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Doing the important stuff

Seems like I’m putting up a whole bunch of school-related posts

My colleague, Angie, related an incident while she was knocking on doors to solicit properties to sell in one of the HDB (housing development board) estates.

As she was walking around with her partner, an  elderly lady shooed her granddaughter away from the door.

“Hey, if you don’t study, see?” pointing at my colleague, “You will end up having to knock on doors and go begging to people!” she said as she started to close the door.

Angie’s colleague nudged her and said “hey, why don’t you let the lady know you have a college degree?”

Angie looked at her and said ‘never mind, forget it’

It’s strange isn’t it? society’s expectations. Is it an Asian thing? or a societal thing?

Does a high education mean you will necessarily take a white collar position, that you’ll join a corporation and become a suit? Is it ideal for every young boy and girl to aspire to become a doctor, surgeon, dentist, lawyer or banker?

Then who’ll clean our toilets, build our houses,  cook the food?

Society is a mix of all type of people. And social status is not merely reflected by one’s paycheck. If that were so, it’d merely mean that one’s self-esteem and self-worth is inextricably tied to one’s income earning ability.

That’s it, our value to society reflected in a string of numbers, preceded by a $ sign.

Unfortunately, many have bought into this idea, setting up a list of ‘things’ they must own and buy.

Recently, in preparation for my daughter’s arrival, i did a round of house cleaning. i sold and gave away a lot of items i accumilated over the years. That set of Nikon SLR camera equipment which i’d spent about $2,000 i gave away to my church. A whole bunch of books which I’d painstakingly starved during break time at school to save enough to buy those books, i’d also given away. For the items I sold, I barely recouped 10% of what I’d originally paid for them. In short, everything went for close to nothing.

But at the end of the day, I believe a better metric to determine one’s value and contribution during the time on this earth is measured by the relationships one has whether with family or friends.

On the deathbed, it’s rare that anyone says, i wish i bought a bigger car, or i wish i spent more hours in the office. Rather the refrain you often hear is ‘I should’ve spent more time with my family’ ‘I wish I was there when my son was growing up’

It may be too late for those who have passed, but for those who are here now, there is still time.

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