At just 16, Greta Thunberg is already out there sending the message of climate change to the world. I can foresee it’ll be her life’s work for a long time. So, where were you at the age of 16 or 26 or 36? If you open a time capsule buried in the past, can you see what you were trying to achieve or already achieved back then? What about now? What are your career aspirations? Are you still searching for that something that’ll get you out of bed every morning? Something you’ll do again and again and never get sick and tired of, nor give up on. Then, there comes the roadblocks, self-doubts, uncertainties. What does it take to find your niche in life? Doing what you love doesn’t necessarily mean getting paid for it. If money isn’t in the cards, will you continue the same level of enthusiasm as if it was a paid job? When the only reward is nothing financial but something that gives you a sense of achievement and satisfaction, will you still be there till the end?
Before my family immigrated into Australia, my life in Taiwan from the day I was born was all about being competitive and passing all school exams. As a student, I was told to study hard and get good grades at school. It was the common sentiment shared among many parents. Who wouldn’t want their children to have a head-start, a well-paved career path and a higher socioeconomic status in the future? Though I was rarely one of those top students excelled at all subjects, it didn’t bother me to the slightest that I was just an “average” student. I remember in our writing class, we were asked to write about “What do you want to do when you grow up?”, I think I said I want to be a teacher, a musician, a pianist. When I got a bit older, around my teenage years or something, I changed it to a journalist, a news reader, an actor, or a TV personality etc. As time went by, I didn’t end up pursuing interests or hobbies in those areas. Instead, I switched to one subject that I loved most – English. To be good at it, I spent the bulk of my time studying it, going to evening English classes, listening to English language programs on radio. I even hired American tutors to perfect my conversational skills. When I got better at it, Taiwan, a tiny island about the same size of Netherlands in Europe, was too small to my increasing appetite for success. I told my parents, I want to go to study in America. The West.
They took us to Australia in 1990. Over the course of two decades, I went following what was thought to be popular and mainstream – going to university, getting a corporate job and buying a property. I was lucky enough to achieve all that – graduating with a Bachelor degree from one of top universities in Australia, working for those well-known big companies and living the Great Australian dream in one of the most livable cities in the world. What more could I ask for? On paper, it looks alright. But behind the scenes, there were tones of torments. I repeated the final year of high school studies, resat for the certificate exams, I was jobless and living my life without any source of income in 2012 and 2013, while paying home mortgage and other bills. Gratefully, they were a thing of the past and I’m now in a better place mentally and physically, but that’s not to say I’m 100% done.
The notion of “Do what you were born to do” got me thinking recently. I first heard of it from a mutual friend of mine a few years ago. After she left a broken marriage, she decided to relocate to Singapore. Two years later she quite her 6-figure salary job altogether. Then she became this person on a mission to find her purpose in life. At that time, it all sounded too New Age to me, something I wasn’t too fond of nor interested in. So, I went through the motions without paying too much attention. But lately the idea has re-surfaced. Perhaps it’s because I’m at a different stage of life. “Do what you were born to do” has come to me with a fresh meaning. I’m crystal clear about what I was brought to this world for – to be the voice of minorities and to break down stereotypes.
Minorities? What minorities? One way or the other, everyone will become part of minorities at least once in their life time. How so? Permanently or temporarily, we all have this identity or self-image that is seen as an outsider or even outcast by the society at large. For example, people in the LGBT community, a single parent, a divorcée or divorcé, people who have been bullied or abused, people who have been laid off etc. All can be classified as minorities. When a crisis arises, a large proportion of people in these groups tends to experience some form of mental illness – depression, anxiety, OCD, etc. Admittedly, I have my fair share of shit moments, but I didn’t go through those rough patches for nothing. Have been a minority on many fronts, though once was too painful to bear, it’s given me the ability to empathize and relate to people’s struggles similar to mine. I’ll continue to use this platform as the voice of minorities and help whoever reads it build life skills from there…