A Year at Work

I wrote this note as a reflection on my one-year journey through working life. Just as how the exchange experience has shaped me for who I am, work has also done likewise, albeit in a far less adventurous manner. Also indicative of who I am as a blogger, here are my thoughts after spending a year in the corporate world.

“You see, you’re just like everyone
When the shit falls all you want to do is run away
And hide all by yourself
When you’re far from me, there’s nothing else

When your mind’s made up
When your mind’s made up
There’s no point trying to change it”
~ When Your Mind’s Made Up, The Swell Season, from the film Once

On 1 Feb 2012, I wrote a note commemorating the one-year since departing Singapore for Vienna to embark on a semester-long exchange programme in WU. In it contains my reflections and celebrations of the happiest and most enriching time period of my life. Now, on 26 Aug 2013, I have completed a full year of work in an audit firm. In comparison, this ride has been far less exciting, eventful and joyful. But I thought, why not – I should write a note to reflect on the rollercoaster of emotions experienced in the past year.

There certainly will be marked differences between these two notes:

– In my previous note, I wrote it in German to celebrate the changes in my life. Now, my German is rusty after 8 months of no practice.

– In my previous note, I wrote about my elation in having bought a keyboard to pursue a love for music. Now, the keyboard sits in my wardrobe like a white elephant.

– In my previous note, I wrote about the euphoria from food and my desire to learn cooking. Now, I do not even venture and try to whip up a plate of food.

– In my previous note, I wrote on rediscovering an interest in novels. Now, I only read on idyllic overseas trips.

– In my previous note, I wrote about my dreams to work/live abroad. Now, that seems far too distant.

The ramblings can continue; but in short, while the exchange experience has taught me to spread my wings and pursue my dreams without fear, a year in work has rooted me in the banalities of life. On returning from Vienna, I have attempted to continually remind myself on the lessons learnt from the overseas stint. I have plastered the wall in front of my bed with postcards of all my travels. My Facebook cover photo remains to be of Vienna and the lyrics to the Billy Joel song. My Mac wallpaper rotates between photos of every travel escapades. However, if I no longer take a second glance of my postcards, cover photo and wallpaper, how can I remember what I told myself I should never forget? Semblances of those thoughts did resurface on my overseas trip to Myanmar, Cambodia and Malaysia: plans to live in a secluded corner of the world surrounded by nature’s beauty, to teaching English to kids in South America or Africa, to becoming a travel blogger, to opening a restaurant with my favourite dishes, to opening a hostel for backpackers. In addition, even the meaning of travel for myself seems to have altered. Travelling during exchange and graduation trip was carefree, without aim and of constant bewilderment. Now – during my travels, a nagging feeling on returning back to reality perpetually lingers in the back of my mind. By being a panacea to the rudiments of life, has the purpose of travel in itself been diluted?

Hey – I know this note is meant to be reflective, and not melancholic right? After all, how can there be no positives after a year of work? To name the least important of them all, my accounting knowledge has improved significantly and I am so much more familiar with an annual report. There are times when I wonder what I actually did know during university. More importantly, work has represented a paradigm shift from responsibility towards self to responsibility towards others; and this had led to fundamental changes in actions and behaviour. Most importantly, the awesome people that I have met in my company have made the year so much more enjoyable!

Albeit far less interesting, stepping into the corporate world is but a necessary step towards adulthood. A quarter (or more likely, a third) of my life has gone by, and perhaps it is time to acknowledge the change in direction for the remaining portions. Family, financial and personal responsibilities grow with age, and it is important to take action to meet these growing demands. That being said – I should endeavour to not forget the comparatively starry-eyed innocent self on exchange, who dreams of grandiose life plans.

Indeed, a year has passed but there are still many more to go. It is time to take stock of life and attempt to resolve the conflicts arising from these polar opposites: the want to fly, and the need to remain grounded.


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