Formulations of Life

Tis 4pm on a Friday afternoon and my Asian Studies discussion section just ended. As I placed one step in front of another to move towards my destination, this sense of foreboding mid-university crisis overcomes me. The discussion section left me feeling very uneasy.

I think back to the questions asked, the comments, the discussions about Hu Shi, the new culture movement after the collapse of Qing Dynasty and the significance of it all. The movement revolves around overturning of traditional, Confucianist ideas and the introduction of “Mr Science” and “Mr Democracy” such that classical Chinese becomes replaced by vernacular Chinese that is reachable to all audience. Yet, at it’s core, it’s an elite movement that only urban youths were involved in.

Essentially, these revolutions, changes in notions of society don’t really change at all. Those passionate, involved people across different stratas of society will continue being involved and those left out of decisions (usually rural, uneducated, low skilled etc.) will continue being left out. It’s only a change of power to people with different ideas, values and the beneficiaries in hopes of attaining a more ideal society.

Here comes the “me” part in all these societal changes. Middle-class, educated woman seems to be where I’d be categorized under. But delve deeper and I find myself asking a question I keep coming back to. Where do I belong in all this? My identity while I was younger was very clearly defined. Mostly by Academics, and then there was art, piano and choir. I was the shy girl who took pride in her work and wanted to make people around her happy. Today, it’s still mostly those things. But I have evolved, and these things seem to be almost…inadequate in defining me. I look to the left and right, and find that there is always someone better than me in some form or manner. Jack of all trades, master of none worked well for me in the past. But in a society that appreciates the greatest productivity from the least number of resources, calls for specialization in the area that one has the most potential. Until recently, I have explored the chances of being a lawyer, a doctor, a marine biologist, a lab researcher and a professor. At Hofstra, I toyed with the idea of being an IT specialist, a Public Accountant and some kind of Finance associate. All of them though, seemed short-lived. So here I am, struggling with too many options or the lack thereof.

If only life gives me an equation and all I have to do is to solve it. Will I ever find THE ONE job that I’m supposed to do, like THE ONE person I’m supposed to marry? Or should I develop the mentality that there really isn’t the one? After all, I have moved from China to Singapore, and most recently to America. Some part of my identity is formed from each of these countries, and I don’t fit in exclusively in any of them. Perhaps, like Globalization, it isn’t necessary to know the specific components, just the understanding that it is happening. Perhaps, I’m a product of hybridity, and that it is futile in trying to determine where one thing ends and another begins.

Life, maybe we shouldn’t take it all so seriously. After all, one can’t put a formula into life and solve for x. Even 1 + 1 is a source of debate.


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