kids at beach

Finding Our True Calling : Rated PG (Parental Guidance)

Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement

{Finding Our True Calling : Rated PG (Parental Guidance)}. I know I’ve had a great vacation, though brief, when I woke up yesterday all set to get back to my daily hustle. It feels good to be back at doing what I love and find value in doing as I jotted tiny notes in my well-used planner and contemplated my schedules ahead.

It’s been more than a year since I’d picked up and breathed new life into my original private blog (if there’s such a thing as private blogs!) and kept Out Of Man alive on this space. Till now I’ve not really taken stock of how far it’s come. I know I simply wanted to and still want to write and share good things out of love, like a mum allowing her child freedom to grow and mature as organically as possible.

This brings me to share my heart with you this week on some thoughts I had about creating a life that would be authentic to who we uniquely are, in the way God has created us.

I really loved something I read that inspired this post and it was too good not to share. I also recently found myself embroiled in a heated discussion (with as much grace as I could muster) with a family member about parenting and raising our kids to love what they do, as opposed to our ‘Asian Tiger Parent’ culture of maximising their every potential (sport, music, academic achievement) regardless of passion.

I found myself slapped with several unflattering labels by the other party in the heat of our argument. ‘Out of touch’ had been one of them that stood out and stung me the most. Am I really? I questioned myself objectively and I’m still unconvinced. I would acknowledge the good intentions of Asian Tiger Parenting but I’m still dumbfounded by the suggestion that the best chance of success or happiness in life can only be narrowed down to the few obvious professional careers the world esteems and crowns with prestige and prominence.

If I’m truly ‘out of touch’ with this world it might be because I’ve seen too many of these careers end in disillusionment, despair and divorces. In the saddest and gravest of outcomes, we get to read about career depression resulting in suicides from media reports. My arguing opponent became combative at this point and cautioned me against a short-sighted perspective; because ‘wait till you see the suicidal rates brought on by poverty in poorer cities’. Oh. I hadn’t realised we were sparing about first world versus third world problems. All of a sudden I realised it’s me being the object of reference—that my choices reflect a terrible impracticality that makes this person cringe and God forbid, if their child would ever take a similar direction of pursuing what they love to do but not make millions of dollars at it. 

But what would I know about dreams to maximise wealth creation? Only a few years ago I was an entrepreneur slugging it out in the hospitality industry. I’ve dabbled in everything from running a beverage franchise to a restaurant to exporting wine—all of it for money. None of them had helped me find meaning or value and I realised (fortunately not too late) also that none of these vocations had pointed to a lifelong calling.

A life-changing diagnosis additionally cemented my newfound perspective and a conviction to adjust to a slower lifestyle, doing only all I absolutely loved. For this reason I chose to devote myself to writing freelance and keeping this creative blog as a way to share my life, my journey of discovery as a parent, a crafter-maker and a commitment to lifelong learning.

I’m almost done writing my first book and I contribute to online and print articles. I’m in the process of curating well-designed merchandise for my first online shop. I haven’t made millions yet but it doesn’t mean God can’t bless me or that I’m not rich in ways that money can’t buy. I’m in great health, I love watching my kids grow up, I have a wonderful loving marriage I cherish and I haven’t been more grateful since moving from Singapore to Australia where I could finally hear myself think.

Kat Ngoi
My youngest and me

Speaking of thinking—at that juncture thick into the heated discussion of steering our children to choose careers as if they were investment vehicles rather than passionate lifelong pursuits, I was also only thinking about this. About how I’ve lost count of the many lawyers I’ve met (whom I know personally) who have gone on to quit the legal profession to set up bakeries or creative start-ups. Most recently I got to know an online crafter, formerly a doctor who has decided she has had enough of living depressed and unfulfilled and so started a yarning business. I haven’t been able to get in touch with my previous oncologist for follow-up appointments. I last heard from a friend that he’s gone off to start a garage band.

In my writing projects I’ve interviewed a range of creativepreneurs. Many of the creative people I’ve met had shared that they got their professional degrees to satisfy their parents’ expectations. Having said that I’m sure not every successful professional is necessarily unhappy with their job but I seem to have come across more who have hidden passions and something else they’d rather do for a living.

Here’s what Bill Waterson wrote that I so loved. Hope it stirs up positive dialogues and only good vibes amongst parents and above all, blesses you, even if you don’t have children yourself.

‘Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive. Ambition is only understood if it’s to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities is considered a flake. A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential — as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth.

You’ll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you’re doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you’ll hear about them.

To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy, but it’s still allowed, and I think you’ll be happier for the trouble.

– Bill Waterson, cartoonist and the author of comic strip Calvin & Hobbes

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.