Fun - Go See It!!


It was hilarious, and a good spin on an old fairy tale (especially appealing to those of us who loved Shrek). Won't give away any spoilers, so I'll just recommend that you go and see this movie!!!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

A Nightmare Relived

Have you ever had the unfortunate experience of being the last person picked for a team in gym class? Maybe you've had the displeasure of being the only student in your class who didn't have a group to work with on an assignment. Or perhaps you know quite well the awful feeling of not having anyone to hang out with at lunch time or during recess.

Well, *I* have had that sort of experience before.

It happened in elementary school. And junior high. And this week, in university.

As of this past Monday when classes started, I was told that I needed to find a
group in order to complete my upcoming assignments. This would have been an easy task, had I known a lot of people in my 300-person lectures. I didn't. I knew one person, and I was fortunate enough to discover that she was in the same section and classes as I was. We made a verbal agreement to form a group along with some of her other acquaintances from last semester. I even double-checked with her to confirm my "grouped" status, just to make sure that I hadn't made any mistaken assumptions about being included in a group with her friends.

This was Monday. Unfortunately, my relief was short-lived. My confidence and self-esteem plummetted to netherworld depths on Wednesday when I was tactlessly informed, via email, that the one person who I knew, who I had confirmed I was in a group with, had changed her mind. She had decided to alter her entire course schedule because the other people who she knew had switched around their schedules. We were no longer in the same section of the classes anymore. Although technically this was not an issue (given our professor had made provisions for people of different sections to still work together), it was not an option with her. The gist of her email? "Sorry, but you're no longer welcome in the group; I got a better offer and a better schedule, and now our group is full. Good luck and have a nice life."

Every bad memory of exclusion, every horrible feeling of worthlessness and undesirability, came flooding back into my mind. I was no longer Mrs Composed, the smart and self-assured woman who could handle any challenging situation with grace and dignity. I was that 8-year old girl again, vulnerable and humiliated and awkward and hopeless. What was I going to do? Who was I going to group up with? After the initial embarrassment and dejection had settled came the feelings of fear and paranoia. What if no other groups were open? What if I had to work alone? Would I fail the course? How humiliated would I feel, having to tell the prof that I was too much of a loser to secure a position in a group?

I began frantically emailing every person on the courses' discussion boards, to see if there was *anyone* who might still need a group member. I was cautiously optimistic; surely not everyone would have already found their groups! Surely there was at least one group out there who would accept me as a member. I mean, I'm a hard worker! I'm friendly! The list of my qualifications, none of which I was too confident about anymore, began to race through my mind and flowed like a resume into my emails.

As I awaited replies, I became more and more anxious. When one finally came, it was promising. A group of 2 was still seeking 2 more members. Even as I replied to that email to express my eagerness to join their group, my insecurity was high and I worried that they, too, would receive several more attractive offers, once again leaving me out.

The next email I received, from another group, was less promising. They had already secured additional members for their project - sorry and good luck. My wounds still fresh, this additional bit of rejection was devastating. So they didn't want me either, eh?, I thought.

Thankfully, this evening I finally got some good news. The first group I had emailed still had room and wanted me to join! Relief overwhelmed me. I replied to confirm my willingness once more, and to arrange for times and places for our first group meeting.

Unfortunately, the bitter feelings of worthlessness and insecurity, wrought from many painful experiences of the past, have already been unleashed. Even as I approach the first group meeting, I am riddled with anxiety. What if they meet me and decide to kick me out? What if I am not a good fit for the group? What if they change their mind?!

Of course, having this self-awareness allows me some perspective, and I can actively choose to step outside my feelings to cultivate a much healthier, more rational line of thinking. However, that I can go through a major crisis of self-doubt over exclusion from a group in *university* and at my age makes me think about my future students, and all the children who are going to bed tonight feeling humiliated and dejected and vulnerable and worthless. How will they cope? Will they be able to face their peers tomorrow, when every glance reminds them that they do not belong or are not welcome?

It makes me really sad to think about that. I was lucky; I had a lot of love to help me rise above these horrendous experiences in the past, and that love still sustains me today. What about the students who don't have that support? What will sustain them? God bless the outcasts and the rejected; may they find some love and acceptance and a place to belong.

Monday, January 09, 2006


I started my new term of studies today. It was a little daunting to attend my first three classes and to look at my multi-page syllabi, all of which outlined some pretty big assignments and readings. Since this is a practicum term for me, it means that my classes run for only 9 weeks (as opposed to the standard 13). This essentially amounts to longer classes each day, assignments and readings packed more closely together, and final exams in March.

I'm a little fearful of the term, especially since every prof today reinterated the same basic message that the semester will be a tough one, but an important one for
us to learn some valuable skills.

The optimist in me is hoping that the whole semester will be analogous to the experience of getting a nee
dle. You know how when you know you have to get bloodwork done, or you're donating blood, or you have to get immunization shots, that you experience a major feeling of ominous dread leading up to that? However, when you actually get pricked, it's never as bad as you imagined in your mind, and more importantly, the discomfort doesn't last nearly the duration that you had anticipated it would.

If the term will just fly by, and if each assignment will be as brief and painless as a needle (and not as painful as an imagined needle), then I may survive. However, I cannot guarantee that I will ace the courses with flying colours. Even my optimism has limits! ;)

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy 2006! A New Year, A New Look

Happy New Year!!! With a new year comes new things, including a brand new look to my blog and new links. Hope you'll find this new layout a little easier to read (which was sort of the goal of this re-vamp).

What a great time to celebrate the wonderful highlights we experienced in 2005, and start planning for the amazing moments that will mark 2006! This is what my hubby and I did on New Year's Eve, over a romantic dinner of steak, bison, lobster truffle macaroni & cheese, and creme brulee (Lux Steakhouse).

As we reminisced the highlights of our year (including our wedding, honeymoon, and various exciting changes that took place in our careers), we became increasingly excited about what 2006 holds for us. I think that psychologically, we all use certain dates or time markers to become our starting or finishing points when we set new goals or resolutions, and the natural instinct is to use the change of a year (or an academic year, if you're a student or a teacher!) to be that indicator.

We found it immensely helpful to pick a theme for the year, and 2005 was for us "a year of change." Our families saw a lot of change in terms of their living arrangements (e.g. new homes), their Christmas get-togethers for the recent holiday season (e.g. parents traveling out instead of kids traveling in), their careers (e.g. new jobs & graduation), or their romantic relationships. My marriage, move to a new apartment with my husband, and return to school were also tremendous new events in my life, and my hubby also found a new job towards the end of the year. Overall, there was a lot of stress and a lot of new experiences to handle, but thank God that everything worked out well and we all grew as a result of these changes.

So last night, my hubby & I set forth our general goals for the new year, which we have deemed a year of settling. For many of our loved ones, 2006 will be the year of transitioning and settling into their new homes or new relationships. For us, it is going to be a year of settling into and establishing our business, our marriage, and our friendships, not to mention our most important relationship with our Savior! It's also going to be a year of establishing and settling into new routines, hopefully the ones that we will hold onto for the rest of our lives together.

What will be your theme for 2006? When you reach December 31, 2006, what will you hope to be able to reflect on as a highlight of your year?

May your new year be joyous and filled with much love and many highlights, and may you have great reason to celebrate next Dec. 31st!