For 10 years, I was taught in school that if I studied hard, I would one day become successful and lead a happy, comfortable life.
So I did – I would learn to find x, write Chinese essays with some template structure, and calculate how much hydrochloric acid it would take to create salt crystals.
Then, I figured that I was better at describing the mixed emotions of the driver as his car crashed into the onrushing traffic than calculating the scientific variables of his car.
“I don’t need to study hard if all I wanted was to pursue an arts degree.”
(In retrospect, that was extremely naive and I should be extremely thankful because if I were to be born one year later, my grades would not have made the cut off.)
I wanted to create my own definition of success, not my parents’. I had chosen a path that was unpopular then (as reflected by the lower cut off grade), and I was prepared for it.
Here’s where it gets real.
Research reports that fresh graduates receive an average starting salary of $3,300/month. My first paycheck was close to $2,000.
I am pretty sure I’m not the only one who experienced such a dissonance between research and reality. And I think this is what makes life difficult.
Life is as difficult as it should be. It was never meant to be easy. But imagine being told for half your life that you live in a meritocratic world, that hard work would pay off, and that you are responsible for your own success.
That’s only half the truth. Being born in a particular country, to a particular family, and meeting particular people in your life – luck is a big contributing factor in life. Someone probably started with a salary of $4,600, and he probably thinks it’s all due to his hardwork.
And we have to acknowledge this, and we have to start accepting the fact that life is always a struggle but it doesn’t have to be difficult.
I’m not suggesting we stop dreaming but perhaps we can dream with lead (Nike) shoes to keep us tethered to the ground.
Only then can we prepare individuals (students) for the shitty situations that they might find themselves in, and still find joy in life. Only then can we learn to live more even if we are earning less.
P.S. I would like to thank my sociology professors for giving me a bigger perspective to life.