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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Having it all... on my own terms

"I'll show them," I thought. "They'll regret this."

In a moment of anger and befuddlement over the fact that I was getting rejected, over and over, at every job I applied to, I vowed that someday those recruiters would realize their mistake.

I'll become a famous engineer. I'll move high up in a huge company. I'll build an awesome robot that all the geeks will drool over. I'll be the mastermind behind the Google self-driving car or the Mars rover. I know I'm smart. I know I can succeed. They'll be sorry.

The only problem is, that's not really what I want.

I will always love robots. Image source.

As an undergrad, I majored in both math and electrical engineering. All my math-major friends went on to PhD programs. Not me. Does it prove that they're smarter than me, if they have PhDs?

I will most likely never have a PhD. Yes, I'm confident that I'm "smart enough" and I could do the work, but it's not what I want.

Okay, what do I want? First of all, I'm moving to China. I know I need to be in China, for so many reasons. I have met so many international students at my university, and I'm always impressed at how they take classes in English, make friends in English, rent an apartment in English, buy a car in English, set up a bank account in English- and the language barrier isn't the only problem; there is a cultural barrier too. But they learn to live and thrive in this foreign culture.

I want to know if I could do it too. Could I really live in China?

And that challenge is far more important to me than having a prestigious job or a PhD. The world is out there, and I want to know what it's like- because 96% of it is nothing like the American culture I am used to. (I say 96% because 96% of people are not Americans.)

And when I go there, my job will most likely be teaching English. I'll become more and more fluent in Mandarin, more and more confident about my ability to go places and do things in China. Is that anyone's definition of "having it all"? Does it matter? It's my definition.

I will not give anyone the power to dictate what I do with my life. I will not be driven by revenge for employers who reject me, comparisons with my peers who have more education than me, or advice about what would and would not be good for my career.

Maybe I won't "have it all" by anyone else's standard, but I'll have exactly what I want.

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This post is part of the Having It All blog carnival, hosted by The Mamafesto. Submissions are due October 28. If you want to submit a post from your blog, go for it!

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