When I was little, life was so simple and straight-forward. Growing up in a  communist country where obedience and discipline are encouraged, I did not have to think much about what to do because everything was pre-programmed and all I had to do was to follow the prescribed path. For example, if I wanted to win that prize, I should have learned and memorized certain formulas, gone to study with certain teachers, written certain things in the exams and then just waited for the results. I did not even need to think about what to dream because again everything was pretty much decided for me. For example,  I specialized in English in high school, it meant that in college, I would major in either education, business or language studies.  This also meant that once I graduated, that was what I would do for the rest of my life. Now thinking back about that, I would compare the situation to that in North Korea where even hairstyles are regulated and narrowed down to a few choices approved by the country’s leaders.

As one of the students who prospered under that situation, i.e. being one of the top students in most classes, winning various academic prizes and always conforming to the rules, I never had to spend a minute to really think about myself, my dreams or anything like that. To make it worse, none of my close friends deviated from that norm, and those who did was condemned vehemently and became the “bad guy”. I accepted everything, never questioned and just kept following the path.

However, all of the sudden, things changed so fast that it just seemed so unreal. Somehow things that were praised before now fell out of favor. Somehow the life everyone dreamed of, or was deemed to be most desirable now became antiquated. And somehow I got out of that vicious circle, and was forced for the first time to think for myself and what I want to do with my life. Hey, sound fun? Maybe, but maybe not. Now I have so many things that I want to do, so many goals that I want to accomplish, and yet, as we live in a world of scarcity, and constraints, I have to budget my time, health, financial capability, and now a family into the equation. Sometimes it is so painful that some goals seem to be mutually exclusive, that I cannot have it all, but that I cannot leave anything behind. These days I live in the mess that I myself created, the harder I try to resist, the tighter the invisible string held onto me. Time flies, youth does not wait. And here I am, at the crossroads, thinking about my way…