Saturday, February 04, 2017
Chinese New Year as Life Audit.
Today is the 7th day of Chinese New Year and I would to talk about family visits between relatives.
Exchanging notes with my younger classmates, the culture of probing relatives who ask about school performance and marital status is currently alive and well in Chinese New Year and it has created a considerable amount of angst amongst Singaporean Chinese, particularly unmarried women. The psychic damage from the pressure to find a boyfriend has created a new market for paid actors to play the role of a boyfriend.
The views about this aspect of Chinese New Year also varies amongst some of my classmates. My classmates, especially those who perform rather well academically, argue persuasively that this culture is the reason why Singapore is world-class, the system elevates the successful and shames the people who do not conform to what a Chinese family would consider a success. My classmates who came from foreign universities think that people should simply ignore the custom completely and just get on with their lives.
I believe that there is a balanced approach towards Chinese New Year.
Therefore, I am suggesting that people simply treat Chinese New Year as a Life Audit.
It might be useful to simply reframe the nosy relatives who come into your home are basically auditors that you willingly invite to probe for areas of improvement in your lives.
For a start, you might not do that well in an audit when you are younger, prior to entering a top-5 JC, I was just an ordinary student in a government school. Well-meaning uncles will enquire about my schoolwork and even criticise some of my career choices and aspirations.
After I turned my life around in University, questions on academics stopped and was replaced with questions on my dating status. The questions then moved from marriage to children and subsequently, and rather unreasonably, to male children.
Appearing in the Straits Times was a great way of getting the auditors off my back for a year or two. But there was a gap between me quitting my job and living on my investments and getting accepted into law school, then sensing an weakness, the auditors wanted to enquire more on whether I can cope with the fast paced tech industry. Entering law school at 40 invited more curiosity and I knew that people are not so willing to probe you once you get to this stage.
Overall, this year was a relative good year.
My mum told me that some relatives are making enquiries and showing some concern on the sluggish legal sector. Fortunately, I scored a small internship after close to a three year struggle. I doubt I will "spared" if I had to rejoin the IT sector. And there will be queries on my HbA1c readings which is my only weakness this entire year. Otherwise, it was pretty good when I uploaded a picture of my family with parents, kids and all to a family Whatsapp group and was rewarded with almost complete "radio" silence.
We passed audit !
Of course, as human beings, not everyone will make it in a Life Audit.
Particularly severe outcomes can arise if somebody does not conform to heterosexual norms, gets a divorce, commits adultery, becomes bankrupt, goes to jail or has a child out of wedlock. Less severe audit results can come from a stint in ITE or making less than $3770 a month ( median income in 2014 ).
In anticipation of a nasty audit outcome, a lot of young people just leave the country to avoid probing relatives.
Reframing the entire exercise as a Life Audit creates a balanced outcome.
For me, if an auditor shows up, I talk and engage them pleasantly, I don't hide. I make sure that there is a paper trail ( a healthy baby boy is particular good in this regard ) and evidence of the successes over the past year.
No one escapes an audit without at least some areas of improvement and they might well be areas you may wish to look into. In some cases where the findings have high severity, you have to decide whether corrective action is even possible.
At the end of the day, there is a fundamental difference between a CNY audit and a compliance audit. IN CNY, life audits are bilateral.
If an auditor goes to far, do have some probing questions of your own.
You are an auditor too !