Not A Race

Remember my married high school friend (I went to his bachelor party, bought him a wedding gift, and attended his wedding)? He and his wife moved into their new house over the weekend, so I paid them a visit after work yesterday. A couple other friends were already planning to hang out there to eat hot dogs and watch the UFC fights on TV, so my friend invited me to join them.

My friend gave me a tour of his house. I love new houses. Everything smells new, and all the surfaces are freshly polished and cleaned. It was all very impressive.

Seeing my friend already married and now owning a house, I couldn’t help but be a little jealous. Both he and his wife work in the pharmacy industry; their stable jobs and decent combined income let them reach their goals of buying a house and eventually (i.e., soon) starting a family.

I know that life is not a race. Just because I have friends who own houses, are married, and/or have kids doesn’t mean I have to follow a similar timeline. It’s unrealistic. However, hanging out with people who are actively working towards their goals accentuates my lack of doing so.

Any decision (within reason, of course) is better than no decision. I’m so afraid of making a mistake on a bad decision that I end up not acting at all. I sometimes do this at work, and I obviously do it in life too.

I’m currently very close to deciding on a particular path to take, but it might not take me anywhere. It might be a bad decision. But at least it would be a decision, right?

My Current Plan

My friend didn’t show up for our tutoring session, so I didn’t do any tutoring today. I remember making a plan last week to do it, but I guess she forgot or something. Oh well. At least thinking that I had to tutor today got me out of the house earlier.

Instead of tutoring, I ended up spending a few hours at Borders (our original meeting place) reading one of the textbooks for the actuarial exams. Since the next actuarial exam is many months away, I won’t study my hardest right now; I know how I study. If I study a lot now, I’ll get discouraged and lose momentum too early. My current plan is to read through and preview the material for a couple months first. That way, when it’s time to properly study, I’ll have a foundation already built from which to work more efficiently.

I’m also thinking about learning a computer programming language. Computer skills are becoming increasingly important in most professions, including the actuary field (from what my friend in actuary says). I learned how to use LaTeX back in college, but no one cares about that except mathematicians. I’m hoping to pick up a book on SQL and master it during the next few months before my studying intensifies.

After Borders, I went to Target to let the executives know that I’m accepting the price change position. A couple weeks from now, they’ll start scheduling me 6am shifts!

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No More Waiting

Now that I’ve finally come to my senses, I’m back to looking for a job. Knowing that my current job is becoming increasingly temporary (that makes sense, right?) makes work a lot less exciting.

I’ve done some job hunting before, but I never put my full effort into it. I was always passive about searching. I kept waiting for the opportunity to find me, rather than me finding it. This time, though, I’m more determined (and desperate) than before.

I still haven’t fully decided what I want to do with my life, but at least I know I want something with regular hours and income that more reflects what I can offer. Ideally, I would have a day job that lets me tutor in the evenings for extra income.

I’m only working the closing shift tomorrow, which leaves me time to look for a job during the day. There’s a job placement center at a nearby community college, so I’m definitely going to check that out.

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No Do-Overs

I’m feeling much better today. Vitamin C and nine hours of sleep really help. I did my full eight-hour shift without feeling dizzy or sick at all. Everything went pretty smoothly all day, and I’m not even tired after work.

Meanwhile, things on the executive front are not progressing. I haven’t heard a word about my interviews or whether my store team leader (STL) has even sent my resume to the other STL yet or not.

As I wait (somewhat patiently) for the ETL path to open, I’m questioning whether I jumped into the retail/executive/management path too quickly. I wonder whether I’ve already stayed too long at Target as it is. This post from a couple months ago comes to mind.

Now that I’m out of school, I feel like every little thing I do is affecting my future (ha, as if school didn’t affect it). There’s no reset button, no do-overs. There’s only one take in the TV show that is my life. In every decision I make, I have to think about my life and where I want to be a few years from now.

After talking to my parents, they had different things to say. My dad thinks that if the ETL position works out, it can open up the management world for me. I can work at Target for a couple years, get an MBA, and move on to bigger and better things. Eventually, I could even make my pipe dream of hotel management a reality.

My mom, on the other hand, would prefer that I take an office job, or “a job where I sit,” as opposed to running around all day like I am now. She’s not as enthusiastic about me working for Target, especially since I put so much into my work and get little (money) in return. She worries that I’m going to lose too much weight and get an ulcer.

If the ETL/management path didn’t pan out, I still have time to study for the second actuarial exam. I could take the exam in November rather than May. Another option is to tutor full time. Tutoring sounds very appealing to me, since I would be managing my own hours and (theoretically) making a lot more money. However, being self-employed isn’t that different on a resume from being unemployed, unless I report to the government that I run a private tutoring business and pay taxes (which sucks).

A few years from now, I certainly don’t want to be living at home. I want to be financially able to cover my expenses and regularly put money away for savings. I don’t have to be rich by any means, but I would like the flexibility (with money and time) to visit old friends and/or travel to Europe. I would love regular hours and be able to leave my work at work.

Anyway, I think this post is losing its focus. I’m not sure if following a path (retail/management) that looks interesting and exciting now is something I’m going to regret somewhere down the line. Certainly retail/management will never give me regular hours. I can’t just think about what makes me happy now. I have to look ahead.

In Transition

I’m becoming increasingly frustrated by the fact that my life is on hold because of the actuarial exam. I spend my days at Starbucks studying, and then I go to the gym. That basically describes my week.

There are so many other things I would like to be doing. I would love to hang out with my friends more often. My friends are such a big part of my life, and yet I rarely see them now because I’m trying not to take time away from studying. I only have three posts on this blog in the “Friends” category so far. The importance of my friends is very underrepresented, and the reason is because I just haven’t seen much of them these last few months.

I would also love to practice driving more. Online dating guy thinks it’s pretty strange that I’m 25 years old and I don’t drive on the freeway (I think he might even be losing interest because of it…). Living in cities for college and graduate school where I didn’t need a car, I put off practicing driving. Now that I’m back home, I should be driving a lot more and getting used to LA traffic. But no, I drive to a Starbucks that’s ten minutes away from my house to study, and then I drive down the street from there to go to the gym. Because of my exam, I have no real reason or opportunity to drive further and push myself to practice.

Today I went with my parents to visit my grandfather (who lives with my uncle and his family). My grandfather had relatives visiting him from Shanghai. They are my grandfather’s cousin’s children (their father is my grandfather’s brother’s son). I don’t know what they’re called. Second cousins? I certainly don’t know what to call the relation they are to me. Anyway. I drove the 60 miles to his house, which includes driving on multiple freeways. It’s good practice, but my parents were in the car helping me. I have yet to drive on the freeway by myself. But the only opportunities I have to drive long distances on the freeway are with my parents, and even those are few and far between.

What else? I’d like to find a choir. I miss singing and I miss the social interaction with other singers. I’d like to go shopping and maybe have the occasional day of splurging. There are a lot of things on my wish list, including a fantastic cashmere hoodie I saw at Bloomingdale’s. It’s $250. Besides the tuxedo I bought for my choir in college, it’s probably the most expensive piece of clothing I’ve ever wanted. I can’t even consider buying such a thing until I get a job.

I’m getting so antsy. I want a job! I want to make money and start living on my own again. I like living with my parents for a little while, but I think living at home too long is stifling. I need my independence back. This transition period has gone on far too long already.

Weight Management

I’m trying to eat less to keep my weight at a stable (lower) level. I don’t want to gain back the weight I lost after my wisdom teeth were pulled. I’m eating smaller portions, and I’m cutting my intake of white rice to almost nothing. If the taste of white rice isn’t worth the calories and nutrients I get from it, then why eat it? I’m starting to use the same logic when it comes to desserts and general portion control. I mostly eat white rice with my dinner now just to make my parents happy.

Because I’m eating less and trying to keep my weight down, my dad thinks I’m going to become anorexic. He keeps mentioning how Karen Carpenter (of The Carpenters) died from anorexia. He always talks about how good of a singer she was and how stupid she was for starving herself. My dad clearly doesn’t know how anorexia works.

I’m currently 24 pounds less than when I was fat and only 1 pound over my high school weight (when I graduated). I wasn’t really fat, but I ate (mass quantities of) fast food at least once a day for about two years during college. I was definitely overweight, but maybe not obese. I could eat more than my friends who are a good eight inches taller than me. Two super sized combos from McDonald’s was a normal dinner. It was awesome. Good times had by all. I still don’t know how I didn’t have high cholesterol or high blood pressure.

But after I went to graduate school, I realized I couldn’t keep up that lifestyle forever. That’s when I started losing weight and eating healthier. I never thought I would ever exercise at a gym, but now I try to go four times a week. I used to love eating until I was completely stuffed, but now I try not to be full, just satisfied.

Ever since I started my weight loss, my target weight has always been my high school weight, and I’m now only within a pound of that goal. But according to this diet calculator, my “ideal weight” is 14 pounds less than my target (15 pounds less than my current weight). What does “ideal” even mean? Zero body fat? A swimmer’s body? Even swimmers have body fat (more than runners apparently).

The “ideal weight” is tempting to try and achieve, but that might be excessive. My dad would probably put me in an anorexia rehabilitation center before I ever became close to losing that much weight.

Being Practical

I tutored my cousin today. It was pretty fun to explain some of the math that I’ve been learning these last couple months. Explaining math always makes me wonder if becoming an actuary is really for me, or if my heart is really in teaching.

I like teaching a lot. Getting to know my students and seeing them progress is very rewarding. When I taught a couple calculus classes in graduate school, I often spent more time preparing for teaching my class than I spent working on my own research. I’m pretty good at teaching too; my students gave me flattering evaluations.

After I finished my masters, I starting thinking about what’s most practical rather than what’s perhaps most fulfilling. Becoming an actuary is the most financially rewarding way to utilize my advanced math training (besides cheating at gambling or something). While teaching is great, I would make half the money that an actuary makes, probably less. If I want a chance at being financially secure and be able to provide for my eventual child (and maybe my parents in their old age), shouldn’t I choose a profession that will help me achieve those goals?

The actuary field is interesting too. Learning about how to use the math behind insurance and risk management has been really fun. Unfortunately, the road to becoming an actuary is very difficult and insanely competitive. This first exam for which I’m preparing is already pretty tough, but the rest of the exams are just as difficult, if not more so. I don’t know if I have what it takes to make it.

As I get older, I’m starting to think more like an adult. That is, I’m starting to consider long-term goals and thinking about what I need over what I want. It’s weird, realizing I’m not a kid anymore. Are being practical and being happy mutually exclusive?

No matter what, I have to just give it my all and study for my upcoming actuarial exam. After the exam, I can decide whether becoming an actuary is right for me. If I think too much about it now, I will screw up my chances of passing the exam and the decision will be made for me.

Oh, and speaking about my cousin, I tried not to say too much when she mentioned that Dumbledore is gay. It seemed like she didn’t think it made a big difference (which it really doesn’t). I wonder if she would think the same way if she knew I’m gay. Even if she would, I still won’t tell her for a while anyway, knowing how gossip spreads in my family.