Anonymous said: Hi Bing, I'm about to ask you some serious life questions! I'm a 21 year old, almost 22 year old and I feel like I'm in a huge rut in my life. I don't know what I want to do, and I feel like I'm wasting my youth. How did you know that what you're doing right now was meant for you?
Hi anon, sorry for the delay in replying! I’m not sure if I’m the best person to answer these questions — my academic and career path has been repeated process of elimination. I don’t really romanticize profession; at the end of a day, a job is (hopefully suitable) mental exercise and a salary. I prefer to focus on lifestyle and making sure any decisions I make feed into one ~coherent vision. I don’t want a vapid existence, but I also don’t want to work too hard or be emotionally drained every day; I want to feel challenged and productive but also properly rewarded (I’ve learned from my stints in nonprofit work that internal validation isn’t enough for me to feel satisfied); and I want the time and resources to see friends, enjoy the benefits of a city, and travel often. So when I consider jobs/careers, I narrow my search to options that I’m qualified to do and that fit my lifestyle criteria. I know this isn’t conventional wisdom, but it’s as close as I get to knowing whether anything is “right” for me.
Another note! If there’s one regret I have from my early 20s, it’s that I wish I’d relaxed more. I was so obsessed with padding my resume. In college and grad school, I had part-time jobs plus internships plus research plus volunteering; I worked through vacations and rarely took breaks. I look back on that now, and so much of it was pointless… no one would’ve cared if I only worked 2 months in the summer instead of all 3, just like how no one would’ve cared if I’d taken a month break after graduation instead of jumping immediately into a full-time job. I totally understand your fear of “wasting your youth” but remember that there’s more than one way to waste your life!