I’m 42 because that’s the number of countries I’ve traveled to so far. I believe that life is not about your age, it’s about your accomplishments, about how you feel.
There are a lot of expectations living and growing up in a typical Asian family in Singapore. Although times are changing and people are starting to be more open about alternative choices, by large, it is hard to avoid incessant questions when you go against the grain.
My family ran into a bit of trouble when I was a kid and, as a result, I grew up extremely independent and somewhat feisty. I buried myself in books, never really gave two hoots about what anyone thought about me and would pursue my passions with vigour.
The phrase “If it doesn’t break you, you grow stronger,” is completely true. After several internships, scholarships and two Bachelor degrees, I finally landed a job I loved. I was in the research field for a decade; starting with clinical psychology and ending up doing mainly research consulting.
At the height of my career, I decided to quit. Many were shocked and thought I was out of my mind to give up my position and salary. It wasn’t that I didn’t love research, but I felt that I wanted so much more in my short life on earth. I wanted to see, learn and experience more. I didn’t want to be restrained in a lifestyle that was exclusive and also somewhat snobbish. The flashy cars, branded wardrobe and expensive dining choices wasn’t “me”; it was what my peers and colleagues expected out of me.
After I quit, I dabbled in marketing for two years but it wasn’t my calling. Most of my free time and money was spent on traveling and recently, I just started a small coffee business, The Pourover Bar, with a close friend.
Now that I am in my mid 30s, I have only 40 or 50 years more to decide how I want to spend every single moment of my life. Do I really want to spend it worrying about what others think of me? I want to spend my precious time indulging in my passion, connecting with other and exploring this vast world I live in.
I’m even considering heading to Australia to study something completely different and look out for business opportunities there.
My choices in life have never been totally conventional. There’s no stability, safety net or back up plan. My friends feel that I should have not given up such a well-paying job just for a “passion”. Some worry that I would eventually regret not seizing the opportunity while I’m at the peak of my career. Others think that I’m too old to learn a new skill or relocate.
While I am not easily swayed after making a decision, it is rather heartbreaking when friends drift apart because of different opinions on what acceptable life goals should be.
Truth is, while there are no sure-win choices in life, I’m happy with mine.
Happiness is the secret to youthfulness and no matter my age, I won’t give up pursuit of happiness to fit into moulds that society has set out for me. I’ve seen and learnt so much from what the world has to offer. I’ve just returned from Mount Everest and I’m now planning my next adventure; to follow the mountain nomads of East Tibet when they move their herds to graze next year. At work, it gives me much joy to watch customers enjoy my hand brewed V60 coffee. That’s enough to put a smile on my face.
You can do whatever you set out to do and you shouldn’t let others or your age define you.
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