The Expat Diaries Entry 3- a series of mine featuring diary-like entries that reflect what it is really like growing up as an expat.
Growing  up, I always talked about wanting to become a doctor. I proudly sported my white coat and play stethoscope to every career day. At the time it made sense since I excelled in biology and the sciences. I was passionate about it.
I realized, however, that there were two major problems with my plan to pursue medicine. The first being that I practically faint at the sight of blood. If that wasn't enough of a red flag, I also came to realize that I could never work a conventional 9-5 job that confined my lifestyle so much.
Sometimes I feel like there's a traditional “step by step guide” society deems as what is normal or conventional to follow. These steps dictate what our futures should look like.
Picture this: You just graduated college. You secured a stable and well paying 9-5 office job. You work in a corporate office sending emails and attending staff meetings. You begin to progress in the office. You get a promotion-- life is good. You decide to get married and move into a cookie cutter house in the suburbs with your spouse, who you only see when you're tired after long days of work and on the weekends. After a few years, you decide to have kids. You spend the majority of your life raising them until they leave for college and you retire. By then, your life has practically gone by.
While there's nothing inherently wrong with this lifestyle, and many people enjoy living this way, it is the opposite of what I want my future to look like. I definitely want to get married and have a family one day, but I want to live my life fully and experience all it has to offer at the same time. I don't want to reach the end to finally realize that I haven't been truly living the entire time.
I can't imagine living on this earth- that is so incredibly and infinitely full of breathtaking places, inspiring people, and unique experiences- and spending the majority of my time sitting in a cubicle faxing papers. I can't imagine living without seeing all that there is to see, learning all that there is to learn, and experiencing all that life has to offer. The world is so wide, and so big, and so full of wonderful places. How could you not want to explore them all?
That's why it is so important for me to pursue a career path that allows me to do just that. I can't sacrifice being held back by a conventional job that confines my traveling dreams to just a couple weeks of vacation a year combined with a few unused sick days. I don't want travel to become a way to briefly escape my lifestyle. I want it to actually be my lifestyle.
I don't want to live the generic “work to live” lifestyle. At the end of the day, are you really truly passionate about your 9-5 office job? Does it fulfill you? Does it make you want to get up in the morning everyday? Or is it just a way to pass the time and pay the bills? I understand that escaping the “work to live” lifestyle is a privilege that not everyone has access to. However, I believe if there's a will, there's a way. As a first generation college student, I look up to my parents who were not able to receive a college education. Even from humble beginnings, they still led successful careers that they were deeply passionate about. With hard work and dedication, they still escaped the “work to live” cycle.
Running a TED Talk style event called Project Captivate in high school (2017)
My whole life, I've adopted what I call a “work to work” mentality. In highschool, I sacrificed everything for my academics so that I would get into my dream university, just so that I could do more work in college. I thought working hard was my ticket to success, and while sometimes it can be, it is important to recognize what you are giving up in the process. In high school, I led every club and took every AP and IB class I possibly could in order to feel successful. I started stressing out about college applications in the 7th grade, which is when I took the ACT for the first time. Though I achieved a lot of things in high school that I'm proud of, I was also burnt out and stressed everyday for 4 years. Is that really a good way to live either? In college and beyond, I strive to strike a balance. Though to this day, I am still ambitious when it comes to my courses and extracurriculars, but I have also emphasized and valued things that make me happy, which is what I want my future lifestyle to reflect as well.
Working towards my future is the one thing that always keeps me motivated. Through navigating the stress of classes and college life, thinking about my future keeps me sane and inspires me to stay on my path. As a type A person, I am a big planner. I try to micromanage and plan out every detail of my life. Sometimes not knowing what the future holds worries me, but at the same time, it also excites me. I envision myself attending grad school in the UK to get a Masters in International Relations and an MBA. I hope to begin a career in foreign policy and pursue travel writing on the side. Through a career in foreign policy, I want to help solve humanitarian issues in the global sphere that I am deeply passionate about. Through my travels, I have directly witnessed these injustices in the world and through my current and hopefully future efforts, I hope to make change towards eradicating them. While pursuing my career, I hope to start a family, and raise my kids the same way I grew up. With this new chapter, I'll give up my career, but take up travel writing and humanitarian work full time, which are my greatest passions, and will allow me to continue to see the world.
Me with my family at high school graduation (2019)
As a college student, there are times I envy my friends pursuing careers with concrete paths. I see my peers studying finance or accounting go through structured recruiting processes for internships and jobs that almost ensure employment post graduation with a firm or company that heavily recruits from my university. I see my friends in STEM with steady plans to attend medical school, or become engineers post undergrad. It seems like everyone else has it all figured out. Yes, I have goals and dreams for the future, but how I’m going to reach them is a huge question mark. Having everything unplanned and wide open is exciting, and I’ve learned that it's ok to have unknowns in life. Sometimes, these unknowns turn into experiences that make life worth living.
If accounting or engineering is what you're passionate about, then pursue it!! If what you're studying makes you feel fulfilled and inspired, follow that path!! No matter what it is, as long as it makes you tick, you're on the right track. Don't let the unknowns prevent you from following your dreams. At the end of the day, you will be spending the majority of your life in your career, so why would you choose something that doesn't reflect your passions? Sacrificing happiness and fulfillment for stability and security happens far too often. Dare to escape this mentality, and chase your dreams. It may take a lot of hard work and sacrifice, but I promise you will be happier in the end.
Though I know my future may not play out exactly according to plan, I know that as long as it's up to me, what's in store is a life full of adventure, excitement, exploration, and spontaneity. As long as I’m traveling, writing, pursuing my passions, and spending time surrounded by loved ones, my life will be fulfilling and meaningful to me.