The choices you make

I am 24 years old. I am neither so young that I am naively optimistic about everything, nor am I so old that I have been through too many disappointments in life. 

I’m not saying that everyone becomes a skeptic, cynic, and pessimist as they get older. But it is the truth that as you get older, as you live in the world longer, you see things and you gradually accept that disappointments are all part and parcel of life, I’m sure. But although I am very well aware of this concept, I have yet lived through any real disappointments in life that it affects my choices and outlook on life.

To me, although I know that the choices we make are actually cross roads that we will never be able to return, I still have the naive hope that I can still do whatever I want, that I can have all that I want. As impossible as it may sound.

I want to live all over the world, yet I want to spend time with my parents. I want to go into the field of Biomimetics and Nanosciences, yet I want to be a writer, or to work with animals (see Elephant Nature Park). I want to have enough money to take my parents around the world with me, and yet I don’t want to sell my life in exchange for money. I like interacting with people, yet I get tired of people easily as well. 

And although everything seems an impossible feat, it seems possible at the same time. One thing I know, I don’t want to waste my life in an office. Yet for now, for me, it seems this is the only way for me to get a steady income to earn money. I am neither inventive, nor do I have the potential to be a good entrepreneur. I wonder if all the people who are sitting in a cubicle earning a reasonable salary are thinking the same way as I am? I couldn’t possibly imagine how anyone in the world could be happy and contented with this exchange, albeit necessary. 

What in the world happened? How did it come down to this?

It is simple actually, give up the full time job. But giving up a full time job and plunging into the unknown, hoping that an opportunity to come by where you love what you do and makes you money as well? How many people are brave enough to do that? I’ve got to pay my parents back. What about later in life? Although I have said many times to myself that I’d rather die working in a farm or swimming in the sea, than to die in a hospital bed. What of my parents? They are going to get old, they are going to need that late-life medical attention. What daughter am I if I am not able to cover those?

Sometimes it is not as simple as it seems.

I was speaking to the Director of the Design team in the company I am currently interning in. She spent half her life working in this company. Earning over USD 100,000( I don’t know how much over this amount is, I just know for a fact that those working outside the US who earns more than this amount has to pay taxes to the US government), I’d say she is rather financially safe already. And I asked her if she ever thought about traveling when she was younger, and if she ever regretted not doing it. In a way, I think she is. From the way she responded. But who would ever know what happens when you picked a certain choice way back in life? I don’t think she would exchange her life now (her high position and high salary) for anything. 

Although the advice she gave me was, if I want to do the whole living all over the world thing, there are certain places where I should go to when I am young. For example China, or India, or places with lower living conditions, because once that window of time is over, you will never want to go to such places after being used to comfort living. Countries like Europe or Australia you can go any time and any age in life you are. 

I don’t know if I agree with her completely. The one thing I agree is that, yes there are things that I have to do when I still have the enthusiasm and energy and spirit to do it. When you are young, your body is young, your parents are younger so they don’t need your attention as much, and you don’t have any responsibilities (in the sense that you don’t have children dependent on you). But will I ever willingly go back to a life where I have to sit in an office, doing the things I do not give a damn about? Just for the high salary and high position? Just so people look at me different and treat me different when they hear about my position in xxx company or how much money I have in my account?

It does give a sense of security yes, and everyone likes to feel like there is something to fall back on. But that sort of security, it is the sense of security that you will have enough money to wait until you are dead. (“because God knows how terrifying it is to have your money run out and realize you are still living.”). So the basic idea exchange your life by sitting in an office,just so that you won’t have to worry about living too long and outliving your bank account? Does that sound about right? The whole idea of having a retirement fund?

Mein Gott. 

Of course, all these are the epitome of first world problems. I could not imagine someone who has a family of 10 to feed even thinks about whether they feel passionate about their job or not. Probably so. They needed the money so much that they feel so passionate about it because it means the survival of their family. So of course they love their job, 101%! Most people would say to me, “Don’t be stupid. You are lucky you even get a job, let alone with a good pay. What are you complaining about?” I am not complaining, or do I really sound like I am? I am just wondering where is this all heading to. Or maybe because I am greedy and I want everything I desire. Perhaps one day the punishment for my being greedy is watching my life pass by without reaching for anything due to all my hesitation. Isn’t that much worse than sitting in an office?

The conclusion is, I really don’t know what to choose. Because I know being young means I have the illusion of being able to change my life around whenever I want to. Because there is still a lot of time. But the choices you make also changes you. And you might not be the same person you were when you were standing at that cross road.

As usual, my thoughts have not a conclusion. Nor any advice to give. 

So I guess I will just conclude it with a quote by Nelson Mandela:

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”


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