Monday, March 26, 2012

The Paper Chase

Post O-Level, I went to a junior college and studied in the Science stream instead of Arts despite scoring well for my Arts subjects. I opted for pragmatism instead of idealism. Some how, growing up, my teachers have given me the impression that guys usually study engineering and that an engineering degree opens up many doors. I scraped through.

Post A-Level, I contemplated my next step. Having scraped through my A-levels Physics and Chemistry, I realized that I might have made a mistake studying Science. I toyed with the idea of Psychology, teaching, Social Work and sociology - artsy stuffs that seemed interesting. Studying people and trends seemed interesting to me, as opposed to studying more maths and physics and engineering stuffs. Yet 4 years ago, I was told that I wouldn't be well paid if I were to be a social worker. I had no idea where sociologists end up. And that Psychologists had to study up to Masters to be recognized ... or something like that. So engineering it was. Artsy courses took the remaining few choices in my application form. I secretly wished I got into an Artsy course. Yet somehow, I managed to secure a place in Civil Engineering. Very thankful, for many others fail to get a place despite getting better grades.

Each year in NTU, the grass always seemed and felt greener on the other side. NIE seemed like a wonderful place to be in and I saw myself being a happier person as a teacher than an engineer. Years went by and I told myself I was gonna be a teacher when I graduate. But things changed in my 3rd year of study: During my Industrial Orientation, my supervisor managed to convince me to give Engineering a shot. Along came my final year. Like many of my peers, I started looking for job opportunities. I looked at organizations like LTA, HDB, BCA, private main contractors, Keppel, Sembcorp and many others. I knew of the long working hours and the 6 days week but the high pay attracted me. Again, it seemed as though I was opting for pragmatism instead of idealism.

Year 4 Semester 2. Just a month before the exam, I looked through the list of e-mails sent by the school.

Looking for Singaporean Site Engineer. Project Engineer. Rail Engi. Production En. Design. Struc...

MOE. Career Talk. PE teacher. Avoid it like how you avoided your crush, I told myself. 21 March came. 10 mins to the career talk and I find myself sipping Ice Lemon Tea. A friend appeared and asked me why I was just sitting and staring into thin air. I mentioned something about just thinking about nothing and the career talk. He said he was heading there too.

An hour and a half later, the mind changed it's mind again. Teaching PE seemed like something I'd enjoy doing. And if I were to indeed become a PE teacher, I realized I could afford myself the time to pursue a Masters in Social Work at UniSIM so that I could be a social worker when the scene improves in the distant future. Just ideas I'm currently toying with. Some how, I find myself at the end of a full circle. Perhaps, pragmatism and idealism can co-exist afterall. Perhaps one day, I'll be that teacher I've always wanted to be. Perhaps too, a social worker trying to solve an intractable social problem through a pattern-breaking change. That would probably be my idea of a happy ending to this fairy tale I'm trying to live... if i get shortlisted and pass the interview that is.

8 years on, it seems I'm still pretty much the same person, still chasing the same dreams.

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