I just had a conversation yesterday with a friend whom I have not seen for a while. He’s Jordanian with Ukrainian blood, speaks four languages (Arabic, English, Japanese and Mandarin in the progress) and he’s an extremely funny guy. While I normally wouldn’t think of discussing my problems with a joker like him, I’ve been thinking about it so much that I would tell it to anyone who’s willing to listen.
And to my surprise, he’s also a very good listener! He did give me pretty insightful advice as well, but after thinking through it carefully, I think our outlook in life is just too different.
Ok, so my problem is that I had been regretting so much about giving up my dream to read law in my country’s top university, NUS (National University of Singapore). My high school (we call it Junior College, or JC for short though) grades weren’t good enough for law school, but they weren’t that bad either. I could have at least just given it a shot. But I didn’t even bother to apply. I was stupid enough to take a gamble where my odds were actually pretty low and went straight to the Singapore Airlines interview for cabin crew. Well, I might have been stupid, but I was lucky haha. I got recruited and had the time of my life.
Ok sorry this is not me but I did get to wear the somewhat legendary uniform and I still have it in my closet!
(By the way, when I was flying all over the world, I didn’t have the time or energy to sort out my thoughts and write it down on my blog, so that’s why there’s a two-year hiatus before I started blogging again recently. Well, ok, not exactly a hiatus, I did write one or two posts in two years. haha)
Back to my Jordanian friend. He told me his story and why he came to Japan, and it’s a long story so I shall not post it here (maybe another day). In a nutshell, he told me not to give up on my dreams. He didn’t and he is now happy everyday, doing what he loves and working hard for his dream feels like having fun everyday because that’s what he loves to do. He added on that if I give up on my dreams for someone else, my feelings for that person may change (not like love to hate, but just maybe love to like, according to him lol), but my dreams will never change. Everyone’s individual dreams will never change. So I may not regret as much if something were to happen between me and my boyfriend (touch wood!), but I would regret for my whole life if I had given up on my dream.
I pondered carefully over his words. It’s true that I admire his courage and determination in pursuing his aspirations. But I don’t believe that dreams don’t change. Dreams DO change. I had wanted to be a teacher when I was a kid and then a singer and then a music producer and then an artist and then a designer and then investment banker and then lawyer and then what-have-you. Ok, most of these aren’t exactly dreams, more like daydreams, but I had seriously thought about being a singer lol. I was too much of a chicken to go for auditions but hey I did send a tape recording of my singing to a record label. At least I’ve tried… is the best I can say *sighs*.
Ayumi Hamasaki was my inspiration back then!!
I realised that it’s near impossible for me to be a big star unless I were to go to Tokyo – or any other big cities where the entertainment industry is thriving – and try to get recognised, which is way too much an effort and way beyond my ability (I was just a dumb kid wanting to be the next big thing, but still, at least I’ve tried lol). And so I decided that being a lawyer would allow me to be more financially stable than being a singer would, and therefore, I buried myself in books, studied and studied and did nothing but studied in high school all for the sake of getting into law school. Heck, my school was just right next to Orchard Road, a shopping haven, but I only went there with my classmates after graduation.
Although I did not eventually achieve my goal, hey at least I’ve tried. That draws the line between daydreaming and dreaming I believe – having putting in effort or not.
My dreams change all the time; I want to be one thing now and the next moment I’m gonna change my mind. Is this what they called being young? Don’t mean to brag or anything but maybe this is a tendency that most young and inexperienced people possess, I think.
Ok why do I suddenly have this pre-career crisis now? It’s all thanks to the two-week internship that I had just completed last week.
We did a lot of mundane stuff; we had to research on 30 different business news everyday, because if you know nothing about the world, you can’t design a single thing. Ok, fair enough, but we had to do so many other things, there wasn’t exactly enough time to read in fine detail every single article. Heck, I resorted to reading only the titles to save myself time.
We also had to make a rough draft for a flyer, and in order to do that we needed to do lots of research. Lots and lots of research and writing. I felt like I was back in high school or something. Sure, we have textbooks in the design school, but we hardly did any academic stuff so our brains were rusty.
It was also my first glimpse into what designers really do. I like what they are doing, sure, but I didn’t like the long hours and low pay. Fuck, bankers and lawyers work fucking long hours as well but they can afford nice cars and houses. Why are designers paid so little?!
That’s when I thought, shit, I need a career change. Yes, right before I have even started on my career. But this is not what I want as a career – drawing and doing artsy stuff is a hobby and should’ve just stayed as such. I realised it a little too late, but still I thought I need to hit on the brakes and u-turn before it’s really too late.
Well, I have the option of just getting married and have kids and not work a single day anymore like a lot of the other women in Japan. I bet the main reason why women in Japan want to get married is because they don’t want to work anymore. No wait, I think that IS the reason. Cooking and cleaning is still so much easier than having to deal with bosses and difficult colleagues and clients on a daily basis!
But NO! Of all the countries that I could have been a part of, I had to be born into Singapore, and in Singapore the government doesn’t give a damn whether you live or die. Yeah, all they are interested in is getting as much money out of their citizens as possible so that they can give themselves a big fat paycheck.
If all these greedy ministers would just give up half of their annual salaries (and they would still be the highest paid ministers in the world – http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203513604577146911772677518.html), EVERY Singaporean would be able to have access to free education, free healthcare – and most importantly for my parents right now – pension! We have so much more money sitting in the reserves than any other welfare state, and yet our senior citizens don’t even get a single cent from the government after retirement? What fucked up logic is that?
So with no pension, it means that the elderly either have to save up (A LOT) for retirement, or depend on their kids to support them until they move onto the afterlife. My parents have spent a lot on our mortgage (again, the government’s fault. We would never have to get a new place if not for the damn government. Another story for another day), on our education, and basically everything parents would have to spend on their kids. They have nothing left for themselves, and I don’t really like the idea of it but they have invested in my brother and I, and so we are obliged to pay out the dividends on that investment.
So yes, that explains why I need a well-paying job. I certainly don’t want my parents to end up picking up cans for a living. I want them to enjoy their last phase of life peacefully and happily, like the French, Australian and Scottish retirees in the comic strip above.
And that’s when I realised I should have at least tried to apply for NUS Law. If I had been successful at the application, I would have graduated by now and started working… maybe not as a lawyer but definitely a well-respected job with reasonable starting salary…
Had I been a lawyer right now I would be able to scream ‘Objection!’ all the time! Nah just kidding.
Anyway, I couldn’t take the stress on my own, so I decided to share my long-winded story with another blogger whom I admire. He has kindly replied me pretty quickly, and he told me bluntly that my chances of getting into law school are very slim. Somehow, instead of getting depressed and moping over the fact that I’ve got zero chances of getting into law school, reading his honest opinions kind of lifted a heavy stone from my heart and freed me from many days of worrying. I did email NUS but at least, it was just simply an inquiry. I’m not expecting anything from it. All I needed was someone to tell me that it’s impossible, and that would get me to give up very easily.
It’s a complex feeling. Am I too weak to take on a huge challenge? Or do I still not know what I want? And when someone tells me that law is out of my reach, I’m actually relieved?
He did give me a positive advice though. Given my language skills, I could actually easily get a job at a banking corporation looking to invest in the Far East economies – albeit this would mean I have to get out of Japan for these firms are usually in London, New York, Singapore etc. And he didn’t mention that a degree was necessary. Hmmmm…. a good career prospect. Might consider it haha.
… Or maybe I should just work for myself and be an entrepreneur! Solves all problems I think haha.
Ok I’m definitely NOT daydreaming this time!!!