– Reflecting on a year of static restlessness
It’s been a while since my last post and a lot has changed since. I have graduated from university after 4 years of procrastination, late night cramming and glorious social freedom, to embark on the next phase in my life – a career. Equally, a lot has not changed; I am still looking for the meaning of happiness, discovering what I really want to do.
Let’s start with what has changed; I am now what society labels a working professional. It is curious quick how one transits from life under education to life under employment! On the grand scheme of things, I am still actively engaged morning to dusk, Monday to Friday. Some days you enjoy studying and some days you loathe it, as you do in employment. One could argue education is comparatively easier, but whoever says that did not put themselves in the minds of the young. There are exams, deadlines, peer pressure, social experimentation, which in relation to the inexperience and hormonal influences of the young, isn’t exactly a stroll in the park.
So what hasn’t changed? I’m losing myself in the quicksteps of working life; the job is churning me into yet another corporate machine at the expense of my dreams. The well-trodden career ladder hoisted up into the clouds where the only thing at the top in my mind is my biggest fear – in 10 years time, I would look down in bewilderment as to what I have dedicated this vital part of my life climbing for! Sure the wallet would be bigger, I don’t have much time to enjoy it anyhow and besides, I have begun to understand that money isn’t what motivates me. Ironic given my job literally is to add to the Company’s bottom line, adding little if any value to the world. My working world is all Me Me Me, which for someone in the words of Viktor Frankle – cares more for other human beings and the source of happiness – is a marriage destined to fail. This motivation misalignment has me already questioning a potentially lucrative, and sought after career, one I fought hard for in university. Having said that, I am learning a great deal at this current time, the job requires me to make sense of the world through its engine oil – Money. To digest, rationalise major themes and events, combining with critical understanding of the hopes and fears of the many layers of society. This is no doubt a valuable skill set and I am becoming sharper and more aware by the day.
My friends often ask me where I see myself in five years time; I could never answer that question. Sure I find my current role uneasy to continue, but what can I do instead? I have no burning passion which I can turn into sustainable income to support my family; neither do I have concrete plans on how to get there. This state of limbo drags me down into this black hole which I feel I could not escape, and unlike a black hole, I sense vividly the goosesteps of time. The thought that the only way out is to take control of steering this ship and regain hope in its sense of direction is resonating ever stronger, I dare not to wonder aimlessly on the open sea as I am now for another year. This need not be a detailed plan, however it must contain actions. Before I go on contemplating the lines, it would be a good idea to list out what I enjoy doing and use these as a guide:
- I love making other people happy, regardless how much time and effort required. It would please me no ends to have people in a better state during and after seeing me.
- Seeking new experiences, things I’d never tried before. From my years of seeking new and fresh activities, I have taken part in an election campaign for a party in Colombia, sang a solo in front of over two hundred people, being a lead in a large drama production, ran two half marathons, started Italian and Spanish language courses, took up Latin and Ballroom dancing, obtained scuba diving license in the freezing English waters, assisted the design of a gas gun firing mechanism and of course, started this blog. Admittedly the pace of this has slowed dramatically since working full time.
- Making friends. There’s something magical in engaging with new people, hearing their stories is incredibly fulfilling and fun.
- Learning. I take great pride in my insatiable curiosity. Whether it’s about people, object, theories, news, I want to know them all. There are times, especially given my job, I feel there’s an information overload and I am mentally drained to be able to take anymore in, hopefully my brain is expanding under such duress.
- Travelling and Food. These two ties in with 2) 3) and 4), and when combined, I am at my absolute bliss. It’s little wonder my favourite TV programs involve chefs sampling food at exotic locations across the globe. Anthony Bourdain and Rick Stein are my favourites. If I can take a year out purely for my own pleasure, I’d travel across the world with pots and pans, immersing in local culture through the stomach.
- Self-improvement. Perhaps through the first 12 years of my life in the crucible of competition that is the Asian education system and the next 12 years in the West discovering there is more to life than academics, I’m in a state of self perpetuated competition with myself to be better in all corners of life. Reading research on wide range of topics, articles on success, happiness, I have learnt more and more on what society dictates to be good. The danger is of course, all theories and no action.
This year has been a year of self-discovery, a year where I would rather stay in and reflect than sampling what the world has to offer. A year I am transitioning from a carefree student to a working professional, dipping into what it takes to be an adult. I know more about what I enjoy, motivates and hold dear. Next is to plan what to do with it.
‘Life isn’t easy to figure out, especially your own’
To be continued…