What are your thoughts about life?
I haven’t met a single person who is already sure from the beginning what they want to do with their lives. So didn’t I. Like many others, I am a typical ‘jack of all trades but a master of none’. Studying a Master of Science degree taught me, hopefully, my role in life and the legacy I want to leave behind.
Does that sound familiar to you as well?
The feeling that you’re continually working ‘in the blind’? The feeling that you’re always doing things for someone else’s benefit and that you are struggling to pay the bills with work that you don’t really (or really do not) want to do? And, in continuation of that feeling, that you would like to leave something behind for other people to learn from?
Maybe you have had a significant (perhaps negative) life experience that you want to scream out from the top of your lungs on the highest rooftop for the whole world to know. Maybe you are satisfied with what you are doing and that you only think one day at the time and aren’t bothered how you can be an example for someone else. Which is totally fine.
Like many, I do want to share. I do want to share knowledge, make a lasting impact for at least someone. But, before you can do that, you do need to have the tools to get started.
I found my tool in education. Education as such, especially when you’re young, can also be an obligatory brainwashing system to enter a highly competitive world in which grades seem to matter more than the actual knowledge. It is our choice and interest in what we are learning and how to use it in the end (for the ones on this planet who have that luxury).
Education as such is also a tool for personal development and knowing your place in this world. It is stepping up to skills that you can use later in life.
As the choice is overwhelming, it can feel there is nothing for you and that you will have to choose something random to make a final decision later in life. Or that you have pressure from family or culture to have a specific education to fulfil a particular role in society that has already been laid out for you.
What an MSc taught me
I was encouraged to study again, to find the missing link between what I could do in practice and the theoretical background. For the first time, that I saw education as such a tool for personal development after struggling for many years to find a reason why to put an effort into it. Education is not an asset, or a stock, no. Education is a process and a flow of information for me and me alone to reach from where I was to another level. 0 competition with others, only with myself. A school dropout going for a Master degree!
I decided to leave the USA, where I used to work, to go back to my parent’s house, and simply BIC-HOK (Butt In Chair – Hands On Keyboard) and go for it. In fact, I was living for quite some time in a very isolated environment. Many of the people I knew were spread all over the world who I was chatting with mostly, so I actually stopped talking altogether. Yes, some words at home, but, at some point, you’re done talking to parents.
It gave me time to reflect, to focus on myself, to see where I am in the world and what I could do for someone else. A ‘British’ master degree isn’t making multiple choice tests, it isn’t just reading through and writing a bit about it. It was hardcore understanding everything and reproducing with my own words and referencing it properly. It was getting the essence of large academic texts and nailing the point down. It was gaining a firm understanding of concepts, with practical (country) references. Exams were 2 hours handwritten answering questions at random for that subject. Thus, if you didn’t study something and there were questions about it, no single way that you can talk your way out of it.
That is very confronting in a way too. You alone in a room for hours at the time learning in ways you never have done before. It hits your personality and your doubts. You start second-guessing. Is what I am learning now, really what I want to learn? Do I want to use it in the future? Can I see myself working with this?
Many of these questions I answered with ‘no’, and I seemed to be on a track becoming a statistic. One other student who started but saw it isn’t for them and quit. A part of me wanted to, especially in the end. But, then again, I was in such a situation that I couldn’t manage to quit. There aren’t many people who get a heritage that pays university fees and being able to work on the side for living expenses (I was driving for Uber) and the remaining course fees. There are billions of people without any access to secondary or tertiary education. I have. Morally I couldn’t quit.
Also, now being in Malaysia, having a degree matters. The pay scale of a master degree is merely higher than for other education for the same job. It isn’t fair, but, it can work in my advantage.
This MSc did teach me:
- Stamina, moving on, not giving up
- Distress and hopelessness, but, also the hyper delight and pride after each exam I passed.
- It taught me the much theoretical knowledge and practical systems to implement and also precisely that what my job in the USA was lacking so much.
- Self-reflection. At some point, in distressed times, I was gunning for the system, the support, the texts, the ‘anything I could point my fingers on’ but myself. Looking back, gosh, I was the one who didn’t understand, didn’t want, found it too difficult and all. Instead of seeing and realising that, I started ‘fighting’, which caused even more delays and it did cost energy that I could have been using so much better.
- Time management. Well, actually, maybe that is something I always will have to learn. I was happily blogging and gardening and going around while I should have been in the books. Procrastination. That I am good at! In the end after realising that time was nearly up and I was hardcore studying ever since. Now it is keeping fingers crossed that I made the last 2 exams well enough to pass. Only the dissertation is left. I am on the right track already and hope to finish it this year.
Speaking about the dissertation.
That is something I actually enjoy writing. I could have produced a paper and deliver it just to be done, but, no, with that one I want to get a good grasp of the content. The dissertation/thesis is a paper of only 10.000 words, but, the topic, research and its methods, the choice of literature, the design, the content, the analysis, all is mine. Nobody told me what to do or how to do it. That whole process is coming from me, my knowledge up until now and the tools I need to learn to make it possible.
Already thanks to that dissertation and the underlying theories I actually got aware of society, and how to explain it from different angles. About the problems in society. About the daily issues, we are facing. About why we feel useless, why we have so many burn-outs, why we have so many mental problems, what makes it difficult to cope, why we feel we are exchangeable for anyone else and why this ‘normal life’ we are living isn’t normal at all!
Why I started writing
This awareness shivers me. It should shiver you too. Society is not normal and we have to understand what is not normal before we can do something about it.
That is the ultimate drive or calling for me to start writing. To imagine. To freeflow spell out different realities, daily struggles of us, humankind. Let us explore our ‘normal life’, and let’s see how this life influences people, societies and let us imagine how else it can be.
Read more at ‘The Legacy I want to leave behind‘