Positive reinforcement they call it.
You don’t really get the opportunity to learn from a mistake because, just like our constituencies, the boundaries are redrawn to accommodate your level of suck. Everyone becomes a winner! Parents and teachers have a duty to make you succeed at every turn. They readjust the bars so that you feel, despite your shortcomings, that you are awesome. They give you formulas and questions prior to exams to help you ace them. Motivational speakers get paid by the thousands to get you to yell positive slogans and make you feel that you – yes, you – are a genius too.
You are the emperor and everyone has been applauding your new robe. You are feeling mighty proud of yourself, as well you should, for completing two decades of education. You did relatively well by your parents and you earned yourself a degree. Congratulations. You have unlocked an achievement. Tutorial mode complete, load map for game proper.
Only now you find yourself in hardcore mode. There are no auto-save points and the epic gear that you grinded so hard for appears to be useless.
You are upset. You feel cheated. You blame yourself for not being good enough. Here’s the good news: It’s not your fault.
The bad news: You can’t rage quit this game.
Your parents probably warned you about “becoming that roadsweeper if you don’t pass your exams”. They might have also mentioned that if you “study hard, get good grades, you can get a high paying job.”
You grew up working towards that promise.
That Study-Hard-Get-Good-Pay philosophy may have been true in your parents’ generation, but what we have now is a society filled with degree wielding graduates who believe that they are special – the main lead in the blockbuster action movie of life. In a recent poll by STJobs.sg, 88% of fresh grads say that they expect a starting pay of $4000 at the very least.
What you will soon find out is that your name doesn’t appear anywhere on the credit roll till the last guy’s left the theatre. You are Graduate #5722.
YOU are the new norm and your imperial robe is an illusion.
I have been there, done that, got the t-shirt; and I’m going to help you realign your expectations to a more realistic level.
Here are some quick facts about the job market:
A Realist’s Guide to Earning Four Grand a Month
And speaking of passion…
Passion is great. It gets me out of bed every morning to do the job that doesn’t pay me nearly as much as I would like, but brings me joy that’s worth more than money can buy.
Sure, generally passion doesn’t pay well – not at the beginning at least. There are jobs that pay you less than your desired amount BUT they make up for it in other ways. For example, jobs that pay well also expect more out of you. Be prepared to spend a lot of time in the office. It is up to you to find what’s important to you: a positive environment, bosses and colleagues you can get along with, flexible timing, a good support system, or job prospects. All these qualities, if you had to quantify them with a monetary value, could be worth more than four thousand dollars.
Point is, there is a money-to-passion balance that you must strike. You can go to the extremes, but that just burns you out. Think of it as courtship: the extremes would be a good-looking partner with lousy personality, or a kind-hearted loving soul with a face only their mother would tolerate. Chances are, unless you’re going for a quick buck, you would want someone in the middle.
Finally, as my parting advice to you: Challenge limitations, accept failure.
If you have to compare yourself with somebody, compare yourself with who you were yesterday. It. Is. Ok. To. Fail. Failure is not a dirty word. Have you ever played a game and aced it on the first try? Failure makes a better teacher than Success.