In every social setting there always seems to be two types of people; there is the type that tries super hard at whatever they are doing, and the rest of us who are more chill and spend too much time taking breaks or procrastinating. Most of us, including the me of yesterday, fall into the second category of people. I did not understand why these “overachieving” peers and predecessors of mine worked so hard to get good grades, to land prestigious internships, to network, and to try to advance themselves in a multitude of ways.
Are they all passionately pursuing great dreams? Did they already figure out what they want in life whereas I still have no clue what kind of work I want to do? And yet, when I ask them what they want to be in the future and what their passions are, many of them will tell me that they are still looking for it too. Their answer always threw me off. Bro, why you work your ass off so hard when you don’t even know what you’re working for?
But I am here today to share what I have learned from the successful people in this world that I have been fortunate enough to read about, successful relatives who would share their stories, and just from eventual self-realization.
I recognize that it is difficult to push ourselves to work hard when we might not even have a dream or direction yet. This uncertainty tempts us to become distracted, procrastinate or feel that all this effort is wasted. But that is not true. What I have come to learn is that I work my ass off because I want to be ready to be the best version of myself; On the day that I do finally discover the passion that I wish to pursue in my life, I will be prepared to jump right into it.
Sounds kind of meta, right? It is okay; I will give a personal example and then explain.
I have two uncles on my dad’s side, one of which lives a very comfortable life with power and money, while his younger brother (a man in his late 30s) still relies on their parents and other relatives for a living. Both of them grew up in the bitterly poor countryside of China and neither of them knew what they really wanted in life until very recently. Despite coming from an impoverished background, my older uncle worked incredibly hard since a young age until he was finally able to attend one of the best universities in the country; he would then eventually find a wonderful job, start a family and “live the good life.”
A few years ago, he finally realized that his biggest passion was dabbling in the stocks he owned, and so he turned to the business sector. Switching careers was of course not simple for a man of his age, but because of the solid foundation he had built for himself his entire life, the switch was definitely feasible. My uncle is still a successful man in the field of work he enjoys. Around the same time, my younger uncle also realized that he too wanted a business of his own, and yet, because he had spent his entire life moping around and had no savings or anything of his own, he was truly hopeless. Eventually, he could only beg his older brother for a job position at the latter’s company.
I see numerous intelligent, wealthy students squandering their time in school when they could be working to better themselves. Their excuse is that they don’t know what they want in life yet, and without a dream they do not have a burning drive to try hard. Somehow, not knowing what they want in life justifies them to waste their lives at the present moment. And twenty years later, when the gamers discover that they wish to create their own franchise and the Netflix bingers realize they actually want to be movie directors, it is all too late. They are no longer young, and they will find it almost impossible to keep up with their peers who had utilized the past twenty years to go farther in life.
Success does not come overnight; it comes with years and years of sweat and tears. And these people who slacked off in their youth, are now powerless and unable to pursue the beautiful passions that they finally found. It is a tragedy.
When you are young, prepare yourself for the passions that will emerge later on in your life. Not knowing what you want in life is not an excuse for being too lazy to better yourself in preparation for the future. As college students, we have so much free time on our hands, and even more “free time” we create for ourselves when we choose to procrastinate. Use it to enrich your wisdom and character, and you will draw the world to you.
Enrich yourself so that when you finally do figure out your passion, you would have the capability of pursuing it. There is nothing more painful than being denied your dreams simply because you don’t have the ability to pursue them. Don’t hold yourself back from your future passions because you chose to slack off. This world is very unfair, and there are a lot of barriers and setbacks that we are born into, many of which are very difficult to break out of. Yet, there are still many more journeys that can lead to a great life; if we commit to put in the effort, one day we can seize for ourselves what our hearts desire.
I am not an overachiever. I am just an investor, and I invest in myself.