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Insecurities and Problems

I had insomnia on and off since forever. Yesterday's sleepless night sparked me to write my thoughts down - yeah, my brain was drafting out what I should write today. I dislike how my overactive brain works.

While this is not a financial post, it is my personal reflection post and outlet. These have been recurrent issues I face. I hope by writing all these down, I can get rid of my negative and worrisome thoughts. After all, the new year is coming, and I want a good start to it.


I attribute yesterday's insomnia to insecurity at my workplace. Although I am rather senior in the team, I feel like an imposter. And I feel that staff are judging me. 

I feel extremely inferior when I compare myself with my team. My team is made up of elites - academic elites from overseas top universities and top JCs and a handful are social elites with rich family background - whereas I come from local university and mid-tier schools. Despite having stronger  experiences, I feel that my staff don't hold me in high regards as they pander more to the other elites. 

LinkedIn makes my life more miserable. I know my staff checked me out on LinkedIn before I joined, but they never added me. I initiated to add them, but it's "pending" for ages; whereas they accepted the elites' request, or initiated to add them (I know because they talked about it). 

I looked with envy at the academic elites' linkedin - Harvard, Stanford, Cornell, with descriptions saying "Phi Beta Kappa" and adding that they are the top 10-15% of cohort (thanks to them for adding that because I don't even have a clear idea of what's "Phi Beta Kappa" and I recalled there were a few variations), RI, HCI, listing down the number of distinctions they've gotten; some even list down their top-tier secondary schools and the number of As for O levels. 

I thought education doesn't matter anymore. But, it still haunts me. New colleagues would ask where I studied, probably as a simple starter qns first, but I believed they secretly judged that there's no common topics. They'd move on to the next person and dang, "do you know xxx? (laughter ensues)". Since I didn't study in their elite schools (where they gossip about this teacher, that professor, that module, that friend), I have lesser topics to talk about.

I thought that as I climb higher, I could command better respect. I do feel that I take care of my staff well by guiding and checking in with them, but they may feel otherwise. I think issues lies with me, and I am not suitable for corporate life. The saving grace is WFH which makes me avoid 80% of those fake pleasantries. 


I grew up in a traditional lower-income family. Although I have not experience extreme poverty, being frugal, budgeting and being sensitive to prices have been ingrained in me. 

In my traditional family, I feel a lack of love. My dad's main aim was to work hard and bring money home, while my mum's main aim was to take care of us and keep the house in order. While I reminisce my younger days where I felt more love as my parents would buy birthday cakes and have mini celebrations, it stopped in 1997. 1997 was the year of the Asian Financial Crisis. Everyone was hit. I remembered feeling worried that my dad would get retrenched because my mum shared out her worry. I felt helpless. I could only remember telling my siblings that we need to spend less in school and I purposely find the cheapest canteen food just to fill my stomach and stretch my $1 allowance. I think I could survive on $1 for more than a week because I bought 10cents snacks during recess time.

The lack of love comes from having no parental support in life journey. My parents are not educated. They have no clue what goes beyond primary school. From then on, I only had myself. Each education route was determined by myself. I didn't know the impact of studying triple sciences (on hindsight it was useless), or going Arts or Science stream in JC. I just fumble along the way. Even after graduation, stepping into the corporate world was a new realm - my parents never had office jobs, they had no clue what my work is as long as I'm able to earn a living. I could never seek advices from them because they were none the wiser; and therefore, it made conversations limited. As much as I want to pour out my woes in school or work, they don't understand. I would more likely get scoldings than encouragement. As such, I prefer not to talk much to them. 

The lack of love comes from comparison. Primary school felt ok - people were more carefree, less competitive and I had more fun. Secondary school was the turning point. We started becoming vain and competitive. Everyone wanted to hold the latest phone, wear branded shoes, get branded pencil cases. My classmates could afford it - their parents were educated and well to do. I knew I was more inferior when they talked about their parents buying branded stuff for them, and when they talked about how they played tennis in their home courts or condos. I mentioned their parents were educated because, it turns out I was the minority with parents who only completed primary school. Some had parents who completed secondary or JCs, but a good majority parents graduated with degrees - those days, if you have a degree, you are pretty much set, and their parents really own private houses and drive nice cars. With their parents having higher education, they were also more aware of the education system - they go for popular enrichment classes, and their parents would meet our teachers often to discuss chances of their children heading to JCs. I only know the difference between JCs and Polys at Sec 3-4 when I hear bits and pieces from my friends, and often these were from their elder siblings or parents. Whereas, my parents would prefer not to meet the teachers as they feel it's usually a bad thing. I could sense their helplessness when they meet my teachers - it was evident they felt inferior and talked subserviently to them. I hated it when they started off the conversation with my teachers by embarrassingly apologising that they are not educated. 

I also feel the lack of love from how they manage our family. I do not feel strong parental nor siblings love. It just wasn't how our family function. I suppose it's because they were not close to their own siblings as well. I wouldn't have reflected on this much until I see how my husband's family function. Conversely, my MIL had good relationships with her family and they constantly keep in contact. I also have friends who had funny dads and mums they are very close to to share clothes, gossips and woes. While my friends would also lament that they would occasionally get into quarrels, they do agree that they have a close-knit family. I would never say my family is close-knitted.

Extended family

This topic is my thorn. My parents are not close to their siblings. Worse, one side loves to pit themselves against us, look down on my parents and made my childhood days miserable. When I talked to my friends about this, they never had such disgusting extended family. 

When I was younger, we would have occasional gatherings at grandma's house. I hated it since young because it was also about grades comparisons. I hated my aunts for looking down on us. I also hated my parents for not doing anything to help. As usual, they were subservient to everyone and that meant we had to. When lunch is ready, we were never the first to eat - the rest were. No doubt this is a good mannered behaviour, but never once had the relatives allowed us to eat first. It was only good manners on our part. 

Now that grandma is gone, the extended family has crumbled. I heard this is rather common, but others cases were more of lesser interactions, but could still exchange pleasantries. Mine was different - we have now treated each other as enemies. Not that I mind. I am extremely glad that they are no longer in my life though it hurts my heart and head when I think back about the misery. I still get nightmares about them and tear in my sleep.

This isn't a good post to end the last day of the Year of Cow, but I hope I become more confident, think positive and reaps better rewards in the Year of Tiger.


  1. Hi there,

    Happy Lunar New Year!!

    Thanks for sharing such intimate thoughts and feelings. Hope that by doing so, it has made you feel better.

    I am guessing you are working in the Civil Service or Statutory Board to have such a high concentration of "elites" working there. If so, have some faith in their assessment of career potential based on meritocracy and performance rather than on academic credentials. Yes the academic credentials are important to help you snare that job in the first place, but to move up and stay up is up to individual's performance and potential to handle higher responsibilities. If you are in the private sector, you will be judged based on the profits / business you can bring in for the company over your academic credentials and "pedigree" background.

    Do not let those academic credentials intidimate you or make you insecure. There are enough examples of "non academic elites" that are very successful in their careers, businesses and lives. Conversely, there are scholars and "elites" that fell far short in their careers with some even commiting crimes.

    Also, research have shown that it was common for the first class honours graduates to end up working for the lower class honours or general degree graduates. Many examples in my company.

    Networking is as important as working hard. Making your yourself visible to your superiors and being able to deliver will endear you more to them than those paper qualifications.

    Last but not least, you have shown that you are keenly aware of personal finance and have taken steps to build up your wealth. This early head start will put you in good stead to build up a sizeable net worth in your later years. With millions in your bank account you dont have to care what others think. With this millions, some even "FIREd" their bosses! 😜

    With regards to your family matters, I would advise to let bygones be bygones. In fact, I would suggest you take the proactive step to reach out and start the "healing" process. Be kind to your parents as they were doing the best they could under those circumstances. No parent would want their children to suffer or be disadvantaged.

    Again, Happy Lunar New Year!!

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Sir 😢nope, I don't work in the public sector. It seems more common in my company to work for first class and Masters folks though oops. Regardless, thank you for your sharing. I know it's not the end. Just wanted to vent out my thoughts. And yes, I'm more spurred to do well in my personal finances to have something to fall back on!

      Thank you so much for reading and giving your advices.

      Wishing you and your family a happy lunar new year!

  2. Hei there!

    Happy Chinese New Year! I salute you for sharing your inner thoughts and feelings so bravely, your sharing is a beacon of light to someone out, someone needs these words to know that there they are not alone, we are all in this together.

    I just want to let you know that your past does not determine your current and future, this is YOUR life, not other people's life, what other people say or treat you is their business, you just keep running your journey, have a growth mindset, and stay focus on what matters and who really matters.

    "Do what you want to do, say what you want to say, because those who matter don’t mind, and those who do mind don’t matter." - Dr Suess

    You are very precious, and you are very loved. Keep an open heart open mind, hope these resources remind you of who you truely are:

    Continue to shine and be the beacon of light to someone out there, cheers~ :)

    1. I have tried to psych myself to be positive and open minded, but I probably wasn't mentally strong enough. Thank you for taking time to comment, appreciate it.

  3. I could relate to all but the only difference is my dad refused to work for 2 years when he lost his job during Asian Financial Crisis, my mum was a gambler. A lot of things to say. I am a male and NS was a bad experience being unable to fit in too.

    1. Thanks for your sharing. May we become more positive and ignore the pasts. Easier said than done, but let's try!

  4. Hi there,

    What a heart felt post and I do hope the year of the Tiger is better for you.

    I know that if I comepare with others, its so easy to feel lousy about myself. So many others are fitter, seem happier etc. But I try to remind myself the benchmark is my ownself yesterday :)

    Just 1% improvement everyday has an amazing cumulative effect. 37x over a year in fact.

    I went to neighbourhood schools after a good primary school, and got my degrees locally. So in a way I don't have the same pedigree as some of the others, but the good thing about the private sector is that its judged much more on results, ability to organise effort to get things done.

    I consider myself in a good place in my career, having been through SME, Tech and now MNC. and I can tell you, none of that had to do with what school I went to, but more of how I continued to learn after, both from courses, reading, but also from a lot of great people.

    If there were any words of wisdom I would offer you, is to find yourself with people who inspire and lift you up. They may be different from who you have now, or you traditionally spend time with.

    You deserve it :)

    1. Hi Sherwin, thanks for your kind words. "find yourself with people who inspire and lift you up" - I'm introverted and bad with networking, but I do hope to meet kind people who could motivate and inspire me. Thanks again for your sharing!

  5. I'm in kinda the same situation. Low income, family not close, unexpressive family etc. And I never realize these until I got married and interacted with my wife's family.
    anyways it's fine now that we are grown up and have the ability to make choices and shape our future and define our happiness. Our parents do whatever they think best in their limited capacity, got used to their daily routine and mannerisms, and never had the opportunity, nor means, to reflect on 'feelings' aspect of life. They were once young and happy and carefree until the responsibility to take care of family and parents hit them. Likewise we were once young and innocent too until we realize others are different.
    So try not to hold on to the past. Move on and create a future for yourself, one that you'll look back and be proud of.

    1. Yup, I agree that my parents probably never reflected like how I did - their thinking were likely more simplistic since that's how they grew up - having food on table were probably good enough; whereas I may have complicated my thoughts and feelings given my exposure to more resources/information. Thanks for taking time to share, I will try to let go more.

  6. Oh gosh. Reading your sharing made me feel like you wrote the story of my life (about 95% similar). It can be depressing when I think about these areas that causes me to be unhappy but I've learnt to cope with it by knowing that my happiness is up to me and not depended on the validation of others. Life is too short to focus on the materials (we can't take it away when we die) and just thankful for the life I have, which could be so much more worse, so I'm not envy of what 'extra' others my have.


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