Sunday, June 17, 2007

Choices and Responsibilities

Friday, 15 June 2007
Koningsstraat, Amsterdam

The dillema of being a 20-something-year-old: Do I have the right profession? Am I wasting my time with what I'm doing now? Can I really see myself doing this for decades?

A lot of variables come into play within the process of searching for answers. Parents' approval, financial security, employment security, community appraisal, insurance, vacation/leave, etc, etc. The list goes on from one aspect to another, rarely resorting to the most important thing: Are we happy with what we do?

In the middle of waking up at 6AM every morning and sighing with relief when we kick our shoes off - we fulfil all of our responsibilities as an adult and as a participant of a society that we no longer fulfil our 'selfish' needs. We feel more comfortable to be able to answer the question 'What do you do?' with 'I work at Telkomsel' than 'I own a small business unit' or 'I'm in between researches' because it's easier for people to fathom.

All of these questioning, as always, sprung from the fact that I'm currently choosing an 'unpopular' career path. I am aware of the need to remind myself everyday that it's easier to bear the uncomfortable conversations with people not understanding what I do, than having to live with myself doing something I don't enjoy. There is just so much we can do by explaining ourselves to others; how they interpret our message is completely out of our control.

'Let it go. It's beyond your control,' I say to myself.

We all need to set our priorities straight. What is the most important thing in our lives? Happiness? Money? Time with family? The ability to help other people? Then we need to operationalise our plans according to this single most important thing. Being consistent about something that is our lives' target is much more easier than pleasing other people's expectations - because we are in control of our own choices and, well, pursuit of happiness (pun unintended).

At the end of the day, we explain our life decisions to ourselves. We have to live with our choices and rationalise the costs and benefits. We are the ones bearing the consequences and taking in the experience of the profession we choose to do.

After all, regardless of faith, culture or gender, "In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility." (Eleanor Roosevelt)

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