12 March, 2016
On this day exactly a year ago, I walked out of my office at 5pm and never looked back. I left my execrable job with no plan b and no second thoughts; I couldn’t take it anymore. I remember the pain, anguish and frustration with which I would speak about this issue, even several months after it had happened because I believed I had been treated unfairly. Today, I am grateful for the opportunity to look back on it and smile, knowing that it was a necessary experience.
Everyone knows the young graduate’s plight in this country. The pressure on you to find a job right after national service and to figure your entire life out. No one tells you that it will take time to find your feet, your purpose and drive. That it will take countless odd jobs, some unpaid or poorly paid, long periods of droughts and self-discovery to nurture your talents and skills to be able to use them. The system puts you through education which is not practical and produces an unfortunate amount of nescient graduates who find a hard time positioning themselves in an already clustered system that does not work. No one tells you what to expect or how to deal with it, no one prepares you for what is to come after the exhilaration of uni so if you are not strong enough, it will break you down and tear you apart especially when you see your other colleagues working certain ‘prestigious’ jobs and wonder where you went wrong.
They don’t tell you that the white-collar job is not for everyone, they make you believe that it is, because what job exactly am I looking for with a degree in the study of Religions and Classics? (These are both courses ‘given’ to you at the university level). What can I do to make my society and country better with those? They don’t tell you that you have some inborn skills and talents which can be nurtured into something great so you can be your own boss. How would they know when they don’t even bother to find out but just throw all four hundred+ of us into the same room to study the same program. What are we all supposed to come out and do after? I am trying to find out the root cause of this; is it at the junior high school level when we are choosing high schools and programs of study? Or after high school when we are applying for uni? Things could probably be different if right from nursery and primary school, our individual academic strengths are highlighted, monitored and guided so as to keep us on that path, however, giving room for extracurricular activities where some other talents or skills could be discovered. Could the problem also be some of these parents who force their kids into certain career paths just because they took it too or it is in the family? Granted, some of these kids excel (under arduous pressure from the parents of course) but can we just stop for a moment and imagine just how much greater they could be if they were allowed to explore and take their own paths? Or could it be the parents who pay whatever it takes to fix their kids into certain schools or programs and keep them there no matter how poorly they perform? Of course no parent would give up on their child who does not do too well but when the general performance, not just in one area, is repetitively poor, do we or do we not have to look at other options for the child?
I had to delve deep into that because it is all of these things lead us to several unis filled with hundreds of students studying the same programs and graduating with the same qualifications, confused about what to actually do with their lives. This often leads to a late overall and total development of individuals as you would have gone through all levels of formal education before you settle to search and discover yourself, at a point where time is not really on your side age-wise. We would probably have a lot more wealthy young people if this process had begun earlier in an individual’s life.
I am extremely proud of my colleagues who have taken the lonesome (though now becoming increasingly popular) route of starting their own businesses and I support & rally behind them fully because I know exactly how hard that is, especially in this economy. I have to chip this in as well, not everyone is business-minded and can start up and run their own business. Just as others excel extremely academically, it’s the same way others excel tremendously in business so I disagree with business startups as interim jobs because though others find their passion and drive here, it is mostly such people who lack customer service and are lackadaisical about their businesses. After all, “s3 mey3 wei k3k3” translates: that is not really what I want to do.
Well, white or blue, I know it is a matter of time. No one should be pressured into doing something they are not cut out for, or made to feel slighted because they haven’t found their footing in life yet. In a world where there are seasons and times, things always change and you will never know what that person may end up becoming. I hope that our generation, after experiencing this plight firsthand, will change the way things are done and open our kids up to the best of opportunities and experiences so that they may excel in whatever they decide to do.