Wednesday, 1 February 2017

22 or 23 and Still Studying - The Dilemma in the Transition to Adulthood

As I am approaching my final academic semester in UM, this is an article that I would like to share with everyone that comes across my blog for Form 6/STPM advices and opinions (I started this blog writing about Form 6), my recent contents on education and politics, or maybe just simply because the topic of this article caught your eyes.

So technically, I am 23 this year. I studied Form 6/STPM for Pre-U which results in me lagging at least a year behind many of my peers. For the past couple of years I’d seen my peers and even high school juniors graduated and started their full-time career in their respective industries and my relatives starting to step up the ladder in their career. The outcome from witnessing these events, especially the peers same age as me are getting out to the working world, is a mixed and complex feelings on my current state – 23 and still studying while the peers around me are starting to work and earn.

As a result, many questions popped through my mind:

“After studying for so many years, what is the thing that I truly want?”
“What if I could not afford to buy a house/car?”
“Which sector/industry should I be entering?”

I guess I am not the only one to have these dilemmas and feelings, which are especially strong when we see our friends of same age (and even younger ones) graduating and starting to work, as well as when the topic of discussion goes around on work in a gathering.

The thing is, we aren’t teenagers anymore. At this stage, we are not at the times where we could put away all our doubts and problems should they arise, nor are we at the times where we are holding the full responsibilities like a full-fledged adult (let just admit it, even if you are working at this age you can barely take care of your own expenses with your current salary). At this stage, we are in the middle of nowhere, trying to figure out our very own direction and identity.

Self-doubt kills

At this stage, especially if we are still studying, it is easy to feel the pressure not only externally, but also from within. The fear of being a year slower, the fear of losing our advantage, the fear of uncertainties and the fear of not being good enough. In short, there are so many fears and anxieties, we start to doubt on our capability to face the future that is unpredictable.  

The irony is, self-doubting kills. It kills off our confidence, it kills off our creativity and it kills off our instinct to see and follow our true purpose in life. Self-doubting cause us to become impatient, and while we are wasting our time worrying about a future that we cannot control, we are losing out on the precious moment of present where we are truly living in.

Stop Looking So Far Away

After so many Chinese New Years that I’ve been through, I’ve gotten a sense on how wrong our society has become. Every single Chinese New Year (or other festive seasons), we are asked on our plans for the future, where we would want to work, when we are getting a partner, when we are getting married etc. I call this the pressure of the society. The fact is, this phenomenon impacts us more than we think. Many of us, in order to answer these questions, started to look upon the far future that we cannot predict (eg. due to pressure of the society I had to make up my mind on what I want to become in the future after SPM (come on, how many people knows what they truly want after SPM?), from radio DJ, physiotherapist, sports scientist and eventually I entered Form 6 because I could not make up my mind on what  I wanted become at that period of time.)

Hence, the thing we should be doing is to stop looking so far away, and start living at the present.

Be Mindful of the Present

The reason, that people are having the dilemmas and feelings towards the various fears of the future, is because many of us are not living fully in the present.

We are often brought away by the new trends around us and distracted by our own self-doubts and as a result we lose our focus on the essence of being a human – to find our true purpose in life.
Therefore, fellow 22s and 23s that are still studying, or finding yourself lack of direction, or simply finding life demotivating, start to be mindful of the present. The thing that we have in comparison to our peers that are already in the workforce, is the luxury of time.

We need start to live in the moment. Start getting a life. Start living healthily. Start enjoying every moment from now on.

The book that you always wanted to read? Read them. The sports that you always wanted to try? Do them. The projects or ideas that you always wanted to do? Make them a reality. The topics or subjects that you are interested in? Make sure you become the best in them.

Stop wasting time sleeping too much and too late. Stop worrying so much about the far future that you cannot control and predict. Most importantly, stop doubting yourself.

Live in the moment. Never stop learning and exploring, and eventually you will find that when the time has come for you to make certain important decisions, you will know what to do.