I made a video on July 17, 2017, to announce my first day without a job.
I want to build on that on this blog post, and share with you some deeper meanings behind my decision.
Here's how I want to preface it - You learn nothing by listening. You learn by doing.
As a kid I was terrified of not conforming. This fear has influenced most of my decisions in my younger life, a good portion of my first 20 years. From entering a convent school in Primary School because we were Catholic, choosing another convent school for my Secondary School, getting good grades because I was afraid of failing and moving to "the bad class", right up to deciding on a degree in Real Estate just because people have said it can "make money". I developed a lot of biases in my head based on what my parents and other people told me, like
- "People who have a science degrees end up as teachers." - I do believe to this day that this bias has led me to choose a degree that I hated and not the one I would have loved.
- "People with tattoos are gangsters" - I still get this comment to this day. I would love to have tattoos, but this statement has also stopped me from doing that.
I relied on other people to tell me how I should live my life. I was unsure of my abilities, unsure on what I wanted to focus on, and my goals always somehow morphed from society's version of success. To get a high-paying job with good title, and live on River Valley Road. If not people will look down on you, and you wouldn't want that. I really like Jim Carrey's quote about success - "I hope everybody could get rich and famous and will have everything they ever dreamed of, so they will know that its not the answer." I'm far from rich and famous, but I have realized that it is not the answer. I feel it.
However, I wasn't that person. I was an animal lover, a hard rock fan, I love to play the drums, I like wheels, I like cycling and skateboarding. I'm sort of a Tinkerer. I like to tinker. I would decorate my school shoes with artwork and get caught by the discipline master. The one thing I lacked when I was younger, was I wasn't taught to harness who I really am into meaningful action steps to take. I was always bombarded with "you should do this", "why are you not like that". I was chastised for my own personality, and I always feel bad for letting people know the true me, for fear that they might think I'm weird. Like I said, I just wanted to conform.
I used to feel that nobody understood me, and that if I just do what they want me to do, I would be accepted. This strategy works well from the outside looking in, but it eats you up from the inside. The biggest downfall from 25 years of this was I never trusted my own decisions, I always thought another person's decision is always way more correct than mine. That somehow we need someone else to give "the nod" before we can decide. I realize now that there isn't a need for anybody to understand you. The true friends and family are those who accept you for who you are.
Let me tell you this - if there is one thing you can take away from this article, please remember this - your decision is just as good, if not better, than anyone else's, because you know yourself best. You will then need to take full accountability for your actions, whether the outcome is good or bad.
I was 25, and trapped in my own self made reality, based on other people's expectations. I had a degree that I care nothing about, job prospects that I will most definitely hate because people see the degree and hire based on that. I couldn't picture myself in real estate. It was a dead end.
At the time (1990s), the Internet was just coming mainstream, and I discovered that I really liked technology, and I developed a passion for building stuff on the Internet. On hindsight, the Internet saved me. The Internet was a place where everyone had to start from ground zero, everyone had to re-learn, re-apply and reinvent themselves. I picked up my first Netscape and HTML book in 1995, and so began a journey of my own reinvention. I was able to create a new reality for myself, one that is more true to who I am, and what I want. I trusted my own decisions and instincts more and more, and built up the confidence and courage to communicate my thoughts and views without thinking about "this might make me look stupid", or "I'm sure they would know about this". I managed to break free from the trap I created 15 years ago, and I'm happy with what I've accomplished in my career. Now I have come to another cross road. The time has come to once again reinvent and reboot, and I made my decision.
The nagging feeling of "compliance" will always be there. Even now as I sit and write this, pre-judgement from your peers and relatives can cloud your mind and be the chains that can hold you down, but remember this - you are the final decision maker, not them, and the decision is based on the person who knows YOU best - yourself.
You learn nothing by listening. You learn by doing. More than positivity, I want to spread POSSIBILITY. I want to inspire people to think of how they can create a life they want to live, and not think about the structure that society has built, and be guilty for not following that route. It is your responsibility to find the way that works for you, and that is all there is to it.
The alternative is to be trapped inside society's stereotypes (an oh boy that list is long) and end up living a life that is not you. Make YOU work, and you will be happy. Oftentimes the chains we put on ourselves are invisible, so they are hard to pinpoint. Take a long hard audit of these invisible chains, and find a way to break free.
Hope this helps another person.