In college, I had a clear and well-defined path on where I wanted to be at certain age milestones in my life.
I was 21 when I got my license in engineering, and it was full speed ahead from there on out. I imagined I’d have completed two Master’s degrees by 26, married by 28, and had a kid by 30.
Life did not turn out as planned, but it turned out to be how I needed it to be.
The most important lesson I learned from my time in Taiwan, where I got my master’s degree, was self-reliance.
The second most important discovery had been what I thought I wanted to be was not what I wanted to be. I always thought that I wanted a career in research and design with spectacular visions of becoming a scientist. I realized that lab life was not for me.
If I pursued a second master’s degree, I would have simply followed a blueprint. Instead, I decided to go back home to make a pivot.
Lesson Learned: Take what I can get from every experience – mistake, failure, or success. It’s acceptable to change one’s mind and course-correct.
Living in an entirely different culture allowed me to see that my initial beliefs on relationships and marriage were dictated by the societal norms that I grew up in.
Seeing myself outside that bubble allowed me to meet more people, discover myself and rethink my paradigm around lifelong commitment. It also prepared me to confidently step into a committed relationship knowing that I am a whole individual and not half of someone. This allows me to see my spouse as a true partner.
Lesson Learned: “‘Til death” is a very long time so don’t rush into or settle for a mediocre relationship.
Parenthood is the most challenging job in the world. I laugh at the idea that I initially wanted more than one human child. Now I ask myself what time I would have if I did have them. Becoming a parent requires more than a good education. It requires high levels of material, emotional and physical preparedness.
I wasn’t armed with those in my late twenties, but I was able to explore and discover the world and myself in those years. When I finally became a parent, I felt I could be one entirely and wholeheartedly. It truly takes a village to raise a tiny human.
Lesson Learned: Be grateful for those who’ve raised me. Respect those who choose not to have children. Prepare oneself when deciding to become a parent.
While milestones allowed me to celebrate and calibrate, the journey has been exciting.