I've only been alive for slightly over two decades, but even I know that life is just not that simple to follow a fixed pattern. How anyone can expect our existence to be so black and white is beyond my understanding. This isn't Stepford, it's the real world. The only thing that could possibly be so monochromatic is maybe this outfit, which I wore last month during London Fashion Week. You're probably wondering what the hell I'm on about, so saddle up, kids.
Over the last week, I've been hit with some unfortunate and unexpected reminders that fate is far beyond our control and it's gotten me to reevaluate several aspects of my life. Firstly, as I've said before, it's good to have direction, but you can't plan life in meticulous detail because you never know when she's going to throw a curveball at you. Secondly, I spend a lot of time trying to please others, but I really don't think it's worth the time anymore. Life is fragile. Life is ephemeral. I shouldn't be persecuted for doing things that bring me joy, satisfaction and a sense of purpose. I don't believe that there is only one way to live life, so no one should force their ideals onto others. I may make mistakes along the way, but hey, those are my mistakes to learn from. It really infuriates me to see bigotry, no matter the context. Live and let live. Try it. I'll guarantee you the world will be a much better place.
At the risk of sounding like a whiny, overprivileged kid, I begin my rant. Growing up in an Asian society can be suffocating in some ways. From a young age we're told to plan out exactly what we're going to be doing with our lives. Or rather, we're given a conformist template of how life is supposedly meant to play out (school, university, job, marriage, kids, retirement) and then are left to fill in the minor details of how these things are going to happen. Do you want to be a doctor? No? That's ok, you can be a lawyer instead. Well, for the lucky ones at least. The less fortunate souls already have their lives written out in detail and are required to comply with full diligence. Otherwise, what would the neighbours think? Gasp!
Isn't it just so ludicrous? In terms of professions, I don't believe there are good or bad ones per se. All jobs are there for a purpose, they just have to be matched with the right individual. Also, a job shouldn't be valued by how much it cashes out. Sure, go ahead and study medicine and become a doctor, but don't do it just because you want to make the money. Do it because you want to help people. Do it because it fascinates and amazes you. Do it for the right reasons. Without passion, commitment and enthusiasm, you'll never find fulfillment. This applies to everything else in life too.
God forbid should you choose to break free from one of the infinite societal norms and expectations by, let's say, opting out of attending university, choosing not to get married, or, even worse yet, deciding to pursue a dishonorable line of work (read: fash-uhn)... You do not want to piss off a strict Asian parent. Hell hath no fury like a narrow-minded father with an immense amount of pride and a huge ego. Take my word for it.
But I guess sometimes you have to venture into the lion's den and push some buttons in order to make a difference. You can't always give in to those who are obstinately convinced of the correctness of their own opinions, especially when these opinions have a negative impact. How can you help others if you're not free yourself, right? My family may be against my non-academic pursuits (photography, writing, this blog, etc), but I still do it anyway, despite the consequences. For those of you who still think I'm whining - I don't think I'm wrong in trying to break away from a backward way of thinking. Slightly modified, it's this same mentality elsewhere in the world that prevents 62 millions girls from receiving an education. Change begins with the small things and it's important to stand up for what you believe in. As much as we would like to try, not all of us can illicit a Malala level of change in the world, so why not start small? Be the change you want to see, right?
I'll see you when I see you.