What I have learned in my several years of being in the corporate working world is that obedience can only get you so far.
Throughout my entire life, I’ve followed a concrete path which was intended to lead me to where I thought I was supposed to be. I made sure to not stray from this path because I didn’t want to jeopardize my future.
Throughout my school years, I’ve worked hard towards getting good grades, building an ideal resume, and becoming “successful”. I participated in many extracurricular activities, chose a distinct career path, landed an internship during my senior year of college, and started working full-time immediately after graduating.
I worked in an amazing entry-level position as an Advertising Sales Assistant for a well-known Publishing company, where I was later promoted. After being at my first post-grad company for two and a half years, I took a position at another very well-known Publishing company.
I was proud of how far my hard work and education got me, however, I never stopped to think about my career in terms of my own happiness. My determination to not deviate from my “master plan” would only get me so far as the job title that I was aspiring for. I realized that being obedient doesn’t necessarily correlate with fulfillment of life.
Instead, my obedience has provided me with a steady income, good health insurance, a decent job title, and a 401K.
Don’t get me wrong, these are all amazing things. I absolutely cannot complain and I am certainly grateful for what has resulted from my hard work and efforts. I also hope that this will be a strong example for younger generations as proof that applying yourself and making plans for the future really can get you to where you want to be in your career.
But, as I’m getting older, I keep asking myself the questions of, “Where do I want to be?” and “What do I want to do?”
Growing up in a traditional Asian home, I was always taught to respect your elders. I was taught to listen to authority, obey the rules, and not rebel. (Obviously, this parenting style doesn’t apply solely to Asian households.)
But, like any typical adolescent, I craved rebellion. I was just too fearful of the consequences that would follow. Therefore, I rarely rebelled.
I carried this aspect of my personality into the other areas of my life — School, work, relationships, etc.
And still, I keep coming around to those same questions: “Where do I want to be”, “What do I want to do?”
Until now, I keep wondering what would happen if I paved a new path for myself? What if I took a leap of faith? What if I really started listening to what I really wanted?”
All of these questions terrify me and they probably terrify many others as well because we don’t want to fail at something that we invest so much of our time into. We don’t want to step outside of our comfort zone for fear of the unknown.
However, this is not how change comes about.
This is not how history is made.
This is not how you grow.
Again, my obedience has yielded me with many positive results in relation to my career. On the downside, it has also provided me with a lack of fulfillment in my personal life. It has also provided me with a lack of respect from my colleagues in knowing that I will always obey.
Obedience proves to others that you are a safe choice, that you are easy to work with, that you do not want to get in trouble, and that you are incapable of rebellion.
Unfortunately, many people often can take advantage of that quality.
Obedience does not awake creativity or trigger inspiration to do more than what you are doing. Instead, it just confirms the duties that you are held to. It keeps you from stepping outside of the box. It keeps you from doing more, from being more.
As I continue to ask myself those same questions, I am also slowly able to answer them.
I know that I do not want to be nameless. I do not want to be viewed as just another vessel in the corporate working world. I want to stand out. I want to be bold. I want to take chances. I want to follow my heart. I want to make a difference.
Maybe I just have a bad case of dormant rebellion from my adolescence that is now re-surfacing, or maybe I am just tired of having people tell me what to do all the time.
All I know is that I cannot stay still. As Marilyn Monroe once said,
“Well-behaved women seldom make history”