CrossRoads of Life — Do People Die There?

I think I have less than 100 days of my undergrad life remaining. How sad.

They say college is the best part of your life. The last stage of a carefree life living out your dreams and fantasies with no worries of responsibility towards family and yourself. And then reality hits, some say life grounded to a halt socially after you start working, or should i say slaving. The majority of this world slaves, trapped in the never-ending cycle of working for life.

With 50 years of a 75-year average lifespan of male humans in the developed world left, its certainly a depressing thought to think u study so hard just to endure years of working in a dead-end job in order to feed your family and live up to society’s pressures on you. Do people really have to metaphorically “die” once they graduate and start working?

Death as in: get stuck in an endless cycle of working for others (ie feed family) and live up to society’s expectations of you

I threw this question to quite a number of my friends, just for the heck of it.

Here’s the most in-depth response I got:

“well not necessarily although it happens far too often, you could walk away from the herd, actually this kind of death begins much earlier for some, some start feeding into society’s expectations from a very early age, like……..i must do well in sch………must have many co-curricular acitivities etc… you should try reading the work of nietzsche, or maybe even the book of ecclesiastes in the bible often the price of walking away from the herd is too high for some, so they stay in the herd for others, they don’t even realize they’re in the herd”

So what’s my point?

1. Think deeper.

Or rather, more philosophically about your life. Are you in the herd? Are you happy being so? What’s the benefit of leaving that herd and the effort required?

2. Ask “Why?”

The “what”s in our life are laid out clearly. Work for wages. Follow the rules. Pay taxes, make more babies etc… All these is how you should live your life. But we always forget that we are not robots, and if we dun ask “why?” enough, we are no different from robots.
3. Go explore. Really.

What lies out there once I leave the herd? “Yah, Bjorn, you think u are a smartass asking me to leave my job and career. What the hell am i supposed to do?” THis is the response I am most likely to get once I open up my question to more people. Infact, I think those who did not reply my question think so too. My answer is: go figure out yourself. Its your own life. Your own to explore. Go travel, and I dun mean keep taking pictures, go understand how pple live in other countries outside of picture-perfect touristy cities.

4. Inertia is the “best” anasthesia.

We all hear the common refrain. “But I can’t leave everything behind. My career, my friends, my family.” Dun wait too long. The world moves much faster than those endless nights of you in the office cube staring at Microsoft Excel, Powerpoint, Access, Word. All the trappings of our modern society. If you continue waiting, fear of trying will kill you and numb you into inaction, forever rendering your life an endless cycle and a repetitive loop. Which brings me to the next point…
5. Do it when young.

Try all the crazy stuff you ever wanted to do. Before you no longer can do it. If you wanted to backpack in Europe, go do it. Bungee jump? Why wait till 65 when your kids are grown up?

6. Follow your passion.

Its YOUR life. Even in Asian society where some say your parents own your life. I say, parents will understand eventually that the best for you is a future you came up with yourself and not one they mapped out for you. If those apron strings are never cut loose, you wun realize your potential and be happy in what you are doing. Think about it yourself, fillal piety, a trait of Asian society, has been evolving for ages since the days we broke free of arranged marriages whom some thought was a great hallmark of fillal piety. Evolve your thinking, dun follow blindly.


Note I did not ask people to stop working or starting families or simply laze in your life. I just suggested means for people to love their lives more. Many family problems and even societal problems stem from the workplace. And with globalization and a 24/7 workday with advanced communications technology, we will soon rue the day we missed out on what it mean to be young, to live your dream, to be passionate about what you do everyday, to miss out on your kid’s birth due to an important meeting with offshore clients. Yes, pragmatism is good. But at what cost when it meant slogging with no end goal in mind? If you have been exposed to sufficient alternative ways of thinking and theorizing about your future, you attain inner peace with your job and your destiny in life. When that is achieved, no matter how hard you work, you will be contented with your lot.

Have you asked yourself “Why?” yet?


Related article: What Drives You?


8 thoughts on “CrossRoads of Life — Do People Die There?

  1. It’s not that bad lah…now that I’m going back to school, I’m actually missing my work. :/

  2. Bjorn,

    Interesting thoughts u have. Not many young people think like you do. George Bernard Shaw once said, “Youth is wasted on the young.” There is some wisdom to those words.

    Best regards,

  3. Hi Bjorn,

    It seem that you will be facing the real reality of worklife soon. It’s always good to work for corporate and experience it.

    Some may like and some may hate it. An advise is that if you are working in corporate, never to be critical of life and work, and even so, never to disclose your unhappiness to colleagues. Otherwise, it might just ruin a career. The corporate world is very much a different place from the “fun” university. The corporate is very much belong to ppl who tend to conform, “unhappy but must pretend to be both happy and enjoying” and executive “lead by words more than action but disconnected with execution”. To climb the ladder is to chose side to belong to, and really, one really have to be a two-headed snake to really go far. and Yes, it’s better to be dumb than to be smart most of the time.

    and yes, blogging about corporate life will “ruin it too” unless one say nice thing only in corporate life.

    This is so because corporate world is usually run by managers and executive having own agenda, and who want more power and $$$$, perks etc, and they definitely doesn’t want ppl to stay in their way.

    However, still, it always good to experience it and see for yourself. Who knows, you may like it and just deprove what i say and may just treat my comment as a urban legend.


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  5. Every time I get on a bus or train and look around, I feel almost exactly the same way that you’ve described in your blog. I don’t know; I think sometimes I “pity” or feel sorry for them for working so blindly…but reality’s harsh and perhaps they’ve tried but failed…not many people keep on trying despite failures…if everyone does that, the world’ll be a very very different place by now…

  6. I would say that’s a very inspiring article. Hmm…I’ve worked for a couple of years & never really sit down to brainstorm on what kind of life I really want. To me, is just a step at a time…^^

    Well, the experience I gained thru out the years that I’m working has been worthwhile. The people I’ve met, the views we’ve exchanged…the survival kit that is required to continue my existence in this society.

    No doubt that i’m still uncertain on my future…but I’ll follow where the river flows….^^

    So what i wanna say is: Ganbatte!! You’ll never know when you’ve tried!! ^^

  7. Life is ‘a vale of soul making’, as a poet once said. What does that mean??. Very simply put, it means we have to make effort in all areas of our life to overcome our weaknesses, and to develop in character. We are given , as far as we know, one chance. We have to take that chance now, or risk losing it.
    Were born, get educate , either formally, or by life experience, grow up , make choices, to commit crime or work to earn a living. We hopefully have good supportive parents, be they ever so humble, (or maybe your not that lucky.) Thats not the important thing. What is important is that whatever your beginnings you improve on what you’ve got. You are responsible for the choices you make. I don’t mean just financially, I mean regarding the important things in life. Life is not so much about increasing the numerator, as much as about lessening the denominator. Unity divide by zero is wholeness. Thats what we should seek. We try to make sense of this life and this world. Its not easy. Its a very difficult situation to be in. We don’t have a prior perspective on why were here. Its important therefore not to just question these things ,but to actively seek a kindred spirit whom we can bounce our questions off. Someone who we can connect with. Someone who may be suffering the same concerns or anxieties, whatever their source. Its not all about intelligence or education. There are answers, but don’t just expect them to drop into your lap. You have got to want to know more than anything else in your life. You have to be sincere. You have to at least be willing to pray, to seek out answers by searching,. Praying is submitting your earnest desire out upon the ether. For some this may be an intellectual search. For others it may be an emotional search. For some an artistic seach. Whatever stage you are at, despairing, depressed, hopeless, you have to make the effort. You have to speculate – to accumulate. Effort and time. But be patient, be consistent in your endeavour. The answers will come at the right time for you. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. The greatest force on earth and in life is love. But if you don’t give it, you won’t get it. You may not even know what love is. (I don’t profess to know even the rudiments myself). Just try saying hello, and smiling at someone you don’t know. Just see the joy on someones face that you’ve taken the trouble to acknowledge them. This is just a trial of a very simple truth that as you give, so will you receive. But it applies in all circumstances of living. You have to be circumspect of course. The saying that ‘you don’t throw your pearls before swine’, means that you have to go by your gut instinct about who you try to communicate with, whom you trust, in whatever situation. Some people will take advantage of you. Be careful what you reveal and to whom you reveal it.
    Give and you shall receive. A genuine application of this precept goes out on the ether and comes back tenfold or a hundred fold, or more- in ways that you may not recognise at first. This universe is a giant transformer, with different inputs and outputs of energy. Our human systems can interact with it -for good or for evil. Therefore choose the good. But don’t expect instant reward. Yes miracles can occur, dependent on the need of the individual and the sincerity. But generally speaking it is a process of consistent application. To seek, i.e. knock and it shall be opened unto you. To find- and to value what you find. To not yield, i.e. to never give up.
    But to receive in whatever circumstance, you have to learn to give. Best summed up in an Americanism is: ‘That what goes around- comes around. If you pursue wrong thoughts and they go out on the ether, they will come back to haunt you on an increased proportional scale to which you consistently transmit them. Be careful therefore what you allow your mind and thoughts dwell upon consistently. The old adage applies- That as a man thinketh (consistently)- so is he.
    Good luck?? No, its not dependent on Luck. ‘Give to the world the best that you have- and the best will come back to you’. Make the effort. But you can also expect a few showers. Nobody said its going to be easy.
    Best wishes for your endeavours.
    The Maff of Mono

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