the forest road

Photo by Kaboompics .com on

Just last week, I met up with three former students of mine. They’re all serving their National Service (NS) now and doing great. They’ve probably forgotten most of the economics that I taught them but you know what, that’s not important. Most of them aren’t even going to be economists anyway. One of them’s going to read law while the other is going into physiotherapy. The last one hasn’t decided what to do after NS and that’s ok. He’ll get there.

I posted a photo on Instagram saying that just like every other student of mine that came before and, will come after them, these guys will do great. Coincidentally, another former of mine appeared in a colleague’s photo where she was back in school to share her experience in the social services sector.

Ok, surely they all can’t turn out great. Some of them may end up unemployed, some of them may end up with problems with their marriage or a gambling addiction. So how is that great?

I believe that if any of my former students end up this way, it’s merely because they’ve lost sight of themselves. They’ve been caught up admiring other people’s lives on Instagram or comparing themselves to the results that their peers have obtained. What they failed to see is the journey that one must take in order to get to their destination.

For example, at the school where I teach, there’s a pretty famous alumni who’s has had some success with his start-up. It’s a local tech company that’s pretty well-known. So, whenever we mention that this person is an alumni of the school, the new students get pretty impressed.

What they fail to see (and we, of course, fail to conveniently mention) is the countless nights of forgone sleep and mental anguish of worrying about how to meet payroll and rent that he and his co-founders must have gone through before achieving this level of success. Even then, his journey isn’t over. From what I can tell through public records, the company is still bleeding cash and has had to raise capital through many rounds of funding. This company’s ability to survive on its own two feet is still far from over. His journey hasn’t ended yet.

It’s the same for all my students or anyone in this world. If you focus on the destination, you forget that path there may not be full of potholes and obstacles. These things will trip you up and prevent you from setting out what you were meant to do.

Everyone can be great. You just have to focus on the journey and when you get some measure of recognition, that’s when you know you’ve reached your destination. If you have fun on the journey and you continue walking the path, the destination doesn’t really matter at all.