A Clash of Two Minds

Photo by  Noah Buscher  on  Unsplash

Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash


A Clash of Two Minds.

My constant struggle in wanting to be designer but also know how to make money doing it. 

Back in high school, I had this belief that university was going to shape the way you live the rest of your life. It was going to be set in the three-years and then off you go, working on that one career for the rest of your life. But now going through two course transfers and four (and counting) years of tertiary education, I've realise that it's natural for people to change their mind later in life.

However, my personal dilemma arose from the cultural conflict between 'What I Want To Do' and 'What Others Think Is Good For Me'. I grew up in a very progressive family with parents who supported us in whatever we wanted to achieve in life. With a father who grew up in Australia, and a mother who pursued her passion for design, it sort of meant you could get away with a little more than in your stereotypical Asian household. But it was always interesting to hear the same questions coming up in dinners - "So, are you going to study business, law or medicine?".

The Asian Trifecta is no joke - it exists.

When you are raised in a city with 99.9% Asians, it is likely that the mentality and their definition of success will rub off on you in ways that influence what you might want in a career - and it did. My desire to be in architecture? Shot down in tenth grade when a teacher had told me about her husband's nightmare experience as an architect, clearly advising not only me, but also my parents, that I should not even consider it. Product design? "One day, I'm going to be using the products you designed for small change while I make the real money." someone once told me. As someone who really cared about the feedback others gave me, that one comment hurt like a bitch. It made me want to give up on the only thing I was passionate about.


"One day, I'm going to be using the products you designed for small change while I make the real money."


Everything changed for me in 2013. I was introduced to a design teacher who taught me to appreciate my own talents and use them to prove others wrong. She taught me to have thicker skin and shape my own future. It didn't feel like much at the time but looking back now, I'm not quite sure where I would be without that huge kick up the backside.

I went into university wanting to pursue both Business and Design and when they didn't offer it, I pressured the right people to make this a thing. After all, I'm sure I'm not the only person out there living with this constant dilemma. In fact, as dissimilar as they may be, they're starting to become complimenting skillsets in the modern workplace! (but maybe more on that some other time).

Lessons I Learnt On Pursuing Your Dreams:

1. Internal conflict is natural and will always happen.

For people who are as indecisive as I am, the fact that we get faced with that 'big question' during high school can be pretty daunting, especially when you haven't made up your mind yet. If people around you seem to have their life sorted and a 10-year plan on how they're going to live their life, so what? The fact that there is indecisiveness just shows how open you are to the multitude of pathways life has to offer. Make the most of it and if it doesn't work out, just change it.

2. Always say 'yes' to the opportunities given to you.

When an opportunity comes your way, its life's way of saying "This is your chance to improve.". They don't come often for those who say 'no' and neglect the chances provided to them, so a step in the right direction will get your hurdling down a path of 'wins'! (and perhaps a few bumps along the way, but it's all about learning).

3. Maybe don't ignore the haters, but don't let them change who you are either.

Despite what some people say on completely disregarding the haters, I think that it's always valuable to engage them in a conversation to see why they think that way. Who knows? Sometimes a rational argument may help shape the reason as to why you're passionate about something. But obviously, they are opinions after all so it wouldn't be wise to just keep changing goals just because someone told you to.

Matthew Kwong