Friday, March 16, 2007

quarter life crisis?

today is my 25th birthday. how am i going to spend it? i'm probably going to stay at home and read blogs. this has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the post, but i just wanted to whine and mope. =P

both BL and Mr Wang felt inclined to give advice about career choice recently. BL shared his personal story (which is also found here), and talked about finding a dream and a passion and making it into a career. this prompted me to think about my own situation.

some time ago, i had a passion for the study of physics, and i thought of becoming a professional scientist. yet, shortly after i started studying physics proper, i realized how painstakingly difficult it was. i quickly lost my initial passion, and i let the window to be a scientist close on me without regrets. during the same time, i discovered philosophy and loved it. i even thought about being an academic in philosophy. yet after a while, upon digging deeper and facing several difficult challenges in the study of philosophy, my love for the subject waned. i do not know if the window to be an academic has closed on me (i may need to check with Huichieh about this), but if it has indeed closed, i don't think i will feel much regret. not to long ago, i decided that what i wanted to be was a successful professional musician in Singapore. but yet again, after being exposed to how musicians struggle to make a living, as well as the politics and the ugliness of the local music scene (plus parental objections), i started to question if this was really what i wanted to do. after i started blogging, i practiced my instrument less and less.

i suspect i am the kind of person which gets bored easily. although at one point in time i may be very passionate about one thing or another, my passion leaves as easily as it comes, and i'm back at square one. i'm not sure if i can take BL's advice on taking "a dream and a passion" and "make it into a career". probably i will lose interest halfway and just give up. i'm 25. too young to know what i want to do for the rest of my life. maybe i still won't know when i'm 40. nevertheless, i'm too old to sit around, mope and do nothing. i have responsibilities, and i need to start thinking about earning a living, and providing for myself and my family, if not for a passion, then for the sheer sustenance of existence. yet, when time passes, more and more windows close, and the options of what i can choose to do get less and less. will there come a time when i regret letting a window close on me?

one of the best speeches i read recently is this one by Steve Jobs. "you got to find what you love" he says, and talks about his against-the-odds stories of how he founded Apple and Pixar. no doubt he is encouraging, just like BL, that we stick to our passions and persevere against the odds. but what i took away from reading that speech was about finding meaning in our individual lives. and meaning starts with identifying what we love.

i think what we are passionate about and what we find meaningful need not necessarily be something that we want to turn into our career. although it is important to try and reach for the stars, and there will be stories such as BL's and Steve Jobs to remind us that it is possible, at the end of the day, not everyone will make it. many of us are doing jobs we aren't really passionate about. i don't think there is necessarily any less dignity in that. the questions we need to ask is "for what do we work for?", "what do you find meaningful?", "what gives you happiness?" and the answers to these questions depend on the individual and the individual alone.

is ultimately what gives you meaning in life your family? then i believe there is no lack of dignity to work hard for your family (but pls find the time to spend with your family because your presence and company is as important as your income hor). do forming personal relationships and close bonds with friends what gives you meaning in life? then i believe there is no lack of dignity to work so as to support your lifestyle of spending time with friends and close ones. is what gives you meaning in life the obedience and servitude to God? then i believe there is no lack of dignity in whatever job you do, so long as you try your best to live your life in piety and humility.

what do i love? what do i find meaningful? what gives me happiness? to be perfectly honest, i'm not sure. i'm only 25 mah. maybe, just like the things which i am passionate about, these change over time also. i dunno. but i think finding out is the first step. exploring and finding out more about yourself is also what life's about isn't it?


BL said...

My mentor gave me this poem “Smooth Between Sea and Land” by AE Housman, which I find it useful whenever I am undergoing a crisis:

“Smooth between sea and land
Is laid the yellow sand,
And here through summer days
The seed of Adam plays.

Here the child comes to found
His unremaining mound,
And the grown lad to score
Two names upon the shore.

Here, on the level sand,
Between the sea and land,
What shall I build or write
Against the fall of night?

Tell me of runes to grave
That hold the bursting wave,
Or bastions to design
For longer date than mine.

Shall it be Troy or Rome
I fence against the foam,
Or my own name, to stay
When I depart for aye?

Nothing: too near at hand,
Planing the figured sand,
Effacing clean and fast
Cities not built to last
And charms devised in vain,
Pours the confounding main.”

Hope that it helps you in finding your own meaning in life.

nofearSingapore said...

Hey F.O.,
That is why life is exciting!
If we already know everything that is gonna happen to us, where is the fun then?
Life is a journey of discovery.
We find out our strengths and weaknesses, our loves and hates.
I let you in on a secret. At 47, I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up!
Just go with the flow. Read Steve Jobs' commencement speech to Stanford again and again.
Don't let toxic people stop you from thinking big!
Older people ( my generation) will try to discourage you from your aspirations because they are jealous that their time has past.


Fearfully Opinionated said...

BL and Dr Huang,

Thank you for kind encouragement. It is well appreciated. However, actually I'm not really going through a "crisis" lah [better say clearly first, otherwise KTM come and give me one of his long long lectures =P].

Although is true that I am undergoing a state of flux and self-discovery right now, but I do not think that is a bad thing, and I thought I ended my post on a rather optimistic note. [Aiyah, I must be a really louzy writer...] I just wanted to ramble some random contemplations vaguely related to turning 25 only mah.

It turns out that I did not spend my birthday alone. A friend called me and said "You're not spending your birthday alone!" and dragged me to watch a movie with her. =P

Where are all the "Happy Birthday, FO!" wishes?? =P

Leanna said...

Happy (belated) birthday FO! :D

nofearSingapore said...

Happy belated birthday!
( why didn't you say you were just hinting for people to wish you ! haha)


Sgizh said...


Happy belated.

BL said...

Hey FO,

I forgot also, while commenting... but happy belated birthday. :)

Take care & best regards,

kwayteowman said...


Happy Belated Birthday.

No lah, the KTM is not inclined to give you lecture. :-) KTM dying under his mountain of KT waiting to be fried. :-P

It is important to come to an understanding of yourself. If you are indeed right that you have a short attention span, then it is likely that there's actually a job that's suitable for you. But sorry, the KTM doesn't have a suggestion for you. You've gotta figure that out for yourself. Good luck. ;-P

Warmest Regards.