“Study hard, so that you can get a good job; spend your time reading books instead of wasting time on other activities,” says mum to her 7-year old daughter.
So daughter begins to read – after running through her school’s recommended fiction reading list, she would turn to the community library to satiate her thirst for more.
However, four books a week weren’t sufficient – she had to use her parents’ library cards too, to check out up to 12 books a week.
Along the way, she found a love for science fiction and fantasy novels – they gave her an escape from her mundane life consisting of school, student leadership responsibilities, a home situation that seemed strange to her, and an emptiness within her that she couldn’t explain or satisfy.
Her reading – and imagination – habit ignited a flame that kept growing: the creation of stories in her mind. Stories about farm stays with grandparents in the English countryside; sudden summer thunderstorms; summers with cousins in an old stone castle; robbing a train of it’s expensive cargo; an ex-drug convict establishing a new life; a six-month road trip across a country; death that was celebrated instead of mourned…. Stories written in the first person, that came purely from imagination, because until the age of 16 years, the only places she travelled to were Malacca and Penang with her family, by car.
Her writing was her passion, and it allowed her to bring stories to people. Her writing secured her first full-time graduate job, at five months before she even sat for her last undergrad papers. Her writing enabled her to rise to become the editor of Teenage magazine within five years of graduation, followed by becoming an Assistant Senior Editor leading a team of 10 editors in the primary mathematics textbook department of an educational book publisher.
She accomplished what her mum told her more than 20 years earlier: get a good job, and in an industry that she loved too.
But they didn’t tell her that life works in strange ways, especially in the professional world.
They didn’t tell her that the way humans live and interact, and gather information was transforming.
They didn’t tell her that not everyone is suited to work within the confines of an office building, and do 9am to 6pm weekdays. Or that you won’t keep the same job until you retire.
They didn’t tell her that giving your utmost effort to a company doesn’t guarantee that you’ll keep your job, not when a global recession hits and even the bosses lost their jobs (but they lost theirs last, while everyone else got axed first).
They didn’t tell her that one person’s measure of success may not be her measure of success. That despite all the professional success someone gains, without good physical, mental and emotional health, there’s little value in everything else.
They didn’t tell her that her passions will change, and that it was okay to answer the calls of her heart, that it would bring joy to others as much it would bring joy to her. And in the process, come to a job that she could do until her breath stops.
That girl is now a woman.
That girl is me, and this is my story; a summarised version of my journey from writer, to editor, to health & nutrition coach & practitioner (yoga, fitness, nutrition). In a city & environment that prizes a 9am to 6pm job as one of the success markers of life. Where professions other than lawyer, doctor, accountant, banker or civil servant are considered ‘not good enough’.
However, they never told anyone that the work landscape will change, has changed, and will continue to change. And the truth is, doing what you love brings more success & longevity because you’ll never tire of what you do, you’ll keep learning to improve your skills, and you’ll always find a way to remain relevant.
At the end of the day, without good health, even a CEO or director is unable to manage the company.
In fact, without good health, no one can do anything except rest in bed. And the way to health? Get enough sleep, get enough water, eat nutritious food, and move often (meaning exercise!).
So who has the good job now?