my soul search

I’ve done a lot of soul searching in the last few years.

When I say “a lot”, I really mean a lot. It’s taken a great deal for me to find out what I’m really made for and it’s not what it seems. I thought my calling was to be a writer for my passions always pulled me closer to the edge than anything else but it wasn’t my passion that brought out the best in me; it was the one thing that I never liked doing.

Leading is apparently my forté but I never thought that it would’ve been my calling. I don’t like it as much as I thought I would because the responsibilities are far too much for my liking but I’ve completed more than what people my age — at 21 would have done. I like to think that I’m a successful woman but I am far from that and I still have much to learn from the business world.

“Don’t let it go to waste. You have a talent,” is what my mother always tells me. I tell her that I don’t like this life and she tries to convince to use this gift that I have.

I never liked business. That is a given. It was never my thing but my talents have brought me further than what most people are capable of and it is a gift that I would truly be willing to let go to waste just so I can spend it on my passions for writing.

Soul searching is an interesting term. I did a lot of that in the last few years. I started when I was 17 just starting fresh in a new school and I had isolated myself from a group of friends whom I felt were far too materialistic and unreal for me. I never felt like I could truly fit in so I isolated myself and from there, my journey to soul searching began.

I discovered my passion for reading at a very early age but my passion for writing was a whole new level — a skill that I never knew I had and I fought to improve it over the years. I first realised I had a knack for writing when I wrote a post on this very blog in 2016, when I was 18. The post is long unpublished now but it was one of my best. My father had read it and he told me that I wrote well and I had this talent that shouldn’t go to waste.

I began writing my first book then. My first, real book and it was 32 chapters long with over 100,000 words. It took me almost two years to finish it and it is still one of my proudest works. I never got it published even though I had two offers to independently publish it and I never went through with it because I wanted a traditional publisher. That was how much I wanted it to be done right.

It’s been almost three years since I’ve finished that book and even to this day, it still lays somewhere on the internet, unheard and unpublished. I wait for the right time when I finally get to see it on the shelves and I pray for an opportunity such as that everyday.

I have immense knowledge and skill in many categories and some may think that I’m sucking my own tit but I am talented in more ways than one. Even to my small, 5’0 body, I can accomplish more things than people older than me could but the thing is, I don’t want to hold that much power and responsibility.

Being good at everything means nothing but expectations and failures. Being good at everything means that the whole world looks to you for an answer even when you don’t have one. You’re bestowed this power and you don’t want it.

I can’t describe the number of times I’ve thought about death. It’s the one few times that I spend my days alone and I just think about what if I just disappeared. My mind reels at how everything would fall apart because everything depends on me as a person and all I am is a 21 year old girl who wants to live her best life and be a person on my own. But with these responsibilities and people looking to me for answers, I feel a sort of suffocation that I shouldn’t have to feel at my age.

But I do.

My passion is writing. It is a sole activity that one completes on their own but my talent for leadership and my skills are needed and sometimes, having too much feels like too much. Sometimes I think about death not only to imagine life without me but also to end this feeling of suffocation that I relieve everyday of my life.

I don’t brag. People around me know that but this is the truth about myself. I searched my soul deep enough to discover the truth about my own life and it is that I’m a leader with these skills that I don’t want and these expectations on me when I just want to live and survive on my own.

I think about how I never got a proper, normal dating life until my father died and it was one of my worst experiences of my life. I was 18 when I had my first boyfriend and I wish I’d never met him because of the pain and trauma he caused me. I had to grow up after that.

My gifts may be beyond what an average person would have but they do still stop somewhere because I could never unlearn the abusive behaviour that my first boyfriend showed me and it has impacted my life greatly to a point that it affected the rest of my relationships. I’m still learning to heal but two years is far too long for me to try and understand what love truly is when it’s not pain and hurt.

The only time my soul connected with someone was once last year with someone I barely knew and even then, I wanted to marry him. But all good things come to an end and I spent the last nine months trying to connect with someone else to no avail, and only with my last unsuccessful attempt to date someone did I realise my true problem.

My insecurities and failure to put my trust in someone had affected my ability to love someone. I wanted to deny that I was damaged but I was far more damaged than my partner was and he had gone through so much more than I did. But while he learned to heal over the years, I was learning to project myself onto him.

It was toxic behaviour and it hurt when I learned that I was a toxic being in his life but nine months later and I’m still learning. Slowly but surely, I try to understand. Slowly but surely, I find my true calling.

I am a natural born leader and I know what I bring to the table. Boys may be afraid of that but I know that if people like him existed then there would be someone else who would be willing to hold my hand while I lead. My worth was taken away from me several times throughout my life by people who didn’t know my potential but I see what I bring to the table and I see what I can achieve.

My love life has been a failure but like I said before — my talents stop somewhere and love is where it stops.

But I know somewhere in my soul searching that I’ll find the answers. I’ve found my calling and who’s to say that I won’t find the answers to love.

One day.

the truth behind working for a fascist and toxic employer

I was 19 in 2017 when I first got hired at Cotton On.

My manager at the time was young and my sister’s age. She was a bit quiet and sometimes, we worked in silence because I just didn’t know what to say to her but she was “cool” in a lot of ways. She wasn’t very authoritarian and was chill with her staff because she knew their abilities and rarely had to work us down.

She had a lot of nice things to say to me. One of those was that she was easily impressed by how meticulous I was with working and cleaning the store. She was the one who hired me based on my merit and experience working in a bigger-chain retail store during my time in Singapore so she did what she thought best and hired me.

She left a little while later to move interstate and there, we were unmanaged for a long time. My regional manager who was living in Cairns at the time frequently flew interstate to visit our store and he placed a wonderful Portuguese lady in our charge for a few months. I worked often because I was in university and had more time off but in April 2018, I flew back home to Singapore in lieu of my father’s death.

I stayed off work for a month and proceeded to come back later on working full-time hours for another month. The Portuguese lady resigned after getting a full-time job and I worked 35 hours then, managing most of the things in the store and the only things that I didn’t do were the rosters and visual merchandising. They were handled by another proper manager from a neighbouring store.

My regional manager was extremely supportive of me, viewing me as strong-willed for working as hard as I did just a month after my father died. He had high expectations from me and often told me, “You are a winner and I know how amazing you do your job.”

The month after, my mother told me to go back to university.

So I settled for working a good bunch of hours as I did before my father died while I went to university at the same time. They had a stand-in manager from the neighbouring store to work at ours and she frequently told me that she hated the store because of how anxious it made her and I agreed. We were small, cluttered and messy.

A few months later, she moved interstate and we were yet again, unmanaged.

In September 2018, they finally hired a manager for us.

She had zero experience in retail and was the security guard at the same shopping centre. She had no sense of urgency, extremely lazy and incompetent, played favourites and was the worst choice for a manager. She rarely unpacked any new stock and was always doing something that was not necessary or important, later blaming the staff for not doing their jobs when our regional manager came to visit and was shocked by the number of stock boxes still not unpacked.

I had a stellar amount of respect at first when she tried to tell me how to do my job properly and I was like sure, it was my fault. But I soon came to realise that this lady did not deserve my respect when she did not take her job seriously. She always screwed up the rosters by missing breaks and was generally bad at everything. She laughed her mistakes off while being extremely irritated by the mistakes of the rest of the staff.

The last straw for me came when I had done two full days on Sunday and Monday. Our regional manager was visiting the coming week and my manager had given me a list of things to do, including unpacking new visual merchandising stock on a Sunday which we generally never did because it was a short working day and we usually focused on cleaning up the store. I came in the following Monday and found that there were 7 visual merchandising stock boxes on the trolley to unpack so I did what I could and cleaned the rest of the store at the end of the day.

The next day, my store manager came in and told another staff that she had stuffed another four boxes of VM stock boxes under the table for me to do but “apparently Sophie had other plans.”

Eventually, I picked a fight with her but we made up and after a while, she quit the next month.

Following that month in November, we had a new area manager who was going to stay in our city permanently and look after all 5 stores under her. Our regional manager was going to stay where he was based and wouldn’t have to fly in every five weeks to check on us.

She was the worst area manager I had ever seen. She was rude, played favourites and was bad at her job.

I didn’t have much chance to work with her in the first few weeks as it was Christmas and I had gone home to Singapore for a holiday. When I came back, she had significantly reduced my hours per week from an average of 18 hours to 3-6 hours. Instead, she rostered other staff from other stores on in my store as though they worked there.

She frequently berated a lot of staff, telling them in their faces that she didn’t like them and they did not deserve to work in the store while telling other staff that “I think you’re an amazing team member and should work in my favourite store.”

She made another store manager of our neighbouring store burst into tears and resign. She made uncalled for comments and demanded that she did the rosters for all the stores, only rostering staff that she had favourites and giving other staff like myself from zero hours to the minimum of three hours a week. She could hardly do visual merchandising and messed up the store while doing so and when HR received a complaint from a customer with regards to the unsightly store, she placed the blame on the staff.

Not long after, everyone had enough of her and sent in a complaint to HR who eventually sent her to another state or fired her.

However, we were unmanaged without a store manager again and manager of our neighbouring store was sent to us to manage us.

She was nice to me.

Or at least, in front of me.

For the next six months, I was put on the rosters for three hours a week, every Friday night for closing. It was the one day in the week where we would be open until 9pm and all the stores know that late-night Friday shifts are to be alternated between the staff but I was made to do late night Friday shifts every week for the next six months with no explanation.

My manager was in many ways, lazy, incompetent and a liar.

She frequently stood behind the counter doing nothing and was always on her phone. She never went to get change for the tills and the money tills were always left with $50s, $100s and at one point, it was completely void of coins and this frequently happened during weekends when banks would be closed to get change and she wouldn’t be working and be affected by her own laziness. She never threw the rubbish out from over the week and would let it accumulate to the point that the weekend staff or Friday night staff like myself had to make two to three trips to the bin outside. She never cleared up the small bin behind the counter and it was always filled with her food containers which she ate over the week. She never cleaned the store. She was lazy and tried several ways to avoid coming to work and to leave work earlier, giving excuses that she had gastro or that she had to leave two hours early due to a house inspection that she had to attend. She would wait for staff to come to cover her breaks and leave for two hours instead of the one-hour break that she was supposed to have. Many times, if someone fell sick, she wouldn’t bother finding them a cover and would force a staff to work by themselves on a weekend even though it was her job as a manager to come in even if she was not rostered on.

I was told by her many times that “I can see you’re a good worker” but I later found out from another staff that she had told the latter that “Sophie is always on her phone and that’s why I’ve put her on for three hours and she doesn’t do her job.”

I was made to work three hours closing shifts on a Friday night with barely any customers for six months and was frequently told by her that I was a “good worker” but yet, she was talking about me behind my back. I felt that I was never always on my phone and would complete my tasks when I had any and I would have preferred for her to come straight to me and address my excessive phone usage during work hours but she had instead lied to me and blamed our original regional manager who had not been our regional manager since the year before about being made to roster me on for only three hours a week.

During stocktake, she had asked everyone if we were good to work from 4pm to 8pm that day and I agreed as I had classes from 9am to 12pm and stocktake would not clash.

When she posted the roster for that week, I was made to do opening despite her knowing that I had class that day. She claimed to not have known that I had class but I had told her multiple times that I had class and I was the only staff in the whole store who went to school.

She later admitted to another staff that she purposely put me on for the opening shift that day because “Sophie scans slow and shouldn’t be on for stocktake.”

I’ve never done stocktake with her before and didn’t know where she would have known that I was “slow” at scanning for stocktake.

The store manager of our sister store in the city was often also angry with her work ethics but he also had favouritsm and I was not one of his favourites.

In Cotton On, as staff, almost everyone uses their own staff discount codes or their friends’ staff discount codes to buy something for themselves. They are not allowed to do so but because many of the staff are always rostered by themselves for the whole day with the exception of a three-hour cover that is split with a one-hour break for the full-day staff and another two hours of hard work for the store, they tend to do what they do.

I was one of the staff who did so.

I had the permission of another staff who told me that it was fine for me to use her staff discount if I was alone to buy something for myself as I remembered her code by heart and I bought something for myself one day.

The store manager for the sister store came to visit and did a “random” bag check on me just as I was leaving the store to go to the bank and deposit our money claiming that he was going to start doing bag checks on every staff leaving the store and found the item in my bag with a receipt, demanding to know who had completed the transaction for me and I told him that I did so myself.

He never checked the bags of other staff ever again and reported the incident to HR for using another staff’s discount code.

A representative of HR called me three weeks later and interrogated me on the incident.

Claiming that “this is just part of my investigation”, she demanded to know why I completed my own transaction and I told her that I had bought a shirt because the item that I had worn to work was see-through that morning and I had also bought a bottle of water and a pack of tissues to increase our KPI sales.

She then tried to coerce me into admitting that I had bought a fourth item because “that’s what it shows on the receipt.”

I told her I didn’t buy a fourth item and she repeated herself, “That’s not what I’m seeing and I’m going to ask you again what else did you buy because this is all part of my investigation of this incident.”

I repeated myself that I didn’t buy a fourth item.

She “looked” at the receipt she had on her computer again and later admitted that it was a void item and that I didn’t buy it.

I will not forget how a HR representative tried to coerce me into admitting a crime that I didn’t do. If I had bought more items, my punishment would have been heavier.

For someone who continuously repeated that it was all “part of her investigation”, she had a lot of trouble distinguishing a void item and a sale item and I had no respect for someone who wanted to tell me how to do my job while being incompetent in her own.

And in this case, I quit as I had enough of what was happening in the store and how I was continuously disrespected.

I found that I hated those in managing positions who liked to flaunt their positions and tell others what to do while being unable to do their own jobs. The only ones that I thoroughly respected in their respective managing positions was my original store manager who hired me and my original regional manager who was based in Cairns as they were both amazing at their jobs while being humble with their position in the workplace.

This was the worst workplace that I had ever worked in with a fascist employer who spoke highly of their own authority but refused to correct their own behaviour and a toxic group of management team. In their desperation to find staff in managing positions, they had hired the most incompetent, laziest people to work and had caused the downfall of the workplace environment.

And this is the truth of working for a fascist, toxic employer and never again will I stoop so low to allow myself to be treated like this by people who were quick to spew orders while being unable to do their own jobs.

jan 1, ’20 — happy new year

It’s the new year.

I still find myself wishing for the past to come back even though we’ve finally reached a new year and sometimes I wish that I can reset my memories so that I can start afresh but that would mean losing what’s important to me. It would mean losing the memories that I still hold so dear to me and it would mean losing what I have left of someone I deeply care about.

As we step into this new year, I can say a lot of things have changed since the start of 1st January 2019.

Exactly a year ago, I was still begging my abusive ex-boyfriend to stay in my life, hoping to turn things around or be given another chance at love. I was in one of the worst places of my life and this was only the start to subsequent heartbreaks from the trauma of my past relationship.

I had grown so much over the last year. I learned to set standards for myself and that a man needed to deserve me before I gave him my all, and I learned that what happens, happens. No more begging anyone for attention, no more self-doubting. No more settling and no more feeling sorry for myself.

2019 was a test of my courage, bravery and mental strength.

I am so goddamn strong for being alive right now because it had tested me enough with the betrayal of my best friend and so much more. It tested me when the people at work had so much to say about me behind my back and it tested me at home. It tested me in the last months of my wavering relationship with my ex-boyfriend and most of all, it tested me in losing the one man I would’ve wanted to marry.

Never have I been placed in a difficult year, with the exception of 2018 when I lost my father but I feel like the years get tougher and tougher as I go out into this world each passing day.

I want to say one thing — 2019 was full of lessons. They were lessons that I never knew I needed but it was enough for me to learn.

2020 will come at me stronger than before and I know I will be tested against my own wits. I will contemplate life so many times that it’ll look suicidal but I know that these are just tests. I will look to the sky so many times that I’ll ask God why he does this to me and maybe, I’ll get an answer for my strength.

Maybe, something might go my way this time.

But one thing I learned in 2019 was that with losses come great success.

to a friend

I must express my anxiety in writing this. This has been no easy task in the last few weeks but to reflect is greatly beneficial and this episode did not disappoint.

I had known her for almost two years now.

We were not close in the first year, and only grew closer in the last year of our friendship. We were on the opposite sides of the spectrum when it came to having anything in common and the only thing we ever bonded were over boys.

However, that didn’t stop us from having weekly lunch meetings, talking the latest gossip and generally having fun. The two-year age gap between us didn’t stop much and we were at some point, at the best of our friendship.

There were so many traits of her that I ignored over the course of our friendship because she was my friend — so many things that should have been an indicator that she was far too immature for this life but I was at odds with myself.

This girl, this child, was far too immature and I watched from the sidelines as she made bad, selfish decisions over and over again. She hurt the feelings of so many people around her and I watched all of it and whilst I tried not to control her decisions, I could do nothing more but to advise her on things that she would not listen to.

While she constantly hurt her friends with her bad decisions, she continuously came back to me for advice to make herself feel better and yet, she followed none of it. I found myself growing frustrated with each day but I could do nothing more than watch.

I watched as her long-distance boyfriend broke up with her because of her constant fighting and arguments over nothing. I watched as she found a new man as a rebound less than a month later at a club, and she fell in love. I watched as she cried when she found out that he was married. I watched as she continued this relationship with a married man knowing that he had two children waiting for him back home for the next four months. I watched as she swallowed the promises that he would leave his wife for her. I watched as she slept with three different men in the same weekend, each not knowing that they existed and each thinking that they all had her to themselves.

Her friends watched her from the sidelines as she made all these bad decisions and so did I. And those decisions never stopped there.

I watched as she left a boy for four hours while on a date to meet with the married man and sleep with him. I watched as she broke her best friend and another boy’s heart in the same night as she got together with the same married man at the clubs. I watched her cry to me the next day and ask for my advice to do better only to not listen. I watched as she left another boy at the clubs by himself on my birthday and leave with someone else.

And I watched as she stabbed me in the back and ruined my relationship with the only person I saw a future with.

She laughed as I expressed my disappointment with her. She didn’t heed my words seriously but then again, she never did. I watched her handle the situation immaturely and without hesitation, I cut her out of my life.

I do not hate her. I don’t, but I cannot see myself to be acquainted with her again. Not with her betrayal and not with her immaturity. She needs to grow up and sometimes, people don’t do it at all in their lifetime. I can only hope that she is one of the lucky ones.

Maybe one day, we’ll be friends again.

But today is not that day.

it takes a real woman to recognise immaturity

In my last post, I spoke about how I had at some point, wanted to marry someone I had only known for a month.

I spoke about how I loved him as a person if not a lover, and I spoke high about him as how one would have spoken about a blissful relationship. I spoke about how we were comfortable with each other and that I genuinely saw that I could live with him the rest of my life if we ever worked out.

Of course, things didn’t work out as how they always do.

I spent so much time in last 12 months searching high and low for a lover. I searched desperately for someone I could love, cherish and spend my time with. Unfortunately, those were times when I would have taken anyone and settled for less when I deserved the world.

Those were times where I dealt with countless immature boys who did not know how to treat a woman. Those were times where I met with several boys who only wanted one thing that I could not give to them.

With the last one I dated, he was by far the best that I had.

He was someone I wanted to marry and oh, did he treat me so well like I deserved. I enjoyed what little time I had with him and I was never so careful around anyone before. I made sure not to fall too hard or too fast, and I made sure to let him woo me but what was meant to be wooing became an attraction to him instead.

I realised that I made so many mistakes with him after we ended. I expected him to treat him like how my ex-boyfriend treated me — abusive and cunning — but he was the complete opposite and it made me realise how difficult it was for me to adapt. I had this mentality that how I treated before during my abusive relationship was how I was supposed to be treated in all my future relationships.

When things ended between my last date and I, I made the difficult decision to not look for love anymore. I wanted to work on myself but at times, I found myself craving for a man’s touch and affection. I craved the attention I used to get from him and I know I certainly missed him.

I lacked the motivation to improve myself because I saw myself ready and fit for adult life. I was doing things that proper adults would do, and I was 21 years old myself. Whilst I felt nothing like an adult, I was one.

And yet, something was missing.

And then, I realised that perhaps, I wasn’t mature enough for a relationship yet and maybe that’s why none of my relationships had worked out.

I thought that maybe this is it, immaturity on my part. I wasn’t ready for a relationship and neither was he. We both couldn’t agree on something that was sensitive to talk about and we both couldn’t work it out.

As a 21-year-old woman, I think it takes a real woman to recognise immaturity in herself and to work on self-correcting.

I was still too busy trying to find my true purpose in life that I hadn’t had the right time to fully develop myself as a person. And when I craved for that male touch, I rushed into a relationship whenever I could and that made me settle for less.

I found the perfect guy and I fucked it up with him because I wasn’t mature enough to handle it and neither was he.

Two weeks ago, I made the decision to stop looking for love.

Yesterday, I found the reason why.

And for me, it takes a lot to recognise self-immaturity and that’s why it will be my strongest weapon.

at some point, i wanted to marry a guy i only knew for a month

We already had a gist of what our future relationship would be like.

It would’ve been long-distance mostly, speaking over the phone and seeing each other’s faces on the other side of the screen. We wouldn’t have been able to be together more than we were together but for me, that was what made me more excited to see him every single time. It made me appreciate the little moments we had together and I wanted it.

For the rest of my life.

When we first met, it was like living a long-distance relationship. We often called each other almost everyday, he often texted me in the mornings and evenings after work. I waited to hear his voice and he always thought about when he got to hear mine next.

And when we first met in person after three weeks, I gave him the biggest hug. I knew right then that he was right for me.

I wanted to marry him. I felt like he was the one who would treat me right and we were comfortable with each other. I told him things that were so hard for me to move on from, my vulnerabilities and he told me things that he’s never told anyone before — a dark past.

We never judged each other, he was supportive of me and he helped me in ways that was so different from my abusive ex-boyfriend that made me realize that maybe, I chose right this time.

I chose what I deserved and I knew my worth.

I wanted to be with him and somewhere on the inside, I knew he wanted to be with me too even when our time was short.

He avoided talking about the future but we knew that it wouldn’t have worked out well anyway. We would have separated, become friends and watched each other move on with different people in their lives.

But still, I wanted to marry him.

Other people wanted me to marry him.

People thought we’d make beautiful children together.

People thought we were the cutest couple ever.

People could see just how happy I was compared to before.

You see, he never made me happy. I was happy on my own even without him but what he made me, he made me feel at peace; home.

He made me feel like the world’s problems didn’t exist anymore and I could sleep in his arms in the middle of the beach.

He made me feel at home.

And he was home.

I wanted to marry him.

I made the decision only a month after I knew him but I wanted to. We dated for two months but within a month of knowing him, I knew what I wanted. I didn’t love him yet, not as a lover but I loved him as a person already and I knew that those feelings would have grown with time.

But sometimes, things don’t work out.

Homes get destroyed and people leave. We make mistakes that cannot be corrected and people move on.

I don’t think we’ll ever get back together again but I know that at one point, I wanted to marry him.

was it worth it?

Was it worth it bringing up a topic that we were both not ready to talk about?

To begin with, it was meant to be a discussion, a way to talk about our feelings and communicate but communication goes both ways and sometimes, not everyone gets it.

So was it worth it, bringing up a topic we both weren’t ready to talk about, not knowing that they wouldn’t have accepted your feelings and opinions because of how one-sided they were?

Was it worth it ruining something good just to talk about our feelings?

Recently, I expressed a feeling I had; disappointment and hurt — to someone I deeply cared about.

And it was about an extremely sensitive topic for both him and I; money.

What was meant to be a discussion about my feelings turned into an argument that went back and forth about him telling me not to tell him how to spend his money, and me explaining that I wasn’t doing that but rather upset that he was spending his money when he should have been saving up for a specific reason we both knew was important.

We didn’t speak for a week and when we did, he was cold and hostile.

I tried hard to talk to him about it in the next few days so we could fix whatever we had broken and he avoided it and stopped replying my messages after our short conversation.

I think it was worth it. A lot of people say the same because we know what his true colours are but some part of me wishes that I never brought it up at all because then I wouldn’t lose what we had over a conversation about my feelings.

Understanding that communication is essential to every relationship is important but having the ability to apply it in real time is completely different. Everyone can talk about how communication is important but when it’s our turn to communicate our feelings, it’s barbaric and out of line to them.

I wouldn’t call it narcissism or manipulative but rather egoistic and immature. Prideful and narrow-minded. A dreamer but not a doer.

Was it worth it?

Yes.

Do I regret it?

A little, I miss him but I could do without him.

He was perfect but perhaps he was looking for a way out of this relationship and whatever it was, he took it and ended it.

I think it was worth it because I did us both a favour.