(I wrote this post during my trip in Mainland China last month January)
Yunnan, China is a middle of nowhere for me. When I started my 20s, I could have never imagined myself here. Now standing at the middle of my first decade of youth, I still cannot believe that I am here. More terrifying fact is that I cannot imagine myself where I would be 5 years later or even 6 months later.
In 2016, I am finally putting a full-stop to my undergraduate education. I am taking off the thickest and heaviest coat of my life. I feel very light but a bit cold at the same time.
Last semester was an important one for the seniors like me, because all major big corporates finished recruiting for fresh graduates and interns. I saw many of my friends laughing and crying because of interviews and their results. I saw some chins high up with big bank names (I live in HK after all) and eyes glittering with jealousy and envy. I heard figures of salaries that I have never thought of.
To be honest, I am sometimes a little envious. I have to acknowledge that, in some degree, money and fame are values that a young man in his or her 20s can be tempted to — although they are not everything that those names give — because they are easy to be acknowledged by other people around him. More people know that these values are gold and applaudable.
I see the clear path of success and the huge opportunity cost that I have to take if I do not go to that direction where most people desire. Most people will not understand the value I choose (and this may be very difficult to endure).
Nevertheless, I still do not want to walk to that direction, but want to pursue a different path.
I found what I have potential in and what I love at the same time — making products. Since 2014, right after I had been dismissed from the military service, I have been taking small steps on mobile product development. I had started from reading codes in the army, where I was not allowed to do any programming on the side, to writing real applications.
Although I have been learning programming since I was little, I always have thought about how I will use my skills. I never have wanted to be a traditional computer scientist or engineer, since I knew that on the bottom of my heart I am not fully drawn into logic that much.
Experience of working on a mobile-related project at a design consultancy (Crevate in 2012) dragged me into a different type of thinking that cultivated my ability to draw bigger, philosophical pictures. I learned that I wanted to stand somewhere in between engineering and design.
2014 and 2015 were years that I had grown exponentially. In 2014 when I tried to start my own service Yamm, I said I knew something about product development and startup, but now I have learned enough that I say I know nothing about them. Working for the Watcha mobile team last summer improved my software engineering ability to a different level (I did not realize this until recently) and taught me a lot about a real startup.
When I am exploring this path, I feel myself growing like crazy — no matter how long the experience is or how small the reward is. And I love that.
I know that I still have a long way to go, but that also means that I have a lot of room for growth. For the rest of my life, I must put myself to an uncomfortable position everyday and have uncertainties about the future.
A lot of people live toward eliminating those uncertainties. They tend to have plans for the next 1~10 years ahead — which, I think, will probably not go as planned — and those plans had usually been verified a successful by other predecessors.
However, I believe that more uncertainties mean more freedom in my life. I do not want to be dominated by future plans that myself made. Life is more like a spontaneous backpacking trip, rather than a hike aiming the peak. I want to “my life to be a dance, not a march.” (quoted from 미움 받을 용기 by 고가 후미타케)
By not planning my life in a long term, I can drive the present to the direction I want to.
The more I explore this path, the more walls I encounter. I feel like I am so dumb, not knowing how to go through these walls. The more I experience or study, the more I realize how much I do not know or thought that I knew. Like I said above, I really know nothing about design, development, management, startup, etc.
Despite of these thoughts, one thing I know for sure is that it is perseverance that makes a difference. Just as what this wonderful post “I’m not smart, I just sat there longer than you.” by Graeme Fulton and the famous 10,000-hours rule by Malcom Gladwell, success does not come overnight, but rather after countless days of endurance.
Luckily, I believe that one of my strengths is the ability to keep going to the path not many are pursuing. I believe in the future, sooner or later when I look around, I will be the person I always wanted to be.
I really want to meet that guy in person later.