I should have been dead, but here I am now, three months away from my 28th birthday.
I wish I could tell you my plans for 2017, but I don’t have them because I never expected to be alive.
I never planned my life past the age of 26. I didn’t think I would make it. But here I am now, trying to figure out what to do with these extra years.
What if I live for another 50 years?
Someone once told me, ‘Lu Wee, you are young. Move to a city like Kuala Lumpur and be my CEO. With your talent, you can make a few million dollars in a few years.’
I thought about that proposition. A few million dollars in a few years? That sounded pretty cool.
But then I asked him, ‘How many hours do I need to work?’
He looked at me, smiled and said, ‘All the time. You eat, sleep and work pretty much at the same desk.’
I thought to myself, ‘Is it worth it?’
I told him I would get back with him in two weeks. In reality, I had already made up my mind in his office.
No, I did not want my entire life to be about work. I had done eight years of that before as a student. I did not want to do it again.
It’s not that I hated working hard, but that I hated working hard for something that didn’t really matter in the long run.
RM100,000 scholarship, Straight A’s, IEM Medal
Many people in school and college admired or even envied me because of everything I achieved as a student.
In reality, there was very little for them to envy. Outside of academia, I was a failure.
I did not have friends to celebrate my success with and my relationship with my family was distant because I never spent more than a few hours with them every week.
By the time I was 21, I decided that no success is ever worth sacrificing my family and friends for. I spent less time working and more time having conversations about nothing with people I loved and who loved me.
Now, six years later, I can tell you that my biggest success is being able to have fun conversations with my family and friends.
‘We finally talk more than we ever did before,’ my sister told me last year.
It broke me a little to hear that from her. I should have done this earlier. But I guess better late than never.
How much money do I need?
‘I want to be a millionaire,’ I wrote down in my notebook after reading Adam Khoo’s Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires.
I thought about retiring early, buying a sports car and having people envy me.
I was 20 years old and silly. I assumed that millionaires did not have problems, or even if they did, it would be resolved by money.
Now I am older and, hopefully, wiser, I realized that money can only solve problems money can solve.
There are many problems that money cannot solve.
Actually, there are some problems that money creates, like insincere company and fear of having it all taken away.
If money is meant to help you become happier, I guess, if you are already happy, then you do not need much more.
In that way, I realize that I already have everything money can buy. A car, a comfortable place to stay, three meals and two showers a day, internet, travel and books.
The only thing I want now that I have not bought is a DJI Phantom 4 Drone.
I am not super rich but I feel physically content.
So where do we go from here?
People say if you are looking to do something that would make your soul happy, think about what you used to do when you were a carefree child.
I thought about it. All I remember doing was doodling and writing.
As a teenager, I produced books of comics drawn in classroom exercise books. There was a story about a man who liked very small things. And then, there was a story about a boy who did not like his father.
I also wrote. Actually, I wrote a lot. I wrote about a man who was obsessed with writing and another man who was obsessed with erasing.
I wrote about a girl who lost her best friend and gained a mental disorder and about a boy who drew so well that though people could steal from him, they could never keep up with him.
These are the things I want to do more
Is it too early now to create resolutions?
I guess if it is, that fits my style. I am always either too early or too late.
October is not always the most popular time to write resolutions but it was also last October that I decided to quit engineering, start retail and journalism.
Perhaps October is actually like January to me.
Complete my web novel
I created a subdomain for my fiction writing about a month ago. I completed just one chapter and stopped. I want to finish writing it.
Actually, I want to give up some profitable projects to write more fiction.
Why write fiction when you can make money?
Writers will tell you that writing satisfies them a lot. And if they get paid to do it, it is a bonus.
Neil Gaiman said,
I decided that I would do my best in future not to write books just for the money. If you didn’t get the money, then you didn’t have anything. If I did work I was proud of, and I didn’t get the money, at least I’d have the work.
The work is the reward. Butchering your work to get compensated a little more… that could be an unwise move.
What do I expect from it?
I expect to be very satisfied with my life for having completed whole novels and not just pieces of it.
Meet more people in a less business-y environment
I don’t run a big business. I run a pretty small one. But it has kept me busy this year as I was setting things up.
I didn’t get to meet a lot of new people outside of business. I want to do that more often after this.
It’s not that I don’t find business people interesting. I just have too much of business talk.
Like when you like vanilla ice cream but you had too much of it. That’s how it feels.
Go on more adventures
Again, I have been too busy with my business that I haven’t done anything adventurous this year.
Adventure is an important part of my life and I realize I need to make time for it.
It does not have to be expensive. It just has to be interesting and out of the ordinary.
Eat healthier and be fit
I am getting older. I realize I can’t take my body for granted anymore.
I have to fight against the atrophy of my muscles by using them more often. I have to eat healthily.
The only reason for this is because it is much easier to enjoy life through a healthy and fit body.
I learned this when I was 23, training to climb up Mount Kinabalu for the first time.
My trainer, Uncle Lucas told me,
You can climb up the mountain with or without training. But if you want to enjoy the journey, you need to train very hard before you climb. Or else, you spend the entire time struggling to breathe. Your focus becomes survival, not enjoyment.
So now I work out more and eat better.
Deal with my anxieties better
I have an anxiety problem. I don’t like it when I don’t feel prioritized.
I learned from this article that most of the time, people don’t mean to make you feel bad. People often mean well, though sometimes their actions confuse you.
A good reminder in the article:
The ability to interpret your partner’s actions and intentions charitably can soften the sharp edge of conflict.
I want to learn to control my anxieties by reflecting on a person’s intent first before I react. I have wasted too much energy in unnecessary conflict because of my anxieties.
Now I want to learn to be generous and kind about other people’s actions.
Just be Kinder
I could afford to be kinder to my parents and people who I disagree with.
The truth is being kind is really difficult for me. I have a pretty bad temper and I am pretty stubborn too.
But life is too short to make a fuss out of everything that you disagree with.
So, I just want to be kinder.
I planned, and then achieved all the things I have ever wanted to do and thought was impossible. I thought it would make me happier.
I became a top student. I got a scholarship to complete my degree. I lost a lot of weight. I climb Mount Kinabalu. I swam in the oceans. I traveled. I started businesses.
In the end, nothing satisfies me more than having a good conversation with my family or friends, doodling and writing.
I already knew what would make me happy when I was 9 years old. I should have believed myself.
So that’s it for me. For now.
This is not a plan for the rest of my life, but it sure looks like a good one for the next couple of months or so 🙂
[The picture is of me and my friends Omar and Pratima. Pratima is in Australia now and Omar is in a better place. I used this picture because the future was a murky thought for me back then. I guess, I did make some progress towards finding what this life is for in the five years that have passed.]