I Don’t Even Know How to Title This Anymore

I have written about this and explained things about this so many times before, but let me just go through this, one.more.time.


“I have great faith in fools—self-confidence my friends call it.” — Edgar Allan Poe


I still encounter a lot of questions, second-guessings, if-onlys, raised eyebrows, and hints of “she’s so young; she doesn’t understand it all that well yet,” with regard to my career choices. I hear it from people all the time, from different people—the ones I’ve just met; and from the same people—the ones who have been with me all along.

So, you no longer have plans of pursuing nursing/going abroad? What will happen to your nursing degree?

What’s wrong with the hospital you were working in? It’s one of the best in the country; it could not have gotten any better than that, could it?

You’re young. Your priorities will change over time. Anyway, you already have your degree with you. Maybe someday you can get back to nursing when there are better opportunities.


[more from people talking to other people about me]

If only she pursued being a nurse, she would’ve been in [insert awesome overseas destination here] by now! Look at [insert name of batchmate here], she’s already in [insert another awesome overseas destination here again] and earning [insert dizzying amount of money here] per month!

But why did she finish the course when she didn’t want to be a nurse? She should’ve changed course earlier; could’ve saved her a lot of trouble going after all those cases/spending for all those hospital trainings.


I understand that from an outsider’s perspective, this must be so baffling. I practically uprooted the life I had spent almost 6 years building, the one I built with such dedication and in keeping with such high standards you’d think there was no way I’d one day choose to leave it all behind. It must be so unthinkable for some people, how someone could be so irrational as to walk the other way when the road she was treading was—on the surface—glinting clean and definitely leading to somewhere worth going.

But though it may all be baffling from an outsider’s view, from the inner life I live, there are no more questions. I know what I want. I know the things I want to accomplish. I don’t care that I could earn exponentially more or get to go more places had I pursued nursing. Money, I need it, yes, but there are other ways I could earn what I need. As for places, there is only one place I want to get to, and it’s not a physical one. That place is more of a state of being, of feeling that I am exactly where I am meant to be because I have been so made as to fit that niche perfectly.

“Remember this, that very little is needed to live a happy life.”—Marcus Aurelius

People tell me there is so much more out there, that I should not limit myself, that I could go places if only I had more courage.


My dears, I tell you, I could say the same.


But first, when I say “there is so much more out there,” I don’t mean that the only way to experience what is “out there” is to go out of the country and travel the world. Life is rich enough and filled with so much wonder as it is, wherever you are—if you only know where to look, if you only take time to really see. For me, I get to experience it every day, the “much more”, the intenseness of this life—through the spark I see in my students’ eyes every time they learn or understand something for the first time, through messages of thanks and inspiration I receive from random people who read what I write, through moments of friendship and connectedness shared with my closest friends. These are the moments I live for, these are the things that make me realize there is really so much more out there to experience and enjoy in this world.


“Raise the bar higher. It is noisy out there and for some reason, people want to see you fail. That’s not your problem, that is their problem. I only remember the moments where I tried beyond what I thought I could do and I do not remember the failures because I didn’t … Go find your joy.” — Sandra Bullock


Secondly, when I say “you should not limit yourself,” I don’t mean that you should never let go of any opportunity. True freedom does not consist in being compelled to take all opportunities that come, but in having the agency to select—intelligently—those opportunities truly worth taking. Sometimes some opportunities are better left ungrabbed, when you see that they will not lead you towards the main, long-term goal you want to achieve. Don’t take opportunities at face value; look instead first at the bigger picture you want to create for your life. Rarely will it need all colors in the palette.

“We must make the choices that enable us to fulfill the deepest capacities of our real selves.” — Thomas Merton


And thirdly, when I say “you could go places if only you had more courage,” I don’t mean you should have the courage to go after the things I consider worth going after. My ideas of success might be different from yours, and by all means, please follow yours. The only courage required of you is that which will allow you to achieve success and happiness as you define it, not as other people or the media or the norm defines it.

“So what I want to argue for is not that we should give up on our ideas of success, but we should make sure that they are our own. We should focus in on our ideas and make sure that we own them, that we are truly the authors of our own ambitions. Because it’s bad enough, not getting what you want, but it’s even worse to have an idea of what it is you want and find out at the end of a journey, that it isn’t, in fact, what you wanted all along.” — Alain de Botton

We each have different priorities and we each value different things. For some, life may be about acquiring things, living luxuriously. For others, it might be about climbing pedestals, or possessing power. For me, life is about finding meaning and purpose. When we are here for only a negligible fraction of all eternity, when we are but specks in this universe—what are we really here for?

I’ve made my choice, and it’s not one other people readily accept or fully understand. I think this is what baffles so many people about my choices—that I chose to give up a career that could potentially make me filthy rich and have me go out there into the big wide world, in exchange for work that pays so meager and goals that might well leave me rotting in this third-world country.


Everywhere I go, I still hear these things.

They say there is no money in teaching.

But guess what? I’m going to teach anyway.

They say there is no money in writing.

I’m going to write anyway.

Because these are the things, the things that give me a sense of purpose, of fulfillment, of meaning. These are the things that make me feel alive.

“Money is like gasoline during a road trip. You don’t want to run out of gas on your trip, but you’re not doing a tour of gas stations. You have to pay attention to money, but it shouldn’t be about the money.” — Tim O’Reilly

This is my life now, the life I choose to build.

This is my life now, and I am finding it

worth living.

I pray you find your path as well.

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