When people think pursuing your dreams is a waste.

My cousin made a decision to leave her stable job she had for a decade in one of the government’s ministries to pursue a five-year degree in Vet Science, which is a life-long dream of hers. This is a courageous decision, taking into consideration that she is already in her mid-thirties, and it is not easy for anyone to leave a comfort zone, not to mention she is a typical, pragmatic Capricorn. I applaud her. I seem to be the one of the very few in the family to be doing so, because the typical reaction was, “What a waste!”.

What is exactly a waste?

Apparently to my typical, conservative Singaporean family, leaving a comfortable, safe job that pays well, especially after being in it for a decade, is an absolute waste. It is sad for me, because these people do not know how to appreciate life beyond comfort and security.

How can pursuing one’s dream be ever deemed a waste?

I could not help but retort, which is more of a waste?

1. To lie on your deathbed with millions in the bank, but wondering what it could have been? To have lived a stable, safe existence but never knew how it felt to pursue your dreams?

2. Or to lie on your deathbed, penniless, but fully satisfied that you have given your all to make your own dreams come true?

The Singaporean mentality

I cannot fault them for having this mentality because this was what they were taught to believe. The safe, comfortable route. The moment one begins an education in Singapore, we were led to think that nothing else but grades matter, and once we left the system, we were then led to think that nothing else but career stability and prestige matter.

I was brought up to think that pursuing your dream is naive. That it only happens in books and movies, and we should never attempt to try. That one will be unable to survive in Singapore without a tertiary degree, and parents get worried when their child exhibits signs of being creative, because that would be the last thing they want their child to do, secretly wishing their child would love numbers instead.

People would enrol in the local universities for courses they had zero interest in, because only the top students got into the courses they wanted, and the rest have to settle for anything, anywhere in the Uni, because even if you voluntarily choose to study for a technical diploma instead, people would just assume that you were not good enough for the Uni, and not because there’s nothing at the Uni that interests you.

That was how it was like for us born in the 1970s and the early 1980s. The kids now have a different set of issues. Parents now are enrolling their kids in all kinds of ‘enrichment’ courses because the Government decided that they want to develop Singapore into a ‘creative hub’.

I do not want to judge the Government because Singapore, being a tiny dot on the map without any natural resources, might not have survived without having the herd mentality.

On hindsight, I am truly blessed and guided, because somehow even when it got really difficult for me, I did not opt for the safer route. I actually tried to, because it was just so tiring going against the flow, but I felt so sick that it was just impossible for me to carry on.


This post is dedicated to my dearest cousin, whom I spent most of my formative years with, because despite all the odds stacked against her, despite all the objection from the people she loves, she wants to pursue her dream.

She will leave her comfort zone, to learn how to live independently for the first time in her life in unfamiliar territory, and be away from the people whom she loves and who loves her, because she knows she has a greater purpose in her life and she needs to fulfil it.

Which is to do her part and her best for the animals she deeply loves.

Despite that I am proud of myself for following my heart as much as I can, I am not sure if I would have the same courage as she did. Thus, she deserves my deepest admiration, support, and love.

For those of you out there, if you have a dream, pursue it. You really would not want to be the rich, grumpy old person on your deathbed, never knowing how it feels to live the dream.

The other side of Roy Keane’s quitting habit

News filtered in at the major news sites yesterday that Roy Keane has quit Sunderland after a string of seven defeats. All of the football writers are criticising him for quitting when the going gets tough. That he was unable to persevere.

Now, that sounds really familiar. I have had people saying the same of me, because I did not fulfill society’s expectations of me when I did not subscribe the conventional hold-a-job-down-for-as-long-as-possible mentality.

I do not know Roy Keane personally, obviously. However, I do not see him in the same light as most people do. He is known for his fiery temper and passion, for his winning mentality, for his ability to command respect and awe as a professional footballer. He, more than once, almost single-handedly motivated his team mates to win a game when they were staring at defeat. He, was the player, who unselfishly played out his heart despite facing suspension to give Manchester United their first European final for many years.

How can a man like this, whom many professional footballers openly admire, be such a weakling that he must quit because he was unable to take hardship?

For most of my life while in employment, I have wondered the same question of myself. No matter how strong can one be, it is difficult not to be doubtful when everyone around you does not understand.

Roy Keane quit because he feels like he has given his all, and he is no longer confident of guiding the club back to winning ways. It is typically viewed as ‘courageous’ to stay on and fight, but is that really an act of courage, or an act of a selfish ego by stubbornly hanging on and risking the entire club’s fortunes along with himself?

Probably there are tons of many reasons that would remain hidden, perhaps it was because the new shareholder undermined his authority, nobody would know unless Keane himself steps out to talk about it. I believe he will, one day, when he is ready. He was never known to shy away from his words, and I am sure he is his own harshest critic.

His very high expectations of himself, is the same factor that has contributed so much of his success, as well as his failures. His high expectations of everyone around him, has landed him with tons of negative publicity, when he walked out of the world cup on his country, when he openly criticised both his team mates and the supporters of Manchester United.

All he wanted, and wants now, is to be true to himself.

When the day comes when you can no longer answer to yourself, that will be the day to have the guts to give up.

Many people fail to see that, quitting takes courage too.

Would a man like him fail to pre-anticipate all that backlash that is happening right now? He knew what he was in for, yet he still quit, rather than hang on to his job for dear life that many football managers do.

Roy Keane is an exceptional man, and for all his brilliance he will continue to be misunderstood, because the mainstream would not be able to empathise and understand what drives his actions.

Nobody probably feels worse about Sunderland’s current situation than the man himself.

Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play it safers, the creatures of the common place, the slaves of the ordinary

Cecil Beaton, cited from To Dare, KR Connect