Despite achieving many life goals, I sometimes feel that I am not as successful or as happy as I could be. Academically, I was among the best in my grade level in school. Growing up in Asia, English isn’t my first language. I overcame the language barrier and managed to enroll in one of the top ten Universities in my field in the United States. Before my graduation, companies flew me to the Silicon Valley for job interviews. Competing job offers were waiting for me to accept. My professor wanted me to pursue my PhD. Despite his kind offer, I chose to work instead. My first job was at one of the most respected tech companies at the time. Life was good.
Being single at the time and without any burden, I devoted most of my time on my career. I even saved up enough money to travel to several European countries in my 20s. Promotion to the management was considered quick compared to my classmates and peers. Socially, I was doing ok. This lucky dude (me) got married before age 30. Life was a very smooth journey. What more could I ask for?
“I am the best… I am invincible”, I told myself.
As it turns out, life is not always good. Many things could change overnight or even in split seconds. They could ruin your day, shatter your heart or take your life …. Heated debate at work… office politics… family matters… financial setbacks … the lost decade … layoff … death of close relatives… sudden death of someone you know at work… the glass ceiling… aging parents… deterioration of your own health… unfulfilled dreams…
Last week marked the 1st anniversary of the lock down due to the pandemic. It is definitely not something someone would like to celebrate. People initially thought that the situation would be over in a few weeks. Many weeks have passed. Then many months have passed. Now, it has been a year and it is still not over yet. Millions of people are still struggling or facing death. It taught me how small and helpless we, human, are. I still remember the day before the lock down, I was preparing everything I could to protect myself and my family. From food supplies, water, toilet paper ( yes toilet 🧻) to physical barriers in case of intruders. The fear caused by the unknowns was unbearable. It was like a tsunami coming and you could see that the water on the beach is retreating. You have nowhere to hide. You won’t know how bad it would be but you know that it will come. Luckily, nothing horribly bad happened to my immediate family or closest friends. I still have my job. Financially, we did better today versus a year ago.
I had many sleepless nights and many reflections of my life during this pandemic.
A best friend of mine loves photography. He once told me that the reason he loves taking photos so much is that he is afraid that the moment will disappear quickly. He tried to capture it while he could. I admired his effort. I also picked up photography as a hobby. Over the years, I realized that the days we lived are gone. They will never come back. Looking back, year 2020 went by so quickly. Looking at the people around you… before you noticed, a decade… many decades have passed. No matter how good you are in school or at work, you still cannot stop the flow of time. The impact to the society you made is so small no matter how hard you work. The help you can do to your loved ones is miniscule.
“I was wrong. I am ordinary. I am obnoxious , negligent and shallow. I am unhappy. I am in fear but I am helpless.” deep down I told myself. Promotions… office politics… family disputes… they don’t matter much anymore. Try to let go and strive for happiness and health for the rest of your life.