During our Friday night dinner last week – a treat for working really hard weeklong at the fabrication yard – my colleague asked whether I enjoyed my university life in the States. “Yes,” I answered immediately then mulled over his question for long seconds before continuing, “But it was…” I paused again, struggling to find the right word. It was only the next day as I found myself in a hipster cafe in Singapore with my friend from undergrad (also blog-friend) that it came to me, the word I was looking for; searching. “It was a period of searching, don’t you think so?” I’d asked her. “It was a period of constant uncertainty… internal upheaval? I feel a lot more settled and at ease now, less internally frantic and in search, y’know? When people talk about ‘youth’… I think I finally get it now. There was an innocence in myself then that is absent now.”
When adults talk about holding back their true selves and swallowing down their dreams – foregoing individualism and sense of identity as tradeoff for acceptance into society; of distinct, sometimes wildly contrasting 8-5 and 5-8 personas… this week I thought to myself that now I understand this about adulthood that I’d grappled with as a child then young adult. This week my KL boss – a person who I try, hard, not to let her opinions of me get to me yet they always invade – told me that a year later and I still have yet to define thus hone my skills to become an individual who would be valuable to The Company. “Your personal values have yet to address how they match with the company’s bottom line,” she said. She also said, “The internal struggle you have about wanting to become an environmental engineer versus who you are now as a project engineer – that’s still there. I will be frank and tell you that you can retain the former in ‘Own Wishes’ but in the ‘Next Role’ section I’m keeping only the latter.” I replied her with only a word. “Okay.” Just like that, I gave up my fight.
Last night, quiet and unfeeling, I thought to myself, this must be what it feels like… to have sold one’s soul.