Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Confronting Past Dreams..& Making Room for New Ones

When you look back on where you thought you’d be today in high school, how many of you are actually where you declared yourself to be? I’ll be honest and say that I am nowhere near where I thought I’d be. In middle and throughout high school I was obsessed with the news. I wanted to be like Connie Chung, an Asian American news broadcaster for CNN. And although I dated someone throughout high school and into my college years, I didn’t know if he would be the one I’d marry and be the father of my kids. I just knew that I wanted to get married by the time I was twenty-five and have two kids (a boy and a girl) by the time I was twenty-nine. I didn’t want to be an old mother. I wanted to still be relatively young by the time both of my kids graduated high school, and I wanted to still be alive to see my grandkids grow up.

I’m known for never taking the safe, smooth, paved, path. Out of the different groups of friends I have I am always deemed the ‘crazy one’ or the one who’s always spontaneous and loves to take risks. If I wasn’t any of those I wouldn’t have switched majors a handful of times, I would have graduated within the expected four years it takes to get a bachelor’s degree, I would still be with the first, second, third, or fourth big company I have previously worked for, I would still be with my high school sweetheart, and I wouldn’t be a soul drifting around aimlessly right now.

When I first meet someone or see someone I haven’t seen in a while and they ask me the dreaded “What do you do?” or “What have you been up to?”—I know what they're all thinking when I give them my answer. There aren’t many people I know who all of a sudden drop everything in their life to try and figure things out. A lot of them try to figure things out along the way of finishing school or working their current job, but they would never ever leave everything behind all at once without knowing they had a backup plan. But like I said, I am the risk taker, the ‘crazy one’, and also the one who’s spontaneous so I went against the grain.

A lot of times I feel like I’m being too self-indulgent. My parents along with millions in the world didn’t get to choose what they wanted to be. Our parents’ generation sought safety and security. They chose their professions because they had to. It pays the mortgage every month, it puts food out on the table, clothes on their backs, and here I am taking my sweet ass time deciding on what it is I want to do with my life.

I have asked a lot of my peers about what they wanted to do with their degrees and they all gave me common answers: “work for a Fortune 500 company,” “go to med school,” “become a corporate lawyer,” and etc. Even though they’re all different occupations, I see them as all the same. They’re all typical answers you’d get from someone who didn’t follow their passion that wants prestige, control, money, and power that comes along with all of those careers. Who knows, maybe I’m seeing it all wrong, but I know a lot of my friends well enough to know that they aren’t following their natural enthusiasms. Either they do want all of those listed above (prestige, control, money, and power); they’re trying to live up to someone else’s yardstick, or both.

I have never felt the need to live up to someone else’s measure, but I did once want the power, control, and prestige. Never the money though, I knew money could never buy me happiness. And the more I experience in my life the more I realize that power, control, and prestige won’t give me the happiness I want. Things are simple for me now; all I want is to obtain a career that I love. Not because I don’t know what else to do or because it gives me status. I want to be able to go into work every day with a purpose; I want to never want to leave work. I know a lot of people want these things too, but why aren’t they pursuing it?

Money is the motivation for a lot of people. Money is the reason behind most of their actions. My view on that is, if you let money be the root of your happiness you’ll never obtain it. You can never excel yourself with money. There is only so much clothes, luxury cars, mansions, boats, jewelry, and vacations one can buy. When is enough enough? Let your career fulfill you mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I guess money could be a plus if that’s what comes w/the career, but I don't think one should let it be the person's drive.

I remember when I was going through a year where I was majoring in political science. I confided in someone who back then was a friend, I told them about how I wanted to become a lawyer to help out the Vietnamese community because a lot of them aren’t well informed with their rights as a citizen and etc. The person turned down my ideas and told me I wouldn’t make enough money to be happy or to pay back school loans, and that I had to first become a big corporate lawyer before doing what I wanted to do. I will always remember that moment because 1) it showed me where and what that person’s values in life were (definitely not matched up with my own) and 2) it made me realize how much I want to give back to society. Whether it is just in my neighborhood community, my church community, or the Vietnamese community, I just want to give back in one way or another.

I have a lot of unquenched ambitions. I want to give back to society (as listed above), I want to inform people of the things happening all around the world (journalism), world traveler, international food blogger, and as much as I don’t like children right now I do have the desire to teach them (these are just to name a few). I remember reading a quote from E.B. White “I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world, and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” –and I thought holy crap that is me.

Just as I was writing “So that’s where I am right now, trying to figure out a plan to make it all fit into my life.” I got it; it all became clear to me on how I was going to do all of it in my lifetime. I used to have this fear of making the wrong choices and wasting more precious life, but that was exactly what was holding me back, fear. Now the only thing I fear in life is losing my family. Not even an ounce of fearing failure.

I don’t believe in failure, because if you believe in failure itself, that’s exactly the one thing that’ll keep you from making your next move. And without that next move how on Earth are you going to get to where you want to be? Besides, without all of those “failed” attempts, your success wouldn’t be as sweet.

I don’t want the money, I don’t care for the recognition, and I don’t want the status or power. I no longer wish to get married nor have children. Maybe if I meet a man who’ll keep me interested long enough I’ll reconsider. But until then, all I want is to make my parents proud which I have quickly learned that they will be proud of me no matter what, and to be happier with each passing moment. And I will be as long as I continue to pursue after what I am passionate about, even if that means taking an extra ten years to get my bachelor’s.

The point of this post is to try and get my friends to realize that they have to stop measuring themselves against their parents, their friends’, their peers’, and society’s expectations. I don’t want my friends to sleep on their potential and be unhappy because they’re trying to make someone else happy. We’re all given the privilege to be the author of our own life, use this chance to define who you are. Don’t let someone else do it for you.

Note: you'll probably see similar posts in the future. I want to say more, but it's getting late/early. Brain is fried... (; Need.Sleep.Pronto.

Give me the world, give me the world
Yeah I had a taste it was sweet
So I think I'm ready for more, ready for more

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Murder will out.