brain farts

The Time of Your Life

Posted on: January 18, 2006

Forever charming and oh so sassy fellow RIS Class of 2000er, Swita, blogged about an interesting topic the other day. Basically, with the new year upon us, everyone’s making resolutions left and right — “I resolve to get that promotion. I resolve to finally make a move and ask so-and-so out. I resolve to donate more to the needy. I resolve to lose ten pounds. I resolve to go on that safari to Africa.” On and on it goes. As Yul Brynner once said in The King and I, Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera!

Well, with change on everyone’s mind, Swita was wondering if other 20-somethings feel that these are the best years of our lives. Basically, “is this as good as it gets?”


Swita thinks it is. And I have to agree. She makes a lot of valid points (gakked from Tweet’s blog):

  • We’ve graduated from college. We have credentials.
  • We’re either onto our first jobs (Katie, Kay, Kevin, myself…) or pursuing an advanced degree (Noi, Lynn)
  • For those who have jobs, we are making our own money. Sure, we aren’t millionaires, but it sure beats the $6.50 minimum wage we made in college being the college’s museum attendant or doing a professor’s research. Financial independence is bliss.
  • For those who are pursuing an advanced degree, y’all getting a jump start on life.
  • We have no familial responsibilities. No kids to worry about, no outside scruntiny of our marriage (and I don’t mean from paparazzi), no worries on what blue chip or Roth IRAs to invest in so we can have retirement moolah.
  • And if we fail in our jobs, studies, or relationships, no one is going to say “man, that was his/her last chance to [find a spouse, establish a good career, go to grad school]” We are still in a grace period where we’re still allowed a little room to wriggle.
  • We’re much less insecure than we were in high school [the awkward years] and college [the i hope these $40,000 a year pays off years]. We have gotten to know ourselves, our friends, our limits a little better.
  • I echo Swita on all these points, mostly because I can’t for the life of me think of another time in our lives when we’ll have this much security and freedom again (granted some might argue it’s all a false sense of security and freedom, but that’s another topic for another day). Yes, it’s a rather selfish period in our lives; a period when it’s all about me, me, me. I, I, I. A period when there’s no family to worry about, no serious obligations to hold you back. A period when there’s all the time in the world to fix that tiny, little mistake tomorrow. Always tomorrow. Always that sense of possibility.

    And I totally understand what Swita means about that grace period. We’re in our early twenties — people almost expect us to screw up a little on our “quest to self-actualization.” And YES, I know that sounds appallingly trite, but isn’t that what every normal person is working toward in life, regardless of age, status, or nationality? That sense of, what Dr. Abraham Maslow once said was, “man’s desire for fulfillment, namely to the tendency for him to become actually in what he is potentially: to become everything that one is capable of becoming”?

    I pursued an advanced degree because I’ve always been in love with learning. Whether it was the arts or sciences, I was intrigued — and still am, actually — with it all. I guess that’s one of the reasons why I love reading so much and will read virtually anything that crosses my path. I always thought I’d pursue a career in medicine; in fact, growing up, I barely gave much thought to anything else. But after doing a lot of talking with my cousins — one a general surgeon resident and another an oral and maxillofacial surgeon — weighing out the pros and cons and thinking about what fit me and what didn’t, I began to seriously open my eyes and look around at everything else I’d overlooked in the past. Kind of how you don’t tend to notice the small details about a familiar piece of art until you take a step back and take another hard look. Basically, I realized there was SO much about dentistry that appealed to me — the subject matter, the work ethic, the lifestyle, etc. I’d just never given it the time of day before.

    And now that I’m fully immersed in dental school, I realize that this was one of the best decisions I ever made. I’m so relieved that once I’m through with dental school (provided I don’t FLUNK OUT FIRST), I can honestly say that I love what I do. Because shouldn’t you love your job, as it’s going to be stuck with you for the next thirty to forty years of your life?

    Hell, yeah. I should think so.

    But sometimes I wonder if there’s a drawback to spending so many years in school. While everyone else my age is off starting first jobs, soaking up invaluable experience, earning first paychecks, and climbing the corporate ladder, I’m still hunkering down over textbooks, trying to figure out how to do dental occlusions. I definitely don’t regret my choice of pursuing an advanced degree, but sometimes I can’t help but feel like everyone else is moving on and “growing up” without me…

    Does that make sense?

    Which brings me to marriage. I’m in no hurry to tie the knot. Like my super funny dental school bud, Goi, said the other day, I want to kick back and enjoy my twenties while I can, relish my youth just a little while longer. I always thought that other people my age thought the same. This is, after all, the 21st century, right? Not necessarily. Four high school classmates of mine have already gone on and married (a few years ago, actually), and another one is very close to landing that proposal (it’s a matter of when, I guess, not if). Granted that’s a very small handful of my graduating class, but back in high school, did I ever think these friends would settle down, get married, and become parents at such a young age? Definitely not. And neither did they. Because like a lot of things in life, you never know what’s going to happen next. And especially with matters of the heart, you never know when Cupid’s proverbial arrow’s gonna strike next, right?

    Right. ;)

    Do I know what lies ahead for me in five years time? No. Ten? Definitely not. And I’m glad I don’t. As cliche as it may sound, I want every day to be an adventure. I want to live knowing that anything and everything is possible. I could roll out of bed at seven in the AM, only to witness a meteor shower and have a run-in with an elephant a scant hour later. No, wait, scratch that latter bit; that’s actually happened, this being Thailand and all… ;)

    I want to live knowing that I gave everything my best shot. I don’t want to look back in forty years, wondering why I never thought to give this or that a go; why I let hesitation, fear, or doubt throw me off. That’s one of the reasons why I bit the bullet and started sending my book out to agents last year. Did I know where it was going to lead me? Not really. But I did know I wanted something and that sitting around dreaming about it wasn’t going to make it happen any faster. In the end, it helped me snag my awesome agent, and while I don’t have a publishing deal under my belt yet, I know I’ve tried. And I know I’m going to keep on trying, writing ten more manuscripts if that’s what it takes to get that elusive book deal. Stephen King’s Carrie was rejected 30 times before it sold…and JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book 14 times. Other writers wrote ten manuscripts over twenty years before they finally sold…

    But the one thing they all share? They were stubborn. Stubborn and tenacious, pushing, writing, learning, honing their craft and submitting until they finally got that first deal. Whether it took them two years, twenty years, or never, they just kept on going. And like my agent’s brilliant partner, Nadia, says, “Because if you make it about the destination, then you are ruining the journey.” I guess that applies to a lot of things in life, and not just writing. I do know that this wild pursuit of publication is one of the hardest (and craziest) things I’ve ever done — harder, even, than I anticipate dental school to be, since my studies are something that’s all up to me, as opposed to the finicky publishing houses of New York — but twenty years from now, even if I never do get that book deal, will I look back with regret?

    Hell, no. Because I gave it my best shot. And like Nadia said, it’s all about the journey.

    And that, I think, is what counts the most.

    So live it up, I say. And while you’re at it, have the time of your life. :)

    ***
    Currently Reading: The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad, per Baba‘s recommendation. Halfway in, and it’s been a fascinating read so far. I also finished Rebel Angels a couple of days ago — finished it in one day, actually — and GOD was it better than the prequel, A Great and Terrible Beauty (which was pretty darn good in itself)! Definitely no sophomore slump here.

    Currently Playing: Believe Me from Rising Tied by Fort Minor, per Him‘s recommendation. I like rap, provided it’s good rap. And this is good rap. Mike Shinoda really outdid himself with this one. There’s no bling bling, “pimps ‘n hos,” Friday night clubbing, or shizzle my nizzle a la Ja Rule, Nelly, and 50 Cent on this album (which is pretty refreshing, considering all the crap on the radio these days). No, instead you have Shinoda talking about scenes from his second-story hotel window, accusations from the media, and the Japanese American Internment in ’42. Where’d You Go is very reminiscent of Eminem and Dido’s Stan collaboration from a few years back, but it’s the lyrics of Kenji that literally made me stop and listen. Rising Tied’s a solid album…plus it’s fun to run to on the treadmill. :) DEFINITELY check it out.

    6 Responses to "The Time of Your Life"

    wow, you’re something else. I hope all the people your age would think the same way, or at least take the time to try and think a little.

    I know so many spoiled girls (and boys) who just don’t give a f*ck about their future because they have daddy.

    Bravo for the As, Upwards and onwards.

    btw, your new hair (and the old one too for that matter) look really good.

    Your entry completes mine– it made me realize that the twenties are perhaps less blissful than I may have made it seem: it definitely has its share of pro’s, but also its own challenges ie building up the foundation that makes up the rest of your life: marriage, job, school. Those are huge. You certainly have great long-term vision :) BTW, I think it’s wonderful that you know what you want to do in life (be a dentist)– not many people in their 20s can say that for themselves.
    BTW, I did read My Sister’s Keeper (my mom had the book)– I loved it!!! Campbell the lawyer, despite being sort of a rat at first, did have the best excuses for his service dog “i’m color blind. he tells me when the traffic lights change” hahaha.

    My Sister’s Keeper! I need to read that book. I keep picking it up in bookstores where I wonder to myself, “should I?…”

    Okay, okay, between you and Swita, I’m convinced that our twenties are as good as it gets for me-me-me-dom. Carpe diem!

    You saw a meteor shower? In Bangkok? Then truly anything can happen. Are you sure it wasn’t street light reflecting off the perpetual fumes?

    Yes, the 20s afford wide latitude for completely imploding one week, and fully recovering by the next. They’re certainly the years with the most flexibility and opportunity. I say that even as a bona fide stuck-in-a-rut slave to the Machine for the past twelve years. So you should definitely make the most of it, especially any intended traveling.

    Nevertheless, since we all eventually will get older and develop a taste for prune juice, it doesn’t hurt to invest in a Roth IRA….or a career, or so forth. So, good job on those A’s; the next time I have a test, I will go study on some tropical beach as well.

    This post was supposed to have a point, but I have misplaced it somewhere, probably after being distracted by the marble in my Ramune bottle. I think it was something along the lines of: this is as good as it gets, enjoy it now because it’s all downhill from here. Not that I’m bitter, having recently crossed the threshold of your decade and self-actualized into a geezer. No, not bitter at all.

    Great revelation, lynn.

    I realized this about a year ago, when I was thinking OK. I have a Master’s degree, now what? I asked myself that same question, “Is this going to be good as it gets?”

    But since then, somehow I ended up in Thailand, started a company, work for social causes, work for the Royalty & Thai government, and met all sorts of fascinating people.

    But we all grow up in different ways, that’s what makes the world great – who want a world where we all experience the same thing? I used to hate all the struggles I went through but now that I look back at it I’m thankful for it.

    Actually I had a point to all this, but I forgot so in the end just listen to your gut – it knows best. =)

    And, no I don’t think this is as good as it gets.

    -Bo

    Nicely written Lynn.

    You seem to be very mature for your age and very grounded and appreciative. That’s a good thing.

    Not to sound depressing as I’m a very cheerful person but I am the poster child for working too hard and suddenly realizing I should be doing more(just got in after a 70 hour week). At age 25 after only two years in the business I was given my own brokerage office. I was far too young but worked a ton of hours. Now I just turned 31 and still have my office, its really big now, crazy busy, and in the best spot in the city. Sounds good but then I take a look at my friends who have travelled around the world, have families etc etc.
    6 years flew by.

    I’m not particularly mature for my age so me giving you advise is probably not a good thing especially since you clearly don’t need any. All I’ll say is have fun and don’t worry.

    And keep blogging )

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