In case you don’t already know, I’m on a new microblogging platform called Dayre.
Here’s the thing, I think I’m super active on social media. Well I don’t quite post anything on Facebook or Twitter (apart from my Instagram shares) but I do share quite a bit on my Instagram and on my blog. Now the thing about Instagram is that I’m very selective about what I post up. I’m afraid of spamming peoples’ feed so I can’t really share how my daily life is like.
Now my blog used to be for that purpose… the purpose of a diary I can keep for myself. But now I find it harder and harder to do that because at the end of a tiring day it’s hard for me to sit down in front of my desktop and recall whatever I did with my day and slowly upload pictures and compose a post. So if you notice, I don’t really talk about my daily life on this blog. I share other snippets…. like Things Shorty & Fatty Say or like deep thoughts like “A Letter to My Future Son” or my recent post about “Expensive shopping“.
The small bits of my daily life like where I went for a meeting, what I ate… how I felt at a certain point of the day have all been lost… until now. That’s exactly what I use Dayre for. Dayre is a microblogging platform that breaks down blogging into very simple actions.
I can take a picture, check in at a location, type a status update, upload a video or even use a sticker to express myself.
Shorty and I both just got on it and it seems really popular. I’m seeing more and more people on it. Today I have like 1,500 followers on Dayre and I keep getting notifications for more and more people following me.
This morning I read with interest an article on the Straits Times (STOMP). In short, it was about an NUS student who wasn’t happy about her boyfriend (who was still a student) who doesn’t spend money on her like her friends’ boyfriends do.
This made me reflect about my relationship with Shorty and how material wealth (or the desire for material wealth) plays a role in it.
First off, I’m sure everybody has their own opinions or principles when it comes to buying luxury things. This article however covers the principles me and my wife (Shorty) hold on to and my intention is just to share them.
Also, to be fair I’m not a student like in the article. I’m Co-Founder of a startup that has today grown into a company that employs 160 people in 7 different offices around the world. We’re not poor… but I wouldn’t say we’re really rich either. I’d say we live comfortable lifestyles. So here are the principles Shorty and me follow…
1) Acknowledge that peer pressure does exist.
One of the biggest lies we tell ourselves is “I like this and I want to buy it… not because my friends have it but because I like it”. The truth is that peer pressure really does influence our desire or perceived need for certain material things. One such incident was a some time ago when Shorty suddenly came up to me bent on buying herself a Chanel boy. It had come right after we heard about some of our other friends rushing to buy it. When I asked her why she wanted it she said because she liked it… and it wasn’t because of peer pressure.
Now I think RM12,000 is a lot to spend on a handbag. But heck my wife really wanted it so we went to look for it but we didn’t find one in the end. Now here are two good things about acknowledging peer pressure.
The first is that you learn manage your own feelings, knowing that a part of your desire for a product isn’t really because you like the product a lot but because your friends have it. The second though is even more important. That after a while if you don’t buy it, you’ll get over the desire for it. In the case of Shorty and her Chanel Boy, she has already gotten over wanting one. I on the other hand have fallen to traps of buying stuff because of peer pressure and ended up regretting some of the purchases.
Peer pressure also influences how much you like something after you’ve bought it. Say you bought yourself a BMW and you’re really happy about it. Suddenly all the friends you have end up buying Porsches and Ferraris and all. When you start comparing your BMW with their cars sometimes you end up not appreciating it as much even though nothing has changed with the car. The only thing that has changed is what your friends drive.
2) Pace yourself to leave something nicer to upgrade to each time.
When I first got my driver’s license, my Dad gave me one of those old Proton Wira to drive. It was awesome! Having your own car and being able to drive yourself to wherever you wanted to go was awesome. Then I began to see my friends driving sports cars or continental cars that their fathers have given them. My father though always maintained that he could afford to let me drive a better car but he didn’t want to. Why? Because he said that he wanted me to learn to appreciate the most basic car so that in future when and if I have the opportunity to drive more expensive cars, I would learn to appreciate it.
That turned out to be true. Today I drive a car that I really like and I fully learned to appreciate how that car is better than the Proton Wira that I drive. I did however really love my Proton Wira. It was a reliable car that brought me places and gave me loads of good memories. Now just like many guys, I’ve always had the dream of having a Ferrari or a Lambo. When I told Shorty about it recently, her reply was: “You’re 29 now. If you buy a Ferrari then what are you going to upgrade to when you’re 35, or 40, or 50?”.
For that very same reason, believe it or not, Shorty today doesn’t have a Chanel bag (as much as she almost wanted to buy a Boy). Heck I know college students that carry Chanel but not my wife. Yes she has Miu Miu, LV, Marc Jacobs, all sorts of other brands but not the Chanel. Why? Because once you have a Chanel and at our young age, what else is there to upgrade to? Ok Hermes… then what else?
So Shorty like me… paces herself. She will one day soon get a Chanel… and when that happens… she’ll love it as much as I love my future Ferrari.
3) The Diminishing Marginal Utiliy of Luxuries.
When I first started making a bit of money I went through a phase. A phase where I liked buying designer clothing just for the sake of it being designer clothing. I would walk into a shop and even if I didn’t really like a shirt that much, just because it was Ralph Lauren I would buy it. I realized that the more I did this, the less I began to value each new purchase. Buying the recent 3 Ralph Lauren shirts hardly excited me more than buying my first one.
So last year I decided to stop it. I made a promise myself that for the full year, I would not buy a single piece of designer clothing unless it was on sale and was a good deal. That was a promise I kept not just for 2012 but even till now. I now buy less… but I get more joy.
4) Wear the designer brands. Don’t let it wear you.
One thing Shorty and I tend to have in common is that we strive to wear the designer brands we buy, not let it wear us. We’re determined not to let it become our identity. Like to a stranger who had just met us, we rather be described as “the bubbly ones… or even “the short and fat one” rather than “the girl carrying the Chanel”.
That’s why if you notice from our blogs or Instagram, it’s rare that we post that new designer bag, or new luxury watch. Or even pictures of a Louis Vuitton shopping bag. Sure some people are followed because of how “high class” they’re perceived to be but I really hope none of you ever follow us for any reason like that. We hope you follow us because we’re funny, we’re stupid, we’re loving or we’re anything.
For the most part, Shorty doesn’t often carry any of her few designer bags. She carries bags that I assume she got as a free gift like this.
But somehow she makes it work.
5) Remember that not all things get better the more expensive they are.
This is moderately true for clothes and bags and watches but it’s mostly true for food. Shorty loves Japanese food. Every week I would try to bring her once to a Japanese restaurant… doesn’t have to be a fancy one but just a normal one like Ichiban Boshi. She does also like siu yoke, wan tan mee, chicken rice and the likes. So we spend a lot of time going for street food. Somehow to me, that expensive wan tan mee in a hotel is never as good as the one by the street in Burma Road, Penang.
6) Respect money.
My business partner Ming once told me something his mom had told him. “Respect money, if you take it for granted it will leave you”. I live by that principle. So never have I ever said anything like “Small money la just pay”… even if that small money is RM2. My grandfather was another advocate of this. One of the last things he taught me before he passed away was “When you make money, keep it… because life has its ups and downs and you won’t always be able to make money consistently. And… the world is a cruel place for people with no money”. So respect money… because it is more important than that Rolex or that Hermes Birkin.
7) Let loose every now and then…
Remember when Shorty was shopping at Marc Jacobs in LA and deciding which to take ? I told her then to just take everything. Why? Because every now and then it’s nice to let go of the things you’re expected to do in life (including living by these very principles I just wrote out). Sometimes rewarding yourself in a spontaneous heat of the moment brings a lot of excitement. Not just because of the things you get to buy… but because of the moment. Treasure the moment of letting loose… because that’s more important than what you let loose on.
The truth is to me the thing that makes me happiest in life is the people around me. My friends, my family, my wife… and this little guy.
So I don’t believe in the saying “The best things in life are free”. A more accurate statement to me would be: “The best things in life can’t be bought”.
Last night Shorty and I were talking about just a few months ago when Fighter was born.
He was the tiniest baby I had ever seen in my life. He had a tiny head, tiny body, tiny arms and legs and almost every part of his body had some tubes going into him. He was too small and skinny to maintain his own body temperature so he had to be kept in an incubator where we could regulate his body temperature for him. To help him breathe, he had a mask and with every breathe he took you could almost see his rib cage pushing out from his delicate skin on his chest.
Somehow in spite of all these things, there was life in him and rather than feeling sad to see him in that condition, Shorty and I felt thankful. Thankful that he was alive.
Next week would make it 3 months since he’s been born (or 1 month old in adjusted age… since he was born 2 months premature). Having him around the house has been a joy. Fighter cries every morning at 9AM because that’s when Shorty gets up to shower him. Till today, Fighter hates bath time.
The only thing Fighter hates more than bath time is changing diaper. It’s funny because he gets grumpy when his diaper is dirty but when we try to change it, he kicks around and cries like it was the worst thing in the world…. and this happens EVERY time.
He then stays up till I go to work and I don’t see him till the end of the day. By the time I get home though, somehow he’s awake again. My Dad tells me that he somehow automatically wakes up just before I come home. I don’t know how much of that is true but I’m just glad he does.
You can already start to see a bit of his personality. He has mood swings. Sometimes he’s really happy and sometimes he’s really grumpy. The latter is mostly when we wake him up or he doesn’t have enough sleep.
He has learned to both feed from the breast or bottle and can switch between the two quite easily.
He has a short temper. When he’s tasked to do something challenging to him at the time like learning to breast feed or even lifting his head up when we put him on his tummy, he groans and grunts in anger. But one thing certain he’s a Fighter. He doesn’t give up… he keeps trying over and over again until he gets it right.
Fighter is very very friendly and has a habit of looking at people. When he’s on his own he starts kicking around as if he was doing his own workout routine like in this video.
But when you carry him or when you look at him he starts staring you in the eye and never breaks eye contact. He has this pair of really beautiful eyes that we can’t seem to catch on camera. The best I can do is describe it. It’s a little twinkly or sparkly and he looks at you with these huge pupils. The first time he looks you in the eyes, your heart melts.
Fighter loves music. Whenever he cries, just singing to him will calm him down. He’ll stop crying and look at you intently as you carry on with your performance, like he’s your biggest fan. We sing everything from Nursery rhymes to Hey Jude or any Beatles songs.
He has this habit of touching his cheek with his tiny hands. He actually occasionally plays around with his hands that he accidentally hits his face with it. Then a short moment of silence passes before he lets out a wail.
Every day I look forward to spending time with him. He’s this really cute, grumpy and friendly boy that’s mine. He’s my son… and he’s my Fighter. To think that it was just a few months ago that I wrote this Letter To My Future Son... and now he’s here.
My blog and Instagram (@timothytiah) is going to constantly track Fighter’s development now because Fighter is now an important part of my life. For those of you who follow… I’m happy to have you guys along for the journey