I spent the last four days in New York.
Work has once again called me to visit the big apple, a city that’s often regarded as the most important amongst all the metropolis in the world. A lot of my friend don’t like New York. Personally though? I love it. As an extrovert, I get energy from my environment, and there’s nowhere else in the world that gives out as much energy as New York. Another reason is because the vibe somehow resembles Jakarta, the city that I grew up in, which I like to describe as a “more crowded, less developed New York”.
I caught up with a friend from high school over dinner. We had the typical “how’s everything been” type of conversation when two guys haven’t met for a while, but there was a question that caught my attention and legitimately made me reflect on it afterwards.
“What were you doing today, last year?”
At the time, I answered it without really thinking about the bigger nuance behind the question. I said that I was in the process of looking for a job at this time last year while simultaneously doing other projects. On my way back to the hotel, I pondered on it and realize that often times, we are extremely caught up in the present with work; always trying to make progress — forgetting to appreciate the lessons that we’ve learned in the process. That simple question made me realize the wealth of experience that I’ve been fortunate enough to encounter in the past year, and how much I’ve grown as a person thanks to all that.
As we nibble on our hot pot, there was another topic of conversation which I found fascinating.
“What’s your goal?”, he asked.
This question came around as we were talking about early work life, graduate school, being a young adult, what’s next in life, and all the boring (and perhaps scary to some people) stuffs that I would’ve walked away from if I’m listening to them as a freshman in college. To some extent, I do think that most people in their early twenties and post college often wonder about this question. After all, we’re at the prime age of entering quarter-life crises (yikes). On the contrary, I’m actually very comfortable with this question. I like to think that its because I’m a bit more soulful and I’ve passed the period of “not knowing what I want to do” that most people face even after they start working in their first job. Only time will tell if I’m right.
Nonetheless, I wasn’t even able to explain to myself what I my goal is when I just started college. My parents used to point out that I have a strong drive but my interest jumps around. I wanted to become an aerospace engineer in high school, decided on civil engineering as a freshman, ended up hating physics courses and moved to Industrial Engineering, looked into supply chain and CPG, tried entrepreneurship capstone courses, and so on.
I answered instantaneously — “I want to be great” .
Professor Galloway best elaborated what I always had in mind but couldn’t eloquently convey.
“People often come to NYU and say, ‘Follow your passion’ — which is total bullshit, especially because the individual telling you to follow your passion usually became magnificently wealthy selling software as a service for the scheduling of health care maintenance workers. And I refuse to believe that that was his or her passion.”
“What they were passionate about was being great at something, and then the accoutrements of being great at something — the recognition from colleagues, the money, the status will make you passionate about whatever it is.”
Long story short, we realized that in this regard, we’re exactly on the same page albeit our different professions, and continued nibbling on our hot pot.