“Comparison is the Thief of Joy”

“Comparison is the thief of Joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt

In life, it is difficult to not compare ourselves to people around us. We compare ourselves to our friends, our co-workers, our family members, and even people in the media. Even if we choose not to compare ourselves to others, there will always be people who will do that for us, and remind us of that. It is a vicious cycle.

“Comparison is the thief of joy,” and recently I have seen this statement evolve in my life. I am just like everyone else. I most commonly compare myself to my classmates and peers. It has left me feeling dejected about myself and my life. I see my friends doing amazing things, excelling academically, opening up their own businesses, and even starting up their home. And perhaps the most artificial comparison, I even compare our looks.

Sometimes, I feel like a working class girl, playing a middle class game.

However, I realised that I was not being fair to them or myself. Of course, I was extremely happy for them, because they worked hard to get to where they are. Yet, I also need to remind myself that if I was in their position and had their opportunities, I would probably do just as well as them, whatever “well” means, not trying to claim that their efforts are simply a result of their socioeconomic class. Nonetheless, we are different people, and my differences has led me to where they are, despite not having the same start in life and opportunities that my friends had. I should remind myself that I am just as good as them, no better, no worse. I should be happy for them, as well as myself.

Instead of comparing ourselves, we should be praising our efforts, for our situation is unique to us. In addition, we need to empower one another, and support each other in our endeavours. This life is too short to be envious over other people. We need to remember that we are all at different stages of our lives, and we all have different backgrounds and opportunities. Otherwise, we will never know joy if we are constantly focusing on how other people are doing, and ignoring our own lives.

There is no love in jealousy, only bitterness.

Love your neighbours, and love yourself.

Racism: More Than a Black and White Issue

This post has been influenced by the BBC’s televised interview with Robert Kelly and his family, during the discussion concerning North and South Korea. It led me to reflect more on my own experience, as well as the experience of other people I know, when it comes to racism.

BBC Broadcast

The video sparked debates about whether Jung-a Kim was the nanny or the mother of the children in the video. People claim that thinking Mrs Kelly was a nanny was just stereotyping, not racism. However, they have based their stereotypes on her ethnicity. Is this a form of mild racism? To me, it is the equivalent of assuming all Mexicans are drug dealers, or that those who practice Islam are terrorists, which is not true! (Those who say you cannot be racist when it comes to Islam, I beg to differ. People do not stereotype white Muslims as much as non-white Muslims. Therefore, if a person chooses to stereotype a particular ethnic group of Muslims, that is racism).

Let me ask a question. If it was a white woman who entered Robert Kelly’s study room in the same manner as Jung-a Kim did, would people have assumed that she was the nanny?

It was very admirable of Mrs Kelly to dismiss the accusations of her being a nanny, so that others could simply enjoy the clip and move on. However, I do not believe that dealing with racism should be done by ignoring it. How are we supposed to progress if we cannot address the issue at hand? This may appear like a minor incident, but situations like this do occur on a large scale. For instance, racial profiling is an extreme example of what happens when an individual is judged based on their racial identity. Small incidents, like this one, can always lead to a larger one, with society believing it to be acceptable to judge a person based on their race.

Casual Racism

Racism against East Asians tend to be a form of casual racism that is invoked into society as socially acceptable. Mocking their accents, the way they dress, their customs, as well as their facial features, has become part of the common culture of “joking”. People dismiss racism altogether in these scenarios, because they claim that a “joke” cannot be a form of racism. In addition, if you argue against that statement, other people will claim that you are too sensitive. Asking if our name is “Ching Chong”, as well as slanting your eyes with your fingers, is racism. I do not understand how degrading someone based on their ethnicity, is highly amusing? This is not an appreciation of their culture, but rather, a mocking of it.

Beauty and the Beast

On another note, I went to watch the live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast when it was released, with my friends. After we watched it, I asked my friend, what did he think of the movie? He informed me that he enjoyed it, but wished there was more diversity in the movie. I was thinking, but there was? He meant not simply black and white actors, Asians too. I realised that for a movie that was promoting diversity in its production, it was not truly promoting diversity at all. (But this is another matter to discuss another time).

Study Abroad

Studying abroad in Thailand for seven months so far, I have witnessed this Western idea taken place amongst a few international students, as well as tourists in Thailand. They want to visit Asia, without having to deal with Asians. They have no desire to actually be involved with getting to know other Thai students, and so create their own separate group. But then they have the cheek to question why Thai students always stay in a group with other Thai students, when they are doing the same with foreign students. (Obviously, there is more to this situation that I myself do not know about).

Understanding

Where do Asians fit within the concept of racism? Why is our experience of racism ignored? Why are our issues made to be seen as less important? Of course, the Asian experience of racism is more varied than what I have spoken about. It is more complex than that.

I am not trying to claim that one group experience of racism is greater than another. I am trying to acknowledge that a form of casual racism exists towards the Asian community. I am not trying to make every issue a race issue. But when racial issues do occur, I cannot ignore it, whoever it is towards. Racism should not be just a black and white issue. It should be a people issue.

Unfortunately, I cannot speak on behalf of other ethnic minorities who experience racism, because I have never been in their position to understand what they have been through. However, I would like to know more about their stories. Nonetheless, racism should be a concern for EVERYONE. Something for us to address, educate on, and solve together.

Cambodia

Last month, I spent a weekend in Siem Reap with my housemates, and before I went, I did not know what to expect.

Quite a lot of Cambodians working in the tourist industry were very well spoken in numerous amount of different languages. I heard them speaking English, French, German, Mandarin, Japanese and so on. I was truly impressed by how accommodating they were. I also loved listening to Khmer being spoken by the locals.

Overall, my short experience of Cambodia was extremely pleasant. Here are some of the things I did during my stay:

Angkor Wat

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In all honesty, if you ever have the chance to visit Cambodia, you must visit Angkor Wat – this is something perhaps most people would suggest. Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world, as well as being a beautiful sight to behold. There are several different types of tickets you can purchase when visiting Angkor Wat. The most popular types of tickets are the sunrise and sunset tickets. I decided to buy the sunrise ticket, so that I could watch the sunrise over Angkor Wat. Be warned, there are A LOT of people, so it can be a challenge to find a decent place to stand/sit and watch the sunrise. There are also many people with large cameras and tripods who will ask you to move out of the way, as they dictate most of the area for their cameras, rather than enjoying the moment as it is. But I guess that’s the downside of visiting a temple as beautiful as Angkor Wat, many others also want to visit it too. Nonetheless, do not let this prohibit you from visiting it.

Pub Street

[Forgot to take a photo of pub street! Sorry!]

Pub street is basically a very touristy area, and as the name implies, with many pubs and clubs clustered together in one area. It had a very friendly vibe and fun environment to be in. There is also plenty of street food to try out, and market stalls on the side. Make sure not to get conned, because some of the sellers will obviously attempt to charge you a higher price for what the product is worth (since I bought a skirt that was immediately ripped after one wash – the material was of very bad quality). You can always bargain with the sellers, as they are more than willing to sell off their products off as soon as possible. Everything is relatively cheap anyways, so bargaining for every item is not necessary.

Rent a Bike

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Renting bikes in Siem Reap is a very popular thing to do, and there are many bikes around from different shops that you can rent from. It is a relaxing way to get to know the neighbourhood surrounding one’s stay, but I would only recommend renting a bike for those who are confident on the roads in ASIA! The drivers and roads are not as safe as those in many Western countries. That being said, you can still rent a bike if you choose not to go on the main road, then that is fine.

Temple Tour

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I took part in a temple tour, which consisted of me visiting five different temples in one day. It felt like I was temple hopping.

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Nonetheless, Cambodia is a lovely place to visit, and the Cambodians make it even lovelier. This is definitely one South East Asian country you should visit whenever you can. It is full of personality and friendly people.

(And what made my experience of Cambodia even better, was travelling with amazing and loving friends.)

Lent

Small Background Information

Around this time last year, I did not do anything for Lent. Despite being a Christian, I knew very little about it.

This year, I made sure to do my research so that I could get involved.

Asking around, and looking for information, I now know that Lent is a period of time which many Catholics and Christians are involved in. “The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, doing penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, atonement, and self-denial.” (Wikipedia may not be a reliable source, but I thought that since it was a great explanation and not an essay, so why not? *gives a cheeky smirk*). 

It relates to Jesus, and his endurance against temptation by Satan, in the wilderness.

What Lent Means to Me

For myself personally, I view Lent as a period of time I can truly humble myself and connect with God as much as I can. I want to go deeper into my relationship and be detached from wordly things. This is an opportunity to reflect on what I have done in the past, and be able to improve my heart towards God and other people in my life. It is a chance to demonstrate a godly behaviour, which I have not been doing for a while.

Going Vegetarian

I have decided to become a vegetarian for Lent, for various reasons:

1. I seem to have a mild obsession with chicken, and thought I should be more disciplined in what I chose to indulge in.

2. I am against animal cruelty and exploitation, hence why I choose not to buy animal tested products, and not visit any tourism industry where animals are used for entertainment. I realised that my eating lifestyle was a contradiction to my belief, and so Lent became an opportunity for me to live out that belief.

3. This was something I wanted to do for a while, and to see how it impacts on my wellbeing.

4. I wanted to contribute to help changing the world, even if it was just a small role on my behalf.

This blog post is nothing special, just my chance to remember my first Lent.