Thirty is a good age to start to reflect on things that have happened for the past 10-15 years and try to see them in a different light. In most cases, I ask myself what I could have done differently back then when I have my current level of wisdom and maturity .
No, it does not have to be thirty for you to have the hindsight, although it is for me. You can actually start right now even if you are 25 or 35, or even 45. But I find there should be 3 things that should happen first.
1. First, you need to have major changes in any different areas of your life: Career, love, financial, friends, or family. Or all of them.
2. Second, in these areas, somethings are lost and somethings are found. In most cases, the first and second means some crisis that you have been through. In the aftermath, you discover something that would not have come to you if you have not lost anything at all.
3. And third, which happen later, is that you have slowed down on a lot of things. After sometimes, you have cleared out the clutters in your life and you are starting to get things back in order with whatever you have found in the process.
All those three things happened. And THEN, "it" comes naturally like someone turn on a pipe and the water flows out swiftly.
All the past major events start flowing back to you. It is not any events like attending a wedding or even your graduation. The events are those moments that have signaled something to you that you cannot understand or pick up back then. Until Now. It is like replaying a DVD again. Only this time, you knew the ending already. You already knew who are the heroes and who are not. So this time, you monitor each of them carefully to find the telling signs when you have missed it previously.
Since I have many of those reflections, I actually have problems knowing where to start and what to share. (yes, my blog posts are not coming so frequent nowadays)
So, I have to do the obvious. I can only start one by one. And, for this post, I choose this event that happened almost 12 years ago, which was during my college time. It was a time when I have lost a friend who was smart, matured and helpful. 12 years later, I realize that kind of friends is someone who I can learn many things from and may even inspire me to do something great.
Most of the people in the class called him 'Sifu', that means a Guru because of his outstanding intelligence and willingness to help people. I got to work with him in a project in a funny incident. The project was actually our first group assignment in the college. The lecturer asked us to form groups of 4 persons each. At the end of the class, I found myself without group as I barely knew anyone in the class. There are another 2 guys who were in the same predicament, one of them is Sifu. So, we decided to form a group of 3, whereas every other groups have 4 members. At first,it was very awkward for us to work together as we did not know each others' strengths and weaknesses yet. So, when the lecturer asked us to elect a team leader, Sifu was the obvious choice, because he is the oldest among us. Soon, we found that Sifu was actually very smart and knowledgable. The other guy (whom I call him 'Funky' later in the years because it rhymes well with his name) was not bad either. And of course, though I was not so knowledgeable in Computer subjects back then, I am always an avid and fast learner. Thus, each of us contributed our work, but Sifu was the one who compiled, corrected and enhanced the work after we submitted to him. When the assignment result was announced, we were at the top, even though we were short of one pair of hands and brain. Everyone in the class was very surprised. We were too, but were very elated and proud as well.
On the other hand, I started to get real close with a girl in the class who sat 2 seat away from me. We were almost inseparable in and outside the class. She became my best friend in college. I introduced her to my team members. After sometimes, we were like part of a larger group around 10-15 people. We all would hang out after class sometimes and we went on several trips together. There were many happy moments.
Soon after, feelings developed between Sifu and my girl friend. Funny part was there were also rumors between me and Sifu, which honestly speaking, although we worked well together, it was just friendship between us. Anyway, the relationship between them turned wishy-washy. At one point, one would drop hint that he or she want to be together as couple while the other would not respond or even try to avoid. At another point, the same thing repeated but with reversed characters. Since I am closest to both of them, I tried to encourage both of them to start the relationship if they really have feelings for each other.
Finally one day, both of them decided to talk it out openly between themselves whether they should be together or not. Unfortunately, I was pulled along in the discussion as well, which clearly, I shouldn't be there at all- my first mistake. I should have insisted not to take part and just walked away eventhough my best friend requested me to be there.
Long story short, in an already messy situations prior to starting the relationship, let just say, the girl laid out the terms and conditions to the relationship, the guy could not bite it and the girl refused to relent. So, that was end of it, the doom of their relationship even from the very beginning. To make matter worse, Sifu made this clear- since they came to this stage and cannot become a couple, there is no point for them to continue become friends as well. I think that is because his pride and hope were destroyed by a somewhat, unjust demand from the other party. One of the demand, was that the boyfriend must accept that his girlfriend who will always put friends on top of him in terms of priority. You can very well imagine the reaction on a guy if he is so unfortunate to hears that kind of thing. Though at that time, I was also very surprised and knew the demand was a bit illogical, but I chose to let it pass my judgment. I let myself think Sifu was at greater fault because even though relationship did not work out (who can guarantee it always can anyway?), he should at least be graceful and try to maintain friendship. That was my second mistake. Though my best friend also obviously did wrongs that day, I did not scold her or anything, which I should. I should be more impartial.
After that day, Sifu never talked to us anymore. Over the time, the group also split because some of us would continue our second year in other location/branch under the same college. So, we seldom cross each others' paths. I also lost touch with the other group who studied in the different location, also partly because they are closer to Sifu. I guess that was my final mistake, as I have done nothing to salvage the friendship between Sifu and me. I could not remember whether Sifu clearly stated that he could not even be friend with me because of what happened that day, but I did think, we maybe still can be friends if I have taken the initiative and show my impartiality. But I also did what I did because I did not want to hurt my best friend, who was already angry at Sifu for how he just wiped off the friendship like that.
Few years later, I heard that he started a cybercafe business with some of our college mates last time. At that time, I was still very much an employee. I had not the slightest idea on how to start anything on my own yet, even though I always know during college time, that I want to do that sometimes maybe after 5 years of working. When I think back now, it would be good if I can still be part of that group that is obviously entrepreneurial. Maybe I can learn something from them or even join in the venture.
My biggest mistakes in this story when I reflect back is not my inaction or my lack of initiative to right the wrongs. It is this -- I did not realize that I CAN and actually SHOULD CHOOSE MY FRIENDS. It was a very grave mistake that I continued for more than 10 years. What I did is just tagged along with any groups I got close with. I stood by and helped a lot of them whenever they needed me. I wanted to be a loyal and helpful friend to others. And I think now, I have done too much, but too little for myself. It is mainly due to my fear of being criticized and not being accepted by people. I want to follow the gang. I want to be nice to everybody.
Following are some of the good advices that I should have taken long ago:
1. You cannot choose your family but you can choose your friends.
2. Choose your friend wisely, carefully, and by their characters.
3. Hang out with people who are smarter and more successful than you.
4. Stay away from negative people, complainers, and losers.
5. You become like the people you hang out with.
6. (And even in Bible - Proverbs 12:26) The righteous should choose friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.
7. We should also pick the people we work with.
I have too many stories about friends (some good and bad things) that I feel like writing about. Sometimes, I fear that people will attack me when all I tell is how bad people are, like stories about my ex. (Actually, I did get started on the book. It has almost 30 pages now). It takes times to conquer the fear - but for now, what the heck on what people think!!