Is it better to have to make a choice or have no choice at all?

Hi I’m back! Not that I have any readers lol. I’ve been quite the busy bee lately…moved to a new city in the States and will be starting a new job next week. But of course, the story is a bit more complicated than that. Up until two weeks ago, I had accepted another job offer and was all set to move to a different country. I was quite excited about this particular job. I really like my future boss a lot and the job description is basically a dream come true. And it’s in L—-N!! One thing about this job though – I was deeply unhappy about the salary. I had managed to negotiate the offer higher, but it was still significantly below what I’d like. But for my dream job in my dream city, I thought…what the hell, I’ll try to survive on this salary. Minus compensation, it really felt like my dream was being handed to me on a silver platter.

But life is funny in some ways. Last minute, I received another job offer. And with this one, I’ll fully admit it’s not quite my dream job at all. It’s the wrong industry in a city I never even considered. On top of that, it’ll be all finance and business analytics work. Not that I hate finance or BA, but I really wanted to do something else. Still, the company is internationally reputable and the salary offer is probably more than I deserve. And (un)ashamedly, I even managed to negotiate a higher salary and bonus. (But in all honesty, us women need not be unafraid to negotiate our salaries. We deserve it)

I didn’t know what to do. I know people say I’m lucky to even have a choice but let me tell you, it’s really fucking hard to make a decision. You try it. Sometimes, there is just no right or wrong. I went through almost the same thing two years ago when I was choosing business school in different cities. I was deciding between x and y and I ultimately chose y. Was it the “right” choice? I’m still not sure. But I made a choice and here I am. Of course I always think about the what-ifs in life, especially when I’m having a tough time in this timeline. My friends and family always tell me to shut up but I think it’s just human nature to ponder. So I’m quite unapologetic about my thinking. It is what it is.

Anyway, since no one reads this blog and it’s anonymous, I will admit it here. I totally picked money over passion. And I think I may regret this choice for the rest of my life. But what is done is done. I’ll just have to live with it.







Should I take out my pension early?

Before I quit my job to go back to business school, I became fully vested in my company’s retirement plan. Besides my 401(k) plan, which I rolled over to an IRA with Fidelity, I also have a Cash Balance benefit plan. Today, I have a little less than $10K in this pension account. However, I’m currently debating if it’s a good idea to collect the whole lump sum and reinvest the amount in stocks or mutual funds instead. If I do that though, I’ll take an immediate hit in the amount of a 10% early withdrawal penalty + taxes. What do you guys think? Is it wise to withdraw my pension early and invest that amount?

Like many Millennials, I always assume that my financial situation is acceptable, although it can be much improved. But in fact, I need a reality check: I don’t have an income right now and there’s barely $5K total in my checking and savings. Besides about $500 in credit card bills, I have almost $30K in student loans…towards which I’m paying ~$400 per month. So yeah, this is not what we called a sustainable situation!! My God ~ I’m in bad shape!!!

So, should I collect my pension now? I have to consider the fact that raiding my pension plan is no guarantee that I can make money off of it. There’s absolutely a chance you’ll lose money when you play the market. My #1 goal (besides getting a job) is to pay off my student loans ASAP. Given this situation, what should I do?

P.S. I actually have a low 6-figure amount in retirement funds (not including my pension) right now. This puts me ahead of peers my age but still…doesn’t help me buy makeup or tacos right now. Welp!

Things I Love: Laneige Water Sleeping Mask

I’m obsessed with Korean skincare (and makeup). I know I’m generalizing but many Korean ladies (and gents) really know their stuff and are METICULOUS with their massive multi-step skincare routine. Spas, massages, facials, dermatologist appointments, treatments, etc. are just part of their weekly routine. Not to mention…plastic surgery! South Korea is plastic surgery capital of the world.

I half-admire their society’s commitment to looking young and beautiful. I say half-admire because annyeong I too want to look like a gorgeously dewy poreless k-drama actress or k-pop idol. But living in a society where looks are everything is incredibly tough. Appearance matters in most societies, but it’s especially true in East Asian cultures. I say this as an East Asian who grew up in both the East and West. I’d concede that physical beauty is prized everywhere in the world. But in my opinion, one of the more positive things about living in a Western society is that there’s more breadth in terms of beauty ideals (I’m not saying today’s Western beauty ideals are any better, just that there’s more diversity). I find the East Asia’s conception of beauty ideal to be quite narrow (and somewhat unrealistic). I’m wrongly lumping all Eastern cultures together but in general, for women, the trend is to look young, natural, have milky-white smooth skin, double-eyelids, big eyes, small nose, and a slim, oval face.

And fight me on this, but East Asian guys can get away with not looking “traditionally handsome” as long as they’re je-ne-sais-quoi charming, have a high nose bridge, and are above 180 cm. Can we say double standards?? I’m not dismissing that there’s an unfair global prejudice against short men, but nevertheless, it’s still harder to be a woman. Anyway, I think this rigid female beauty standard has extended to the rest of the continent, particularly Southeast Asia. On one hand, as an Asian, I admire the asian-nification and rise of Korean influence on beauty and culture. On the other hand, it’s always hard to look like something you are not naturally. In Asia, is this modern Eastern beauty ideal an improvement over the near-unattainable Caucasian beauty ideal of yesteryears? Or is it merely another incarnation of the latter?

I don’t really know.

I also want to point out that in Asia, people tend to be more openly judgmental and vocal about your looks. Body shaming? It happens. A stranger auntie (stranger danger!) on the street would feel entitled to tell you you’re fat. Let’s just say the body positive movement has not made it to most of Asia. In S. Korea, you have to submit a headshot with your job application and your looks are absolutely judged – just like any of your other qualifications. As an aside, you also have to include your headshot in your CV in France…but my French mentor in HR told me it’s so they can put a face to the application (uh-huhhh sure).

Pretty people in general are at advantage in life. It’s a fact and I’m not bitter about it. You can’t help being born beautiful, just like you can’t help being born smart. It is the hand you are dealt in this life. I just hope that for the sake of our younger generation, we expand the definition of what it means to be beautiful.

Sorry for my long ass ramble lol. Now back to my regular programming….I wanted to talk about Laneige’s Water Sleeping Mask. I ♥ this product!! Getting enough sleep is still the best way to achieving good skin, but if you don’t get enough sleep, have no fear, there’s Laneige water sleeping mask!!

I use this about twice a week; you apply the gel on your face and leave it overnight and rinse in the morning. I don’t know what’s in this product but whatever it is, it’s 100% pure magic. Your skin looks and feels moisturized and revitalized, as if you got 20 hours of beauty rest.

You can buy it online here. In the U.S., Laneige was carried at select Targets, but I think they’re moving out of that distribution and into Sephora! Stay tuned.