Far too often I’ve heard my friends saying, “I don’t know what to do with my life.”
“I’m not sure what course I should take up.”
“Should I further my studies?”
“I think I’ve to stop [my passion] as I need to start work soon.”
They’re all valid concerns. And I think it’s sad. So very sad. Not because of the problems per se, but that society has brought us up in a way that these problems have to exist in the first place. Adding to that, the typical solutions to these predicaments don’t cut it.
We have your, “You must get an education.”
“You must get a job of a certain salary.”
“Money is everything.”
“Marry before you’re 35.”
This is life. It’s confusing. There’re no straight answers. What your family advise you, what your friends say and what you read in a blog post cannot cover every aspect of your life.
Yet, something needs to be said to quell the confusion. I hope this guide helps you earn a new (not better) perspective on your education, money and future.
Who am I to say?
Well, this is Alden Tan. I do what I love everyday as I get to write and create stories all I like. I’ve a college degree from National University of Singapore, a bachelors in communications and new media. After I graduated I worked a couple of jobs, learnt what I could, realized I wasn’t passionate about them and dropped everything to go into blogging.
If you want a deeper look at why I do what I do, you can check out my About Me page. To sum it up, my dad died when I was 20 and it made me learn that life was too short, for real. And I have to do what I love all the time, otherwise life is just wasted.
I don’t claim to know everything, but I can give you my opinions on the reality of things when it comes to working, doing business, following your heart and generally life itself. I also like to think that I’m pretty free-spirited. Sometimes I don’t plan jack shit, which has its good and bad. That being said, you won’t find statistics, figures, numbers and shit here.
You will only find perspective. I hope it can help you in some way.
Stop whining about school
We get it. You hate school. School sucks. Your classmates sucks. You’re probably not going to use algebra or whatever theories made by some history figure dude next time in your life.
And you probably won’t at all. But here’s the thing: School is the buffer separating you from the rest of the hardest part of your life.
It is what it is. So don’t rush that shit. Why do you think there’re so many working adults who are always ready to tell you that school is a way easier time compared to work?
The thing about school that makes it a buffer is that you’d only start to wonder, “Is this what I’m going to do for the rest of my life? when you start work.
Think about it. In grade school, you looked forward to high school. In high school, you looked forward to college. In college, maybe you looked forward to doing your masters. For me, I had to interrupt this flow with my conscription with the army, which though being one of the most trying periods of my life, it was nonetheless safe and secure as I just had to wait it out.
So looking ahead of your life only truly comes when you start work. And that can be scary as fuck.
That is when you’d wonder if you’re going to be stuck at the same job, same place, same pay or whether you can ever find a girlfriend or boyfriend.
It’s the grand culmination of work, finance and relationships. How did it come about? Well because finally, for once in your life, nobody is telling you what to do. How’s that for upping the scare factor?
Now here’s the twist: Everything above applies to you BECAUSE you’re lucky in life, that you’re blessed enough to be able to get an education.
Which brings me to…
Getting an education is an important bottom line
To be frank, I had trouble writing up this section. I don’t feel qualified except that I’ve my own degree. I’ve honestly never felt the importance of my education since I’ve only had two real jobs before and my employers were friends who didn’t care for the grades I had back in school. They made me take initiative to work hard.
And I’m speaking in the context of Singapore only.
But I do agree that an education is important for, if anything, for survival.
If school is the buffer itself, then a degree is your comfort zone you can always go back to.
I don’t buy into that whole “trendy” school of thought that college is useless. Just because there’re a bunch of billionaires out there who happen to be college dropouts doesn’t mean it’s super cool or that you can do the same. Sorry man. Not everyone is going to be the next Bill Zuckerberg of House Jobs. Not everyone can be entrepreneurs ok?
That’s not to say however, that entrepreneurship is the only alternate path. It’s not a matter of either being a student or dropout; worker or entrepreneur. I’ll explain more in the later sections.
So… go to school. Study hard and try to enjoy yourself. Take all the time you need. The rest of your life isn’t going to disappear. You absolutely don’t want to fail at something when the remedy is a simple, one-thing-only package, in this case, studying.
Money truly does not buy happiness
Money can only make your life that much easier.
Here I hope to provide clarity for my friends who like to say, “Oh I’ll probably have to give up [my passion] once I start work.”
I can go on a tirade of how my dad’s death gave me a shit ton of epiphanies and how you should imagine being in my shoes, but I won’t.
I want you instead, to start thinking about your (imminent) working life, how nobody will be there to tell you what to do any more and how your life will change.
Yes, you’ll get a job, but the money you get from it can at best, provide some security. It’s not going to make you as happy as you think you’ll be.
What gives you happiness? Your passion. The time you spend with your family. The laughs you share with your friends. The personal challenges you undertook and overcome them yourself (re: school).
I know a bunch of people who are working high-paying jobs, but are unhappy. Do you know why people with high income buy expensive shit? It’s because they don’t have the time to do what they really want with it or when they do, they’re just too tired. Think about it. Talk to a few employee friends and you’ll know.
But I know, some of you have to stick to your shitty jobs because you need the money. You’ve responsibilities and people are dependant on you. I get it.
So remember this now and forever, you are not your job. Your self-esteem is not based on what your boss says and your value as a person isn’t gauged by your pay.
Do what you have to do to survive, but remember that money can never make you as happy as you think it’ll, ever, for money is fickle thing that can control you if you don’t handle it well. Think twice before you work just for the money alone or choose a job for the sole prospect of making more money.
Start on your grand idea already
I’ve heard it so many times from my friends. They feel lost, aimless and confused, but the one veritable thing that’d always hold true for them is how they have a dream; or idea to make it big or whatever.
However, it’d then fall apart because no action is taken for a variety of reasons. Excuses even.
We all have a special dream and we all have ideas. But it’s ultimately all useless if we don’t do a damn thing about it.
And no, this isn’t where I urge you to merely take action.
I’m telling you, just start on your idea now, because:
. You’ll never be fully ready. All the studying, planning, analyzing and rationalizing can only get you so far. You can’t ever predict the future, so you need to take action and see what works for you.
. You can’t be perfect. Don’t think that you aren’t good enough or that you need some form of formal training to make you ready. In fact, the latter wouldn’t give you the results you expect anyway. Don’t aim to be perfect. Aim to be prolific.
. You can’t escape time, so you might as well do it when you’re most comfortable and energetic. What do I mean? Take me for example. It took me two years of blogging to finally gain some traction. If somebody were to tell me, “Hey man, you’re going to have to struggle for two years before you see results” at the start, I’d have ran away or scoffed at the idea, which I did.
I ended up trying a bunch of get-rich-quick things which wasted my time and money.
Failure is inevitable, but that’s where you have to pick yourself up, learn and move on. And on the grand scheme of things, two years is an extremely short time. No matter how ready or prepared you think you are, you’re going to face challenges.
So start on your idea by starting small today.
Want to be a designer? Create something, upload it on Facebook and see what happens. The number of likes and comments you get will help you grow.
Want to start your own T-shirt line? Play around with the many T-shirt platforms online and see what happens.
Want to write? Register a blog. Write. Share. See what happens.
Want to be a singer? Then sing, record and yeah, you get the idea.
You’ll be extremely grateful for these early experiences. Your dreams, aspirations or ideas will never play out the way you think it would in your head. It’s definitely something else. So get those experiences. They’ll give you clarity and form the life you deserve.
Success is always individual
This is a very basic and obvious idea, but unfortunately, we falter with it from time to time as we compare ourselves with others.
We start thinking we have to make more money, marry as quick as possible or even buy stupid shit to look successful.
But remember that success is an individual thing that ultimately leads to your own form of happiness. What others do to make themselves happy cannot apply to you. It’s not your problem in fact.
Many are the times we think we need this or that to be happy, but it’s nothing but an illusion we created from others’ words and ideas.
Look deep down. Do what you’ve got to do to survive, then work on what you want.
Just start already.
Young adults out there. Help me share this. Peace.