I don’t know how to swim
Like many teenagers, I was thrown into the beautiful yet relentless ocean of what we like to call ‘adulthood’. For those of you who think you have it all figured out, my sincerest kudos to you! This article is for those who are like me: still struggling to stay afloat; despite aging naturally and entering this phase of life.
My academic background leans towards the traditional side; here’s a quick rundown:
- Kindergarten (< 6 years old)
- Primary School (7 – 12 years old)
- Secondary School (13 – 17 years old)
- College (18 – 19 years old)
- University (19 – 22 years old)
I completed my SPM when I was 17 – then immediately started A Levels in college. After that, I wasted no time enrolling in a 3-year Business degree where I did a UK twinning program. Towards the end, I secured an internship before my graduation and came back from the UK to begin interning at Leaderonomics.
My internship transitioned into a three-month probation period, then a full-time position in a new Business Unit (one I created, in fact). I had amazing leaders who gave me opportunities to continue exploring the company until I found my terra firma – that intersection point of a Venn Diagram of what I was good at and what I liked to do. Say Hello to Adriana Ang, Finance Executive at Leaderonomics!
Things are turning out alright; I’m just growing along a different path.
Why do I say that this is traditional? At the time, every road I chose was considered the most beaten path (and for me, the path of least resistance). “A Levels is the ticket for anything you want to do and the best choice to keep your degree options open, A Levels is also widely recognised and can open doors to any university you’re looking to enter, be it local universities or foreign universities”.
After that, the narrative became “A Business degree can expand your reach in so many different sectors – marketing, management, logistics, human resources, and so on”, “Apply for jobs while you are in university and start immediately after graduation so there would not be a gap that seems too long in your resume”.
(Editor’s note: this article is not a marketing piece for A-levels, I think Adriana just has a tendency to like odd things)
The number of career opportunities and job titles that exist today would make my ancestors scoff at how spoilt for choice we are. Many times, I allowed choices to be made for me due to current circumstances, and today I can happily say that I do not regret any of it.
Would I have wanted more ownership over the choices that were made? Yes, but truth be told, how could I grasp my future direction when I did not have sufficient knowledge of what I was good at and passionate about? Again, if you are someone who’s figured out the exact career path you’re interested in, I highly salute you and I wish you all the best in achieving your goals, but I was never that fortunate.
There is beauty in that – where uncertainty gives opportunity for adaptability and growth.
Instead, I used all my fears and uncertainties of the future to fuel my love of learning in developing different soft skills, hard skills, transferable skills and…I emerged victorious!
Just kidding, I still struggle with deciding what to eat for breakfast. Still, the fact that you are here reading this means that you have come in search of solace and companionship in this journey called life. Either that, or you’re just here to support me because I kept telling you about something I wrote that was published.
Allow me to list out a few things I have come to understand in the midst of this ‘swim in the ocean’.
Mandatory Don’t-Sue-Me-Disclaimer: there are many things that many different sources will say or have said, so understand that this is just my personal two cents to take note of when you too have to start ‘adulting’.
1. Understand your own capacity for learning and growth.
Now, stretch further – to your absolute limit – to train it such that it’s a never-ending cycle of growth. It’s like how hot dog eating champions train for competitions by stretching out their stomach. Based on some brief research I’ve done in the past; I know that all humans have an innate hunger for knowledge. No matter how small that hunger may be, use it to its maximum capacity.
Take my curiosity for data analysis – it’s not something that I am 100% interested in, but I understand its importance and I do enjoy the parts where the data (raw pieces of information) is able to tell a story. Latching on to this small hunger for understanding storytelling through data, I dove into the dark rabbit hole of the Data Industry. From understanding small bits and pieces of data analysis and analysts, it led to a realisation that I was a methodical student back in college and I’m still wired that way. Understanding that part of myself showed me the areas I could learn and grow effectively, and stretch beyond my limits.
2. Not everything will work out the way you want it to.
Mistakes happen, goals are not reached, and unfortunate events will eventually come to pass. There is beauty in that – where uncertainty gives opportunity for adaptability and growth. Let’s get real here – I did pretty badly for A Levels and lost the chance of getting into a well-known university in the UK. That broke me for a day or two (or a month).
The point is, I took a different route and did a twinning program in the UK instead, and I had an amazing experience both personally and academically. The modules I took under the twinning program allowed me exposure to what I would later discover a hidden interest in. It just goes to show that things are turning out alright; I’m just growing along a different path.
3. Take note of your progress, and be genuinely proud of every milestone you achieve.
Got a certificate for being the class treasurer? Amazing. Achieved 1st runner-up for an entrepreneurship award? Great stuff. Chosen as a student representative in a foreign country amongst other international students they could have chosen? ABSOLUTELY DELIGHTFUL.
Acknowledging and celebrating every little thing you have done helps ground you in reality so instead of comparing yourself to others, you’re comparing yourself to yourself. It’s important to recognise that every single one of us have our own paths to make, take, and pretend it’s a piece of cake.
To wrap up my lessons, I’ll share one last thing. This was my daily mantra – ‘take everything as a learning experience’.
I’ve been told I absorb information like a sponge, and I knew that was something I could apply not just in my studies but in figuring out the way of adulting too. Currently I’m squeezing that sponge from time to time in order to compartmentalise my learnings, and to make room for more knowledge to be absorbed. I’m still growing and learning, and every day is an opportunity for me to begin anew.
I also live in a pineapple under the sea.
Okay, I’m not too sure how to end things, which is why most of my writing pieces are never complete, but here you go! My journey of a straight path ahead – no gap years, no breaks, yet still unbroken.
I don’t know how to swim.
Thankfully, I also don’t know how to sink.