Sometimes I feel like some people make things look more difficult than they really are. When you ask people across professions–lawyers, accountants, doctors, entrepreneurs, students–there will always be this “really difficult thingy that only x and y and never z can ever do.” This kind of thinking, whether intentional or not, brings about a culture that not only causes people to lose their ambitions, but also causes them to settle in “okay” but “financially safe” situations.
My second to the youngest brother loves drawing and design and wants to become an architect. But meeting architecture students and professionals, he suddenly wants to change his mind. “Too much math,” “Too much work on plates,” “Two hours of sleep a day,” “No social life” were all he heard from them. For a tween who is not that good in math, who loves sports and who likes to go out with friends on a Saturday night, who will not be threatened by these? With his youthful yet fearful heart, the only way he can get back on track is to meet someone whom he admires who says otherwise. What stood as a firm decision now all boiled down to a game of chance.
When I look back, I see myself in similar situations but one thing stands out– and it took me four years to figure it out. Upon graduation, I knew straightaway I would struggle in a 9-5 office job. Although my job gives me the opportunity to travel and live in places I would never have imagined myself to be in, at the end of the day, I have to go back to my cubicle, finish my research, and do other office-related tasks. The set up of a chair, desk, artificial lighting and air-conditioning mentally and emotionally suffocates me. My mind always wanders what it’s like outside.
But I have to endure, I fool myself into thinking. I train myself into believing that I need to be in research because I love writing. That I need to be in one with communities so I can help them. But in the field, without a law degree to boot or a big fund to support them, every day seems like a storyline without an ending. Stories of suffering I have to put in one ear, and put in my heart. Nothing to ever put out other than, “I feel for you.”