“Don’t break the chain.” – Jerry Seinfeld
To put it in another way, we should do our very best to remain persistent with whatever we choose to commit our time, money and energy to in our everyday life. It could be a hobby, it could be a job, it could be a relationship, anything at all.
Yet a controversial question remains; what if the things that you choose to maintain the chain with are setting you back more than pushing you forward? That collector’s hobby you have, or that game you enjoy playing so much, the plethora of TV shows/movies/dramas on the internet for you to watch, and that 9-5 job which you cannot escape from. Where do you find the balance?
People often bring in time management, which in itself is a reasonable and predictable advice, but it does not solve another problem; how can you be sure if these said things are what you would want to keep as part of your life? Time management can help you find space to engage in your favourite activities and getting the best productivity or enjoyment out of it, and no matter how you look at it, that’s all it does.
It goes without saying that the duty of choosing your activities falls upon your own hands. You make the decisions on how you want to spend the 24 hours given to you, save for the mandatory commitments to your career when the time comes. What you derive joy and satisfaction from is unique to each individual. The problem I’m having is finding the right ones.
You see, I’m at this stage (and age) where I know shit is
about to get real. I’ve completed my degree, I’m officially employable, the doors of the future are opened in front of me and theoretically, I’m already qualified to join the ranks of millions of other ass-grinders who work from sun-rise to sun-set just to sustain themselves. Fortunately, and unfortunately, I have one more year of post-grad education before I face the full blow of reality. It’s a double-edged sword for me, because on one hand, I’m given this space and time to actually wake myself up and shape my life into something else in preparation of a new ‘beginning’, as cheesy at it may sound, but on the other hand the more I think about it, the more I become ‘afraid’.
I hate using the word ‘afraid’ here, because I’m not at all distraught by the thought of having to move on and live like how everyone else is. No, it’s not a fear at all.
Instead, I’d rather call it a struggle for change. There are so many things I want to be, and equally many things holding me back. It feels like I am helplessly stuck between the boundaries of 2 different worlds, but wishing to be in both all the same. Not an easy feeling to describe, but I’m sure some of you who are experiencing or had experienced this would know what I’m talking about.
I’ll be a little bit more specific. I’m still financially dependent on my parents. For the last 21 years, this was not an issue which I should burden myself with. I mean, who would pass on the luxury of not having to work and receiving allowance at regular intervals? If you’re a student, education was all that matters. What you spend on, how much you spend on and all that jazz were regulated by your beloved parents, and that’s honestly fair enough. You can’t have the cake and eat it.
Nevertheless, having reached such a stage, I can’t help but feel like it’s a burden. To whom? To both parties. It is a burden to me because there are many things I’d like to have commitment in, but I hold myself back because of this. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I’m not given enough money, but rather, I still have the obligation and the responsibility to restrain myself and make way for more necessary and mandatory expenditure. And it’s a burden to them because inevitably, their little boy’s expenses when he was just in primary school then cannot compare to that of a post-grad now who is still studying and not working.
I’ll be frank from here onwards. I respect my parents enough to think not twice, not thrice but uncountable amount of times when contemplating whether or not to spend their hard-earned money for my own sake and enjoyment. Often, I sit in front of my computer screen, hovering my mouse over the “Check Out” button, checking and re-checking the things I had added into the cart, deciding on which ones I could bear to remove and forgo. All that keeps playing in my head is the money, no matter how small it can be. Item X could be worth RM30, an amount which I would be willing to spend on an occasionaly basis, but due to the fact that I’m still in such a situation, I would refuse because it is not something I need.
Put all that ‘need and want’ discussion aside. I’m not a hopeless compulsive spender, and I know my limitations. The things that I have right now are more than I could ever ask for. I have an amazing computer, a keyboard for me to indulge in my musical interests, all the gadgets I could ever ask for, a study table, a room to call my own, and most importantly a roof over my head. I was given the freedom to choose my own path in education with zero financial burden on my shoulders. Why then am I still feeling trapped/burdened?
The answer is simple, life is just expanding for me. When I was a student, all I ever needed to do was go to school, do my homework, go to tuition, hang out with friends maybe a few times a month. What else? Did I play games as a kid? I sure as hell did. I have a decent computer, a handphone, a Gameboy, plenty of board games. I had everything.
Now, things are just more complicated than that. I may be interested in pursuing a relationship, I may want to buy gifts for people that I care about, I may want to throw some money into some games to support the developers, and get a some cool items to increase my enjoyment in the game. There may be musical artists I’d like to support, some products I might like to buy, and places I would like to go.
And it never feels good having to spend your parents’ money on things which you would, on a personal level, like to spend on because they define your own individual life.
Again, don’t get me wrong, I fully appreciate every single cent my parents have poured into me in order to keep me happy and successful, that is something I would forever be grateful for, but being financially independent is just a whole new level of freedom that I wish to have if I ever have the opportunity. I’m there, but not quite there yet, and it is slowly feeling like a rope being tied around my arms.
Which brings me back to my original point; to be productive is to have persistence and commitment in the things you do best, and in the things you enjoy doing the most, but what you choose to commit to is entirely up to you.
I don’t know how others manage it, but at this point in time, there are just some things in life which I can’t find the space to bring into my life, no matter how much I yearn for them. Being financially dependent is just one of the factors, it is not the be-all and end-all of the conflicts I am facing.
There are a few others, one of them being my reluctance to let go of “games and entertainment” and instead spend more time indulging myself with “mature and productive” activities. Personally, I do not agree with anyone who is of the opinion that adults cannot be gamers. I hold firmly to my principle that games are alternative forms of entertainment.
I don’t club on Friday nights, I don’t blow my money on cigarettes, I don’t do drugs and I don’t gamble.
I still go for movies with friends, and hang out for some drinks once in a while. I have non-game related hobbies, and hell I’m doing well in my academics.
Among all those, I’m also a gamer. I don’t see why that should make any difference, but what would the normal reaction be when people were to ask you about yourself, and being a gamer just so happens to be one of them;
“Oh, I play online games.”
“But games are for ki-“
“I also read novels and play the keyboard. I enjoy travelling and learning new languages. History doesn’t amuse me, but philosophy does. I’m selectively social but rather outgoing with the right company. I’m loyal to the people I care about and I despise those who backstab. I can be competitive in some aspects, yet I’ll give respect where due. My desire to share things I personally find interesting or exciting may sometimes come across as arrogance, and my silence mistaken for ignorance. I don’t usually pour out to people even those closest to me, because I’d rather not bother them with my problems, but a simple inquiry is more often that not, sufficient to break the dam.”
Don’t just judge based on one criteria. I enjoy gaming as much as another person enjoys collecting stamps, or gardening, or fishing, or scub-diving, or painting or programming. Stereotyping gamers as being immature or childish is just ridiculous.
What if I say; I’m a lawyer in the making, I’m a K-Pop fanatic and I’m also a gamer. I listen to many types of songs from romantic ballads to eurotrance.
If this mixture is unfathomable to you, then perhaps it’s time for you to broaden up your mind instead.
I can continue ranting, but truth be told, let’s just leave that for another day.