Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton
Who am I?
Although for reasons I will explain later, I cannot reveal my identity yet, I can still share a lot about myself.
I am a professional working in a R&D company. I have a Ph.D. degree and started working as a postdoc researcher at the age of 33 and got my first job at 34. I’ve switched jobs a couple of times, but always in the same industry.
Like many of you, I followed the footsteps of average people in my life. Since I am interested in research, the most common route for career development seems to be getting a high degree first, which qualifies you for a certain level of position. Once you have a job, at some point you most likely will buy your first house (your “biggest investment”). You will likely have kids too which together with the monthly mortgage bill prompt you to continue to work hard and climb the career ladder so you can catch up with all the expenses. Of course you remember to save up for retirement by contributing a part of your pre-tax salary towards the 401k plan to at least maximize the employer match. Now you will likely have more kids, therefore will need to move to a larger house, and you work harder to pay the bigger mortgage bill among other expenses. You can see that you continue your life like this, and eventually retire one day and start to live off your retirement savings and social benefits.
At least this is how I have lived my first 10 years or so as a professional in the R&D industry.
For some reason, 10 years into my career, when I woke up in the bed one early morning, I found myself scared to death when my life is playing like a movie in my mind from the beginning to the very end. No words can describe my feeling at that time. The closest words probably are helplessness or desperation, but they are not even close enough.
Based on the fact that I have a Ph.D., people may think I am smart. After all it’s the highest degree one can get. But at that particular moment, I feel like the dumbest person on planet earth. No matter how hard I thought, I seem to be stuck in the following question that nothing I know of can provide me with an answer:
No, I am not trying to answer the question about the meaning of life. Although my Ph.D. title means the degree for “Doctor of Philosophy”, I am in no better position than anyone to answer the philosophical question about the meaning of life. Or maybe it really is 42 as some people have claimed? That would be my best guess anyways.
I was trying to understand why I have followed the footprints of others, and why I have to.
To be continued.