Jun 2, 2013

A Victim Of Society's Expectations - Aren't we all?

We live in a world where society dictates almost everything and it affects our everyday judgement.

In most Asian countries, being successful means staying in a big house, driving a continental car, having a family (preferably with a son), running your own business and having substantial savings in the bank (or under the pillow, hey not all earnings are legal!). Parents expect their children to be doctors, pilots, engineers, accountants, lawyers or successful businessmen. With all this in place, it will bring pride and glamour to the family. Throw in a foreign country (English speaking) university degree or masters and the deal is even sweeter. Lastly, being a filial son or daughter and take care of your parents. The perfect scenario for, I dare say, all Asian parents.

I am lucky enough to have my parents supporting my decision not to take up studies in these so-called professional industries. To me, its boring. When I announced my decision to study mass communications, there were quite a number of questions. Family members, friends and even my tuition teacher questioned my decision, saying that I could go and study a better course. A better course? For who? For you or me or the society?

It is true that the mass communications industry doesn't pay well but it offered me a flexibility that the rest could not. Will you study to be a doctor and only to end up doing a sales job? Or will you graduate with a mechanical engineering degree to do marketing job? What will a pilot graduate do if they can't secure a job? With my mass communications degree, yes it does limit me from doing things which require technical expertise (you wouldn't want me fiddling with a scalpel or carrying out an aircraft maintenance right?). But with this degree, my net is cast wide. All companies need to communicate to the public.  And yet, mass communication studies in Malaysia is often regarded as the last resort or a 'stopover degree' while the students contemplate what they really want in life.

Back to the topic, I am feeling burdened by the stress that society has thrown upon me. Growing up as guy, you are expected of the following 'achievements':

  1. Study hard and achieve good grades - I think I did excellent. Until today, no one believes that I am a person who loves to read and can spend hours in a library.
  2. Not to be involved in criminal activities - Closest I been to being labelled as a criminal? Traffic summons.
  3. Avoid getting a girl pregnant before you are ready for marriage - I used to sell Durex.
  4. Get a good paying job with a reputable company - Checked.
  5. Buy a house - In process
  6. Start a family - Certainly part of the plan in the coming years.
Looks easy right? And I seem to be on track for most of it. Good news? Not exactly.

In the course of fulfilling these set agendas, we often disregard the other simple things in life that can never be recovered. I went through a rather boring undergraduate studies experience as I kept myself occupied with part-time work, believing that work experience is essential. Don't get me wrong. Work experience is essential but it can always be gained AFTER graduation but once schooling/studying ends, there is no turning back.

I guess work has really taken a toll on me lately. Frequent travels, late nights and so much time spent on the outside made me feel like I am more of a robot than human. To make matters worse, I was basically working throughout the entire week or month! Whenever I had a free weekend, I fear every passing moment for it leads me closer to yet another never ending cycle of work.

My job is enjoyable but it takes too much of my time. The amount of time I spent at home is less than the amount of time I spent working. I don't see my parents, girlfriend, family and friends that often. I have virtually no personal time as whatever spare time I have, I use it to catch up with all those dear to me. With the social media boom and mobile connectivity, we are never really away or disconnected from work. And we not even have to mention the physical stress.

This is what society's expectation is about, for us to work hard to achieve the life goals that we might not have chosen. I am jealous seeing some of my friends getting the opportunity to travel the world and doing jobs they love. Jealous. In this world, there are people who are passionate about their work but the majority of us are merely working to chase our passions. I don't love my job but I understand the need for a good job.

Sometimes, I wish I can pack my bags, go travel the world on a shoe-string budget to satisfy my big curiosity of how the world really is. However, I will have to be satisfied that I have a job and look forward towards weekends (when I don't have to work) and do things that I am passionate about. I really should cook something in the coming weeks :)


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