Fucking up early in life

Why I chose to study Economics instead of Law for undergrad

My heart used to pump with excitement when my mom would screen litigation and fictional legal dramas on the TV.

My mind would race to switch the protagonists as myself and imagine the infinite possibilities of the legal world.

I would quickly gleam at the big pay numbers on lawyer cheques and was bested with a sense of happiness that I’ve never felt before.

The countless of epiphanies drove my ambition to one thing: I wanted to pursue law.

In tenth grade, my teacher elected me to be president of my school’s English Public Speaking & Debate Team. Two summers later, I received the opportunity to be a summer intern at one of the top leading offshore law firms globally.

Days leading up to summer, I had this intrinsic feeling that my life would be perfect once I got the legal internship. It was something that I longed for and when I finally achieved it I really thought that I would reach the climax of happiness but I didn’t.

Everyday I went home from the office my head would ache and my heart desired to just relax. I would passionately watch episodes on Netflix to forget on the tragedy of a bitter summer. Perhaps this is how adults go about work but I was sure I didn’t want this to be how I lived life forever. I wanted to feel pumped, inspired and more excited than simply tired.

Growing up, I became more engaged in becoming and moulding myself into a lawyer, in part, on this promise of fulfilment and pay that filled a circle-shaped hole in my soul but the drowning pressure from school and the legal internship shaped square pegs and it did not fill the same hole I had hoped it would be.

It is safe to say that I do still fond over the legal industry but the idea that practicing law will make my life content is a lie.

And because life is scandalously short and because I don’t think anyone should go about everyday of their life unfulfilled and unhappy, I entered an *existential* crisis on life.

What did I want to do? What will make me happy? Does it align with my values? Will it pay the bills?

Then I realised that my life would virtually be unchanged and that life does not end whether or not I take law.

In essence, I don’t need to have things figured out at 17. I have the choice to spend my time and energy to fuck up and explore. I can throw seven years of my life in theatre and performing arts then realise it’s not for me because why not? And you can too.

How can anyone make a huge decision that’ll affect the next 30 or 40 years of your life at only age seventeen? You have the luxury of time years to test different paths that you’ll enjoy.

And this was the case for me. I took Economics instead of Law to capitalise on the time to find the job that’ll fill the hole in my soul. Something that’ll make me so excited that I want to dedicate my entire life to it.

Maybe I’d pursue maths. Maybe I’d be a writer. Maybe I’d shoot photos on film for Cosmopolitan. Heck, maybe one day I’d wake up and find the circular motions in the atmosphere are cool.

I’m just really testing out whether I’m still drawn to law.

The world is extremely full of infinite possibilities and I find everything so incredibly interesting which makes it difficult to be sure what exactly I want to do.

As the first semester as an Economics undergrad ends, I was surprised to learn that I’m actually able to sustain the rigour of university-level math courses. All throughout my whole life, the worst grade on my report card would always be Mathematics. I have an infamous collection of Fs and Ds because of Maths. Yet here I am balling at the top percentile of statistics and physics-based calculus. Maybe I’m having my last laugh as the problem sets for maths gets harder and maybe I may not be able to take the toughness of being a math major but who would know; had I not taking the route to explore it? It is true that the chances are low but they are never zero.

The only way to see what you enjoy doing — something where you can truly find meaning, contentment, and purpose that also happens to be an economic activity— is by increasing your radius of experimentation and finding what makes you happy to work on.

Eventually, you’ll recognise that some activity or project will make you so happy to continue working that the time spent on other avenues won’t be a waste but instead will help you inform your future pursuits.

Even if you recognise that you don’t ever want to take another photo, edit a video or write another line of code, then that’s okay. You can reapply your interest and work ethic elsewhere. The beauty of it is that you know.

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