When I started my gap year after graduating from RJ at 18, I started work at the Education department of the Singapore Zoo. Some 4/5 of my colleagues were 24 at that point, and so when I think of being 24, I think of them, at that time. It's so odd, now that I am at their age. I feel different from when I was 18/19, but I've not started work, am unable to support myself (i.e. still living off my parents) and still am a dependent. It feels though, that at 24, I should already have somewhat settled in life. At least, in typical Singapore terms, maybe?
Could we ever have guessed where we would be now, 6 years ago when we graduated? I think, at that time, I thought life was pretty straightforward and clear. Take my gap year, do my undergraduate degree, get a job. Now though, having gone overseas and been exposed to rather different lifestyle and ideas, I'm so much less certain of my path ahead. Mainly because the possibilities are endless and possibly wonderful opportunities abound. How can I know which path I will take, where I will end up, what I will be doing?
That is probably the greatest value of an overseas education. You feel less constrained by expectations back home. It weighed quite heavily on me when I first arrived, but I will say that as the years go by, I've become more selfish, and self-absorbed. I'm much less exposed to the Chinese?Confucius? ideals of nation before family and family before self etc., and after a while you just think less of it. It is interesting, coming from that kind of culture and background, and then being immersed into a different, more individualistic culture. This WSJ piece certainly provided food for thought, though I've not really thought about it that much - trying to find oneself and one's true calling instead of embracing the changes that come as one grows and matures.
I definitely have come to accept the multi-faceted sides of myself, and realised that personality, traits, behaviours, characters, interests, and values don't all come bundled in a set.
I am 24, and I feel like I have the rest of my life before me, and there are many things I want to do and achieve. I don't particularly feel like I've done anything amazing in my life so far, nor do I really feel like my birth into this world has made much of a positive difference so far. Especially not now, when I'm doing nothing that helps anything bigger than myself. Still though, I am thankful for my family and friends who have been supportive and encouraging, and as I said before, I guess birthdays are for that.
Random aside: So I changed my laptop settings to Chinese. And my Facebook settings to Spanish. Shall see how long I can keep this up for; I am definitely improving my vocabulary in both languages. Not without problems though, such as trying to read translations of other peoples' posts (if they're in a foreign language), and getting Spanish instead of English.
Update 10.05pm: This post was scheduled, before I realised my mum posted a whole bunch of stuff on my Facebook (which doesn't have my birthday publicly visible). It's not that I don't want people to know, I just don't see the point of having my wall flooded with well-wishes from people whom I barely know.
I did nothing much the whole day. Woke up with a bad hangover, went to get ingredients to cook chicken rice, cooked chicken rice (from scratch! No Prima Paste this time.), had dinner with friends, and had some cake. Did nothing very exciting, but it was still a pretty good day. My domestic skills (cooking) are definitely improving at least. Perhaps I wish I could have said, I went bungee jumping, or sky diving, or white water rafting, or hiking, or something outdoorsy and exciting, or that I spent my day volunteering, cleaning up a river somewhere, or visiting a retirement home, or teaching needy children. But I guess ultimately birthdays are just like every other day, and I can't be bothered putting in extra effort to make it a special day for myself. The only effort I'm putting in is avoiding any work at all. Very grateful for my family and friends who wished me/sent a card/present though, they're much appreciated (:
I'm a Nature-lover, aspiring conservationist, and wannabe traveller in search of outdoor adventure.
My interests vary from conservation to education to heritage to Nature (biodiversity & wildlife) to outdoor activities to life in general.
They occupy most of my waking moment.
Do read my blogs, follow me on Twitter (@jocelynesze) and friend me on Facebook (subject to my discretion). Visit my Nature blog, Nature Rambles, at http://natureramble.wordpress.com.
UPDATE 2 Apr 2017 - This site is no longer maintained, please visit jocelynesze.wordpress.com if you're interested in more recent writing.