Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Life is what you make of it

A few weeks ago I went to my cousin's house because she was holding a kenduri kesyukuran (thanksgiving ceremony). She just got her Phd, the first to do so in my family. And I wondered will I ever get a Phd? Will I even get a master's degree?? Will I ever get anything??? What the hell have I been doing????

I remember way back then when life was much simpler and when there's nothing wrong with just hanging out with your friends doing nothing but talk about silly things for hours. And one of those silly talks involved what kind of titles we'll be getting when we got older.
"I want to be Datin Siti."
"No la, Puan Sri Aminah lagi best."
"If like that, you have to marry a Datuk or Tan Sri."
"Ok la tu." said Siti and Aminah.
"I'd rather be Dr Kampung Gal or Datuk Dr Kampung Gal and maybe Professor Tan Sri Kampung Gal. Ok tak?" Brows

Ten years passsed and I'm still a long way away to getting that 'Dr' in front of my name, and don't even consider the Datuk or Tan Sri.

Plans didn't work out. My struggle to get an American Degree in Computer Science was left in the dust. And I have to settle with an Australian Business Degree that I got through a twinning program. My marks were not that impressive either. Does it increase my value as a human resource? I don't know yet. I'll just have to see if I can get a better employment with that piece of paper first.

Then my sister walked in and I heard my Dr Cousin said, "Where's the Puan Hajjah?". They hugged and congratulate each other. So there they were, both about the same age, both a mother. But while one pursued a career in education, the other stayed home even though she has a degree from an American university and has a future in banking. And I thought, "Hey, my sister, the housewife, achieved something too."

Which got me thinking.

How do you measure a person's achievement? Isn't the General Manager of ABC Corp as successful as each and everyone of the Ibu Mithali recipients who nurtured and invested their time and money on human commodity instead of property? Does all the Datuks and Tan Sris deserve more recognition than the Teacher of the Year who gave all his energy to ensure the next generation is well -learned? Does Siti Nurhaliza deserves more respect than the people who picked your garbage three times a week so that your house doesn't smell when you're watching Siti on TV?

Well I guess, the answer lies within yourself.

Ok ok that line sounds corny but there's no better way to say it.

It's just like in the last few scenes of LOTR the movie. The four Hobbits, after going through the biggest adventure anyone could have had and completing a mighty quest to vanguish all darkness in Middle Earth, finally returned to the Shire. Was there a hero's welcome? No. They celebrated their first night home at the tavern drinking ale. They have received the highest honor when a king, all his subjects and even the great Elven people bow down to them. But back home, oblivious to what went on in the west, the people of the Shire were more excited with a big pumpkin. But even if they're not appreciated among their own people, these four knew that they have achieved something great and so does the rest of Middle Earth.

As for me, I'm not where I would want to be right now. But what the hell. At least I have a degree and I'm working in an industry that I care about. I'm healthy, I have food in my belly and a roof over my head. What matters now is what I'm going to do with the time I have left. So, I guess that Phd is not so unattainable after all.

As for you, the next time you feel like such a loser, look again. Because what you are is what YOU make of it and don't let anyone say any different.
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