(image credits to New Horizons Dorset)
when I was younger, I always had strong faith in my future self to plan things out, and once I entered my first of two years of pre-university, I thought I had my life’s journey all planned out:
finish secondary school ➞ get straight ‘A’s ➞ get into a top pre-university institution (junior college) ➞ somehow survive in pre-u (wasn’t expecting much since it was an entirely different ball game altogether) ➞ get okay grades ➞ get into university ➞ finish undergrad. studies (bachelor’s degree) ➞ finish grad. studies (master’s degree) ➞ finish postgrad. studies (doctorate) ➞ embark on a career in academia ➞ pray that life pans out after this
and somehow along the way, I realised that I really liked bio/chemistry and wanted to go through the entire (above-mentioned) process with a biochemistry doctorate as the end product. but now I find myself having second thoughts.
it has been a little over a week since I started working at the tuition agency/private education centre and in these few days, I’ve met all sorts of people, including the tutors themselves. and, as fate would have it, one of the tutors himself has a doctorate in biochemistry!
so I started thinking to myself, “oh my god that is so cool I wonder what he’s like! I hope he can give me some tips! I wonder what he’s doing here oh my god he must be like some all-knowing oracle oh my god oh my god oh my god this is frikkin’ cool!” (yes, those were my actual thoughts; I blame the extreme colloquialism of our society)
I started idealising what it must’ve been like to go through the entire journey to achieve what I thought was my dream. I forgot that dreams do not always translate to reality, and that life isn’t always a bed of roses.
so I finally managed to meet the tutor with the biochemistry doctorate, and he, along with my boss, started giving me advice that made me rethink the whole ‘get as far as I can in biochemistry’ thing.
yeah, sure, he has a fancy doctorate in biochemistry, but from what he told me, he hated the entire process of getting the doctorate (maybe it had something to do with where he got it from… but I digress) and how he had virtually no plan in life. he spends his time shuttling between giving science tuition to the kids in the centre, and lecturing at one of the five polytechnics here. he doesn’t know what he’s doing with his life (and doesn’t know what he wants to do with it). he has done the things that I’ve planned to do, save for the last two points, and finds himself in a state of limbo.
my boss started telling me about her friends in the field and how there were simply too many Singaporeans doing it. getting a doctorate here would be long, trying, and tiring, without the guaranteed outcome of better prospects. in fact, the prospects seemed to be fewer and limited as one went up the education ‘food chain’ of getting from undergrad. to postgrad., with undergrad. being able to do much more in a wider range of careers while a postgrad. would only be able to partake in research or academia given how specific his/her specialty was. it was a situation with high risk and low returns.
and boy, do I hate uncertainty in my life. I’ve always been a big-picture kind of person and never paid any mind to the little details and never made any allowances for anything that might go wrong along the way. I’m so afraid of life going wrong like this and afraid of having a mid-life crisis (ridiculous, I know, seeing as I haven’t even turned nineteen yet). I always want things to work out and there is always a plan to follow.
now, I’m not even too sure about the things I want. do I want to become like this? not knowing where I’m going or what I’m doing with my life? having all the qualifications but nothing to pique my interests and having so many regrets and sorrows? I can get all the high standardised test scores and honours and awards but it all seems like it’ll be for naught if I can’t bring myself to be content with what I’ve done.
my love for the sciences has not declined; it has remained the same. it is unwavering and it will hold my interests for the near future. but I’m afraid that I will change my mind halfway and things start going wrong— already I find myself having a slowly growing interest in musical theatre (moreso the theatre than the musical, really— even that’s a major paradigm shift!) and this definitely did not exist two years ago when I just entered my first year of pre-u. I’m so afraid of change and afraid of things not working out. I’m too scared to give things a shot because I’m uncertain as to the outcome but I often find that I miss many good opportunities thanks to my fears.
is there a way for me to be able to say ‘heck it’? because it would be really helpful right about now.
[p.s.: I’m starting to think that a career in theatre/acting instead would be the coolest darn thing ever. imagine, being able to be someone else without the long-term commitment!]
[p.p.s.: perhaps, I should stop listening to Avenue Q; the songs ‘Purpose’ and ‘It Sucks To Be Me’ are really, really making me overthink just everything I’ve ever dreamed of doing and becoming— Avenue Q is making me rethink my life. how ridiculous is THAT?]
“There is no plan. All is hazard. And the only thing that will preserve us is ourselves.”
― The Magus, John Fowles