26 & Working

Five years. I’ve officially spent half a decade in London.

It has been quite a journey to have unexpectedly come this far. In this period, I’ve graduated with a BA degree, topped it off with a Masters from a renowned institution, did several internships, moved to Singapore for several months, had occasional travels in between and finally settling to a full time job in London. Looking back, this ride seemed overwhelming, and satisfying to a certain extent. I feel blessed to have the chance and liberty to have done so.

To sum up my life in that short paragraph, it may appear that I have it all planned and figured out, and that it’s going very well. That’s not entirely true. I struggle to confidently re-affirm myself that things are going well, and I do know why.

KNOWING WHAT I DON’T KNOW

Like many twenty-somethings, I suffer from not knowing what to do exactly with my life, career wise, in the next 5 years to start with. How does anyone possibly know for sure? I have a hundred things that I would like to do; always bookmarking pages and jotting down ideas in my Moleskin notebook, which sits in there looking pretty.

Months has passed, years have gone by. Many of these ideas were nothing more than just a result of enthusiastic scribbling moments. How do I go about making this happen? Where do I start? What if this was the wrong choice?

This aspect has become increasingly important, or shall I say, defining. My college and university years were carefree and without a concrete plan. I attended all classes and did well in exams, but I failed to really capitalise on those times of opportunity – network with academics, actively involve in extracurricular activities, build real skills from working internships, and apply for graduate jobs well in advance. I had little idea that these steps were crucial to building a strong foundation for what lies after graduation.

GOOD PRESSURE

Having done little of the above, I had to do all the catching up now, and as a result, falling a year or two behind my peers. Benchmarking my milestones with my peers who are ahead of me does put some pressure. They’re however, good pressure. It’s finally sunk in that I have to get serious with my ambitions and kickstart with defining my goals and ways of achieving them.

Finding out what I really wanted to do for the rest of my life is a big challenge, and will possibly be so in the next 5 years or even much longer than that. I don’t have a definite answer, but I know I had to get going, and get ahead.

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

If you’re in your 20s or early 30s, and find yourself nodding in agreement that you’re in a similar boat, I highly recommend a book that may help you find the answer to the difficult questions – The Defining Decade by Meg Jay. She gave a TED talk about her experience specialising in adult development as a clinical psychologist. The talk gives a good gauge on what the book covers. I would say to just pick up the book, as it is more elaborated with examples and theories.

I don’t read a lot in comparison to the people I know, but picking up this book has helped me understand the importance of knowing what you want to do, how to do it, having a plan and, most of all, that time waits for no man.

“To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time.” —Leonard Bernstein
 “Life can only be understood backward, but it can only be lived forward.” Søren Kierkegaard
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