The Spring Break Series: The (Blank) Future.

I have at least one more thing I’d like to mull over under this writing installment but we’ll see how that one goes…

For now, here’s the issue that’s been plaguing me left, right, front, back – you get the idea – : the future. 

If you follow this space regularly, you’ve probably figured it out by now that The Future has been plaguing me aplenty ever since I realized I am just a little over a year from graduating – decisions, decisions and more need to be made. Once, I got so upset because I thought I always knew the direction I wanted to go for, only to have been slapped with the What If (big) likelihood of it going a (or many) different direction(s). I spoke to the former soul-sister who didn’t help ease any trepidation, rather just brought forth more reality check. It was a hard hit, but looking back – timely.

While I am (trying) not sweating so much about the thought these days – okay, that’s a lie – I still do vividly recall one afternoon as Wendy and I sat across the kitchen table, as we always do the week I spent there in their home, with a glimmer in her eyes, smiling. She looked directly at me and asked, “So Jane, where do you see yourself in 5, 10 years? What do you intend to do after?” 

Funny, just two weeks ago one of the guys from Penn posed the same question to me, “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” 

The question, to me, is very much a challenge.

Here’s what I know I don’t want to happen – the motivation and also crux of dilemma: I don’t want to tread my way back home. Back (to Malaysia), is fine, I think. But back home home? I don’t think I want that – I shan’t elaborate, but let’s just say my acquired independence has left me unwilling to give it up so soon and letting it go for cultural, ties et cetera? No. Selfish as this may sound and despite my resonating fear that all of us are treading such separate paths, sometimes seemingly even religiously straying – this position where I am an observer, no longer the participant, no longer the one who is witness to everything: I like this best. This is a complacency I can deal with, a complacency I don’t mind holding onto a little, or a lot, longer.

Here’s what I know I want to happen – I want to be financially secure and independent. I want to elongate my years of solitude. I want to be continually away, longing for homesoil and the works, but not physically there. Not yet. I also want to, honest-to-God, give myself a second chance: dream higher, a better school.

Three years ago when I came here, I made a promise to myself: I’ll do good here, and return. Then the idea of grad school stemmed and with no bond to my scholarship… I really am essentially a free girl, all the way to graduation. Yet if I am being completely honest: while I do want to indeed go grad school, perhaps the main motivation really is because of my hope of staying away. Because the truth is – maybe grad school can wait, you know? It doesn’t have to happen now, immediate, stat. But if I pave my way back, will I be able to leave again, return here again? Will I be second time lucky? I am not sure.

Of course, the most typical option then is The Real World one: work. But the truth is, despite my boasts or sometimes phony nationalistic statements, in my hearts of hearts, I am genuine at least that much – it is crucial I think, to whom I serve. It is not my intention, never has and I dearly hope never will, to be an American, an Australian, a British… whatever. The prospect of looking for a job over here and elsewhere is clouded by my conscience – do I really, can I? Is this desperation, this obsession, this great desire of being and staying away so great that I am able to forgo my belief?

Of course it is nothing life-and-death, but I’ve always been one who strives to walk my talk and I’ll be damned if I let myself be one of those people whom I met at the Malaysia Forum – always stating what is wrong, what is wrong, what is wrong while sitting comfortably in their thousands’-worth apartment, sipping their expensive coffee and so-called trying to call for betterment for “those rural folks back home.” Talk about phony – that’s just blatant obnoxious, if not ignorant.

Having said all the above, perhaps… the stripped, easy-answer truth: I want to remain away. An island of my own, basking in the love and grace I am given by those who love me, constantly longing for things not here and those not by my side, but still away. Financially secure, all the while away.

Grad school to me, is the safest choice. I hurt nobody with this decision, admit nothing to anyone, and buy myself 5 more years to decide where I want to be and what I really want to do; after all, having a small taste of The Real World last year for co-op, I realized that I am not ready to venture that side. However in hindsight, I am also aware that grad school is five years of commitment – it better be passion, because otherwise I’ll likely burnout before the first year is even over.

Also, what about the prospect of working with the sponsor, or anywhere and with anyone really? Job opportunities I’ll have to let go, if they appear, for grad school. More than anything though – why decide to go to grad school when I’m still very much in limbo; wanting but not knowing what my niche is? That’s like walking blindly, aimless. That isn’t like me. I considered registering for GRE yesterday, my first step in confirming my grad school path – only to suddenly be clouded with doubt, a panic I cannot name. It feels like the wrong decision, but my gut feeling hasn’t always been right to begin with.

Me and her at the table just a little under a month ago –  “…Where do you see yourself in 5, 10 years? What do you intend to do after?” 

“I’m… not sure. I’m still very much trying to make my decision. But what I do know is, is that I am not limited. Both geographically – where I should settle – and even in terms of passion. The need for clean water is everywhere you know? It’s universal. I have an idea of what I hope to get into, so we’ll see how that fares off.” 

He looked me straight in the eye – him, whom I am barely even acquainted to – as if challenging, “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” 

“Honestly I don’t know. But an engineer, still an engineer.” 

Time is a-tickin’ and every moment spent mulling is every moment I spend wasting. While I am aware that a bad decision need not necessarily define all bad decisions – one measly chapter in the plenty chapters of my life, honestly – I want so badly to strike it right the first time, the only time. This time. More pressing: whatever I decide, it will be my call. My decision.

There is a lot of responsibility, if not burden to a certain degree, upon this fact.

As Invictus fearlessly stated: I am the master of my decisions, my fate.

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