Category Archives: Humor

5 Red Flags That A Promise Won’t Be Followed Through

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

These words are part of Robert Frost’s famous poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” The speaker is mesmerized by the dark woods, but he continues on his way because he has prior obligations. (Literary critics will also add that this poem speaks of a dichotomy between society and nature, but we can save the heated discussion of literary analysis and whether “deep” has ten hidden meanings for a later day.)

Promises are hard to keep. Think of the last time you promised to call a friend, then subsequently forgot because Criminal Minds was on TV.  Or the times you promised to write a letter to Aunt Judy about your school year, but suddenly it’s already final exams time and you haven’t sent a single envelope the entire semester.

Everyone’s life is invariably busy. Distractions get the best of us, and it’s easy to forget small promises. But when you’re on the receiving end of broken promises — or at least promises that were never followed up on — it’s hard not to take it personally.

(This is why lawyers make contracts for everything. Sealed with your DNA, social security number, and birthdate.)

The problem is people tend to overcommit themselves. No one wants to say no to anything. Here are 5 red flags that a promise is likely to be a dud:

1. “Dude, of course I’ll look over your essay later this week.” They say yes now, but unless they pinpoint a specific date and time, they’re not going to do it. “Later this week” is a euphemism for “Um, yeah, I’m not in the mood to follow through right now or anytime soon, so like, let’s wait 3-4 days, after which you and I will both have forgotten about the thing I promised to do.”

2. “Sure! Let me check my schedule and I’ll let you know.” Even worse is when they don’t mention a time period at all. They could technically “let you know” in 90 years and not be in the wrong.

3. “I agree, let’s hang out sometime.” Either they don’t like taking initiatives or they just like putting things off. Similar to the phrase “later this week,” the phrase “sometime” is another way of saying, “I’m not sure about the future, and I’m too lazy to plan ahead right now. I mean, if I really, really, REALLY wanted to hang out you, then I’d be jumping right in to arrange plans now and here. Don’t get offended; most people aren’t in that special 1% group. Nothing personal.”

4. I promise to keep in touch. Probably one of the biggest cliches in history since happily ever after, this phrase is used most often at graduation ceremonies, goodbye parties, and the end of summer friendships. Nobody ever seems to follow through after saying this popular phrase. Never mind the fact that in today’s society, we have email, text messaging, cell phones with video messaging options, instant-messaging, and a plethora of tools that makes the letter-writing Stone Age pale by comparison. Most people seem content with a brief “what’s up lol” online before fading completely into oblivion within 1 to 3 years.

So, my advice? Stop making empty promises. It’s better to under-promise and over-deliver than to over-promise and fall short.

Or, you could sneakily put the responsibility on the other person. “Promise me you’ll keep in touch, okay?”

(If someone says this to you next time, answer with, “I’ll try, but only if you send me three pounds of gourmet cheese in the mail.”)

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The Myers-Briggs Personality Test

I know what you’re thinking. Personality tests? Aren’t those just a slightly less pretentious version of horoscopes?

But if there’s one test I live by, it’s the Myers-Briggs Personality Test (MBTI). Developed by psychologists, the test categorizes people into one of 16 personality types based on acclaimed Carl Jung’s psychological theories. Much like how every person has a preference for either right-handedness or left-handedness, each individual has specific way of perceiving the world and making decisions.

To figure out your type, you can either:

1) take  the certified MBTI assessment (usually provided by consultants, therapists, and even workplaces),

2) or take tests found on the Internet that aren’t “genuine” but work as well as the real one. These range from the long and extraordinarily detailed to the painless and quick. The results shouldn’t vary by that much, in all honesty.

Once you have your type, go here to read all about yours. (Or, you know, you can just Google it… there’s bound to be more than 800,000 results.)

I put up this post because the MBTI has made me think recently about a friend who moved away. The friend and I didn’t exactly complement each other at first. I found him too talkative and sometimes a little arrogant, and in comparison, he probably found me too quiet and self-deprecating. He was fine with giving a speech to an entire congregation at the drop of a hat, whereas I needed to spend at least a week fretting  preparing. He had a child’s sense of humor; I’m uptight and serious. Well, only sometimes. 

But I mean, we were still friends, so whatever. He stands out among my group of friends because he was so unlike me, much like how we can easily spot the atypical object in a category of like-minded objects. (Which word does not belong? ‘Carrot, potato, red.’)

In a way, this wasn’t bad. He’s the first person that pops into mind when new people ask me about my friends. I enjoy describing some of his crazier antics, as well as his sense of humor which I admittedly admire. And yeah, when he moved away, there was a definite void in our group. Funny how some people stand out both when they’re present and when they’re absent.

But it was only recently that I had the sudden brainstorm to look up the MBTI again and compare our personality types. Wouldn’t you know it: our personality types were, according to the chart, complete opposites. In Star Wars terminology (and no, I haven’t seen the movie yet; shame on me), he’s Darth Vader while I’m Luke Skywalker.

Go figure.

 

 

 

 

I’m a COOL teacher, right Regina?

In the notorious movie Mean Girls, one of the main characters’ mom tries desperately to be chic and trendy like her teenage daughter. The mom dresses in pink sweatsuits and serves the girls martinis. She then says,

I just want you to know: if you ever need anything, don’t be shy, okay? There are no rules in the house. I’m not like a regular mom, I’m a cool mom. Right, Regina?

(To which her daughter  Regina responds, “Please stop talking.”)

In high school, I had a teacher who was eerily similar to this mom–except nowhere as cheery and happy-go-lucky. But they both shared that longing wish of being “in” with the cool kids.

Let’s call her Ms. Q.

Ms. Q taught physics. From day 1, I could tell something was off. Ms. Q never smiled. She greeted everyone with her mouth in a flat line. She also liked to deadpan…except I’m pretty sure deadpans are supposed to be funny, and hers were not the definition of funny.

You’re thinking, Okay, so what? There are serious teachers everywhere. Doesn’t mean she’s incompetent. And how is she like Regina’s mom from Mean Girls?? Hold your horses.

As the semester crawled by, we noticed Ms. Q’s strange quirks. One, she had a strange sense of humor. Apparently raising your eyebrow at students while they’re talking makes you intimidating . . . and thereby gains you respect from other students. Ms. Q knew she was the authority of the classroom, and she kept that power astonishingly well by being blunt and forthright.  She wasn’t afraid to insult a student in front of everyone. She’d regularly pick on this one football player who wasn’t that good at physics, telling him to “shut up” and calling him “wow, what an idiot!” The scary part is, everyone else either thought it was funny or were too afraid to speak out. I guess it helped that the football player was humble and played along, but seriously?

Two, Ms. Q played favorites to her advantage. If you’re an outspoken, well-liked student, she’ll find ways to compliment you in front of the class multiple times a week. If you take the time to chat with her regularly, she’ll automatically see you as a friend, assigning you as her unofficial BFF. When the class is working on some problems, she’ll come by your desk and make a show of striking up conversation about the latest movies or hit songs, ignoring the students right next to you. She’ll also add you on Facebook, which I thought was one of those ‘grey areas’ in school policies . . .

Add everything together, and soon you have a class of students who are

1) intimidated by Ms. Q because they don’t ever want to be ostracized by her and treated like the football player was, and

2) eager to please Ms. Q and feeling flattered when she singles them out as someone she favors.

It’s common psychology. Say you have a ratings game and assign each of your acquaintances a number from 1 to 10 based on how cool you think they are. The ones with the highest numbers become flattered and endorse the system, whereas the ones with the lower numbers become less self-confident and are afraid to speak out.

Okay, okay, so how is she a bad TEACHER then? Aside from all the favoritism and intimidation, she still teaches the material well, right?

Um, no. By the time she’s established the boundaries of the class (i.e. which students are her favorites and which students are to be ostracized), she’ll keep those boundaries for the rest of the year. One morning, a friend of mine went into her classroom before school for some help with a physics problem. Ms. Q was there with several of her favorites. She glared at my friend with that same flat expression she’s had since the beginning of the year, and told him she was too busy at the moment and to come back later.

Was she busy? Ms. Q went right back to having a conversation about cats with her favorites, while sipping a cup of Starbucks mocha.

Another time, I tried to show her a design of a T-shirt I made for the class, and she rebuffed me in front of the entire class. The story goes like this:

It was tradition for AP classes to make class T-shirts, and so I came up with a design. My friends had all loved it and encouraged me to show Ms. Q in class. I walked up, asked her if she’d like to see my design, and held my paper out for her to see . . . to which she held her hands up, looked away, and said, “I’m not responsible for these.”

Note I was standing literally 7.5 inches from her, and the paper was right under her crooked nose. She could’ve glanced at the design and told me she didn’t like it. She could’ve just taken the paper, took one cursory look, and handed it back. Instead, she refused to look and told me to show it to *insert name of Favorite Student #2,* whom she told me was “the T-Shirt Design Coordinator.”

Later, I spoke to that student, who gave me a surprised look and said, “Wait, I’m the T-Shirt Design Coordinator? What’s that?” Turns out Ms. Q made up the title on the spot to avoid looking at my design.

Yeah, thanks a lot, Ms. Q. You’re truly a role model, that you are.

4 years later, I see that Ms. Q has added all my high school classmates on Facebook and is still bribing students for Starbucks gift cards. I think now’s the time to say, if I were to choose between Regina’s mom and Ms. Q, well, that’s a no-brainer.

There are plenty more fish in the lake…or sea

There are plenty more fish in the sea.

This is a common adage, usually used as a relationship advice for people who’ve just experienced a breakup.

Words are often easier said than done. And when we see the same people in our lives over and over again, it doesn’t take long to lose belief in the popular saying. New fish? Where? The lake is dried up!

In fourth grade, I had my first crush. I still remember his name: Ryan. Ryan had cute blond hair and blue eyes, and he was smart and nice.

Then my family moved a few years later, and I had to attend a new school. Before entering my new class, I was convinced I’d never meet another boy like Ryan again.

Of course, my sixth grade self was proven wrong.

Throughout middle school and high school, I went through a slew of different crushes as I changed schools a few times again. (My family moved around a bit before we finally got settled. On the bright side, I can say I’ve lived in more than 5 different states. Not many people can say that.)

Each time I changed schools, one of my gloomiest thoughts would be, Man, I would never meet another guy as funny/nice/awesome as (insert crush’s name here) again. NEVER! Then I’d be proven wrong less than 2 months later.

But those were my teen years. Now that I’m a full-grown adult (more or less),  it takes more than just good looks and innate ability to win me over. Infatuation is not the same as real love. But even so, the adage still applies to everyday situations outside of the romance box.  It’s not the end of the world if you have to move to the other side of the country and possibly never see that inspiring counselor from summer camp again. It’s okay if you have to leave behind a wonderful community soccer team. It’s all right if it didn’t work out between you and Susie, because there are plenty more fish in the lake. And if not, try the sea. Seriously, have you been to an aquarium before?

And exploring the wider sea is beneficial not only because it allows you to meet new people, but also because it gives you a wider perspective on the world.

Example: Every school year, I get cooped up in the bubble of academia and end up seeing the same faces in my acquaintance circle over and over. One specific guy comes to mind from last year: he’s kind of obnoxious, hogs conversations, and gives three-minute monologues on his viewpoints.

It gets worse.

You might think someone who’s the epitome of an argumentative attention hog wouldn’t be very popular. The scary part is, after 275 days of having to be in the same proximity all the time, he became the ‘king’ of our acquaintance circle. In our limited acquaintance circle, he was the most outgoing and gregarious. Plus he was a top engineer and the most athletic. So naturally, he was Mr. Popular among my acquaintances.

(Probably only among my acquaintances. This is what closed-off academia life does to your judgment.)

It wasn’t until I went to my summer internship that I realized: oh yeah, there are hundreds of people out there who can balance gregariousness and fitness… and also respectfulness! And in the workplace, all types of education shine, not just engineers.

Fish in the sea adage: +1

Psychology has shown that people we’re familiar with are more attractive to us. That’s probably why people tend to date people in their acquaintance circles, whether it’s from school, work, or book club. We’re just more comfortable with people we already know.

But you know, why only eat bass when you can try salmon?

 

 

 

How My First Week Back into Facebook Went

I don’t use Facebook. I know what you’re thinking. Liar! What about this post?

Okay, let me clarify. I stopped using Facebook after my second year of college. (And if anything, that post should offer some good explanations for why.)

Admittedly I lost touch with most of the people whom I went to high school with, but I was never left out. I still had Skype, email, and (wouldn’t you believe it?) text messaging. Gasp,  so I could still communicate with people. Shocker.

Recently, against my better judgment, I decided to reenter the world of Facebook again. Why? Several (*ahem*) important reasons…

  1. My friend who lives 3,242 miles away urged me to rejoin. She and I have been keeping up primarily through text messages.
  2. There was a recent event I attended, and my friends all posted pictures. Normally they’d send me a email link to the pictures, knowing I don’t have Facebook, but there are usually photos that they missed.
  3. There are Facebook groups for the campus organizations I’m a part of.
  4. BECAUSE. JUST BECAUSE.

After a week of non-stop friend requests and bored clicking, here are my responses to the above points in order:

  1. Added friend. We don’t exchange a single word/comment/like on Facebook. She sends me a text message 4 days later and we continue our previous conversations… via text.
  2. Photos? The only thing that changed is now I have to deal with endless notifications about photos I’m tagged in .
  3. The Facebook groups for the campus clubs I’m in don’t seem to post anything of importance. When they do, they also send out an email to all their members anyway.
  4. No. Just no.

There is absolutely nothing worthwhile about rejoining, as I expected.

But it’s a good networking opportunity! On Facebook? Where people post pictures of cat memes and party pics?

You can keep in touch with friends on the other side of the globe! Facebook’s blocked in China, I thought you knew…

You miss important campus news and events! If they were truly important, they’d be forwarded to my email inbox. All the smart event organizers do that, anyway.

It gives you an ego boost when someone likes your photo. ADMIT IT. Eh. But I get more of an ego boost when I realize I have achieved more work in an hour at the library than someone else who surfs Facebook every 15 minutes.

So, BRB, deactivating Facebook again. Unless something dire comes up and requires me to use a social media site. In which case, hello? WordPress, anyone?

Extra reading on the merits and non-merits of Facebook by one of the most influential writers for college students of all time (disclaimer: no, it’s not me).

Things That Bother Me (Right Now Edition)

It’s 97 degrees and my room has no air conditioning. In addition, my body apparently can’t digest lactate like it used to so I have a bloated feeling from drinking milk (the Oreos were worth it, though). Finally, I haven’t been able to sleep in at all this week; this morning I had to rise at 6:30 AM, after going to bed at 12:00 AM since the neighbors were being so loud. Let me repeat: So. Freaking. Loud.

So this list may represent my off-days mood. Don’t worry, I’m usually a nice person…sort of.

  1. That girl who is too sensitive and cares too much about other peoples’ feelings. I’m not talking empathy here, I’m talking abandon everything I stand for just to make others laugh and smile. Trust me, there’s a point where it gets a bit irritating. You’re almost angry for her. Here are some things you want to expound to her (that may or may not be related to personal experiences with the person): “Look, it’s okay if we’re 5 minutes late. This is a hangout with friends at a cheap sushi place, not a meeting with the president at Carnegie Hall.”
  2. This overheating laptop. It burns.
  3. That Christian guy who claimed dating is stupid and inane, and denounced anyone who did date in college. Stop using God to justify your overrated opinions to people who are too polite to argue back. (And I’m speaking as a fellow Christian; you don’t see me forcing my views down everyone’s throats.)
  4. The group of people in the common kitchen who just sit around laughing about dumb things. Can you move your conversation to the downstairs living room, please and thanks a lotta.
  5. My future. I don’t like the prospect of anything right now.

 

Maybe it’s just the summertime blues. But for most people the cure means having a blast at the beach with lemonade. For me: I just want peace, quiet, and a lifetime supply of cold ice please.

The Student Leadership Process (A Reflection on a Questionable Mindset)

 

When I say the word ‘leader,’ what are the first thoughts that pop into your mind?

Outgoing. Charismatic. Open-minded. Friendly. Able. Approachable.

Chances are, our natural reaction is to think of that one CEO who smiles at us from the cover of Fortune 500, or perhaps that bubbly residential advisor back in college. The bottom line is that we tend to associate “leader” with “extrovert.”

Now time to go on a (related) tangent. I had applied to a Residential Life student leader position. We had to go through a group interview with 7-8 other applicants in a room, and we took turns answering questions while 5 silent observers…observed us.

To say that everyone tried to hog the spotlight is an understatement. The people I knew from previous courses suddenly went from being a regular “Oh, hello there” type to “Hi! How was your day? Remember how much fun we had in Spanish class? How was your week? Oh my gosh, I love that new haircut. This is exciting. How are you doing?” type.

Outgoing? Check.

The questions the interviewers asked us were thought-provoking and dealt with issues that members of the Residential Life staff would face, such as roommate issues, dirty dorm kitchens, etc. But of course, thanks to that one zealous applicant who couldn’t seem to contain her opinions for 2.4 minutes, our contemplative thoughts would all be interrupted with,

Well, I think that as a student leader, we need to emphasize community and
(insert synonym for community here). I mean, we can’t just expect people to like not follow the rules. [insert dramatic wave of hands] What we need to do is promote (insert another synonym for community here) and that is clearly how this problem is solved. [sits back with an enormous smile usually reserved for dentists]”

The thing is, not all gregarious and extremely outgoing people make good leaders. Or maybe the better wording is, not all quiet and reserved people make bad leaders.

In fact, introverts do make great leaders–just through a different style. They probably aren’t going to jump in and invite you to a BBQ, but they possess the calm demeanor that is sometimes essential to leading a group or overseeing a task. Depending on the specific position, sometimes a good leader is just a person who’s a good listener and who can offer wise advice.

The true quality is a willingness and determination to get things done. But until then, schools and organizations will continue to pick from the bushels of eager, social, and outgoing extroverts.