As you may have read already in my introductory post, I was troubled for the longest time trying to answer one question. What do I want to be when I grow up? Raised in a Chinese-Canadian immigrant family with strict-loving parents, I was taught that my education and eventual career/job title were the most important things in life.
Just like many other Asian parents, mine valued the letters on my report cards, registered me in a plethora of extra curricular activities, compared me to other children who were doing better in school, limited my ‘fun’ social life as much as they could, and I won’t get into any more details here because that is beyond the point.
Before I continue on, I just want to say that I love my parents and appreciate them a lot. We simply come from very different generations and backgrounds and it’s inevitable that we’d have conflicting opinions.
Although I lived most of my adolescent life disobeying my parents (unlike my brothers) and I gave them a lot of hell when I was in highschool, I was not entirely out of their reach. Moving away for University helped me become more independent, but unbeknownst to me, I was actually heavily influenced by my parents without even realizing it.
At the end of the day, I still wanted them to be proud of me! At the same time, I wanted to prove to them that I could ‘succeed’. The problem was that it was based on their definition of success. This made it harder for me to choose what I wanted to do in my life. It’s hard enough trying to find yourself in this stimulating society…
So for most of 2016, I struggled with this dilemma. I was depressed but had no idea why. First, I blamed it on my personality – how I got bored easily and needed to move around in my career more often. Then I blamed the fact that I had become a homebody due to my relationship and thought that a making new friends would help.
Finally, after trying everything I could to fix myself, I realized the real enemy. It was my own mind. I was unhappy because I was worrying more about the future than I was living in the present moment. That, combined with the fact that I felt like I had to be ‘successful’.
To show that I was succeeding, I needed to prove to my parents and even close friends that I was constantly climbing up my career ladder. I was trying to climb up this ladder without really knowing why. If I wasn’t moving up or working on something that could benefit my career, I felt like I was behind everyone else.
I didn’t want others to think that I was “settling.”
It didn’t help to be surrounded by friends and acquaintances who were either in getting a Master’s degree, or in a much bigger company or position than me.
But during ALL that time, I was stressing myself out over nothing. They were simply ideas that me and my environment had made me believe.
Because of the outside pressures and my own ego (wanting to be proud of my job when I compare it with others’), I could not figure out what was really best for me. How can anyone really see clearly when there is so much in their head?
I even put the same pressures that I received from my parents onto my boyfriend. I told him he needed to make a certain amount of money in order for my parents to accept him. I’m not the type who can keep my thoughts to myself. 🙁 It was hurtful to him of course, since that only made him less certain about what he wanted to do. It was a vicious cycle of hurt. The worst part is, I had no idea I was contributing to it.
When I first read the quote above by E.E. Cummings, I was 20 years old and I immediately felt that it resonated with me. However I didn’t truly understand just how deep in the rabbit hole I was until this year.
NOW, I really do feel like I have released myself from the anchors that bound me (I don’t mean to sound dramatic but that’s literally how it feels). I’ve realized that I can choose any career path I want, and still be content because my job simply does not define me. I know now that others’ opinions are just that. Opinions. Nothing really tangible or worth for me to stress over.
Right now, life feels like a dance. I can live an incredibly happy and bountiful life by simply loving everyone in my life and trusting that that is the most important thing to me. I’ve also realized that I am passionate about making others’ lives better and helping people relieve themselves of their own concerns. But I have no intentions on making that my job. My daytime job right now sustains me while allowing me to meet new people on a daily basis and it is all I want right now.
In the meantime, I can help my colleagues, strangers, clients, friends, and family on a daily basis. I have time to volunteer for organizations that I care most about, and I can’t be happier. Oh and I have this blog that allows me to reach even more people and spread more love.
No, I don’t have a career plan but that’s perfectly fine with me because I can’t predict what will happen tomorrow anyway.