We want to let all the women out there know that the challenges they face in life, whether good or bad, are not only unique to them but. You would be surprised by how many women are #JustLikeYou.
This month, we feature our bundle-of-joy-girlfriend Karen Liu! She shares her story on what it's like to date in a big metropolitan city, and the barriers she faces along with advice she can share out to our girlfriends that are #JustLikeYou.
Give us a little peek at where you grew up and what brought you to Shanghai?
Hey TOC! My name is Karen, I’m originally from a small town in Wenzhou in the Zhejiang province, called Rei-An. When I was 12, my family uprooted here to Shanghai which is where I studied, made friends, fell in love, and currently work. All my successes and failures in life have been in this beautiful city.
What do you do and what are your passions?
I’ve worked in many industries from scooping ice cream as a young teenager to managing PR for many top fashion brands. Nowadays you’ll find me at a 4A ad agency in charge of media planning. On the side, I have many passion projects, such as modelling for friends’ brands. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought there was a market for models that had a little more curve!
This leads to my next passion for FOOD. I love it so much that I started blogging about my favourite unique Chinese dishes. Unfortunately, as work and life got busier, I wasn’t able to keep up, but I am proud that I was able to do a piece on Wenzhou cuisines as a contributing writer for Nylon.
Lastly, I really love the fashion industry, so I often take up creative projects such as PR and event marketing for fashion brands during Shanghai Fashion Week. I really do love staying busy and taking on creative projects, especially if it’s with friends. There’s more gratification when creating something with others you enjoy being around.
What is your current relationship status? Are you single and ready to mingle, locked down, or it’s complicated?
This question makes me feel a little sad to answer haha, currently, single. But looking and ready to mingle!
What is your experience of dating in a big city?
I think it’s super hard. First off, the concept of the word “dating” is very different amongst different people. To me, “dating” is once we’ve built some emotional investment with the consistency of meeting. But meeting men on dating apps the first time, to me, is just hanging out, I wouldn’t consider it dating. More often than not, “app dating” doesn’t really lead to much, so I feel like “dating” in a city like this, is very hard. Many times, you chat with these people on the app and think "This is going well", and then you transition to WeChat and then literally never chat again. It’s weird, sometimes I will find myself going into the dark hole of assumptions and false narratives. Such as "Maybe he saw that we have a lot of mutual friends so felt uncomfortable?" or "Were my photos on Tinder too photoshopped?".
Anyways, to those men, BYE FELICIA. For the ones I’ve eventually met from apps, the online chemistry usually did not correlate when meeting F2F, which makes me realize that these platforms are just a waste of time. I’m already so busy with work, when I do have some free time, I should really make the best use of it for more enjoyable things. I’d really prefer to meet men through friends or when I’m on a night out, I feel like those first instincts have deemed me better than these apps.
Where do you usually find yourself meeting potential dates, or "hangs" as you call it?
I’m on Tinder and Bumble, but I feel there’s a large overlap of the two. Thus Far, I have not had a successful case to share with. But I’ve met some real stinkers who will try to swindle money from me. Most of my “potentials” have been through friends and going out, and I’m thankful that a lot of my friends love playing matchmaker.
When someone finally catches your eye, what sort of places do you go to "hang?"
If it’s from a dating app, then coffee or a meal. If it’s through friends, then I would ask my friends to set up a group hang, and I wouldn’t be upset if my friend suddenly had an emergency and cancel hahaha.
What traits catches your eye in a partner?
I’m a Libra so I’m very social and love to please (if you don’t know, now you know ;)) I like guys who have personality and interesting accents (recently, I'm super into guys with Northern Chinese accents), another trait that attracts me is when they have strong attention to details to things I say or do.
In your own experiences, what has been the struggles of dating? And have you found solutions to resolve them?
One of them has been my parents trying to set me up, he definitely was not my type and I’ve tried to just avoid those situations as much as possible. Another is the nature of living in a big city, everything is so fast-paced and transient, it’s easy to just look past the opportunity in front of you because there is always just another person around the corner that makes you wonder if he would make a better partner. This makes it challenging to obtain genuine connections, so I do stay conscious of getting to know the person more versus blowing them off right away.
What's your point of view on female intimate wellness or self-pleasure?
Growing up, I really didn’t have much understanding of the importance of health and wellness; I didn’t rest, ate a lot of oily foods and never worked out. 2 years ago, I had to have a small surgery and realized that I was really not taking care of myself. I’m a person that easily gains weight and bloats so my habits really needed to change. I started working out to get into a better state, not only just to lose weight but to get stronger and healthier, making it a long-term habit. As for intimate wellness, it’s SO important. Surviving the hustle and bustle of big cities comes with a lot of stress, no matter if you are with someone or not, it’s easy to get lost in your responsibilities. That’s why we need to learn to make ourselves find happiness, no matter if it’s mental or physical. Happy people live healthy lives!
Being in the PR & Marketing industry and involved in so many projects, how do you manage to eat well and how do you think that influences your personal wellness?
Working out is definitely a regimen I tried to incorporate, whether it's just going on longer walks or hitting the gym because I believe it’ll bring you more energy. When it comes to diets, I’m a very heavy meat eater and I love BBQ, Hot pot, etc, which are not the greatest options. So, this year, I try to go meatless at least once a week. It’s not a lot but I’ve got to start somewhere. I think it's a good practice to keep balance and not overindulge. Image
What were your experiences with sexual wellness while growing up? How did you approach it and do you have advice for our readers?
I grew up in a pretty traditional household, so I never had any exposure or an actual understanding of it. My first time even knowing what HPV was through a friend in high school, shortly after she moved to Macau she was diagnosed with it and advised me to get vaccinated against it. At the time China didn’t have access to it, that was my first time even conversing about sexual wellness in general. I was born in the ’90s and sexual education and wellness weren't really topics of discussion amongst my teachers or parents. I learnt mostly through the internet, Baidu was my best friend.
Baidu was my best friend.
The search results were terrifying though, essentially you'd probably have some sort of disease at any moment in time. Image When I was in my pre-teens, I had so many questions and worries, for example, "Why hasn’t my period come yet?", "Am I pregnant?", "Why won’t my period stop?". In these cases, I would say, go seek professional advice, the earlier you know your own body, the better. Also, don’t be afraid to speak to your mom or a wiser female you trust, they’ve surely gone through it before.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell myself to hurry and get all of my HPV vaccinations. And know that it’s ok to say “No” to a guy if you’re not ready for something. If he respects you, he will wait, if not then dump him.
What are your thoughts on the gender equality gap?
I think it's respect, if this person can show respect for me then I can show them the same.
What are your suggestions for girls out there to better understand their intimate selves?
I know more about my body now and how to keep it healthy on my terms. I would advise girls to keep on looking till they find what works best for them when it comes to mental and physical wellness. It is very personal, but once you find "your groove" you will find more happiness and pleasure.
Do you have any suggestions for our readers out there to live their best selves for ultimate life pleasures?
I find my true pleasure in my friendships. I’m a very fortunate person with an amazing foundation of friends, and creating life memories together is what fuels me with happiness. This works for me, overall my suggestion for everyone is to do the things they want to do, whether that is trying everything once, just having a plane meal, going to KTV, dancing the night away at the club, or vibing out for an hour.
You do you.
What words of wisdom can you pass on to our single friends out there?
Be good to yourself! Enjoy life and loving yourself is EVERYTHING!
Follow Karen on Instagram: @dearkarenliu
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