Can you recall the tussles that you had with your parents while trying to find your way in this World? It may have been 10, 20, 30, or more years ago when you were once in the position of your child, trying to get your parents to understand your point of view.
Thankfully, I had journaled my way into adulthood in my twenties, trying to live the life that I would be proud of, be it if I were to time travel back to my childhood or to the future.
I remembered my twenties being a really confusing period of my life. I felt pulled in every direction in the first few years when I started working. From being mostly surrounded with students from largely similar socio-economic backgrounds, I was thrust into a position where I had to interact with people from different age groups, cultures and professions. Everyone has his or her own opinion of the definition of success and what a good life is.
As I was still staying with my parents in my twenties, I found my definition of success still closely intertwined with my parents’ perception. However, I was not happy at all. I fought really hard to protect my dreams and self-esteem while still trying to be a filial daughter to my parents. Trust me, it was not easy for a chinese child to stand up against his or her parents because filial piety is so deeply ingrained in an Asian chinese child’s upbringing. (You can find out more about how I navigate this struggle here. )
If you have found your way to this article because you are trying to come to terms with your adult child’s career choice, I would like to give you a peek into your early twenties again.
The purpose of sharing this article is because I hope any young adult out there who is struggling to orientate or move forward right now will find my experience beneficial or at least comforting. You are not alone and I am sure you will be able to find a renewed sense of purpose once you have looked inward and contemplated deeply on your life’s vision and goals.
How did I find myself in my twenties?
At 22-year-old, I wrote a blog post to myself entitled “Finding myself 20XX (23 year old)”. I penned it when I left my first job because of the first major setback in my life. I was lost and confused. I needed to calm myself down and navigate my life. So, I turned to my blog to help myself and this was what I wrote:
“I am going to launch a project and that is called finding myself. The subject of interest will be me and the ultimate beneficiary of it will be myself too. I have no idea how I am going to do it but this place will be where I am going to document all my trials n errors, successes n failures, discoveries n self-revelations in a messy but clear way, cos life is a puzzle that we r all trying to unravel. Being introspective is a way to heal our souls and make us better people. Being extroverted is a way to help us connect to others because we need it for our spiritual well-being too. I am not sure if I should set a deadline for this project. We are subjected to change so finding myself should be an ongoing n never-ending process. But being plainly aware of my weakness, the tendency to procrastinate, a never-ending deadline will probably pave the way to the natural death of this project. I shall decide this later.”
Fast forward 8 years, looking back at what I had penned down then, I am a little surprised by my ability to concoct these statements. I guess in times of despair, it really pushes one to think deeply.
To find out how I managed to move on from my first setback, you can check out these 2 articles:
In this article, I shared the 5 habits/insights that I had learned in my twenties which had improved the trajectories of my life. If I only have time for 1 habit on the list, I would definitely not give up on reading/learning.
I had to add in learning because everyone has a different preference to learn new information. Some like reading, while others like listening to podcasts, observing others, or watching videos. I had a big argument with a long-time friend (more than 10 years) yesterday (on 13th December 2020) about the value of watching TV/Drama/Videos. I think watching TV series and Variety Shows are a big waste of time but that is how she chooses to relax and de-stress. We went away still holding on to our beliefs but I think I need to be more aware of people’s varied preferences towards learning and not be too dismissive.
Over the years, I gravitate towards reading. I find that books are more reliable than people. People, especially adults, like to be right. Therefore, most people speak to persuade or convince others that their thoughts/ideas/habits are superior instead of trying to listen and understand the other party’s perspective and needs. I am no exception to this as well. Increasingly, I find myself trying to exert my opinions over others rather than listening. Somehow somewhere, I lost the ability to listen. Because of my caution towards people’s motives, preconceived notions, or limited experience, I trust books that I choose more than people. Books open doors to thoughts that are beyond my immediate network of friends.
Books are easier to deal with than people as well. I can choose the books I want to read. If I do not agree or like it, I can just put it away and pick up another book. However, I just can’t cut people off abruptly when I do not wish to partake further in the discussion without being impolite.
Nevertheless, the downside of reading is that it takes a longer time to get the answer through books than through people. The right network of people can bring wonders to your life. I believe it will take time to build the right network of friends and partners. It took me 12 to 17 years to find the books that I like and re-read whenever I need fuel, support, and inspiration. Likewise, friends that stay will stay while friends that diverge may cross paths again down the road.
In this article, I shared about the tussle I had with my dad with regard to my career choice. This experience made me realise the importance of instilling independent thinking in our children. I think one of my goals as a future parent is to be able to TRUST the decision made by my children. I need to equip my children with the ability to think on their own so that they will be able to educate me in the future.
I am pointing you towards this article as you will probably be facing objections from people around you, especially your loved ones. I hope you will have the courage to stand up to your inner voice.
You may be wondering what was my setback? Perhaps, I will be comfortable revealing it in 5 years’ time. Stay tuned!