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Do not fear the hard choices

Fork in the road - hard choices

OpinionsStudy

Hard choices make us who we are.

Eight years ago, I had two university options – I could study medicine overseas or pursue psychology locally. It may seem like an obvious choice to most, but I made the rather unexpected decision of pursuing psychology. 

In choosing to go to National University of Singapore (NUS), I gave up an opportunity to experience student life abroad, along with the potential riches and honour that a doctor's life would entail.

 Studying in the NUS Medicine Library
STUDYING FOR MY PSYCHOLOGY EXAMS…IN THE NUS MEDICINE LIBRARY.

It was one of the hardest decisions I have had to make, but I did it because I wanted something that gave me more time to work with and help people. The hectic routine that doctors kept did not appeal to me as much as the face-to-face time a psychologist could have with a patient.

When I attended a talk on "A New Era of Hard Choices" by Thought Collective founder Tong Yee last Friday night, this particular dilemma returned to my mind.

 Tong Yee on Hard Choices
"DRIFTERS ALLOW THE WORLD TO WRITE THEIR LIVES," SAID TONG YEE.

The 41-year-old former General Paper tutor addressed the audience – mostly young adults who packed into The Projector at Golden Mile Tower for the second of five talks in The Post Lee Kuan Yew Singapore series. Hard choices are not something we should try to avoid. Instead, they are opportunities for us to grow in character and develop our identity, he asserted.

It resonated with me. When it came to my dilemma in choosing a course to study, there was no right or wrong decision. Both choices had benefits, and friends and relatives gave advice that confused me further. 

When I made my decision, I was taking control of my own destiny, rather than doing what my parents or anyone else wanted me to do. Even though I did not know where I would end up, making my own decision allowed me to take responsibility for my life.

Eight years after I chose psychology over medicine, it is funny where life has taken me. I have made many more hard choices since then, including one that took me to the far flung villages in India for half a year. That experience led me to pursue a writing career instead. 

 Children in India
I WANTED TO BECOME A WRITER AFTER SPENDING FIVE 
MONTHS WORKING WITH POOR CHILDREN IN INDIA.

I still desire to help people, but the way I hope to do that has changed. Through my experiences, I have seen how a writer representing the voiceless can touch lives and impact more people.

I admit, when I chose psychology years ago, I wondered if I would regret it. But looking back at the crazy places my hard choices have taken me, I am glad to say I have never regretted that decision.

The next talk by Tong Yee will be on Oct 16 at the School of Thought Auditorium. Sign up for the lecture here.

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