I’m afraid of pursuing writing as career and the reason is simple really. I’m afraid I won’t be able to make a living. Since I was little, I’ve been told I’m a great writer but I’ve also been told just as many times that I couldn’t make a career out of it. I was brought up with the notion that nothing was impossible but as much as they preach this in schools, they also, in between the lines, teach you that you shouldn’t be pursue uncertain. Journalism, art, theatre, writing; all the jobs that don’t fall under your usual doctor, lawyer, banker category. The jobs that don’t fall under your 9-to-5 depression inducing jobs were things we shouldn’t aspire to be after the age of nine. At the age of 10, a school teacher asked a classmate of mine what she wanted to be when she grew, she said a princess. My teacher laughed and said you won’t earn money being a princess. The education system is teaching kids that if your passion doesn’t lie with a guaranteed paycheck at the end of the month, then to pursue something else that will and that is wrong.
I’m in my second year of the IB diploma course, I’m looking at universities and trying to envision myself locked in a place reading up on a course I’m not vaguely enticed by. I’m listening to my friends talk about pursuing their respective studies to become doctors, lawyers, business men and women and I can’t help but feel none of them really want it. They’re carrying on with their education, following the path of what their families and schools expect of them. My school, just last week, brought in five people to come speak about their jobs, amongst these five were: A lawyer, an engineer, architect, banker, and another lawyer. All talked about their lives and their strenuous jobs — I couldn’t focus on any of them because I couldn’t envision myself taking their place. When I see myself in the future, I see myself working on novels or writing articles for a paper. I see myself getting down and dirty to dig out a story and present it to the people. Yet, I’m planning to study law and become a lawyer. Do you see where the conflict lies? The idea of getting a job that entails a constant paycheck is so engrained in our way of thinking that we neglect our passions however talented or untalented we are.
I researched up on creative writing courses, universities that offered them and for the first time in half a year did I feel excited for my future. I take theatre as a higher level subject in IB, and recently one of assessments was to write and direct a play. For a month, I was stressed out and thinking about only this assignment despite having 2 pending ones. I was trying to get all my actors in for rehearsals, I was spending hours after school teaching my actors acting techniques and getting the to bring to life my script. For two weeks, I got home at 10:30 PM every night and yet I loved every second of it. To me, it wasn’t like a long history paper that I spent time on but didn’t feel for afterwards. The taste of enjoying the hard work and loving every second of it was unfamiliar to me and it made me question just what I was doing in my life. I didn’t want to go to university and restart the whole cycle of never ending hate towards what I was learning. I didn’t want to open a textbook or get started on a assignment only to feel despair. I want to be excited, to spend my friday nights spilt over assignments I was genuinely excited for instead of procrastinating by partying or re-watching the season finale of Supernatural.
￼Growing up in two drastically different cultures have allowed me to see that this restrictive idea of what you can and can’t be is prevalent in all countries. I’ve lived in four countries: Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore. And while some countries are more accepting of the arts than the others, the initial idea is still set. Opportunities to flourish are taken away when an impressionable nine-year-old is told to write only as a hobby, to pick up drama as a thing to pass time, to play an instrument as a co-curricular activity that will help distinguish your application from other students. I’ve had many friends from half way across the world who tell me about their education system and the two pathways you can go through. I’ve had a past boyfriend who told me he wanted to be an artist but he’s studying to be a dentist. When you’re told, that being what you want isn’t going to help you survive in life it’s going to make you think that being unhappy is okay. It’s not.
I’m still scared of pursuing writing, I’m afraid of what my parents will say, what others will say and I don’t know yet whether I’ll make that decision. All I know is when I asked my eight-year-old sister the other day what she wanted to be, she said a singer but that she wouldn’t make it because there are so many other singers out there. She then said, she wanted to be a lawyer, like me, because that’s what I wanted to do and because she wanted to be able to afford all the littlest pet shops she liked. All I know is, while I might be too afraid to follow my passion, I don’t want others to feel the same. That I want them to wake up and be excited about their jobs, to be frustrated at times but yet love it.