Since young, I always envisioned what my future job will be. My dream occupation changes every year. Until I reached high school, the occupations I thought of were more practical than fantasized (I thought of being an astronaut and a teacher, luckily for the kids, I did not became a teacher. Your MOST WELCOME!).
The cost of living is very high here and we were advised to start saving for our future apartment and retirement funds since a teenager. The most critical decision to make in order for us to solve our apartment and retirement situation is finding a good job. Being raised in a traditional Asian family meant a good job is a 9 to 5 desk job in an air-conditioned office.
So all of us went through the same paths of schooling, examinations, and internships, followed by being spewed into the society as a 9 to 5 worker.
Being a 9 to 5 worker means waking up to an uncomfortably packed commute to the office. I am exchanging sweats with different strangers every day, how scandalous!
Once you reached your office, you will have to dig through the bag to find your staff pass to tap yourself in. It takes a long time as the bag usually opens to the land of Narnia every morning while you are searching for your pass. After you let yourself in, you waited for the lifts along with a number of grouchy colleagues. The lift stopped at every freaking level and you wondered if the door to Narnia is still opened as you like to go in there instead.
You reached your desk to find the remnants of yesterday’s battle. Opened your mail box to find a number of unread emails that came in over-night. While you read through the emails sorting through the extremely urgent ones (I will pull my hair out of my scalp if you don’t reply me now! I’m gonna keep spamming you every 10mins! God why are you not in office at 7am!!) to the not so urgent ones (stupid and irrelevant questions that you do not know which department can answer that). While you were sorting the emails, the desk phone started ringing and officially kick start the rest of the shitty day.
On a good day, I can have my lunch in peace. I can enjoy the taste of bread, I can count how many shrimps I got in my noodles. On a bad/usual day, I eat at my desk and after I’m finished eating, I do not remember what I ate, hopefully the ingredients were fresh.
Followed by team meetings, conference call meetings, inter department meetings, I-don’t-know-what-is-this-about-so-I-organized-a-call-meeting-with-20-people-to-find-out meetings.
Sometimes work does not go your way, you get delayed maybe for 30 mins to resolve the issue. Some colleagues will not even notice the difference as long as it gets done that day. While others LIVED FOR THAT FUCKING 30 MINS. So expect constant rude reminders every 5mins via phone/emails/office messenger/colleagues helping to pass message.
At the end of the day which ranges between 7pm-9pm, you leave the office with war wounds. Squeeze into the evening commute with people exchanging sweats again. If you are lucky, the journey will be over sooner when you least expected it. If you are unlucky, the transport broke down and delayed for 30mins to an hour. You prayed everyone had applied long lasting deodorant that day and that anyone from the Avengers can save you.
You went home, ate a cold dinner, dragged your tired body to the shower, did something entertaining (or no brainer) for a while before the world disappeared before you (you just slept, unfortunately you did not die).
Everything repeats itself the next day or almost every day for the rest of your life.
I understand that nobody likes to work, if they can choose; no one wants to work. But to me, every day is just extremely hateful to live with. My job was fine and I can shamelessly say that I’m a good worker. However, I’m still not satisfied with how I lived my life. If I am into the kind of lifestyle that requires a lot of money to maintain I will suck it up and take on this kind of career for life. Luckily I lead a simple life so I want a job that continues to pique my interest often, makes me want to better myself and does not burn me out every single week.
Imagine my ultimate disappointment when I realized all the diligence in schoolwork, projects, internships and examinations I took during that decade got me to something that I hated so much in life. The outcome supposed to give you a breath of fresh air, instead of drowning deeper into despair every single day
I regretted spending so much in college education for something that I did not really want. I regretted taking the safer route and not go all gung-ho to study overseas, accumulating bank debts to fund for the college studies that I wanted, Veterinary (animals are not so judgemental I heard). It seems too late for me to go back to study for that 4 year course. By the time I am a fresh grad from Veterinary school, I will be 30 (Fine, 31).
A counsellor once told me, no one knew what they wanted until they see it.
If I can give my 16 year old self advice, its that you knew deep down in your heart what you wanted to do and what you love. Do not let family, society or peers pressure you to embark on THEIR journey that they wanted or expected. No one is born to walk the same expected paths as everyone. Do not be afraid to be different. Do not worry so much about money at your age because you got a whole life ahead of you to work and save and pay off debts. Doing what you love for a living will give you overall happiness and fulfilment in life. You will be living a happy and mentally healthy life while paying off your debts.
Luckily for me, I have discovered other favourite things to do and other interesting paths to lead me somewhere. I hope it will finally give me the breath of fresh air that I hoped.
Life is hopeful.
Don’t lose hope.