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January 08, 2008


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I was in a goal-setting workshop at a job-required seminar a few months ago. I felt like an idiot unable to fill-out what my goals were. Choosing anything felt like losing other things. I know it`s not as clear cut as that, but damn do I have trouble with it. Anyway, I wasn`t the only one. It seems all the slackers signed up for that workshop, hoping it would give us some direction. The most concrete goal we first got out of anyone was that he wanted to eat a decently sized lunch that afternoon.

I guess, I`m still surfing, but I decided not to go back to school until I see school standing between me and something else I want.

jen chau

jarrad -- it's always good to hear from you. :)

i should have given some kind of disclaimer...i think that once we are on the other side of confusion/lack of clarity/anything difficult, we have a tendency to let on that maybe things were easier than they seemed...in hindsight! i didn't mean to give the impression that the process is an easy one once you allow yourself to realize that you need to go through it. i believe 100% that i had to be in situation after situation where i was sitting in the kind of goal-setting workshop you attended, without any clue of what i wanted to do. basically, i did allow myself to surf for as long as i did because i didn't know what i wanted to do.

i really think that it's important to let yourself feel things out and not to rush yourself to decision if you aren't feeling strongly one way or another. i believe that everyone can probably find at least one thing they are truly passionate about in the world. i can't imagine ever settling for something i wasn't jump-out-of-bed thrilled about every morning. that's not what life should be about (although i know that there is the reality of just needing to pay the bills...and sometimes not having the luxury of doing something you are passionate about)...but shouldn't passion be what we *strive* for?

anyway, don't feel like a slacker. :) you are still feeling your way through. and i know that japan will probably be one of the things on your list of experiences...you will find yourself looking back one day and saying, ah yes, because of that experience, i learned this, this and that...and it will move you closer to figuring out just what your goals in life are.

i think it's smart that you aren't rushing to school because you feel like you should -- like you said, if it can be a tool to help you get to the next stage in your life, then that's when you will do it. i know way too many people who went to grad school right after college, or very soon after because they felt they should, because their parents wanted them to, you name the reasons...and i saw them finish, only to struggle and then land in a job outside of their area of study because they hadn't yet figured out what they wanted to do with their lives when they started the program. now, thousands and thousands of dollars in debt, and back to the drawing board in some ways.

we are taught to rush through education ("get it over with!"), but i think that's a horrible message and rarely the right answer. i can't tell you how many people told me that i would have a tough time going back to school after waiting 6 years after my undergrad studies. what did they think would happen? i didn't turn into a pumpkin! if you want something bad enough, you will work for it. and if it's the right time, and the right thing, everything will feel right. :)

Michelle Cheuk

Hey Jen!

Jocelyn commented on how thoughtful your blog entry was, so I came here to read it, and I agree with her. :)

I just had a couple quick comments: (1) it is so not tough to go back to school after 6 years after undergrad, that is such a myth, and (2) with me currently being in a Ph.D. program, I get plenty of people saying wistfully how they would/wish they were in one. Now that I've had experience in it and facing the future, there are a number of costs that most people from the outside don't consider which should be weighed against the rewards. I'd be happy to talk with you if you're seriously thinking about grad school. I love grad school, and it was the right choice for me (on balance), but I wish I had been aware of / prepared for some of the flipsides too. :P

Anthony Yuen


Five years ago we were planning for the 2003 Mixed Student Conference in Seattle. Now I'm in Wisconsin! Who knew?


Jen Chau Fontán

michelle! it's so great to hear from you over here. i am really glad that you and jocelyn appreciated the post. it means a lot!

and i will SO take you up on the offer to talk about your experience in a PhD program. i guess i will shoot you an email... :) thanks!

and T.....i know?! there is no way to predict sometimes...it's crazy to think about where we were in 2003....just a few years ago!!!


Thanks, Jen. :) It means a lot.
I can already see what you`re saying happening. My time out here is giving me plenty of opportunity to change and reflect and figure out where I want to go next.
And, your points about it being ok and even good to wait for grad school are really encouraging. I had some bad habits in college. I think having soem time away from that is good for me too.

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