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All posts for the month August, 2014

Alright guys, this is the meat of all my posts. Everything we’ve talked about before leads up to this. Part 1, we talk about the importance of coming up with a vision for yourself. Part 2, we talk about why it’s unproductive to give external opinions too much credit, and why it’s important – especially for Asian men – to focus on self-development. In Part 2.5, I wrote a brief post about getting your financial situation nice and streamlined.

Here, I’m going to attempt to explain how you go about building yourself into the man you want to be, and how it’ll snowball until you become an unstoppable juggernaut of personal growth.

PART 3A: LIFESTYLE (OVERVIEW)

So you’ve sketched out a vision for yourself. You’ve decided that you’re ready to ignore external negativity and focus on you. You’ve got your finances figured out and now you have money set aside to invest in yourself. Now, we can start building, and this is the best part!

The idea of this post is to take your vision, and start making it real. The hardest part about this is taking the first few steps. Initially, it’ll feel weird. Maybe you want to learn guitar, but you can’t figure out what guitar out of all the choices you should buy. Or maybe you buy one, but your friends tease you about it (cough get new friends). There are a myriad of excuses you can tell yourself to put off change, and the mental barriers will be strongest in the very beginning. This is partly why I made a post about money – setting aside a budget helps lower that barrier and makes it easier to try new hobbies. Now, since I can’t speak for everyone, I’ll just show you guys how I’ve personally gotten into the groove of constant self-improvement.

Building Momentum

When I graduated college and started working, the past decade of my life had only included one hobby: Chinese martial arts. After I started making money, I decided that I wanted to try some new things (fracturing my ankle was a factor too haha). The first thing I did was to buy the cheapest, but well-reviewed bass guitar and amp combo off Amazon for less than two-hundred bucks. Probably one of the best purchases of my life. Picking up bass guitar gave me a drastically deeper of appreciation for music. I didn’t force myself to practice by any kind of schedule. I just found songs I enjoyed, looked up tabs, and practiced the songs because I enjoyed playing. Since I played for fun, I improved quickly (in the beginning, I would often come home from work and play for hours at a time), and with help from my instrumentally-inclined roommate, even learned some basic theory and how to improvise.

The next hobby I picked up was reading/learning, if that counts as a hobby. I bought a Kindle, which is probably the second best purchase of my life. I used to love reading but stopped reading for leisure in college. Now with a Kindle, I could have an entire library in my hands! I got caught up on a lot of classic books, and if there was one I didn’t enjoy, I just dropped it and moved on to the next book.

This is a concept that I want to emphasize: don’t force yourself into anything. The whole point of this is to find things that you enjoy. If you try out a book and you don’t like it, stop reading it. If you pick up a hobby and you don’t enjoy it, just drop it. Don’t feel obligated to stick with it and ruin it for yourself. Your vision is flexible. Again this, is why a budget is important. Say you buy a cheap guitar and you don’t get into it – keep it, sell it, give it to your little sister; it’s all good because you’ll have a new budget the next month anyway.

You might question yourself at first. Buying that first bass guitar seemed like a silly impulse at the time. “What the hell am I doing with this thing,” I thought to myself. Over time though, the more I found hobbies that I loved and that made my life richer, the less hesitation I had about trying new things, as long as it fit in my budget. Backyard archery? Done. Boxing class? Done. Homebrewing kit? Done. Soon I started to find that I had so many fun hobbies that I didn’t even really want to play video games anymore. Sure I could sit around and get some virtual achievements and probably feel shitty for spending the whole day in a chair, but I could also go out and work on my archery. Getting better at real-world hobbies was straight-up addicting. And the great thing about having so many different options was that I could always be growing as a person – even if I wasn’t in the mood to read one day, I could play guitar. If not guitar, I could listen to some podcasts, or maybe go to the pool and work on my freestyle. Which isn’t to say I don’t play video games for fun every so often as well (my god The Last of Us was fantastic), but I had many other options too.

The point is, you get into a habit of learning new things, simply because it’s enjoyable. Life has so much to offer. You’ll find that the worst feeling the world is stagnating – realizing that your past month or week was totally forgettable because you achieved nothing in your personal life.

Gaining Confidence and Learning to Give Zero Fucks

If nothing else, I would hope you guys read this section. This is why the process of working towards a vision is so important: it gives you real, genuine confidence. It’s hard to explain in words how it does so, and I’m sure many psychology papers could be written on the topic. I personally think it’s a combination of many things:
By getting used to constantly trying and committing to new things, you become less apprehensive about unfamiliar situations. Everything from new sports to different places to meeting new people becomes interesting and an exciting opportunity to gain new perspectives.

Because you witness yourself growing all the time, you realize that you have essentially infinite potential. You can be (almost) anything you want, which has some pretty big effects on confidence.

You realize how few people live this way, and how many people settle for complacency. You start to have a hard time imagining how people can go for months or even years without really changing as a human being. There’s definitely pride to be taken in this, though it’s important to avoid looking down on others.

Other people’s opinions of you stop mattering. Because what do they know? You may even find it laughable, because most of the people who might hate on you have never done anything to improve themselves. Unless they’re well-developed individuals themselves, their opinion of you has zero value.

You know that you’re interesting. You can relate to most people through one of your new interests or another. You always have something to share, and stories to tell. When people ask you what you do for fun, instead of freezing up and feeling self-conscious, your problem now is, “Where do I even start?”

You learn to appreciate how colorful life is. Every activity or interest that you take up will be a world in itself. You approach every person you meet with genuine interest, because they might be able to introduce you to one of these worlds.

I’m probably missing plenty more. You can probably see how this affects the way you approach a lot of the common topics discussed in this sub: racism, socializing, dating, etc. In my first post, I wrote something along the lines of how everything falls into place once you get into this groove, and I wasn’t exaggerating. What we’re doing here is building true confidence out of a lifestyle that takes care of itself in terms of self-improvement. Once you get the ball rolling, it’s all downhill. Of course, you’ll occasionally hit some slumps or lose momentum, and that’s perfectly fine. None of us are perfect, and it’s okay to have moments of weakness or laziness. But get in the habit often enough, and more likely than not, you’ll find yourself wanting to pick yourself up and keep growing. Life is just more fun that way.

In the next post, I’ll give some suggestions for specific kinds of investments that I personally think lay great foundations for being a well-rounded man.

Original Post: https://www.reddit.com/r/AsianMasculinity/comments/2d4wcu/power_leaps_guide_to_manhood_part_3a_lifestyle/

Reposted with permission from /u/Power_Leap with slight modifications

Part 1: Vision
Part 2: Society

To recap, in Part 1, I wrote about how important it is for a man to have a vision for himself. I want to emphasize that this vision is not intended to be set in stone, and will certainly change over time. The point is not to decide here and now the path we take for the rest of our lives. The point is to give ourselves an objective and a general direction to start moving towards. In Part 2, I wrote about why it’s important that we focus less on society’s perception of Asian men, and more on developing ourselves independent of external opinions.

PART 2.5: MONEY

Note: Some of you may already have this on lock. If so, great. But I personally think this is an under-discussed topic that is very important to the rest of my posts.

Before we start talking about building ourselves into the person we want to be, we need to first talk about money. Let me make it clear right now that money does not make the man. However, until you become financially independent, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to freely pursue your interests. Personally, my parents taught me essentially nothing about money. In some respects, I’m lucky that they supported me financially so that I could focus on my schooling and not have to worry about money during my adolescence. In any case, I’d like to share what I’ve learned.

Your first task at hand is to pay off your debts. Again, I was fortunate enough to not have to worry about paying for my tuition, so I don’t think I’m in a position to speak on this particular topic. I highly suggest picking up Ramit Sethi’s book, I Will Teach You To Be Rich
I Will Teach You to Be Rich. In fact, all of this section will draw from that book.

The importance of keeping a budget cannot be understated. If you want to live freely and be able to invest in yourself, you need to take control of your money. What we’re going to do is calculate as close to possible what our monthly expenses and savings are, subtract that from our take home income, and then set aside the rest to spend however you please. The great thing about having everything calculated out is that you don’t have to feel guilty about spending any of that “Spending Money”. Splurge on a fantastic meal with friends. Sign up for a martial arts class. Build a nice wardrobe. Buy a sweet drum set. Go crazy on that Steam Summer Sale. Here’s how to do it:

Pull up a spreadsheet.

Calculate your monthly income, after taxes.

Figure out what your monthly expenses are. I’m talking about rent, utilities, gas, food, insurance, etc. basically all the necessities in your life. For things like food and gas, you’re going to have to make an estimate. As you track your finances over time, you can better adjust these values.

Decide how much money you want to save per month. Personally, I put $150 into a Roth IRA, $150 into a savings account titled “Wedding”, $150 into “House”, and $200 into “Misc.” for things like travel or a new car. If your employer offers a 401k match, contribute the maximum amount they’ll match. It’s free money, man. These values will depend on your income and how much you feel like saving. I think Ramit suggests saving a total of 10-15% of your take home income.

Subtract your expenses (3) and savings (4) from your monthly income (2), and boom! The rest you can spend absolutely guilt-free.

A great tool to use is Mint.com. The website allows you to connect all your financial accounts and create budgets that let you see at a glance where your money is going. I created four budgets based on a few of the expense categories that Mint uses for transactions: “Auto and Transport”, “Food and Dining”, “Home” (I use this for my rent checks), and “Shopping”. The first three categories I use to make sure my estimates for my expenses are correct. Every now and then, I look at my transactions and correct the categories that some of them fit into. For all transactions that are non-essential, or that I think of as recreational, I categorize under “Shopping”. This way I can tell at a glance how much money I have left to spend on non-essentials.

Say I give myself a “Shopping” budget of $500 a month. As long as I don’t spend more than that, I can use the money however I please. Maybe I go all-out and use it all to build myself a basic wardrobe. Maybe I don’t spend nearly that much, and just let the budget rollover into next month, or decide to dump it into my savings. The point is that now you have the freedom to spend the money on things you enjoy, and not have to wonder whether or not you can afford to do so. Now we’re free to start investing in ourselves and working on that vision!

Part 3: Lifestyle

Original Post: https://www.reddit.com/r/AsianMasculinity/comments/2d0tvn/power_leaps_guide_to_manhood_part_25_money/

Reposted with permission from /u/Power_Leap with slight modifications

Part 1: Vision

When I found /r/AsianMasculinity, I was looking for a community of men that could help each other reach their full potentials, knowing the struggles and challenges that we face as Asian males. Even the strongest of us falter sometimes, and need a push to get going again, and a constructive community is a key part of that. I’m not sure this sub is there yet. Most of the posts I see here are about external factors – role models, media, dating, whatever. My personal opinion? None of that shit matters. Let’s talk. (I’m about to get feisty and dramatic. Fair warning.)

PART 2: SOCIETY

If you read Part 1, you may remember my analogy about the river of life. If you didn’t, I’m not going to type it out again, so go read it. :3 The river of life basically represents all these external factors that may (or may not) affect us. Basically, society. Now don’t get me wrong, I think it is useful to discuss the challenges we face, but only to a certain point. Say we’re all pebbles floating around in this river, still getting buffeted around and stuff. We can talk about Asian women dating white men, the lack of strong Asian male leads in movies, and the latest racist thing that happened on TV till we’re blue in the face and nothing is going to change. A few little pebbles aren’t going to do shit to the flow of the river by complaining about the way it flows. Hell, for all we know, this river could flow this way forever and will never change. Seriously. Think about that. What if the world just never takes Asian men seriously? I mean, if we’re talking about our lifetimes, that might as well be possible. So what then? Are we just going continue as pebbles being knocked around, angrily cursing the river?

PffffffFUCK NO. Don’t be ridiculous. Beating these topics to death serves no purpose.

Role models are great but that’s all they are – models. We can use them as evidence of what Asian men can achieve but that’s it. I’m as big a fan of Bruce Lee as anyone, but I don’t want to be Bruce Lee. I know the man had his faults just like anyone else. I want to be my own kind of man.

Media? Dude, who cares about what white people are putting on TV? Sure, it’d be nice to see a great Asian male lead character, but let’s not kid ourselves – that won’t change anything for us. It would just be another role model, and a fictional one at that.

And oh man, dating. We talk about dating way too much. I mean yes, even I get a little pissed about the whole AF/WM thing, but come on – why do we care so much about the choices that someone else makes about their own lives? Forget those chicks, they’re missing out. Seriously, think about it – based on nothing else but race, those women have eliminated what, like, 50% of the world’s male population from their potential romantic partners? How sad is that, that they really think there are no Asian men out there who could make them happy? Pretty sad, dudes. Especially if we all cut the bitching and get to the improving. Being successful in romance doesn’t come from getting good at dating. It comes from being a willful, independent, and fulfilled human being.

The more that we rage about this stuff, the more we let that negativity seep in. It’s poison. We start believing the very lies we’re complaining about. Don’t believe me? Think about what it means to be Asian for a moment. Take the first thoughts that float into your head. Are they “strong”, “independent”, “masculine”, “cultured”? For most of us, probably not. But why not?

Did you forget that during its golden era, China was the greatest civilization in the world? I’m not talking just in sciences and math or something. I’m also talking about having some of the greatest military strategists, armies, and military technologies the world had ever seen. Did you forget that the Mongol Horde came out of fucking nowhere and completely decimated some of the best armies of the world with almost hilarious ease? Some historians think that if it weren’t for the Mongols invading China, the western world would not be in the dominant position it enjoys today. Most importantly, did you forget that perhaps only a couple of generations ago, your ancestors started from nothing, clawing out a life for themselves and their families so that eventually down the line, you could have a life that they literally could not have even dreamed of? Or that – as second-generation kids, as I assume many of us are – our parents had the determination and courage to totally uproot their lives to go live and work in a country whose culture and language was completely and totally alien, seeing their families and childhood homes only on rare opportunities?

Why have we forgotten that we come from a heritage of courage and tenacity? Fuck the media, and fuck society. What nerve they have to belittle our culture and our families. Don’t let the words of others plant seeds of insecurity in you. Our predecessors fought tooth and nail to give us the lives that we have now, and if nothing else, we owe it to them and ourselves to fight even a fraction as hard to fulfill our potentials.

Third Culture Kids

What the rest of society doesn’t realize is how great our potential is as a generation of men who grew up in not only one, but two very different cultures. Some of us lament that we don’t fit in either culture. I say, embrace it. Some discard their Asian-ness and assimilate to better fit in. I don’t blame them, but I do think that’s a shame. We stand in a unique position in history and culture where we can be some of the first to combine the strengths of the multiple cultures we’re a part of, and clearly see and avoid their weaknesses. This is something I truly believe, and if it’s a new idea to you, I encourage you to give it some thought.

The Takeaway

I talked about vision in the previous post, but I only touched on why it’s important. It’s especially when society and popular culture throws caricatures of us, at us, that we most need to shut out the noise, and focus on the vision of who we want to be. This means limiting your consumption of media. This means shrugging off the negativity. This means coming to your senses and realizing how cool it is to be Asian, and especially Asian _______. The more you work on your vision, the less you care about what society thinks about you, because you know that only you truly understand the person that you’ve built. It may even become funny that society underestimates you to such a hilarious degree.

So stop caring so much about what others think. Let’s focus on us.

/leaps into space

Part 2.5: Money

Original Post: https://www.reddit.com/r/AsianMasculinity/comments/2cv1bi/power_leaps_guide_to_manhood_part_2_society/

Reposted with permission from /u/Power_Leap with slight modifications

Introduction

What’s up /r/AsianMasculinity? My name is Power_Leap. I’m here to help people out by outlining what I personally think is a solid path towards real, self-realized manhood. Feel free to civilly disagree, ask questions, or contribute.

There’s some good advice in /r/AsianMasculinity, but I often feel there’s not enough elaboration. For example, “stop caring about the media.” I totally agree! But that’s not something that you just read on Reddit one day, and instantly get. Things like “stop caring,” “practice eye contact,” or even “pick up hobbies” are all pieces of a larger puzzle, that all interact and influence each other. They aren’t singular tasks that you can just do and check off your list. What I want to try to do is outline the actionable steps I took that had the greatest effect on me personally in becoming a well-rounded, confident Asian dude. Call me out if I’m not being specific enough. Feel free to PM me. Let’s get started.

PART 1: VISION

The first and most important thing is this: figure out what kind of person you want to be. There’s a saying that goes, “If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything.” If you don’t set values, principles, and goals for yourself, how can you expect to do anything but meander aimlessly through life? How can you be anything but aimless, if you’re not aiming for anything? Now, none of this has to be set in stone. Your goals for yourself will change over time. But you need to have at least some kind of vision of the sort of man you aspire to be. Nothing great was ever built without a blueprint.

I think of it like the character creation step of an RPG. I dunno about y’all, but I sit down, I decide what kind of class I want to play, how I’m gonna play it, what my style of fighting is going to be, what color pubes would match well with my eyes, everything. This is the same attitude I apply towards my life. Personally, I want to be a bad-ass scientist and man of many manly talents. I want to be intelligent and well-read, as well as tough and able, and have skills like boxing, wilderness survival, music, archery, car repair/maintenance, etc.

This is the first step to not giving a fuck. First, have a vision of who you want to be, independent of what anyone else in society thinks because fuck them. This is about you. This blueprint gives you something to work towards, whether it’s by signing up for dance lessons, or getting a lockpicking starter kit, or just reading and learning about something. And as you work towards it, it becomes less and less a mere vision, and more and more a reality. It won’t take long before you look at yourself in the mirror and you realize that you’re no longer just another cookie-cutter dude. You’re starting to look like a person who’s custom-built, according to your own specifications, and that is a big fucking deal. Why? Because now you can walk around in life proud of what you’ve built, even if it’s still a work in progress.

You guys like metaphors? I like metaphors, and here’s one I particularly like. Imagine life is a turbulent river. It shouldn’t take much effort because that’s what it is. You never know if it’s going to knock you over, or trap you in an eddy, or generally just fling you around. If you don’t have a sense of identity, you’re just a shapeless cloud of sand and debris in this river (and I’d say most people are). The current pushes and pulls you around, and all you can do is go along for the ride. Fuck that. If you want control over your life, you need to take all that sand, crush it in your manly, veiny hand, and turn that shit into a rock.

(superman turning dirt into diamond)

The first step to doing that is to decide who you want to be. The second is to work towards it. Become a rock and the river of life has no power over you. Just as a rock inevitably sinks and settles, you move towards your goals and your vision, and nothing life throws at you can stop you.

The Asian Side

Since /r/AsianMasculinity is for Asians in particular, I should address the Asian side of this topic. I’m second generation. My parents came over here from Taiwan, and all they really instilled in me as a kid was to be a good student, go to a good college, get a good career. We never talked about their lives. I basically knew nothing about their past personalities or dreams or fears. Considering their backgrounds, and my grandparents backgrounds, I don’t blame them. That’s just the way the culture is if you’re only a couple generations descendent from farmers. They simply didn’t have the luxury of thinking about identity or who they wanted to be. It was enough to live comfortably and provide for their kids so that those kids might have more of an opportunity to dream than they did. If you’re a second-generation kid like me, that means us. We have that opportunity to dream about who we want to be. We also get the mixed blessing of being the first, of starting with a blank slate. On the one hand, my parents didn’t guide or give me any examples of what I could aspire to, other than being academically successful, and it made me comparatively boring and dull in my younger days. On the other hand, other than the whole stay-in-and-study thing (which is relatively easy to shrug off), I have essentially a blank identity canvas to paint on, however my naked frolicking heart desires. Going even further, I think the fact that I’ve carved out the person that I am today completely with my own two hands has given me confidence that I wouldn’t have if I had just passively absorbed certain hobbies or traits from my parents.

The Takeaway

So here’s the deal. Sit yourself down. Figure out what kind of man you want to be. The way you want to interact with people, the skills you want to have, the things you want to understand, the values that are important enough to you to fight for. Write it down if you have to. Hell, post right here in the comments describing your vision. Start working at it. Keep at it long enough and soon you’ll find that it’s become a habit. Soon you’ll notice that everything else just starts to fall into place.

Part 2: Society

Original Post: http://www.reddit.com/r/AsianMasculinity/comments/2cuq6w/power_leaps_guide_to_manhood_part_1_vision/

Reposted with permission from /u/Power_Leap with slight modifications