Category Archives: Opinion

Why want everything when you can have one key thing?

I stood behind a long frozen queue of heads rocking my newborn.  When my turn came, the lady on the other side of the glass glanced through my pile of official papers with keen dexterity.

“Is that all you have?” she asked.  I nodded with another question, “What more do you need?  Answer-less, she pointed me towards a seat propelling me into an endless abyss of wait.  In the shadow of hours that floated by, whispers rose to higher pitch.  People began to march to the window, furious, some sufficing with fuming looks, others roaring at the young lady.

“I am just doing my job” she would respond timidly.

Finally when my turn came, a male officer stood beside the young lady, sifting through my papers-birth certificates, school-leaving certificates, the only remnants of my childhood scribbled in ink on paper.  He was still dissatisfied as though not seeing what he desired to give me his stamp of approval.  He asked me a series of questions, in response to which I pulled out yet another certificate of my grades from high school.  With a perplexed look, he asked, “why didn’t you provide this before?”

“Because you asked for ‘all I have’ and I didn’t know what that meant!” I let my stare meet his.

Why couldn’t the Consulate where I had spent an entire day just give me a list of documents they needed?  This outward experience of mine propelled me into an inward tirade of thoughts about my own desires over the span of my life.

Aren’t we all, to some degree, similar in wanting everything?  We want it all in our lives, career, family/friends, house, etc.  And in obtaining everything, who knows, we may get the one thing we truly desire!

Truth be told, there is always something missing, for a working woman on an overseas trip, she may carry the trepidation of the welfare of her kids hidden in her heart.  Or the thorn that pricks a homemaker’s heart is one of a career abandoned, even if for the time being.  That is the harsh reality of our worlds, for every achievement there is always a road that’s left behind.  That is what everything entails – things we have, and things we do not.

But how do you realize what you really want in life?  Especially, when wanting “everything” is cluttered with so many conflicting desires.  And, how important is it to siphon it out?

My experience taught me a lesson that I hold dear.  Wanting everything can be misleading, even to your own heart.  Focusing on one or two ambitions is the key to success.  That helps you to cherish what you are pursuing and “give the moment at hand” your very best, remorse free.  It helps you to look ahead instead of pandering to every road not taken.  It de-clutters your chest of desires so only the important few remain.  And, it gets simpler to grasp the chosen few without risk of distractions from the unimportant wants.

What often needed is a reset.  The following habits can help.

  1. Take a break
    It was a crisp day in March.  At lunch time, a bunch of us sat enjoying the warmth of precious winter sun in outside patio.  It also happened to be my first day at the job.  A fellow colleague sat next to me.  That day happened to be his last at the company.  When I asked him where he was headed to next, I fully expected a response one where he would tell me the name of the new company or try to hide it.  But I was not prepared for the response.
    “Nowhere; Just taking a break.” he responded calmly.
    I reconfirmed just to be sure.  His confidence unsettled me.  He was doing something I could never get my dutiful mind to do.  I lived my life by the book-go to college, get your degree and job, get married-you know how the story goes.  I charred in silent envy for I lacked the courage to reset my life.A break necessarily does not have to involve quitting your job, it could be a long vacation; it could be things you do in a day.  For instance, within the boundaries of a day, a break may be spending alone time at a lake watching the water shimmer away.

    In my last semester in college, heavy in debt and income-less, my aim was very clear.  My aim was to become debt-free, to be in a position where I paid my bills on time never having to worry at the first of the month if my rent check would bounce again.  When our survivor instincts are high, it is easy to see what you want.We live in a perfect society where we are pressured to be perfect parents, be perfect partners, etc.  Sometimes it takes losing the anchors we put in for ourselves and let ourselves free fall to meet our inner self again, which takes me to point number 2:
  1. Allow Failure
    A friend of mine, a hard worker, fresh out of college landed herself a contract as a techie at a small telecom company. She felt lost at the job, the environment was hostile.  A couple of months later they let her go.  She described that day with painful precision of how she was escorted out of the building in a matter of minutes.  Knowing her, despite being unhappy at the job she would have never left by herself.  In hindsight, the company letting her go was the best thing that could have happened to her.  It gave her downtime to reflect on what she really wanted in her life.  And, she came out of it stronger and happier.  The experience taught her it is OK to say no to certain jobs, that she can choose even if it takes time.  She went on to make great strides in her career since.
  2. Persist
    Once you do pick a road, stay on it.  It is easy to keep resetting your life again and again especially when you successfully kill the fear of failure from your heart.  You learn from your mistakes and pivot but do not give up on your dream.

So, to my fellow human beings, life-long dreamers, good luck in finding your true desires and be fearless in the journey to pursue them.