A recurring theme in any discussion with anybody nowadays tend to drift towards the perennial question: what are we doing with our lives? Mind you, its nowhere near the kind of pre-teen complaints about life and how school is a drag etc. We are all at least 21 years of age and its a really weighted question.
I was watching the Internship with a bunch of old friends yesterday and there was this quote that people used to think life was a cobbled path, you go to college, you study hard, get a degree, get a job get a mortage and find a good wife and have kids. Nowadays I think it stops at the degree part.
Have we lost our direction in life?
I think the more important question is if we even had one in the first place. Personally, the closest our education system got to getting us to think about what we really want for ourselves is in pre-school where we learnt about ‘occupations’. There was nothing at all on ‘thinking big’, and that is sad because as a child our dreams are pure and unfettered by practicality and reality. If you look at the success stories of our current generation like Jeff Bezos (Amazon founder) or Larry Page and Sergey Brin, they all shared the same trait in their youth, they were hungry and restless, and most of all they were dreamers. Jeff Bezos sold lemonade and pencils in the spirit of entrepreneurship when he was in school, and the Google founders thought they could digitize the entire world’s collection of books-as college students.
In Singapore we don’t even have a culture of dreaming. The closest we get to it is during leadership or motivational workshops where the speaker tasks the students to write down their ambitions or wants or whatever. What we need is a society where friends do not laugh at each other’s dreams no matter how silly they may be.
What do we really want to be? Are we on the right track?
Most people can’t answer the first part of that question. You want to be a banker at Barclays? Do you really want to be a banker or is it about the money? To be honest, I am not even going to judge that decision. A large part of what we are doing now is really just to survive. Work hard, earn money, the rest can come later. Probably when you retire. Ouch, but the truth hurts.
Along the way, when we grew up, too many people have stuck their fingers into our faces telling us what we should be and what we can’t be. Subconsciously, our choices are narrowed by the voices around us; we are not even aware of what we can be.
I think most people have this notion that their true meaning in life or whatever interests that they want to pursue can be pursued in their free time, like as you would a hobby or a past time. Work is really consuming, I can only hope for a job that I could find meaning in. Its somewhat as if we are hoping the meaning of life could find us, instead of the other way round. I see my mum starting to find meaning in life by trying to champion her own social cause. I see my Aunt abandoning her job to take on a new start up in her field of interest. It may not be fantastical but they seem to be fulfilled by it.
After ranting so much, I just feel that its so important to not lose sight of the end. To know what we are doing or at least not to follow blindly.
Its so good to write freely, without the need to follow some academic criteria or template 🙂