Running Away

Hi Gaijin Han,

How are you!? I have been reading your blog for a long time, years, many years.

My story is similar and dissimilar to yours. I too went from JC to Poly. But I was (very naive then) frozen by NS, and I dropped out of everything and got PES E.

I later did an online BA in <XXX> and finished with 1:1. I then ran away from Singapore, teaching English in China for almost 4 years. Realising that China is not a good place to live in due to health issues and low pay, I returned to Singapore and just completed a Masters in <YYY> from a local uni (GPA at first class honours).

Now, I am looking for jobs (not so good). I see all my friends doing well (or at least making a decent living, cushy jobs, etc).

I am thinking of going back to do a proper bachelors degree (with credit exemptions it will take only a year or so).

Or maybe finding a job and doing this bachelors part time at <ZZZ> etc.

Or maybe running away to China again (unlikely) or Japan (unsure) etc.

What do you think I should do? I am around your age, maybe 2 years younger.

Yours Sincerely,

* Characters in <> brackets are self-censored content

Hi P,

Thank you for giving me the option to publish this as long as I hid the necessary identifiable information.

First, I don’t understand why you need to do a Bachelor’s if you already have a Masters, from a local university no less. I’ve never heard of first class honors grade for Masters degrees though. I had always thought it would be more like Pass, Merit, or Distinction.

Anyhow, I’m guessing the reason you ask me this question is because you don’t have interest in any particular field, which would render the question “What do you really want to do” meaningless. Interestingly, my company’s toilet has this Japanese version Steve Jobs daily calendar and the message I saw today read, “あわてるな!夢中になれることは必ず見つかる,” which means “Don’t be flustered. You will definitely find something you’re crazy about.”

At our age, it’s only natural to be flustered. If you ask me whether I know what I want to do for a career, I can honestly tell you I still don’t. I enjoy my current work status and what I do now, but that doesn’t mean it’s something I want to do in the long run. The thing is, I have a goal in mind which is unrelated to how I’m going to make money. I want to provide free education to children. But for that to happen, I must have money coming in from other sources such that I don’t have to worry about keeping myself alive. To be honest, I don’t really care where that source of income comes from. It’s great if I enjoy what I do to bring in the money, but as long as I don’t dislike what I do, I don’t see my career as an important part of my life. I set goals for what I want to be and do at the current company in the long term (for example, be the head of the Japan office). But that is ultimately a means to my goal of providing free education to children. It helps in attaining my goal but it’s not a critical part of it.

Am I worried about my future? Sure, I am. But having a goal in mind makes me less worried especially since the journey doesn’t bother me. I don’t care how I get there, as long as I get there.

Your friends are doing well making decent living with cushy jobs, and so are my friends. Many have purchased their first home, have a family with children, and have a fat CPF and bank account. I don’t have a house, or my own family or children, and my CPF account is negligible since I’ve spent 7 of my 9 working years outside Singapore. But I don’t get worried because I don’t compare myself with them. It’s good they have their own businesses and are making a windfall doing what they are doing. But I am certain my life is more interesting. Maybe it’s not to them, but it doesn’t matter because it is more interesting to me.

You probably don’t know what you want to do now but what are your dreams? What’s your ultimate goal? 10 years later, when you look back at your life, would you feel proud of what you did today? When you call a move overseas “running away,” it probably means there’s something you know you want to do and moving overseas is not it. Do what ever it takes to get you there even if it doesn’t seem like a direct path. You’re doing fine as long as you’re moving toward it, not away from it and “running away” to China or Japan is moving away from it.

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