Are Your Friends Fake?

These days I’m a bit of a loner. Not to say I have no friends anymore but I definitely have a better quality friends. It took me a while to figure out that having a lot of friends didn’t mean I had great friendships or that I was a great person to be friends with. During that time when I considered myself pretty popular, most of my friends ended up being fake.

It was a painful realization to know that a majority of my friends were just friends with me because of circumstances, not because they genuinely liked me as a person and valued me in their lives.

The first thing I needed to learn was the difference between friends of circumstance and friends of value.

Friends of circumstance gravitate to you because they enjoy your company AND because you have some shared activity together.

High school friends are a good example. These are people that you saw for maybe four years day in and day out, going to the same school, the same classes and the same activities. It’s easy to build close relationships when you see someone all the time. But they’re still friendships of circumstance. Everyone experiences this. It becomes painfully obvious after high school ends. When everyone goes to different colleges and you see the friendships begins to fade. You don’t get texts as much from them or calls. You start to notice that you’re not getting invited for birthdays or meet up’s. Maybe that friend joined a different group of people, many of which you’re not familiar with. The reality is that most high school friendships end because the circumstances that brought the friendship together is over and then maintaining those friendships start to require work.

This is the main cause for why people perceive certain friendships as fake, especially if you could’ve sworn that the person liked you for you. But they were just circumstantial.

And this is why you’ll see a lot of people stick around their hometown because they have the comfort of their circumstantial friendships. Subconsciously, they know that if they leave the circumstance that created the friendship there’s a chance the friendship will not continue. From what I’ve seen, circumstantial friendships tend to breed complacency, lack of growth and staleness.

Friendships of value are very, very rare. I would say that maybe 1-5% of everyone’s friendships are friendships of value. If you meet a friend like this, it’s good to keep nurturing that relationship because it’s a healthy, honest, no strings attached friendship.

A telltale way of knowing if you have a friendship of value is that no matter how far you go, how many years pass by or how many changes occur in your life, that person is always able to be there for you. Maybe not physically, maybe they live far away, but they make the effort to contact you and share their lives with you. Why would someone do that when they’re no longer in a situation that makes it easy for them to be friends with you? Because they value who you are as a person.

Another way to tell if someone is less than a good friend is if they treat you differently then they treat others.

Some people view their lives as a movie and see their friends as just supporting characters, supporting them. Someone to make them look good, someone to fill the silence in their lives. People who have poor character will NOT make good friends. These people are capable of being kind, friendly and fun but their lack of character will keep them from being good friends in the long term.

For example, you see your friend Emily talk down about another friend that’s going through a rough time-maybe that person is a little strange or shy. You see her talk badly about that other friend behind her back but in person she’s friendly with them. What does that tell you?

That Emily would easily just talk as badly about you as she would about that other person.

Sure, you might shrug it off as just gossip or small talk, but that kind of behavior is very toxic and is sure to rear its head as soon as Emily finds someone better so they can talk about YOU behind YOUR back.

I had a friend like this once. She was very two-faced and I kind of gave her the benefit of the doubt because she never treated me badly. But once she found a friend that she considered “better,” I was the new person gossiped about.

So it’s really important to look at a person’s character even if they don’t treat you badly, if they treat other people badly, to just avoid them and not even bother building a friendship that way. Because it’s only a matter of time before that friendship collapses and you find out that you wasted so much time with a toxic person.

I wish I had better advice to give other than avoiding someone who’s fake. I wish had advice for how to change a friend and make them better. But whether a person is a good friend or not, that’s a choice they need to make for themselves, it’s not something you can help them with.

The important thing for you is to determine if they’re fake or not. And if, after reading this, you find your friends to be circumstantial, self-centered or two-faced, it might be time to manage expectations on how loyal you expect those friends to be.

Why Integrity Matters

My Best Friend Ghosted Me

How To Make A Change in Your Life

What To Do When You Dislike Your Job

 

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I’m going back to work in less than a month, my maternity leave is over and I really wish it wasn’t ending. Though it would be nice to earn real money again, short term disability and paid family leave is really nothing in terms of compensation.

During my time of just being at home with family, I realized why I’m always so on edge and why I’ve been so unhappy with my career. I finally have the job that I’ve been looking for for so long, but it’s the people that make it miserable.

You see, I thought I would be happy doing challenging work with competitive pay but I was wrong.

There’s not a single one of my bosses that I’ve liked. You can follow all my blog posts and see just how miserable this job has made me. Yet I stay because of the benefits; because I have to put food on the table.

  • I’m Beginning To Realize It’s Just Me.

I’m not a team player and organizations don’t like that. They want someone who’s going to do what they’re told, follow the pack, play fair and be nice, all while being trampled on. And I don’t know how to be a team player in that kind of environment.

Ever noticed whenever you question something at work or you you realize that you’re taking on more work than you should, they always throw out “be a team player?” Like that propaganda is going to make me forget that I am being used beyond my compensation. If I already know that I have no chance of being promoted mainly due to the culture of the company, why would I do more and why would I want to be a team player on a team that doesn’t recognize hard work and excellence?

The truth is I work better on my own. I like to solve my own problems, have my own system and have autonomy over the quality of my work. With team environments, generally, jobs want a systematic approach that’s not necessarily most efficient, consistency across the board and groupthink where everyone has the same opinion. And that’s just not me and that’s not going to change, I’ve tried.

So here I am, a black sheep in a white flock, trying to stay inconspicuous.

I Haven’t Met A Manager I Respect

I honestly have rarely met a manager I can respect. Just because you’re above me in rank or in compensation doesn’t mean you own me; the corporate world kind of forgets that.

The only manager that I have ever been able to respect was one that looked out for their employees, mentored them and wanted to see them succeed. Plenty of managers will pay lip service to that kind of idea but actions always speak louder than words with me. And someone who doesn’t walk the walk is less than a manager in my eyes.

So right now my manager is someone who complains a lot, wants to get things his way, a brown noser and someone who pretends to be nice but really isn’t. I’ve worked with him for about a year and a half now so I have low hopes that things will get better. I just can’t get myself to respect him.

So what do I do? When I’m working at a job that has no growth with a manager I don’t respect?

My goal for when I come back to work is to just keep my head down and take it day by day.

I’m not going to pretend like I love my job or that I respect my manager or that I’m even friends with my coworkers, because I’m not. What I can do is control my attitude and realize that I’m at this job for a reason. I can quit any day I want. But I don’t. And that’s because I still need to keep this job for whatever reason whether it’s benefits or pay.

A lot of career advice will tell you to just talk it out with your boss or change directions at work or put everything in emails, but sometimes that advice is just full of shit.

I’m giving real world advice here and that is: work’s not fair and work’s not always right. You have to keep a long-term goal in mind even when you’re doing something you hate because you’re not going to be at that job forever. And I want to say that there’s nothing wrong with you just because you can’t fit into corporate culture; it’s really not for everyone. It’s not for me either but you need to use it as an opportunity even if it’s only a short-lived one.

Worst than being at a job that you dislike is being the person who’s constantly jobhunting for the perfect job, which I don’t believe exists unless you’re your own boss and can control your work environment.

So my main point is to make an exit plan, find out what you love and find a way to monetize that. Then make a deadline on how you’re going to make that your full-time job and do it. Your day job can just be a steppingstone, something that can get you to the next place in life.

Maybe I’m not corporate made, it’s not who I am but somehow I’m going to find a way to make my job work for me and help me grow into a career that I can be proud of and love.

It’s OK if you’re failing at work or just getting by, as long as you treat it like an opportunity and a stepping stone to help get you the kind of work you love.

I Married A Gambler

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My mother was always wary of gambling. As far as I knew, my father never gambled much. He liked blackjack but he could always enter a casino with a set amount of money that he would allow himself to lose and be able to walk out before he went over his limit. That number he had in his mind was never more than $200 and he didn’t gamble often. Besides, my mother hated when he gambled, it reminded her of her childhood and of her deadbeat father who gambled everything on mahjong. I wasn’t around gambling much as a child.

So when my husband lost $500 on a poker game, I didn’t think much of it. It was his hobby, something that helped him relax. Little did I know that I was inadvertently enabling him.

My Husband, we’ll call him K, is a good poker player. He gained interest in it from his Uncle who had run some illegal poker rings in the city and did some time for it. He started playing with his friends and when his friends stopped playing with him because he was taking all their money, he moved on to the casinos.

And he had a lot of beginners luck. He made $10K and paid off his student loans with that. He was a good player and he swore that it was a game of skill so, to me, I never saw it as a gambling problem.

But that how gambling problems start…

K would ask if he could take a trip to the city underground clubs or the casino when I went away and visited my parents for the weekend. I didn’t mind because he was asking me and he was still winning occasionally; it was a shared financial decision. If he lost, he lost. If he won, then even better. The truth is, I was also gambling. I was gambling on him to win.

And we did this for years, even though my job would fluctuate in income because I worked on commission and we still had debt to pay off and a small child to take care of. I knew we were being financially irresponsible so I started to make a tight budget to get things under control and I started looking in depth at our bank statements.

“K why did you take out $300 from our checking on this date and why did you take out another $300 two weeks before? What are you doing with this money?” My voice was soft and nervous about the answer. I mean we needed that money, it was winter and the slow season for commissions.

“Oh I owed my dad some money and I used the other $300 for a little spending here and there.”

“I didn’t know you owed your dad money… Please just let me know beforehand because I wasn’t expecting this expense.” $300 for money here and there seemed like a lot but I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

A few months passed from that incident and I didn’t think much of it until I saw another large debit from our checking only a month later. This time $400!

“K, what are you spending this money on! You spent nearly 1/2 of this commission that I made. I wanted to buy X, Y and Z and now I can’t because we can’t afford it.”

He lowered his head in shame and spilled it. He had been gambling behind my back for the past couple of

months. Instead of seeing a movie, he was going to the club in the city. Instead of taking a trip with me to see my parents, he stayed behind to “clean the apartment,” but was really taking a trip to the local casino to play poker.”

“But if you could only see the hand I lost on! Statistically I should have won any other time. He just caught a lucky card on the river!”

I could feel my blood start to simmer with rage. He had spent over $1000 behind my back over these three months. Here we were, we agreed to get our debt down and cut down spending and he was just dropping money down the drain at the casino. I was the only one sacrificing by cutting down my trips to Starbucks and holding off on buying new work clothes. And worst of all he was lying to me about it.

I never felt more resentful.

And that was our cycle for the next couple of years. Months would pass by with us saving and then a charge would pop up mysteriously for $200, $300 or $500. It was always just what we could afford to lose but it kept us from saving. On days I found out of his secret gambling, we’d fight viciously. Then he’d promise never to do it again or try to rationalize a reason why he would win next time. Then he would stop going to play poker for a few months until he got the itch and this cycle would start again.

It was toxic.

Still, K was a smooth talker and managed to talk me into a trip to Las Vegas one year.

“It’ll be fun, we won’t even gamble that much. We can do shows, go to clubs and walk the strip.” He knew I liked clubbing.

“Ok, but we should just go with a set amount of money to gamble with and leave our debit cards at home.”

“I don’t want to be stranded without our debit cards in case of an emergency,” he said, “we’ll be responsible” he assured me.

We spent $2500 on gambling during our 4 day trip to Las Vegas.

This time I was out of control too and got sucked into blackjack and slots.

I was so angry at both of us, it ruined our trip. I never wanted either of us to gamble again. Everything good about our trip was overshadowed by our ridiculous spending.

Later that year, his gambling got worst. He discovered online poker and dumped $20-100 a week into that and hid his trips to the casino where he was losing $200-500 per visit. Every time I would go through our statements, it was in fear of what I might find. I was tired of fighting and of feeling like I was getting nowhere. I kept trying to make up his losses by working harder but it was still money being lost. The fights were terrible. I’d scream at him and call him a loser. We were starting to fight in front of our daughter to the point where she would try to break up the fight or start crying.

One day K suggests that he can do the budgeting. “It stressed you out too much and I can see where the money is going and can help out.”

At this point he had swore he would never gamble again and had gone 6 months without an incident. I really wanted to believe he was under control. So I let him do the accounting for two months.

It wasn’t long before I realized he wasn’t doing it; I got an email saying we missed a credit card payment.

I think I knew what I would find, but I really didn’t want to find it or even believe it. But there it was, back before he offered to handle the budgeting was a $1500 debit on our checking account. This would be the most he has ever lost in a single day. He was taking his gambling up another level. And his whole reason for wanting to take up the budgeting was to hide his gambling again.

“What’s this charge for $1500?” I asked my husband as he walked in from a grocery run. I already knew the answer.

His composure just slumped in on itself and he lowered his head in shame. My head was spinning. I could barely hear him as went through his usual excuses…”I didn’t mean to spend that much,” I was playing so well, but it was just one hand that went south and ruined it for me,” “You don’t even know how much this makes me feel like shit,” “I’m such a loser.”

He was good at gaining sympathy. But this time it was so clear to me. I couldn’t believe that I didn’t see it before. Maybe I didn’t want to believe it.

K was sick. He had a gambling addiction and, through my own denial, I enabled him.

$1500 dollars. That was 1 months rent, that was a commission that I was lucky to get if a client closed after 2 weeks of work, that was 4 months of groceries or a year of gas. This time I wasn’t going to let it go. I closed my eyes and saw myself at 40 years old with a deadbeat husband who had spent $100K in gambling during their marriage. I envisioned myself as a 40 year old preparing for divorce.

I wasn’t going to hide the problem and pretend it was just between us. I wasn’t going to make up the money. I wasn’t going to make him promise to pay it back. (Which he never did).

So I called his mother.

And I told her everything, that this was the end of the road. That I couldn’t be married to a gambler and he had lost $15K during the course of our marriage so far. He needed help. He needed to go to Gamblers Anonymous (GA) and see a therapist.

I was angry for a long time. I made him sleep on the couch for two months. I cried randomly by myself. I wouldn’t talk to him or look at him. I couldn’t trust him.

His parents had an intervention and expressed their disappointment and concern. They didn’t want to see our family fall apart.

After that, he made a commitment to go to GA meetings. I took away his debit card and put him on a cash only system. He had to provide receipts for everything he bought. I made him change his number because the casinos and poker clubs would text him “buy in deals” to tempt him. I cancelled anything that reminded him of poker. And he agreed.

It’s been a year and he hasn’t gambled. Today he called me and told me he went to a GA meeting for support. He felt tempted because he had some spare cash from his birthday he felt he could spend. But instead he went to the meeting. I’m proud he’s able to still admit his weaknesses and work to correct them.

I feel lucky most days, so far he’s overcome this demon that haunted our lives for so many years. I can’t deny the role I played in enabling him either. I know it could have gotten worst and that there are some women who learn too late that they’re losing everything to gambling.

If you know someone afflicted with gambling addiction please don’t be afraid to confront them or intervene. The contact for the National Gambling Helpline is:

Call 1-800-522-4700

Chat ncpgambling.org/chat

Text 1-800-522-4700

Sending my thoughts to the men, women and families dealing with this mental illness and obsession.

Even though my husband has been gamble free for a year, I can’t forget that he’s capable of it. And I have to forgive him for the money he’s lost. For my sake and his, all I can do it support and love him through his gamble free journey.

On Becoming Mother

I was never one to want to be a mother.

I remember being a child and having no interest whatsoever in baby dolls. As a teen, my friends talked about that one day they would have children but I stood silently in the corner not really thinking about it. It wasn’t a priority for me.

I had other things I wanted to do first like go to parties, travel, be a successful business woman and maybe date the man of my dreams. I didn’t have time for children and the thought of giving birth to a child honestly terrified me.

So when I became pregnant with my first child at 23 years old, it was the scariest thing I ever did. And honestly it took me a while even after she was born to come to terms with the fact that I was now a mom.

Little did I know that being a mother would be the most meaningful and extraordinary thing I would do in my life. I didn’t really understand that right away. Forget traveling and forget being a CEO at some major company, by becoming a mom I was able to make huge a difference in someone else’s life. Jobs come and go, friends too but family is forever.

A lot of things had to change first. I couldn’t just go out with my friends anymore. And I couldn’t just take any kind of work to support my family. I couldn’t spend money on frivolous things either. I had to be smart; I had to think of what I needed long-term instead of what I needed for today.

Sidenote: fathers are pretty amazing too. But what they bring to their children is totally different. My husband is more of a rock. In addition to knowing that he loves them, he gives our kids a sense of confidence, stability and direction.

I’m more of the nurturing mother who stands by her children and comforts them when they cry.

Children are like little miracles. I look at my two month old child and she already knows me and can pick me out of a crowded room. That’s insane.

Looking at her big oversized eyes staring back at me as I breastfeed her gives me a sense of wonderment. Like, who will this little one become? What are her dreams?

My oldest daughter is six. She’s a little more complex since she’s starting to become self-aware about her emotions. So every little emotion she feels, whether it’s happy, sad, or embarrassed, she lets us know. It’s been strange to see her become much more independent, I feel like I just had her! But I know I’ll always be her mother and that I’ll always be there for her when she needs me. There’s a long road of life ahead of her so chances are that there will be plenty of situations where she will need me more than ever.

But six years ago, I had no idea the impact she would have on my life. I’m a better person. I’m stronger, more capable and aware. I can empathize and I know exactly how my child is feeling. Sometimes I can’t make all the boo boos go away, but I try.

My little one is just as amazing! I love the stage where they need you all the time for everything. It makes you feel so loved and cherished. She really is like a little doll. I forgot how beautiful they are when they’re newly born and rely on you for everything. My mother-in-law tells me that I hold her too much and that she’s spoiled but she’s two months old! And I don’t mind a spoiled two month old. Her smiles are pretty amazing too!

If I could have countless children, I would. That’s how much I love children and love my role as a mother.

If you had told 18-year-old me that I would love this role and that motherhood would come to defined me, she would’ve scoffed at you. She would’ve called me a sellout for picking the path that everyone chooses. What about all my dreams to travel, my desire to date, become a rich successful career woman?

Priorities change. And looking back, those goals were great but superficial. What I have now is a never-ending love, for my children and from them.

Being a mom isn’t the easiest path, in fact it has to be the hardest thing in the world to do and do well.

I never asked to be a mother but it was blessing brought into my life with my children. So to all the mothers who are struggling today to keep it all together, be proud, because you are doing something incredible.

Check out my other posts

Top Things To Buy For A Newborn Baby: Baby Product Review

My Postpartum Experience: What I Didn’t Expect

How To Find An Attorney For Civil Suits And What To Expect

It looks like my mold saga is coming to an end. We seriously considered finding an attorney to help us negotiate with our landlord. It was a frustrating process, but my eyes are definitely more open to the reality of what it’s like to work with an attorney.

Last month I was at a kindergarten graduation and I was talking to one of the moms. The topic of lawyers came up because she had been through a divorce. She said, “all they want to do is bill you.” I didn’t think much of it but after looking for representation of my own I realized she was right.

I Learned A Few Things About Lawyers And The Law This Week:

  • The Purpose Of Tort Law

Tort law, according to Wikipedia, is a civil wrong that causes a claimant to suffer loss or harm resulting in legal liability for the person who commits the tortious act. Its purpose is to right a wrong that has been made and put that person who was harmed back as if they were whole again.

So if someone negligently drives under the influence and ran someone on the sidewalk over and then that person lost their legs, tort law tries to find a monetary amount that would be equivalent to losing your legs. In other words, how much are that man’s legs worth?

So even though we were exposed to mold in our apt, which could have dangerous health effects on us and our 2 month old baby, the fact that we weren’t dead or dying didn’t give us much of a case.

  • Lawyers Aren’t Going To Do All The Work.

I don’t know why I have this image in my mind of lawyers wanting to jump at the opportunity of righting some injustice, but that’s not even close to how they work.

They don’t want to have to prove you have a case. YOU have to go to them and prove that you have a case under the law. That means you have to do a bit of digging on what laws apply to your issue.

From there you might get a consultation and if the attorney feels you have a good enough case, then he’ll take you on and start the process of the lawsuit.

  • It’s All About The Benjamins

Even if you have a case, that still doesn’t mean you have a case worth taking on. Because attorneys need to get paid one way or another. It’s going to be either hourly billing or contingency.

For contingency fees, they usually run 33% if you settle and 40% if it goes to trial. Zilch if the case doesn’t settle or win. So what they’re really looking for are cases that can settle or win.

For most attorneys, the question on their mind is, “If I take this case, how likely will it be to win and how much will I make.”

If they can’t make money off the case, they won’t take it.

  • Personal Injury Attorneys

Our first attempt to resolve this was to find a personal injury attorney. And they are the worst. I could not get a hold of a single one of them. They all had these bulldog secretaries that just took information and messages. Whether the attorneys actually got the messages, we don’t know, but I never heard back from anyone.

I thought it was really ridiculous that they spent all this money on advertising, to bring clients in, but they couldn’t be bothered to meet with us or respond. I guess we just weren’t dead or dying enough to make a case that was worth the money.

  • Find An Attorney That Specializes On What You Need.

At first it felt like we were taking shots in the dark. I would call personal injury attorney’s and ask, “Do you do mold litigation?” I didn’t have any referral attorneys that I could turn to. If someone said no, I would ask for a referral. It seems no one wants to give another attorney a referral.

None of the lawyers would help me so I had to rely on information from the legal secretaries. One straight out told me I would have to be severely injured for them to take me. Another referred me to the state bar association. The state bar can refer me for a $35 fee. Another secretary was more helpful and told me I would need a landlord/tenant attorney and to check AVVO.

AVVO is basically like the Yelp for attorneys, they sort by area and specialty and can help you find an attorney that has the experience you need. There are also a lot of reviews, so you can choose a top rated attorney.

  • Be Prepared To Drop Your Case Before It Even Started.

“I’ve always found the legal system to be disappointing” That’s what my dad said when I told him I wanted to sue over the mold.

Well, he was right. After I finally found a landlord/tenant attorney to meet with me for a $150 consultation, we learned we wouldn’t recoup much in damages. Maybe one months rent.

The attorney was very knowledgeable but basically laid it out for us that to pursue this in court would cost more than we could get and that basically we need to negotiate with our landlord to fix the problem permanently or to allow us to break the lease. I felt a little jipped, of course I can negotiate with my landlord directly and they already told us we could break the lease. What we wanted were damages for the costs of moving and furniture!

Our search for an attorney was long and stressful. In the end we did get enough information to make an educated decision on what to do about our apartment. I honestly hope I never have to consult a lawyer again or use an attorney’s services. Because at the end of the day, getting injured from mold or anything isn’t worth a large settlement.

We learned a lot from our situation. In case you ever need legal advice, here are the questions you’ll need to ask:

  1. Have you ever dealt with cases like this before?
  2. What is your success rate
  3. What is your retainer?
  4. Do you work hourly or by contingency basis?
  5. How will you keep me in the loop about the progress of my case?

Good luck and thanks for reading!