Sometimes, I wonder, am I too impractical for my own good?
It still never fails to surprise me when people here tell me that their choices in life are based on practicality. For example, they study a course because it makes more money instead of pursuing a dream that’s likely to leave them starving and penniless…
They chose to marry someone who is wealthy and “stable” instead of someone they love because it’s the safe thing to do…
They choose a job that’s dull because it’s prestigious and offers them a high salary even though they hate their boss, colleagues and/or work…
Maybe it’s the Filipino in me — or maybe I’ve just been away too long — so much so that I proudly tell my Taiwanese friends that in the Philippines, given the choice of mien bao (bread) or ai (love), the average Filipino would dare to shout, “Ai!”*
*Tell me if my impression is wrong, and I’ll sadly take this back.
It makes me wonder how practical were my choices in life.
At first, it may seem that I’ve made all the practical choices — I work in a leading, prestigious bank in Taiwan that deals with a wealthy clientele, earning a comfortable salary big enough to travel a few times a year.
I am currently head of a substantial social organization that bridges the barrier between professionals from inter-cultures in Taiwan.
And I graduated from the Ateneo, a leading university in the Philippines, taking up Business Management (an extremely practical course).
But actually, these aren’t really practical choices — they were decisions I’ve made from the heart.
Did you know that by working on this current job, I had to take a 30% paycut (my former employer gave a good amount of stocks)? And if I stayed in the Philippines, though my salary would still be more here, quality of life-wise, life would be way better back home…
Did you know that this organization is 100% non-profit and any work I do is pro bono (actually, everything’s money out)?
And did you know that I had to fight and argue with my dad for weeks before he allowed me to go to Ateneo? Because he felt that women should study more feminine courses like interior design (he even went as far as telling me he won’t pay for my education if I pursued my Atenean degree)…
So why did I chose these paths? Of working in a job that pays a bit less, and makes me do overtime more, of working for free, and for studying a course my dad hated?
Because darnit, I love what I do.
I love the fact that my job allows me to interact with a diverse group of people in a daily basis. Sure, it’s pressure and stress galore, but at least, I do a tiny jig before going to work.
I love it that am doing something for the community and contributing to people’s lives, encouraging them to go out and actually do something instead of staying home and sleep.
And finally I loved management, the challenge and the intricacies on how economics and business interrelate to make our society work. Ultimately, if things go well, I aim to be an entrepreneur and open up my own business.
And because you love what you do, you do things with a lot of heart.
A lot of passion.
You give it your entire 100%.
Some people think you’re crazy — why take that job if it means getting a paycut? Why work for free if you can get paid? Why take a risk when you can choose something safe?
But the thing is, because you do things with passion, your head sticks up a little bit.
You’re more energetic, your voice exudes excitement and you somehow get more returns because you pour a lot more time and effort in an endeavor.
And somehow, in time, people do pay attention.
Sure, attention can go both ways (e.g., your head sticks out that people can throw rotten eggs and tomatos at you OR you get the credit you deserve), but hey, nothing is perfect. You win some, you lose some and heck, you can’t please everybody.
So you do your best, you give it your best shot and hope things go well in the end.
And no matter how silly your choices may be, sometimes, often times, it does pay off in the end.
So even if you do something impractical, give it your best shot.
Who knows where it can take you.
At least, you won’t be left behind in the sea of mediocrity, yeah?
C’est la vie!