Entertainment, Lifestyle

7 Lies You’ll Hear About Millennials – Matthew Fam

Millennials are not as bad as they’re made out to be. Seriously! Contributing writer Matthew Fam debunks the  7 negative traits commonly associated with this generation, and insists that this misunderstood bunch has much to be celebrated for.

#Justsaying, whenever I read articles of why Millennials are lazy, selfish, entitled, or [fill in negative trait], I’m like:

But on the inside:
There are major misconceptions out there about us, okay? And I think it’s easy for people to discount the capability, passion, drive and resilience that we have within us. It’s just expressed in different ways from generations past. Here are the 7 lies you’ll hear about Millennials:

1. We want to be mutli-hyphenated everything because we’re fickle.
We are the generation most prone to job hopping. Forbes listed that 91% of Millennials expect to stay within a job for less than three years, which translates to over 15 jobs in our entire career! Unfortunately, this gets misinterpreted as us being fickle for not being grounded in our ambitions. However, with a plethora of transferrable skills learnt, job hopping is hardly career suicide or disadvantageous, as this article will tell you.

2. We MUST have our sacrosanct weekends. (Don’t touch them!)
We’re said to demand work flexibility and leave at 6pm on the dot every day. In fact, the statistics from a study by Cisco backs this up: with 69% of Millennials believing that office attendance is unnecessary on a regular basis, heaven forbid that you touch our weekends!

Sure, we value free time and a work-life balance. But we also know how to manage our expectations to find a compromise, and don’t shy from hard work- even if it means clocking in overtime. We make those hours at the office count and work. It. Out.

Why? Because we are…

3. We expect to climb the corporate ladder at an abnormally fast pace.
Entry-level position today, CEO tomorrow. Truth be told, detractors tend to view us as entitled little brats.

This suggests that we lack the patience to gain adequate experience in a job before being handed bigger responsibilities. Yes, sometimes our inflated ambition gets the better of us, but if there’s one thing this generation must be lauded for, it’s our undying idealism. We don’t settle for mediocrity.

4. We’re selfish because we take gap years and spend our first paychecks on holidays.
Q: When does taking gap years and travelling the world become a bad thing?
A: When delaying a salaried income and not providing for your family unfairly labels you as selfish.

YOLO (you only live once), people! Besides, often times, Millennials make use of their gap year to take up internships, part-time work, or volunteer for a cause. The extra income earned from these ventures go into our vacation funds. So we’re not leeching off from parents, mm-kay? #Independence


Sorry, we do not all behave like Miley.

5. We’re reckless, and we pride bad behavior above anything else.
“Oh, that’s how the youngsters these days behave.” (While commenting on Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball music video.)

First of all, it’s funny how people make assumptions on our generation’s behaviour solely based on Miley’s bare bum. Secondly, NOBODY twerks in the streets for fun or enjoys public nudity! Miley Cyrus is not our spirit animal!

6. We speak in nothing but hashtags, emojis and tumblr gifs.
Okay, fine. So we can get a weeee bit overdramatic with the way we communicate. But seriously, just because we pepper our speech with these humorous titbits doesn’t mean we have forgotten how to speak eloquently! The English Language has not been butchered, RELAX. #Itiswhatisits #Sorrynotsorry

7. We are all experts in technology.
According to a study by PayScale and Millennial Branding, online marketing and social media are reportedly the most common job skills among Millennials. However, that doesn’t mean we’re complete whizzes with technology. It’s one thing to be able to update our Twitter accounts, or make credit card payments on ASOS. But no- if you expect us to programme a phone application from scratch, then this is what we have to say:



What other misconceptions of Millennials do you know of? Share with us in the comments section below!

About the Author: Matthew Fam is a contributing writer of Material World, and has worked at Cosmopolitan Singapore as an intern and Contributing Beauty Assistant. He writes, teaches, and performs for the stage. Matthew enjoys museum visits, Singaporean Theatre, and spends too much of his undergraduate allowance on magazines. He is also a proud Millennial! Follow him on Instagram @mattjfam.

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Character & Soul, Health & Fitness, Self-Improvement, Workouts

4 Things I Learnt Training For My First Boxing Fight – Denise Li

Not too long ago, Denise wrote about trying not to burn out. Two days ago, she reached her breaking point. 

(Image credit: My friend, Bang Ong)

Me, at one of my sparring sessions (Image credit: My friend, Bang Ong)

I was sparring during training the other day when I got socked with a jab to the face. 10 seconds later, tears started streaming down my face. It wasn’t a hard punch, so it wasn’t the pain that brought tears to my eyes. They were tears of frustration – a result of the accumulation of stress, self-doubt, and exhaustion. I decided to continue sparring even though my sparring partner and coach could see that I wasn’t in the right state to continue.

10 minutes later, we decided to stop sparring. I went to the toilet and spent the next half an hour sobbing my eyes out. Every time I thought I was okay, I’d be hit with a fresh wave of tears. I felt like an abject failure … I wasn’t even that upset when I broke up with ex-boyfriends. And I’m ashamed to admit that that wasn’t the only time I turned on the waterworks in the past month or so. I’d cried after training quite a number of times before, but it never felt as devastating as it did two days ago.

The past two months of training for a competition has taught me quite a bit about myself, and about life, and I’d like to share them with you while it’s all still fresh in my mind.

1. Adrenaline can only sustain me for so long

When I started my gruelling schedule running Material World and training six days a week about one and a half months ago, I found the experience exhilarating. Knowing that I had to zip off to training – sometimes twice a day – made me even more focused than usual. All of a sudden, I ceased to be tempted by the usual distractions when I’m in the office – I stopped mucking around on social media and online shopping sites. Whenever I was the office, I made sure I was 100% productive so I could make it to training without worrying about work. There were many evenings I found myself making my way back to the office after training to work till about 10.30pm. I would only be in bed at around 1am after dinner, a shower and a Skype session with Alain. Then I’d be up at 7am to do it all again. For the first couple of weeks, I thought to myself, “This is easy. I can do this all the time.” But then I started to get tired. Really tired. Eventually, after a couple of weeks, I lost that focus. I could not put in 100% in training or in work. And with that …

2. Stress makes me a shitty person

Because I felt rushed all the time, I became very snappish and irritable. The slightest delay in my schedule would send me into silent fits of rage that would manifest as passive-aggressive remarks. I started to take it out on people around me. I could feel my personality changing. I was becoming a class A bitch. But I know being stressed does not give me the right to be mean and unnecessarily rude to those who cross my path. I’m not exactly sure what the takeaway lesson is here … except that seeing I have the propensity to be horrible scares me, and I constantly need to remind myself to take active steps not to be that person. And that means …

Keep calm and work those battle ropes (Image credit: Bang Ong)

Keep calm and work those battle ropes (Image credit: Bang Ong)

3. I need to recognise my limits

Everyone has a breaking point, and I think I’ve been the closest to mine than I have ever been in my life. My friends and family have been gently telling me to scale back a bit and cut myself some slack. At first, I just couldn’t see myself doing that. I equated “doing less” with “being a failure”. Now, I realise they had a point all along. Pushing myself is well and good if I can still see the gains from my efforts. Too much and it becomes counter-productive. Going for meetings not being fully present means I am not being fair to my clients. Going for training dead exhausted means I am slower and less strategic, and when that happens, I get hit more often, but that’s nothing compared to the mental flogging I subject myself to after a bad training session. By doing too much all the time, I trap myself in a cycle of negativity. Now, I’m better positioned to see the warning signs of exhaustion, and I have resolved not to guilt-trip myself if I need a day or two away from work and from training.

4. Help is there if you just ask for it

I must give credit to my Material World partners for putting up with my occasional bad mood, and for being so understanding about my training schedule. I feel bad asking them for help, because I know everyone else is swamped. I can only hope that I will have an opportunity to return the favour in the future. Also, my family has been more than supportive. Usually, I rarely see my mum on weekdays as she’s already gone to bed by the time I’m done with training. On the day that I broke down after the sparring session, she happened to come home late, only to see my crying into my salad. Though I am used to keeping my stress to myself, it all came out when she asked me what was wrong. It felt good to confide in her, something I haven’t done in a long time. Now, she’s helping me out by volunteering to give me a lift to training on certain days of the week to save me time and money on cab fares. While I value my independence, I’ve come to realise that there is no shame in asking for help too. I don’t need to bear this burden on my own.

Yes, it’s been trying times, but honestly? I would not have it any other way. A couple of well-meaning friends have told me that I should consider not fighting since it’s causing me so much stress, but giving up has never once crossed my mind. I still believe I can do it and, if anything, I know I will emerge from this stronger than I have ever been in my life.


Psst … if you happen to want to catch me in action, get your tickets here.

About the Author: Denise Li is a founder of Material World and a freelance writer-editor. Before that, she spent a few years in the Features section of CLEO and Cosmopolitan Singapore. She considers Chiang Mai her spiritual home and makes it a point to head there for a yearly pilgrimage. She’s also a fitness buff and enjoys boxing, running and the occasional yoga session. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseLiTweets.

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Career, Self-Improvement

4 Employee Benefits You Should Ask For – Vanessa Tai

With the entire year sprawled out ahead of you, you’ve probably spent some time thinking about your career, and the changes you hope to make. Whether you’re looking for a new job, or have been in the same company for the past 10 years, it’s worthwhile asking for tweaks to your employee benefits package. After all, you’re probably spending the majority of your time working. Wouldn’t it be a morale booster if you could work more on your terms?

It may not always be easy to ask for a higher pay, but there are other things you can ask for to beef up your employee benefits package.

Be confident in your negotiation!

Be confident in your negotiations!

1. Additional Days Off
Most working professionals get between 14 and 21 days of annual leave. You’re probably familiar with trying to work around public holidays to maximise your vacation days. Well, wouldn’t it be easier if you could simply ask for a few more days of leave? Getting a few extra paid days off boosts your compensation package, and doesn’t put much of a dent to your company’s bottom line.

When negotiating with your employer, instead of just saying you want more leave, help them understand how a few additional days of rest is crucial for you to recharge and ultimately be more productive at work. Remember, the key to negotiation is to always make the outcome seem mutually favourable.

2. Flexible Working Hours

While flexible work schedules have been widely practised in most developed countries, workers in Singapore are still feeling their way around this arrangement. There are several ways in which you can enjoy flexi-work. For example, changing your daily schedule, so that you either come in a few hours earlier or later; or requesting to work from home once or twice a week.

If you’re a mum looking for flexi-work options, check out this website. Mums@Work (Singapore) is a portal offering information on flexible work solutions, as well as career advice for mothers who’re seeking a balance between work and family.

3. Transport Allowance
If your employer is unable to give you a raise, see if the company is able to give you a token sum each month to offset your transport expenses. Even if you don’t have to travel often for work, the daily commute can take quite a toll on your emotional wellbeing. If your company is able to pay for your daily cab fares (even if it’s just for one-way), it would definitely ease your stress, and loosen your cash flow.

4. Professional Development
Before asking if your company is able to send you for professional development courses, work out a list of options (be it courses, seminars or workshops) that are beneficial to your job scope, and be prepared to explain to your boss how each course can help you do your job better. It’s a win-win situation – you gain the knowledge and skills needed for career advancement, and your company gains a well-trained employee who can enhance the company’s efficiency.

If your employer is unable to give you a raise, and is also unwilling to meet you halfway with regards to your employee benefits package, you may want to consider another company that will. After all, your wellbeing and personal satisfaction is a vital ingredient for career success.

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets.

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Career, Character & Soul, Self-Improvement

Why Are We So Afraid Of Working Hard? – Deborah Tan

We’ve heard them all – the reasons why one should not pour himself into work.

“Life is short.”

“There is more to life than just giving your all to work.”

“You need to spend time with the ones who matter.”

“Money can’t buy you happiness.”

“Are you living your CV or are you living your eulogy?”

So many statements that demonise WORK, so many articles telling us why it is a necessary evil, why it is something we humans put up with, why it is something that should be done within a set period of time every day and not be brought home. We get it … to a large number of people out there … WORK IS A VAMPIRE THAT SUCKS ON OUR SOUL UNTIL WE STAKE IT IN THE HEART.

We even have movies and TV shows playing up the workaholic stereotype: a person who has spent his every waking hour working, neglecting his family, and when he finally wants to spend them with them, they treat him like a complete stranger. Or, the stereotype of a parent who realises – often too late – that she has missed out on her children’s growing years, and now is regretting how empty and meaningless her life has become.

Here’s what I really think about this whole “Work is a monster that needs to be kept on a leash” mentality:

You are afraid.

Before I explain more, allow me a couple of lines to elaborate what I see as “working hard”.

quote_hard-work-makes-you-luckyDefinition Of Working Hard
I do not mean a person who slogs away with no idea what his end-game is. I do not mean a person who reports for work at the office at 8am and knocks off at 8pm just to clear his in-tray. By “working hard”, I’m talking about investing your energy into growing a career, into becoming a force to be reckoned with in your chosen field of work. By “working hard”, I’m talking about you pouring your all into becoming the best. You hating your job because your boss is demanding, you having no choice but to work because you have bills to pay … that is not the “working hard” we are talking about in this article.

So why won’t we work hard?

We Won’t Because We Are Afraid To Fail
Those who fall into this category will attempt to explain their “disdain” for working hard in one of the following ways:

“You can never finish work”

“I have a family”

“I have a life”

And I’m sorry you feel that your loved ones do not support you in your quest to becoming great in your career.

I don’t know if I’m alone here but why is it that so many of us think that “family”, “love” and “friends” have no place near “career”? That they can’t all exist peacefully side by side?

I think it is awful for anyone to believe that in order to have a semblance of a fantastic career, one has to “sacrifice” these heartwarming, gooey aspects of life, and become a cold-blooded robot with no emotional attachments. The idea that we all have to “go at it alone” if we want to have a kickass career is antiquated and due for a makeover.

We don’t have to choose. Why should we? Is it not possible to have a great career AND a great family/love life?

The picture that so many TV shows paint, that of an alienated family standing in the shadows while the protagonist toils away at his work desk, is … silly. It forces people to think they have to make a choice, it pigeonholes people, making them think they are either pro-family or pro-career, and it provides people with the convenient excuse to “opt out”.

If you don’t try, you would never fail. If you don’t give your 110%, you would never be disappointed if you don’t win. Choosing your loved ones over your work may seem like a noble reason for not excelling. But let me tell you one thing: you are making them look bad.

Your loved ones is not an excuse. They are your reason for excelling, your motivation, your cheerleaders.

The truth is: if you want it, you can have them both. Because as sure as the sun is going to rise tomorrow, your parents don’t want you to have a career that sucks. Because, for certain, your husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend want you to be proud of your work. Because your kids need to be educated that you are working to be a parent they can look up to.

No one can ever fault you for putting love over career because no one wants to look like The Wicked Witch Of The West. But have you thought about how perhaps the ones you love would also take pride in your achievements and hard work? Stop using them as a shield to cover your fear of failure. If anything, they should be your reason for busting your ass at work so you can become the best.

How-Working-Too-Hard-Can-Hurt-Your-Site3We Won’t Because We Are Merely Existing
You are reasonably good at what you do. You are doing reasonably well. The only thing that you are not giving to your work is your soul. Why work so hard to exceed your target when you can meet it and leave the office at 5pm? Why go all out to convince the boss of your proposal when you can simply do what he wants and continue drawing a salary?

Once upon a time, in my life, I was told that I should stop putting up a fight and go with the flow, no matter how stupid I think the ideas may be. While it was tempting, I knew it would only be a matter of time before I either become a zombie or slit my wrists out of frustration.

If you have a better idea, why keep it to yourself? If you have to endure countless late nights making sure your plan is well-executed, why won’t you do it?

While it may be tempting to maintain status quo, it’s mind-numbingly boring too. I can never understand why people use SOP or paperwork to explain why they won’t try to do things differently? I can never accept “red tape” as an excuse for not being innovative or creative.

If your work is not making you feel you want to go the extra mile … why not leave it?

My ex-CEO used to say, “If it’s good enough, it’s not enough.” You comfort yourself by saying, “I just do my job and get out of here”, believing it’s no point working so hard to beat the system.

Well, I’ve got news for you:

If there is no fight left in you, there is no life left in you.

I leave you this Sunday with this to think about:

Is there something you want really badly? If so, what’s stopping you from working towards it?

Do you crave change? If so, what’s stopping you from doing things differently?

Do you want to be just a blip in this massive sea call humanity? If not, why are you so reluctant to pour yourself into your work and make something of yourself?

I’m not asking you to die at your desk working. I’m asking you if you are willing to die working for something you believe in, working for something you are good at, working for something that would make you count.

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, Suits, and works hard, plays hard, and fights even harder. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

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