Wait, who I am kidding with the past tense? Those entries may have been written 5 years ago, but I'm still essentially the same full-of-herself, egotistical, snobbish and arrogant person; the only thing that's changed since then is that the quality of the men that have hit on me in London is higher, almost by default, thanks to the plain fact that men here do not speak Singapore English. Nothing turns me off quicker than Singapore English. By 'Singapore English', I do not mean Singlish, but broken, grammtically-incorrect English, heavy on the Singaporean accent. No wonder I found my love life so lamentable and hopeless during those years when I was single. The fact that I've gotten more attention from men in my one year in London than I did from men in Singapore throughout my entire life probably attests quite readily to the veracity of my belief in the sorry state of my love life as well.
But back to my arrogance. I wonder how I still had friends left after declaring to the world that I was shocked that ugly men would approach a pretty girl like me, that I would die before I went out with an ugly man, that some of those men needed to own a mirror... More importantly, I wonder what it says about me that I still think this way. While I think that I have grown up somewhat since then, I nevertheless will not date someone whom I don't think is good-looking enough for me. I pretty much told someone who pursued the living daylights out of me a few months ago that I didn't want to date him because he wasn't good-looking enough, and a major reason for my not liking a friend back was that he wasn't good-looking. Perhaps I place too much emphasis on looks; but I am superficial and I like to look at pretty things. Why should I compromise on my standards, especially considering the fact that I have been lucky with the calibre of men that I've chosen to date with my superficiality in full flow? That's not to say that I've never been attracted to men who aren't good-looking; it's shocking, but there was one time when I was attracted to a man solely due to his intelligence. Sadly, that was a one-off, an exception unlikely to ever recur.
At the same time, I've had little interest in men who are conventionally good-looking. The jock type, the RI/RJC/law school type, the type that every girl swoons over - the type whose good looks are so noticeable that even a disinterested, impartial observer can't help but notice. Not only do I think that they are pretty vanilla, I automatically don't trust them. I never quite have the confidence or the self-assurance to deal with smooth operators before London; and after (and during) London, I simply don't find such men very interesting. People that play games are only wasting their time, letting slip someone that they could have loved in the yawning gap between the last text message and the next.
If you go after what you want, however...
Staying strong and/or positive is proving to be a lot harder than I imagined, even after factoring in my negative disposition. I feel the pressure of the expiry date of my visa; I feel the heaviness of my depleting bank account; and I feel the sting of shopping at the discount rack on the rare occasion that I do shop and of automatically thinking about how much a restaurant costs when one is proposed. My days are permeated with a sense of hopelessness and it's sapping me of my already-lacking enthusiasm for life, such that I don't even really feel like going to the World Tour Finals to watch Federer (though I will probably try to catch him at least once). I experience spikes of normalcy that sometimes approaches happiness, but mostly, I am morose, disheartened and sad.
I am a textbook overachiever and I am struggling to find a job. I cannot wrap my head around how ridiculous it is, the sentence that I just wrote. Or maybe the word 'textbook', pun intended, answers my question.
Sometimes I wish that my interests were more conventional, or that I weren't so stubbornly single-minded, or that I could settle for a comfortable career and an ordinary life. But they are not, I am what I am, and I can't settle. I could go back to Singapore and try to hack it in a high-paying legal job practising in an area of law that I could stomach if I tried really hard, but what's the point of that? What's the point of that? I don't want a thing that is mundane. I want something that excites me, that challenges me, that fulfils me, that I can feel something for apart from boredom, disinterest, even hatred. I want a career that I can be proud of, not just a career; I want my working time to matter in a profound way, not a commercial or profitable way.
What is making this current period especially difficult and challenging is that the urgency of my job search, my burning desire to stay put in London, my ardent refusal to go back to my life in Singapore, is creating too many red herrings and driving me to look at and apply for jobs that I don't actually want, but I do it anyway because I think, I don't have the luxury of choice. It's this acute feeling of being backed into a corner with seemingly the whole world against me, without even the comfort of what I have worked so hard to achieve over the past year, let alone a physical shoulder to lean on, that pushes me repeatedly back into my freshly-dug pit of despair. It's the conviction that I have no choice, no options, that I have to settle that shakes me from inside to out. I forget what I came to London to do; I start to see London as an end in itself when that can't be the case because it means that I'd end up settling and I don't want to do that, even if it's London and not Singapore. I don't want to go to a job that I don't care about, adding yet another irrelevant work experience to my CV that I try with all the creativity that I can muster to spin as 'relevant', but people that know what they are doing have a deft way of seeing through bullshit. I have written and sent out so many bullshit cover letters that I don't know why I wonder why I don't get calls back. I have written a genuine cover letter that's still sitting in my hard drive because I'm afraid to send it out, and the difference in the level of sincerity and passion displayed in that one and the ones that I have sent out is startling.
I didn't do a specialism in human rights law for fun. Or rather - yes, I did it for fun because I find such things fun; and by virtue of the fact that I find it fun, I want to work in this area. I don't care about bullshit public policy or politics or public affairs, I don't care about commercial law and never will, and I don't care about companies and their reputation. The truth is: I am too fucking smart for these things, and it is becoming increasingly obvious that London's glitzy city lights have blinded me into oblivion.
I want to do human rights/civil liberties/constitutional law litigation. The ideal area of law that I would practise in is constitutional judicial review. It makes the most sense: I believe in the law + I believe in human rights = I become a human rights lawyer. QEfuckingD. To add to that: I am too snobbish and pedantic and stubbornly convinced in my own opinions to do campaigning and advocacy and lobbying or whatever it is that NGOs do. Someone would start banging on about the right to development and I would think, What does that even mean? The only campaigning that I can take seriously is in the area of civil-political rights, especially serious things like torture, fair trials, arbitrary detentions, free speech; everything else I just can't take seriously.
I don't want to waste my LL.M. on something not on point, either in whole or in part. It's important that I don't let it go to waste because I did well, which means that I did something right, which means that I can actually do this and perhaps succeed, or even more unbelievably, enjoy it. I need a proper job, not just any job. I need to do something that I care about; otherwise, it's back to the same cesspit that I tried to get myself out of by coming to London. It doesn't matter where I am in the world. I will continue to be dissatisfied, unfulfilled, deeply unhappy, if all I have to look forward to from Mondays to Fridays is taking the rush hour Tube to a job that I can't stand at worst or which I can only just tolerate at best.
For the first time since I graduated from law school, I'm thinking about my career. After applying to a bunch of jobs that I couldn't care less about, I think I have finally figured out which direction to take.
Arnaud said, It will work out; I believe in you.
He reminded me, You're smart.
The thing about going after what you want is that there's a good chance that you'll get it. Because he went after what he wanted, I have a sweet French boy in my life who reminds me of what I am when I can't see past the fog of my own despair.
I wish he were here with me though. I feel his absence the most acutely when I'm wiping tears from my eyes and all he can do is look at the image of my crying face on his electronic device from his apartment in Bangkok. It's incredibly hard to go through this alone.
But then again - he also said, I hope you don't think that you're alone. Even though I'm not there, I think about you all the time. You're not alone.