For most people, they usually have some sort of target to achieve when they grow up. Go to school, college, graduate and get a decent job. If they found the one along the way, they'll get married, buy a nice little (or big) house and have beautiful kids in tow. That is usually the case for most people at least. I wish I could say the same thing for my life. Yes my target and ambition was pretty much the same with everyone but with me, life has never been straightforward or typically easy. I had to jump through hoops of fire, swim in shark-infested water and walk on a tight-rope before getting what I wish for in life.
When many people went to college to study and graduate, I went there to study at first and then got lost somewhere along the way and dropped out towards the end. That's when reality started to bite. Ever since I dropped out of college, I went to hell and back. I get to feel how it was to be unemployed (it sucks), do a minimum-paying jobs for a living (7-Eleven, IKEA, Starbucks) and realising how hard it is getting a decent job with my near zero qualification (a good SPM result just wouldn't cut it these days). Fortunately for me, not all employees require you to have a college degree or diploma to get hired (hey Microcorp!). With some help from my former neighbour, I managed to clinch a job at an IT company in Seri Kembangan. From there on, I walked my way up, learn the ropes of the business and earn a decent salary to pay the bills and feed my family. I really enjoyed myself working at that particular company that even when times were hard there, I tried to hang on for as long as possible. That said, when a golden opportunity to develop my career even further presents itself to me, I couldn't resist the tempting offer and joined the new company leaving behind the one that I worked for nearly five years.
At first I was convinced that joining this new company was a huge step up for me. I was actually one of the director of their subsidiary company and I get to sign checks and stuff. Things look good and rosy at first but after a year or so at the company, I began to realize that it's not always about the money. In the end you've got to love what you do at work and be able to work without worrying about other stuff that shouldn't concern you like doing shady deals or doing whatever it takes to secure a project. Life is certainly more than making money at whatever cost. I just want to sleep at night with a clear conscience.
Long story short, I left the company to explore other opportunities. I started doing odd jobs for a friend of mine servicing computers and delivering stuff. After nearly 4 months of doing that, I came to the realization that I wouldn't be able to afford to pay off my bills and loans, let alone feed my family doing just those odd jobs. So I started to seriously find a real job. Even that was not easy. Sure there are literally thousands of job opening in the market but there's even more jobless and fresh grads out there, not to mention people with existing jobs looking for new pasture. Lucky for me only after 2 months of looking and going to 2 interviews I was offered a job a this private international school in KL. The pay was good, about the same as what I got at my last job but the more important thing is I get to do what I do best - fixing computer stuff. My former boss once said "do you really want to do this technical support job forever?". Of course nobody wants to do the same old shit forever and ever. I do intend of going up the career ladder eventually but this things take time and you don't get to upgrade from a technician to Managing Director in a year, unless of course your family owns the company. There's no shame fixing IT stuff for a living. At least I get paid really-really well for whatever dirty or boring things I do, not to mention the guaranteed annual bonus, increment and other benefits. Plus I get to sleep really well at night without worrying when my paycheck will be deposited, if ever.
So you see, at 33 I'm actually starting a new chapter in my life, career-wise at least. It's like being a graduate fresh out of college getting his first job. The only difference is, this fresh grad has a sizable bills to pay and enough loans to pay until he's retired. To whom it may concern, forgive me if I can't buy you all the nice things in the world, at least not yet. I'm just starting over and this usually takes time.
At 33, what (little) has I achieved in life? Well I just graduated from a respectable university with my first and only diploma. It took me 4 years to finish that but hey, I did it. Hopefully I will continue my study and get that degree (eventually). I also have 3 beautiful, adorable and smart little kids. The eldest just got second place in his class. I have a house to call my own and a car to take my family here and there. Of course sometimes I wish could turn back time and do things differently now that I'm older and wiser.
Things that I wished I have done earlier/sooner in my life:
1. Graduate from university
I can stress enough how important this is. Had I finished my studies like everybody else, I wouldn't have gone through all the hardship after dropping out and having zero qualifications. Children if you're reading this in the future, don't be like me. Get that diploma or degree at all cost. In fact, I'll make sure you do if that's the last thing I'll have to do.
2. Get a good, satisfying job
To get a good job, first you must graduate from college/university. Sure you can eventually get a good job even without finishing college like me. But when your peers or friends from college regularly when vacationing in Europe, drive an imported car and live in a semi-D home, you could only watch with envy from afar. Why? Because there's no way you could achieve what they achieve without a university qualification. Trust me on this. Finish college, get a job with any company, collect experience, move to a better company, climb the career ladder. Wish I'd done this sooner. Getting a good job is one thing, Doing a job that you love is another. My motto in life is if you love what you're doing at work, you'll never go to work ever again (meaning you go to work and do things you enjoy).
3. Visit and see more places, travel the world
Of course to be able to do this you must first have a good, well-paying job so point number 1 and 2 are essential. That said, I still wished I had visited more places in my lifetime. There's simply so much to see and do in this beautiful planet. Before, I was only interested of buying the latest gadget or other material things that I could do without. Gadgets can become obsolete or break down, experience lasts forever.
4. Be fit and healthy
As you get older, it easy to just enjoy life to the fullest while you can and throw caution to the wind about your health. After all what's the use of all the money in the world if you don't get to enjoy the finer things in life right? Many of my friends from school or college and also my workplace are either seriously overweight or living an unhealthy lifestyle (smoking, never exercise). I don't want to be another of those pot-bellied mid thirties guy who are most likely to suffer from heart-attack or lung cancer before they retire. I don't want to be part of the statistic. That's why a few months back I started to take better care of my health and at the same time my fitness. I begin to watch what I eat and started to exercise regularly. I've took up running since I was in college back in the year 2000 and also after I got married but it was more of and on and off thing. There were days in the year that I'll get the motivation to run only to lose them a few months later. Hopefully from now on I will continue to run and exercise regularly, lose weight and look awesome compared to my school mates. I love to run/jog compared to other activities because it's easy to do and will cost nothing more than your running shoes. I'm happy to report that I've run my second 10K for two weeks in a row now. While looking good in front of your friends is motivation enough, I'm doing it more for myself and my health. What good is all the money in the world when you're suffering all kind of diseases that you could have avoided in the first place.
At 33, I'm definitely far from successful in life. I don't make even half as much as some of my peers. Like I said, I'm starting over career-wise and this things don't happen overnight. Still. I'm eternally grateful for all my blessings, my family and my loved ones, life experiences (good or bad) that I had and the chance to live until this very day. Alhamdulillah.