“So, where do you see yourself in 5 years?”
The chair squeaked slightly when he shifted his body leaning in towards me. He gripped on to the ruled legal pad with a pen poised above ready to write. His gaze was expectant and eager to hear my ambitious goals to climb up the long and high ladder of success for more money, more prestige, and more respect and less time, less energy, and less enjoyment.
I wanted to tell him that I was only about the day-by-day; All I wanted to be and saw myself in 5 years was alive, healthy, and happy in the company of the simple and good times of food, family, and real friendships that are few and far in between. I craved to confess that I was just happy to be alive and working when so many others did not have this privilege. To add to this confession, I did not have any career goals, ‘ambition’ was not even in my language, and 5 years from now was not even in my mindset because all I had and all that we have are here and now. I wished to share the Chinese saying to him that went something like this, but sounded more poetic in the Mandarin language: “The Chinese say that the higher you go up, the lonelier you will feel. The view from the top will be beautiful, but it will lonesome and will not matter if you have no one to share the view with.”
“I just see myself working and learning new things,” I finally said.
He was unimpressed. I had disappointed him. But, I would not apologize. There was nothing to apologize for because my greatest goal and priority was to be healthy and live each and every single day the way I wanted to live it and not according to anything or anyone else. I was not the ambitious and cutthroat worker that he had hoped for me to be. However, would you be so surprised to hear that I was once the façade of this person?
Over 10 years ago when I started working, I was thin-skinned and the #1 combined work lesson I was given was: “Do not take anything or anyone personally AND develop a thick skin.” Now, the #1 work lesson I am given is: “You learn as you go.” When I began working out of college, I gave the interviewers and employers the answers they wanted to hear about my wishes and desires to maybe be in management, go for a higher degree so I’ll supposedly be smarter and get an even better job, and make myself in the polished product rather than an actual person that would produce great results and succeed at anything and everything. Somewhere along the lines of life in the last 5 years and then more, the angles and twists and turns happened to learn that time is non-refundable especially with the people we love and care about, working until the wee hours into the night will not matter on our deathbeds, there aren’t always clear answers to questions and you learn the answers and life as you keep going, and all the money in the world can make life easier, but not bring you all the health, happiness, and genuine relationships to connect with others.
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m always for bettering and there is always room for improvement, but at what point can we just happy and content with what we already have rather than always searching, fighting, and climbing our way to what we think will be better and even the best? Are you ambitious? Do you plot out and even plan in your career ways to years from now? How have you changed from 5 years ago to 5 years ahead? How have you answered this question of ‘where do you see yourself 5 years from now’? Have you met your expectations to your answered question?
I can no longer measure my life by years, minutes, and the stretch of time that continues to march and beat to its own rhythm and rhyme that none of us have control over. I try to measure life by the moments and in the here and the now, because life is immeasurable.
How do you measure life?
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,