I recently asked a friend: “What’s your life purpose?” His answer was: “To live so that my kids will have a better future than I did.” A noble purpose, but he’s not even married yet. So I asked him “what about now, what’s your life purpose now?” He drew a blank. This is more common than we thought, especially in the Asian communities. Heck, I don’t know what my purpose right now is either. I do know though, that it’s not to live so that my kids will have a better future than mine. It would be nice if they would have a bright future, but to say that I actually live for this day, I’d be lying to myself.
The Asian life purpose complex:
– When you are young and in school, life purpose: study hard (regardless of the subjects and whether or not you like the subjects), don’t fool around.
– When you are a bit older and in University, life purpose: study harder, be serious, be a doctor/lawyer/financier/engineer. And maybe, have a girlfriend, but don’t screw around too much.
– When you graduate from University, life purpose: get a stable job, move up the ladder, make good money. Get engaged/married.
– After you’ve gotten married, life purpose: make more money, provide for your family, have kids.
– After you’ve kids: a shizzle load of more money, raise your kids well, be stern, and live FOR them.
20, 30 years go by, and one day, you have a talk with your buddies. And you casually mention that these days, you live to see your kids grow up and be well in the world. WHAT THE HELL? What happened to the past 20 – 30 years? What were you living for? If you want to live on so one day you can say that you live for your kids, whatever happens to YOUR dreams and the things that YOU want to do? You say that you live for your kids so you can forgo the past 20-30 years, and let your 40, 50, 60 years old self die in oblivion, in shadow of “raising your kids and providing for your family.” No wonder most Asian parents take pride in “sacrificing their lives” for their kids.
I think it’s convenient and easy to say “I live for my family or I live for my kids”. But it’s silly to say that when you don’t have a family or any kids yet. What now? In your 20s and early 30s, what do you live for? That’s the harder question. And don’t say you live for your parents. That’s the last thing THEY would want to hear. They don’t want you to live for them, especially if that means you’re giving up on yourself in order to do so.
People give up their individualities and then cling on the purpose of raising their kids and providing for their families so they DON’T HAVE to figure out their purpose on their own. That’s the easy, comfortable way to get by. Nobody criticizes you for it, because hey, it’s noble to live for your family. Better yet, live for you now, while you’re young. It’s too early to think about your future, not yet in existence for years to come children.
Face yourself. Own up to your uncertainty about what you want to become. And figure this shit out. Before the forces of life (your parents, societal pressure, you getting old) take you to where you need to be. Get yourself there voluntarily. When the time is right for you.