anotherlongshot (anotherlongshot) wrote,

Moral courage.

Audrey tagged me a few days ago in a status update on Facebook in relation to this article. I finally got around to reading it and it left a very painful lump in my throat.

It said successfully what I've been saying for the past few months. These paragraphs are particularly outstanding:

And there's another problem. Maybe you never really wanted to be a cardiac surgeon in the first place. It just kind of happened. It's easy, the way the system works, to simply go with the flow. I don't mean the work is easy, but the choices are easy. Or rather, the choices sort of make themselves. You go to a place like Stanford because that's what smart kids do. You go to medical school because it's prestigious. You specialize in cardiology because it's lucrative. You do the things that reap the rewards, that make your parents proud, and your teachers pleased, and your friends impressed. From the time you started high school and maybe even junior high, your whole goal was to get into the best college you could, and so now you naturally think about your life in terms of "getting into" whatever's next. "Getting into" is validation; "getting into" is victory. Stanford, then Johns Hopkins medical school, then a residency at the University of San Francisco, and so forth. Or Michigan Law School, or Goldman Sachs, or Mc­Kinsey, or whatever. You take it one step at a time, and the next step always seems to be inevitable.

That's exactly what I've been saying. Things fall into place easily - too easily - and things just happen without you wanting them to. First it was law school, nevermind that prior to getting my A Level results I never once wanted to go to law school; then it was PLC, then it was pupillage, then it was my current job. Who can I possibly blame but myself for this, when I could've gotten out in 2005, when I really didn't have a gun pointed at my head and pushing me to do this?

[Moral imagination] means not just going with the flow. It means not just "getting into" whatever school or program comes next. It means figuring out what you want for yourself, not what your parents want, or your peers want, or your school wants, or your society wants. Originating your own values. Thinking your way toward your own definition of success. Not simply accepting the life that you've been handed. Not simply accepting the choices you've been handed. When you walk into Starbucks, you're offered a choice among a latte and a macchiato and an espresso and a few other things, but you can also make another choice. You can turn around and walk out. When you walk into college, you are offered a choice among law and medicine and investment banking and consulting and a few other things, but again, you can also do something else, something that no one has thought of before.

I can't help but think that even the decision to accept the law offer when I was 19 kind of made itself. It seemed ludicrous at that time to turn it down, and I was still high from the triumph of getting solid grades for the first time in my life. I realise I'm just trying to absolve myself of all responsibility, but sometimes I have to indulge in this; otherwise, it might get unbearable, it might get brutal, knowing that, and please pardon the melodrama, I single-handedly ruined my own life. I can't even blame my parents for this; they never forced me into this, and even if they had insisted I know that I would have ignored them.

Do you see how absurd this is? But these are the nets that are flung at you, and this is what I mean by the need for courage. And it's a never-ending proc­ess. At that Harvard event two years ago, one person said, about my assertion that college students needed to keep rethinking the decisions they've made about their lives, "We already made our decisions, back in middle school, when we decided to be the kind of high achievers who get into Harvard." And I thought, who wants to live with the decisions that they made when they were 12? Let me put that another way. Who wants to let a 12-year-old decide what they're going to do for the rest of their lives? Or a 19-year-old, for that matter?

Especially when the said 19-year-old didn't have the slightest clue what she was doing.

But then again, perhaps the utter misery the 19-year-old felt in her first year as a law stuent was a clear sign that something was wrong.

All you can decide is what you think now, and you need to be prepared to keep making revisions. Because let me be clear. I'm not trying to persuade you all to become writers or musicians. Being a doctor or a lawyer, a scientist or an engineer or an economist—these are all valid and admirable choices. All I'm saying is that you need to think about it, and think about it hard. All I'm asking is that you make your choices for the right reasons. All I'm urging is that you recognize and embrace your moral freedom.

I wish someone had told me this way back then. I wish I had a real reason for going to law school instead of one that was barely formed. I wish I had made a real choice; I wish I weren't sitting here, wishing for the things that I should have done.

Towards the end of law school, I couldn't say for sure whether I regretted it. I enjoyed my electives and I was getting good grades (which were very important to me), and I felt intellectually engaged. I also got to write, nevermind that they were research papers and academic essays and not the kind of materials I wanted to be writing.

Just for that, I can't say that I regret it completely. But mostly, I regret it. I think it was the utterly wrong choice to make. And no matter what people tell me, I still see my degree as extremely limiting - it's not transferable, it's not even adaptable, it's definitely not flexible, and a normal employer isn't going to take kindly to the fact that the applicant is used to earning 5,000 a month. But quite apart from that, I wake up with an identity crisis every morning and I have to literally force myself to get out of bed because I can't think of one reason to do so. This is what I feared most: not having a reason to get out of bed in the morning and going to a job where I'll be spending the majority of my time. And I still cannot bring myself to tell people my occupation because it still does not feel right.

I didn't want good grades for the A Levels to end up here. I think it's brutally sad that I forgot all the reasons I worked so hard during those last few months leading up to the exams and was taken by a sense of hubris that made for me the biggest choice of my life to date. How silly, how frivolous, and wow, I can't believe I really did that to myself.

Right now, I just want a shot at happiness. Say what you want about the salary and the stability; as it stands, as is obvious, the money is doing absolutely nothing for me.


I'm so tired of this. I don't want to go back. I can't remember why I'm here.

I'm becoming old. Not in terms of age; I'm becoming old inside. I don't do things anymore; I just let things happen to me. Not that much happens nowadays. The stability is nice, I suppose; but I miss the endless promise of youth, and being young, and feeling like you're always 18.


I can't help but give in to my negativity. Perhaps it's an excuse yet again but I can't stem the tide of angst which my pessimistic disposition invites.

I'm happy with the money. I like the money. The money allows me to buy things like a $299 adidas by Stella McCartney sports bag that I will only use once a week and a new pair of tennis shoes, the adidas Barricade 6.0, which I definitely need because my current pair is quite worn out. The rest of the time, though, I just keep going in circles, around the same thing, digging an even deeper hole for myself. It's pretty silly, but the irritation is unavoidable when I pick up the phone on a Sunday mid-morning and it's my grandfather from Taiwan whom I see maybe once a year, asking me how is work.

Of course, he's not able to accept the honest answer, so I lie and say it's fine, when what I really want to say is that the only time I felt worse in my life, that wasn't a result of some asshole guy stomping on my heart, was my first two years of law school. And that's probably because I wasn't getting any money back then.

I don't even know. I don't write so much nowadays because when I do, I'm always writing about the same damn thing and I'm getting tired of hearing myself talk about this. But mostly, it's the only thing that I can think about.

That, and finally moving on with my life when the time is right.


Well, anyway, I enjoy my new adidas bag very much and I went to Cathay with Rui during lunch today to buy some adidas stuff using her discount card. I got 30% off my new tennis shoes. I'm very happy.

I enjoy tennis - a lot. Yesterday Wei Chuen hit one of my pink balls out of the court and when he went to look for it, he couldn't find it. That disturbed me so much that I couldn't hit a single decent shot after that, and that pissed me off so much that I stopped playing after I had enough of my crap performance.

I told him that I was pissed off and he said, "At your serve?"

Oh god, I didn't even think it was that bad.

And if my experience yesterday - getting distracted by the stupid missing ball - was even 1% of what Roger experienced against Andy Murray in the Shanghai final, then perhaps I shouldn't be too angry that he lost. I didn't watch the match as I was playing tennis but I did read that he was frustrated and that his game was in disarray. Only he knows the answer to the why question, but I can imagine, 1%, how bloody difficult it is to play properly when you can't focus.

I was really quite sad yesterday when I learned that he lost. I had high hopes for this tournament after seeing how well he played, especially after he beat Djokovic emphatically. Reading about how his forehand wasn't working - his own words - on the big points made me wonder why it is that, nowadays, he can have 4 great matches followed by one completely WTF one. It doens't make any sense to me, and I definitely don't question his motivation because it's obvious he's trying to win, sometimes desperately, when he's falling behind in a match.

It's so difficult to follow him. I can't not get emotionally involved; otherwise, he'd just be another Novak Djokovic to me, i.e. someone whom I find talented and amusing but don't particularly like. But I like Roger. I love Roger, and I love watching him play. To me, there's no point supporting him if I don't care about the outcome of his matches, and no matter how much I try to tell myself that it really doesn't matter, I can't help but get emotionally involved anyway.

Strangely, at about the same time I went off mentally yesterday, I suddenly remembered that Roger was playing the final and I suddenly had a bad feeling.

Sometimes I really need him to win a tournament or two so that I'd have something else, other than my boyfriend and my books and TV shows, to make me happy. But obviously, the results of his matches have nothing to do with me and I'm just being selfish.

Win or lose, he's still the best. His record speaks for itself. His tennis speaks for itself. I think I'd like to meet him one day, but at the same time I really don't want to because I wouldn't know what to say and I'd just end up awkward and making a fool of myself. But it amazes me how nice he comes across, and how genuine. He certainly seems like someone I'd like to be friends with, for sure.
Tags: andy murray, angst, articles, friends, life, novak djokovic, personal, playing tennis, quotes, roger federer, rui, shanghai masters, shopping, tennis, wei chuen, work

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