November 12, 2003


When I was a kid, people always asked – “What you want to be when you grow up?”. Well, I was smart. I knew that wasn’t a straight question. It was a question to gauge your psychological being. They have hidden meanings. My mom never asked me that before… but my relatives did. All the time. (Like they cared)

My parents never gave a damn about what I want to be when I grow up. They just hoped that I would finish my high school and stay the fuck out of jail. I grew up in a simple family with not much plans for the future. I can imagine, I could have told my mom that I want to be a rock star, she would not even show any reaction. She would probably say something sarcastic like “Sure. Go ahead be a rock star. Just don’t ask me for money to buy a guitar.”

Anyway, back to the topic – ambition. Whenever I was asked about my ambition, the only thing that always come into my mind would be “I don’t know”. But of course I won’t answer “I don’t know”. It will be stupid to do that. The adults would think I’m a troubled child and probably would send me for a counseling or something. So, I’d always tell them what they wanted to hear – “Oh, I want to be a doctor / lawyer / pilot / engineer” – then get myself a pat on the shoulder and get the fuck out of there. It has always been about what they want to hear, not about what we really want to be when we grow up.

In fact, if you take a look at the question carefully, you’d realize that it is quite a subjective topic. There will be no definitely answer to that. First of all, there is no real definition of “grown up” in this world here. Some of my friends, like Eric, still doesn’t show any sign of growing up even in his 40’s. So, if I decide to party hard and “grow up” later in my life, say about, 70 years old, why would I need a profession or career still? “My ambition is don’t have to do anything. Hope to have less grey hairs and be able to sustain an erection.” – that would have sounded so absurd.

Second, there are no fixed career paths in our dynamic society. 40 years ago, if your ambition was to be an engineer, you’d get oohs and aahs, and people would see you as a bright kid that wants to carve himself a niche in the society. Then come today, the name ‘engineer’ has become so common that even a door-to-door salesman is calling himself a “Sales Engineer”. And these engineers are the ones that go door-to-door to solicit their ill selling products and aggravating people is part of their job scope. You get my point? It’s not a job that was as glamorous and great before.

So, please leave your kids alone. Don’t ask them what they want to be when they grow up. They are not fortune tellers. Just give them the best education you can, and let them decide for themselves – what they NEED to be to get what they want. The world has changed and it’s not the same anymore.

michaelooi  | thoughts  | 

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