Remember when we were 17 and worried about what we should do after SPM?
Back then, most of us probably felt clueless about what to do with the rest of our lives…
… while those who had it figured out already celebrated their freedom to pursue their desired career path
I was completely lost and uncertain about what I wanted to do while all my friends had big dreams and goals.
At that age, it was the one thing that kept me awake at night – what was I supposed to do with my life?
Being done with SPM felt like we only had two choices ahead of us – we were either gonna "make it" or have a ‘B’ grade career... whatever that meant.
Depending on how your family felt about your career choices, you were most probably expected to get a “good” degree, and ultimately become a doctor, engineer, or lawyer (just to name a few).
Perhaps if you were “lucky”, you may have parents who were completely okay with whatever you did, but that left you feeling just as lost. Maybe leaving you with questions such as:
"Should I pursue my interest in music? Will it be sustainable in the long run?"
"Is my passion for baking temporary? Will making it a career kill my love for cake?"
To top it off, there’s also the unspoken expectation of having to get a stable job, settle down with someone special, buy a house, buy a car, and fulfill every other societal norm.
Our future plans were basically going to education fair after education fair, hoping to stumble upon a course that:
1. Our parents will approve of (or forever face the wrath of disapproval);
2. Will not empty our parents’ wallets or forever be indebted to PTPTN loans; and
3. Will make us feel fulfilled AND promises financial stability in the years to come.
More often than not, however, it's pretty impossible to fulfil all of the above without sacrificing one or the other.
IMHO, often too much expectation is set on "getting it right and taking the expected route" that make it feel like grades and achievements define us.
Not saying that none of that matters.
Of course, having good grades may have contributed to getting that scholarship or attaining that degree was necessary to becoming let’s say, an engineer.
But looking back at my 17-year-old self, the world still seemed pretty small to me at that time.
On top of it all, watching everyone around me know exactly what they wanted to do took a toll on my self-confidence.
If I could talk to my 17-year-old self, I'd tell her that,
1. It'll be okay. Don't stress about getting it 'perfect'.
2. It is never, ever too late to pick up new skills - which you will. Just because everyone else seem confident in their choices, there are way more options out there.
3. Diplomas and degrees are often just pieces of paper. Staying committed and resilient will be the bigger lessons you will use in time.
4. I now realise that what I studied did not define what other career options I could venture into.