Confessions: Millennials and Career Apathy

I’ve recently discovered that I was part of what people are calling the “millennial problem”. FYI: if you were born between 1982 – 2002 you are a millennial.

millennial

Personally I hate being labelled (another millennial problem – God damn free thinking hipsters!) however, I have to admit that I do catch myself drinking the millennial cool aid from time to time, complaining that I don’t feel like I’m making a difference.

I definitely cant say that I was brought up with an over privileged or coddled life. My parents are Chinese who bought into “western” ideals. What came of that was a combination of anglo-sino ideas on how to raise a child. I became a product of these very different worlds; not quite tiger mom-ed yet not quite over privileged Asian-Caucasian.

Ginger Asian anyone?

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That’s not me by the way… could be what my kid will look like though. Sucker.

What I do find I have in common with the millennial phenomenon is having been sold/ bought into the “millennial dream”. Kanye put it best.

Good morning
Look at the valedictorian scared of the future
While I hop in the Delorean
Scared-to-face-the-world complacent career student
Some people graduate, but we still stupid
They tell you read this, eat this, don’t look around
Just peep this, preach us, teach us, Jesus
Okay, look up now, they done stole your streetness
After all of that, you receive this

The Asian equation to success was painted for us like this: Listen in school + Get good grades + graduate + get a high paying job = Your life is sorted. And maybe you can have multiple wives.

Ok maybe that was my thing.

It was a bit of Asian over privilege-ness in a way. You still had to work hard which taught resilience but as with other attempts to quantify success/happiness you’re left with a big black hole that you just aren’t ready for which makes you question whether or not you had it all wrong from the start.

“If you chase two rabbits, you will lose them both.”

I’ve been mulling about this decision for a long time, before I came to New Zealand and, I think, even before landing in Korea to be honest. I found myself becoming extremely apathetic to the hum and drum of Corporate life.

Initially I thought it was accounting. It’s always the problem isn’t it?

I thought, hey, I make really good money but I really don’t like what I do I don’t feel like I’m contributing the way that makes me feel engaged or energised about life… but that doesn’t matter does it? It did to me.

I spent my life searching for something to fill that void, sports, parties, clubs etc. I didn’t want to let go of what I had – what I had accomplished for my career.

It took me 5 years to finally listen to that voice in my head “Just do it”. 

I dropped everything, my life, my friends, my career, and left to teach English in Korea. I stopped chasing two very different dreams. One that had been engrained into my head since I could form coherent sentences and the other I was slowly starting to discover.

This journey was an experiment to see if teaching was more my thing and to see what the world had to offer. Plus, I loved kids (or so I thought) and I loved being a camp counsellor when I was a teen, probably one of the fondest memories of my teen life.

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The truth? You cant handle the truth.

Unfortunately, teaching was even more mundane than accounting. I felt defeated. I thought there was something wrong with me. I thought, perhaps, I was being “over privileged”.

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I’m still not sure if I am.

I decided (and was kind of forced) to suck it up and go back to corporate life (at least I would be making decent money). The feeling of apathy would go away eventually…right?

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”

Wrong. The one thing I am going to stress is that if you don’t fix something that is making you feel like crap it wont just go away no matter how many Mrs. Higgins cookies you decide to shove in your mouth (true story).

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Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of research into becoming a financial adviser in New Zealand. I think it marries two of my passions; money and advice. There are many issues with switching careers especially if you’re as anal as I am about money. There are also definitely more risks involved now that I have to plan for my wedding. Needless to say I’m a bit risk adverse at the moment.

However, if life has taught me anything, you need to hit rock bottom before you get to sour above the clouds.

I was having a chat with a friend of a friend who was in the same career that I was looking to change into. She made me realise/recall a couple of things 1) I seem to always underdress 2) Just do it.

Number 2 resonated with me as it reminded me of how I started my journey to Korea and the result of that adventure (not the teaching bit but meeting my to be wife). I’m hoping to find similar happiness in this next change. It may not come in the form of that dream career that my mind has orchestrated for me but hopefully something equally as awesome. Ill keep you guys posted.

The Frugal Accountant’s Top 3 Take Aways

  1. Don’t be complacent – The Law of Least Effort affects everyone and its probably the number 1 reason for career apathy. If you’re unhappy, whether with your career or relationships, move on.
  2. Listen to yourself – There is a little voice inside your head that dictates how you feel. Its called your subconscious. It knows more about you and what you like then you could possible know. Try to discover its secrets.
  3. Try new things – You will never solve what you don’t understand and you will never understand what you don’t experience.

Bottom line: Life is an iterative process. Its like entering a dark room, being point in the correct direction (sometimes even that’s taken from you) and asking you to shoot a target with vague feedback after each shot. You could give up and become a nihilist or you could keep shooting until you hit something.

I plan to keep shooting.

Have you ever had career apathy? What did you do about it? Comment below!

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4 thoughts on “Confessions: Millennials and Career Apathy

Add yours

  1. This was very interesting. Particularly, I appreciate the quote: “If you chase two rabbits, you will lose them both.” It is very true. Dividing your focus amongst multiple things can cause something to be lost. Good read!

    Liked by 1 person

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