Why we need to say goodbye

unsplash_526360a842e20_1.JPG

In order to grow, you need to say bye to old friends and family

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in the Other Press. August 4, 2016

I’m reaching a transitional point in my life where my time with friends and family is diminishing and therefore, growing ever more precious. Yet, the times that I do have with them are spent idle, spawning zero growth. We’re old friends—we’re family—we know what our personalities are like, we know what our opinions are, and we’ve reach a comfort zone where we no longer feel the need to push each other. My old friends and family have become content with the way I am, and therefore, I must say goodbye.

My mother did not want me to move out. Her plan was to have me live with her and take care of her. Additionally, she wanted me to progress, get married, get employed, and succeed. There was no way I could have done those things without first finding my own independence. She wanted me to stay the same caring little boy she thought I was. Selfishly, she wanted to keep me.

The same goes with workplaces. A quality worker is hard to find and quality employers know this and will do what they can to retain them. However, many workforces don’t offer good employees room to grow. Look at the diligent server or the hardworking barista; it doesn’t matter how many hours they put in, eventually, they will hit the ceiling. There are no more rungs on the ladder to climb.

With friends, it can get a little more complicated. There are no resignation letters, although you can write a Facebook message explaining why you don’t have time for their birthday parties or why you can’t go see that concert with them. Life is full of resistances and some come in the form of comfort. Friends are like a comfy bed; they don’t care if you get anything done during the day or if you lie there dreaming. Friends want you with them, but in doing so you revert to idleness, and that would be a great shame.

There will be a time when you have to make the decision to say goodbye to all the comfortable relationships you’ve created. Those moments weren’t wasted. Those moments lead you to where you are now. But you, like me, will one day reach this transition point, where you need to be realistic with the time you spend and ask: “Do I want to sacrifice my personal growth and potential success just so I can make this person, organization, or team happy?”

It’s not abandonment. It’s merely a departure. They can join you if they want, but they’ll have to understand the journey you are going on will be long and arduous. It can be an academic pursuit or it can be a business opportunity; either way, they need to buy in 100 per cent. If they don’t follow, no worries. There are many more people along the way, heading in your direction, waiting to say, “Hello.”

So, think about all the friends within your circle and ask yourself: “Are they joining me? Or is it time to say farewell?”

Advertisements

What to do when you don’t like your group

opinions_group-project-768x698

All projects need a leader—could it be you?

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. May 4, 2016
We’ve all been in a group project where we felt that we’ve drawn the short straw. In every classroom there are the students who are the workhorses, there are those who are naturally gifted, and there are those who are simply slackers. At one point or another, you’ll get the last pick and end up in an indecisive group where progress is agonizingly slow. Most likely, you’ll be waiting for someone else to finish his or her part before you can complete yours. This pushes the workload further and further towards the deadline, causing a lot of stress for those who genuinely care.

I’ve been in those types of groups, and I’ve been both a diligent worker and an idle procrastinator at different times. I’m sure there are people in the world that will vow to never work with me again, or even talk to me. However, there are people who I have a great working relationship with. Why does one environment cause me to retreat into my shell and another allows me to meet or exceed expectations?

Group projects, without a measure of respect within the group, are volatile environments where people’s emotions and the idea of fairness harm the process of the assignment. When a group of students is left to govern and motivate themselves to finish a project—one where the only guidelines are written on a piece of paper—there are bound to be disagreements. These disagreements can sustain themselves throughout the length of the project and go unresolved until the very moment you hand it in. Why?

The problem with bad group projects is that nobody rises up and takes a leadership role. With no guidance, what ends up happening is that the collective begins to resent each other, as work is not being completed, or is being completed in an unsatisfactory way. I know we all think of ourselves as adults who are capable of taking on responsibility and following through with it—but I don’t believe that maturity or seniority has anything to do with a successful project.

At school, we think of the teacher or the instructor as the boss, but that is not the accurate way of thinking about it. The teacher or the instructor is actually the market—the ones receiving the goods you are making. They are the consumers and you are trying to please them. But if that’s the case, then who is the boss?

A leader should always be a member of the team, one who is closely entwined in the happenings of the project. It should never be someone external. It’s the reason companies of all sizes have a president, CEO, and managers at every level. Some groups will function fine as a democracy. But if you are dealt a shitty hand and end up with a group of people who aren’t motivated, a fair voting system isn’t going to work. Someone needs to lay the hammer down, make decisions, delegate work, and make sure there are repercussions if the tasks aren’t completed at a predetermined time. In your next group project, make sure that happens.

People who need people rating apps

Opinions_Peeple-768x460

Controversial app Peeple is everything tech shouldn’t become

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. March 23, 2016

I hate that review apps exist to begin with. While customer reviews are one of the most trusted forms of marketing, I have little respect for the people who leave negative reviews. What can I say? When I read reviews sometimes, I often feel that those who wrote them are small people who need to do whatever it takes to feel big. They are using their power of free speech to harm a business.

Now, it gets worse. There is now an app that allows you to rate and review people’s reputations. The app is called Peeple, and it is gaining a lot of negative publicity. Why not? Remember when you were young, and your parents taught you that if you have nothing good to say, then you shouldn’t say anything at all? This teaching should not change in the digital age, but I believe it has. Take a look at all the bullshit comments on social media if you don’t believe me.

It’s clear that things are going to get worse before they are going to get better in this realm.

Interacting with people shouldn’t be the same as buying electronics. You shouldn’t go online, Google someone, and compare them with other people. The thing is, I know what the creators and founders of Peeple were thinking: so many people are shitty. Yes, of course, people are shitty, but that is life. Dealing with shitty people, whether they are in front of you in the Starbucks lineup or they are your parents, is a part of human existence. Technology does not make people more considerate or more caring, especially not an app that encourages people to treat others like businesses.

If you were a business, you would separate the job from your personal identity. You would have a website, a LinkedIn page, a Facebook fan page, or anything else where you can have a two-way channel, where there can be communication, and progress to resolving an issue—should there be one. However, if it is just a review or a rating system, rarely is there any valuable feedback. It’s more or less just a rant or words of caution. Since, we aren’t talking about a business but an actual human person with feelings, giving someone a one-star rating is a clear, unprovoked diss.

Let’s live in a world where we can approach each other as friends and speak honestly, rather than reviewing and rating others, harbouring animosity, and deterring others from having a genuine human experience. If you truly want to help someone, and not just judge them, you wouldn’t use an app like Peeple to express your thoughts.

And for those who really care about their online reputation, well, maybe you should work on your actual human reputation first.

Those were the dates

Opinions_dating-768x512

Six reasons why you need to change your outlook of dating

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. February 3, 2016

It’s been years since I’ve dated. If you dropped me back into the dating scene, I wouldn’t turn cool, confident, and desirable; I would become feral, become the creepy guy at the club, or become a loner who waits around until one of my other single friends calls me up to hang out. That’s because the term “dating” is scary.

I don’t know how to date. I never did. I never had an online dating profile or anything like that. I don’t believe dating, in the traditional dinner and a movie sense, is the way to meet people. At least, it shouldn’t be the origin of a relationship. Dating is like gambling. You are betting on a person, on a night, or on an event to turn out in your favour—which is selfish. Dating can be any activity, but dating itself should be invisible. It shouldn’t be quantified (ex. first date, second date, etc.).

Because of conventional thinking, dating garnered this negative connotation and it plants a bad seed in our minds, psyching us out. In this article, I’ll look at six different ways to look at dating that will give you a more positive outlook on your prospective love.

1) A relationship is a friendship, so start with a friendship. If you are having trouble even getting your friends to hang out with you, you need to reevaluate. There is nothing wrong with hanging out with a friend. Having someone loyal—even if they have put you in the friend zone—helps people understand you. Don’t look for a spouse, look for a friend.

2) New experiences offer new opportunities. Do what you want to do and invite people who want to join you. Don’t make plans around people; make plans for you. If someone wants to join you, they are more than welcome, but regardless, you will have an experience. If you go alone, you might even meet someone along the way.

3) Learn something and work together. Take a class or invest yourself in a project. A relationship is all about learning and collaborating together. By participating in an educational experience with someone, you can determine whether you can function together.

4) Find an anchor. Don’t be persistent; be steady. Romantic comedies have ruined many people’s understanding of romance. The never-say-die attitude is poison in a sprouting relationship. Romance, after all, is not something you commit 100 per cent of your life to. You have to steady your own ship before other people will hop on. Get an education. Get a job. Move out of your parents’. Focus on more than romance. If you are unrelenting with finding dates, you are merely pushing people onto your sinking vessel.

5) Be vulnerable. So often dating can seem like a job interview where we try to look our best. It’s not a job interview. You won’t lose anything for being genuine. Obviously, don’t end up weeping over your ex, but open up your world and be open-minded when your date does the same.

6) Make plans. Life is the moments you spend making plans. You can tell if you’ve found the one if the two of you are able to follow through with the plans you’ve made. Mortgage, marriage, vacations, or mundane things like a trip to the supermarket—these are the plans you’ll make while growing old together. A date is really just a plan that you kept, and it’s not so scary.

Stay the night

Untitled-2-768x509

What to expect when you invite a couple over to your place

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. February 3, 2016

Behind closed doors, it doesn’t matter what two people do. Regardless of who’s home or where you are—as long as it’s private—people deserve their privacy. You cannot govern someone’s sexual behaviour even if it is on your property. Naturally, when you invite people over to your place for a sleepover, a weekend, or a vacation getaway, you don’t often jump to the conclusion that your home would turn into a sleazy hotel room. But people do have sex, and you’ll have to accept it.

As a host, it’s impossible for you to keep track of your guests 24 hours a day. Should you hear some bump in the night, remember that they are just enjoying themselves and it’s temporary. Brush it off or laugh it off. If it’s too obvious to ignore, it’s your right as the host to pull your guest aside later on the next day and let them know that sex is okay, but they should perhaps be more discreet.

As a guest, it’s your job to be respectful. Depending on the person’s home, you can gauge whether raucous noise in the middle of the night will be frowned upon or if others in the house are probably getting some as well. There’s a difference from staying at your in-laws’ and your friend’s summer home.

I’m quite liberal with sexual freedom. People should be allowed to have sex, especially when it is private. Even when it isn’t, I live by the rule: if nobody knows, nobody cares. Yes, afterward someone will have to clean up the sheets, but hell, if the hosts weren’t prepared to do a bit of cleaning, they shouldn’t have invited people over.

You cannot welcome people into your home and say things like “make yourself comfortable” and then get angry because they did something you didn’t want them to do. When you open the door to people, you have to accept that they will do what they do. Your house is not a prison and you’ll just have to trust that your friends and family members will just behave and be respectful.

One of the worst fears for many people is walking in on others having intercourse. If that is a genuine concern while you are hosting, then maybe you shouldn’t have them sleeping in the living room or in an area without a closed door. If you don’t have any other options, then that is just a risk you are going to have to take. Maybe when they are “asleep,” you shouldn’t go wandering into where they are staying. If they are in their room, don’t go barging in. Follow the old rule: before you turn the corner, knock.

Let’s be adults. Sex isn’t that big of a deal. There are far more traumatic things in the world. Get over it and stop acting so stuck-up.

Imagine there are no prostitutes

Opinions_Prostitution-768x719

What would happen if all sex was consensually free?

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. February 3, 2016

We consider it the oldest profession, but such a claim creates an illusion that what is happening now and has been happening since the dawn of men and women is okay. Now, I’m all for people doing whatever they please with their bodies, and should they decide to sell it for sex, neither I nor anybody else has the right to stop them. Not even the law, right?

Yet I also know that a large number of women, and many we can only refer to as girls, who enter the trade do not consider what they do empowering. It’s slavery. Many are taken from their homes, trafficked to different countries, and sold like products on the streets. So the people who choose to take on prostitution as a career are in fact crippling those that don’t.

There is no honest way to stop prostitution. It’s not a company. It’s an industry. You can close down Safeway, but people who want groceries will simply go over to Superstore. Same goes with illegal sex. You can get rid of a drug dealer, but another one will just fill in the gap and fulfill the demand. It’s a business, and like all businesses, as long as there is demand, there will be suppliers.

So the question when it comes to stopping prostitution isn’t how to stop prostitution, but how to stop men from paying for illegal sex. After you utter such a question all you can do is give a big exhale, because even the most optimistic of folks can agree that such a mission sounds impossible.

The thing about prostitutes is that many of them aren’t offering sex exclusively; they are offering companionship. They are “escorts.” If it’s just horniness that drives the male desire for sex, then a few minutes alone with the Internet should be enough to suffice. But loneliness is a whole different beast. The longing for physical touch is not something that every person is blessed with. If we want to end prostitution, we must find a solution where we can give people the satisfaction of human contact and emotional intimacy, while preventing them from falling into drugs or other abusive habits.

When you peel away the skin of the problem and look at the core, you can see that the need for prostitution is continued due to the fact that some men are just bad at interacting with women. These men are so undesirable, or they feel so undesirable, that they cannot imagine woman spending time with them without having to pay. I believe we live in a world where people can rise above that shitty attitude—the attitude of self pity and shame from people who want something but aren’t willing to work for it. They take the easy route, and that is what prostitution is. Instead of driving around the block looking for free parking, the driver will just pay for a spot in the parkade. It’s easier.

I don’t like the people who approach prostitution as lusty entertainment for a stag or stagette party. I think that tradition needs to be wiped out. However, no matter how much I’d like to believe that we can find ways to seek other companionship, prostitution as a source of comfort and cure for the lonely is something this world cannot be without for now.

Don’t trap yourself with the bridges you burn

burning-bridge

Control your breaking point

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. Jan. 27, 2016

Oh, the satisfying feeling of completely destroying something—like a relationship—that you don’t want to be a part of anymore. Whether it be romantic or professional, leaving something is never easy. Sometimes it happens through mutual understanding, and other times it occurs as a tug-o-war, pulling until the tether that binds yourself and your counterpart snaps.

There are many articles and forums out there discussing the positives of burning bridges. One reason offered is so that you will never have to return to that place, be if physical or emotional, ever again. By severing your ties completely, you can only look forward and not back. It’s always tempting to go back to a comfort zone, even if the comfort zone is most often uncomfortable, and at times painful. Many people who break up from a relationship find themselves back together again, going through the same turbulence as before—but the turbulence is comforting because it is familiar. Sometimes burning the bridge is the only way to move on.

By burning the bridge with your former employer, you can almost be certain you would not have to end up in that shitty job again. However, while this practice might have been true, and perhaps advantageous, in previous years, it is not anymore. When you burn a bridge with a company, you don’t just burn it with the boss, you let the entire team down. People talk and they will talk about your tactlessness and your true colours. You let pride get in the way of your job.

It’s a small world out there and people aren’t fixed to one job anymore. While you’ve left your previous employment in a smoldering mess, others might have exited graciously. These people might even be your former boss. These people might cross paths with you again—odds are they will, if you stay in the same career path.

The next time you decide to rip your employers and/or co-workers apart before exiting into hellfire, remember that you are not making any grand statement. You are trapping yourself into a persona. Whatever attributes you obtained during your employment will be erased. You will be the loose cannon who wouldn’t compromise.

If you have a choice, which you always do, you should choose to take the higher ground and bow out with class and dignity. Nobody will feel sorry for you or congratulate you for burning bridges and posting about how you stuck you middle finger out at your superiors on social media. Nobody cares about you if you don’t care about others.

Yes, burning bridges will help you eliminate options you don’t want, but it’s like a wildfire: you might destroy some opportunities you desire in the future. You cannot control how other people will view you after such destructiveness. You cannot stop people from being wary of you. You were a bridge burner. What’s to say you won’t do it again?

Do you have the time?

Opinoins_watehistime

Let’s hope women who took part in #WasteHisTime will find Prince Charming

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Originally published in The Other Press. January 20, 2016

It’s a scary world out there for single men and women—even for people in relationships—and with trends like #WasteHisTime it appears as though it is only getting worse. #WasteHisTime first started as a way for women to get back at the men they had dated, had relationships with, or whatever you want to call it.

For example here’s a #WasteHisTime: “Ask him if he is good with his hands, then when he comes over make him put together that IKEA furniture.”

Very funny, right? Because all men want sex, right?

Dating is hard, and finding someone that connects with you intimately is even harder. I don’t believe it’s something you can force. It’s organic. It happens with communication. It happens through mutual respect. It happens through a simple give-and-take system of emotional and physical elements. When men aren’t able to satisfy women’s needs, it is only polite that they don’t satisfy theirs. No! #WasteHisTime is merely an admittance of creating a second wrong. And since when have two wrongs made a right?

Ladies, if you are waiting for a man to enter the room and sweep you off your feet, you better grab a seat because you might be waiting awhile. Searching for a boyfriend is a lot like hiring a good staff member. Women, like employers, have this wish list of qualities for their applicants. Should this fine person hit the right number, you’ll request an interview—also known as a date.

Remember the last job interview you went in for? Remember how nervous you were? You got dressed in your best outfit, you prepared your interview topics, and you stood by the elevator in the power stance for way too long. You wanted the job. Afterward, as you left the company building, you decide to check your social media. You see a new post from the company you interviewed for and it reads: “Had interview with someone with no experience. Wanted to see how many ‘umms’ she would say. 15. #WonOfficeBet.” How would you feel? Kind of shitty, of course.

It’s a hard enough world out there without having to create more evil. We should start treating each other better, especially those who are willing to open themselves up to you and be vulnerable for even 10 minutes.

And even if your date is bad, there is nowhere that says just because of that you have to be a bitch to him. There is nowhere that says you can’t just avoid him and find someone else. Life is too short. Don’t waste your own time.

When networking isn’t working

Getting-the-Most-out-of-Your-Networking-Event-SB

Why your networking opportunities are a waste of time

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in the Other Press. November 11, 2015

Remember the last school day in high school when you, your classmates, and everybody else gathered in the foyer to sign yearbooks? Remember how you tried to accumulate as many signatures and H.A.G.S. (have a great summer) as possible? Remember how empty that feeling was after? That is how I often feel when I go to networking events.

Ask any working professional and they will tell you that networking, at some point, contributed to their success. But where and how they network? That they seldom share. I’m far from a successful professional, but I think I know when my time is being wasted. My time is being wasted when I’m not making any genuine connections. Like those speed-dating events that people do to find romance, I feel that same way with attending networking events in search for employment. If there is no connection in five minutes, I slowly start sneaking away.

If you approach a networking event for your sole benefit, i.e. employment opportunities, you’ll ultimately fail. Rarely are employers hiring at these events, and if they are, you entering their lives spontaneously and then disappearing a few minutes later will not go far in influencing them to hire you. Instead, approach a networking event with an additional purpose. Ask yourself: What would I like to learn at this event? Product development? Marketing strategies? Sales tactics? Whatever. Rather than showing off your smarts and woefully impressing people who don’t care, gain knowledge by communicating with those who have more experience than you.

One thing I found really useful at a networking event was to have a project going in. If I had to report on the event, what where the topic be? What can I wrap my story around? Let’s say I was at a tech-startup event (I’ve been to a lot of those), I could write about the hardest aspect of building or working at a startup company. Then I probe, I interview, I meet people who work at those companies, and I asked them the question: “What’s the hardest thing about working at a startup company?” I’m gaining knowledge. I’m getting results. At the end of it all, I have a collection of interviews and maybe even an article with knowledgeable insights. What I decide to do with that post is up to me. I can share it via my own network and up my Klout score, I can keep it for myself, or heck, I can send it to those who I have interviewed and see if they would be interested in the content. I have done more than network; I have made a connection. I’ve gone the extra distance and shown my spunk.

Networking events are a waste of time if you are collecting business cards. Business cards are worth less than Pokémon cards if you don’t reengage with the person. They’ll forget about you as quickly as you’ll forget about them.

Give me give me

Illustration by Ed Appleby

What to do when you reek of desperation

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. November 4, 2015

We all want something. We all have objectives and goals. That’s good. That’s the fuel that propels us forward in life. However, there are times when we’ve been sitting idle or maybe even fallen behind. We end up thinking that good things will never happen, and that we’ll never get back to where we were or achieve what we want. It could be money, romance, competition, or personal pursuit—when we put all our chips down on the table, we can’t help feeling desperation creep up.

Our desperation is a response to our stress. It’s useful in a life-or-death situation. When we are desperate for food, for example, we would go to incredible length to feast. There’s nothing stronger than the will to live. But when it comes to being desperate in a social interaction, such as a job interview or a first date, our undeniable hunger may be incredibly off-putting.

Nobody likes being around people who are desperate. Nobody wants to work with someone who is on edge about every task, or go out to dinner with someone who has an agenda. Most of us want to relax and not feel our heart beating out of our chest. Now, I understand that simply saying “Don’t be desperate” is not the solution. It’s not a switch you can turn off and on. It goes deeper than that.

Desperation is rooted in fear. You fear that you’ll be in debt forever. You fear that you’ll be alone forever. You fear that all your hard work will be for nothing. To lose the smell of desperation on you, you need to wash the fear off yourself, and be reminded that what progress you are going to make will be gradual. Do people win lotteries? Sure. But you cannot bank on that. What you need to do is accept that you’ll have to take baby steps towards your goals. You’ll feel less desperate if your tasks seem achievable to begin with.

Alternatively, you can just forget about it. So you are single, and worried that you’ll be alone forever. You’ve gone on dates, but there’s no magic and it just didn’t click. Stop dating for a bit. Take a class. Go on a trip. Meet new people. Pivot away from the problem and work on something else for a bit. Build your confidence back up in something else and then dive back into dating after.

Nowadays, we are not faced with deadly situations. Our own fears are constructed inside our own brain, and that’s where they fester. When you wonder why you are striking out, it could be because the people around you can smell your desperation. Get clean, relax, and know that you’ll get many chances. But before you take another one, maybe take a break first.