” I am who I am today because of the choices I made yesterday.”
This one is inspired by my student
Sitting across me is this girl who I’m teaching tuition to. She will be having her ‘O’ levels in two months or so, and in front of us is one of the hardest questions ever.
The hardest question anyone ever asked me was
Why am I studying this?”
I would know, I asked that same question every day for the past 12 years of my education. Personally I’ve never found any reason to why we study what we study.
I thought for a moment and I asked her,
” What do you want with your life? ”
Granted, at age of 16 who has that answer?
In fact at the age of 20 I have barely grasp the concept of what I want with mine. Yet, I cannot help but ask this 16 year old girl the question that has been haunting me since four years back where my own teacher asked.
” I want to have a lot of money.”
Well… we all do, how about accounting? That earns a lot.
” It’s not what I want.”
So you do have preferences, no? There is something that you want to do….
“I don’t mind being a teacher, but I want to work in the private sector first.”
It went on for about an hour or so and then she said.
” I want something that is meaningful.”
At the age of 16, you have no idea what you want to do with your life. Your perception of your future is based on the assumptions and beliefs of those around you, those with more experiences than you. They tell you how you should live life based on how they have lived theirs, they try to shape your reality based on theirs, they try to warn of the mistakes that they made in hope that you will not do the same. In that moment of sharing, their regrets become your fears, their hopes become your expectations, their past becomes your future.
You think they know what’s best for you, they think they do to. But the reality of it is neither of you having the slightest clue what the future brings.
” Be an engineer, at least it’s stable.”
Really? Most engineers get retrenched at 50. With the influx of engineers we are getting from mainland, we’ll be lucky to even have a job.
” Take science, art has no future.”
Honestly, there isn’t that many places you can go with a science degree.
Yet the 16 year old you don’t know that.
Slowly, you are forced to make choices, choices that you have yet developed the ability to understand the consequences. You are making choices that will determine how the rest of your life will be. You don’t know what you want with your life; you are not ready to make those decisions yet. You do not know yourself well enough to decide the kind of life that you want to live. What if your personality doesn’t suit it? What if you don’t feel motivated to work towards that kind of life? What if it is unrealistic?
What if it’s not what I want?
I’ll let you in on a little secret.
No one really knows what they want.
Sure, to a certain degree some people will tell you that their focus is their career, give them a few years later and when they realise that in the rat race they lost what is most dear to them. The people they loved.
Or ask the guy who just got married, he will tell you that his purpose in life is his family. Except now marriages don’t last as long as they used to, 50% of them in fact ends up broken beyond repair.
So maybe asking the 16 year old girl what she wants in life isn’t the smartest thing to do. I mean, why add on to the number of things she can’t answer.
Besides it being one of the most important questions of her life.
Life isn’t about the right answer.
Its bout the adventure you go through asking the right questions and the life bit by bit.
It’s not about finding the job that suits who you are. It’s about finding that person that suits who you want to be.
You see… by asking ourselves what we want, by taking a step towards that, we get closer to the person we want to be at the end of the day.
So if you are not happy with where you are, move! You’re not a tree.
If what is holding you back is what you did, then maybe it’s time to let go of the past. Someone once told me love is about letting go, then I guess the greatest act love that you can ever show yourself is to let go of what has happened and just move on.
If what is holding you back is who you are right now, then stop what you are doing and start doing the things you love, life’s too short for anything else.
If what is holding you back is that you have no idea where to go or what you want, start looking, dare to want to be so much more
You see, who we were not half as important as who we are right now. Who we are right now don’t even matter as much as whom we want to be, so no, I don’t really care about your past, or your present.
I care about who you are trying to become.
And I hope that you never ever forget who you want to be.
So if you really want an answer to why we study what we study, it’s to fight for a place to get us where we want to be in the future. Its to fight for the ability to choose.
It’s to fight for the kind of life that we want to live.
Keep fighting all.