Why I Still Went After The Life I Wanted, Even Though It Let Down My Family
Ten years ago, my dad died from ALS. I've learned my life lessons since then.
Today, I live my life to the fullest. I've executed the whole "quit my job to follow my dreams" thing. I've been unemployed for nearly five years now. I've started my blog and have managed to create my own income online by studying Internet marketing.
I'm also a b-boy (breakdancer), and I have been for over 10 years now. A typical day for me would be to wake up at around 3 pm — because I prefer to work in the early hours of the morning, and yes, I get to sleep all I want – start with my daily tasks until the evening and head off for practice.
When I get home around midnight, I continue to work. As of now, I discipline myself to write a blog post a day, and I also answer several questions on Quora.
Yep, I do what I love every day. I'm happy.
But time and time again, I feel a sting of guilt. I feel like I'm a total burden to my family, especially my mom.
That's one thing I learned about us "live life to the fullest" guys. We are not what we seem, and there are a lot of secrets underneath.
I don't contribute much in terms of money because business is tough as hell. No, it's not easy to make money online. Whoever said making money online is as easy as simply putting up content is either a liar or a very good salesman. I bring in enough for myself. I still go out and drink with my friends. I still travel, too.
I'm really thankful for the experiences I've had, especially when it comes to traveling and meeting cool people abroad. But lately, it's been hitting me that I'm pretty selfish.
My mom works every day at the business my dad left behind. Our house is not entirely paid off yet. She hasn't had a real holiday break in a while. That's why it stings.
I make no excuses. I'm working my ass off now to give back. But for sure, money is a big factor for people who want to live it up in life. There's just no escaping the fact that you need money to survive, and to a large extent, you need money to be happy.
Sometimes, I can't help but feel the pressures of societal norms. In Singapore, it's pretty normal and expected that one should have a stable job, be married, have one's own place and start a family by the time one is 30. I have none of that, obviously.
I'm really happy where I am in life right now. But sometimes, I can't help but wonder what my life would be like if I decided to be normal (or not so deviant). What if I had a normal job? I would probably be giving a lot back to my mom. I could contribute to the house more.
What if I had kids? That'd definitely make my mom happy. What if I played it safe? I don't think I'd be worrying so much about money and my future if that were the case. I don't think I'd feel like a burden to my family.
I even ask myself, "Where is this leading to?" To give you a really blunt example, I'm single and living it up. But, I don't want to be 50 years old and still on the prowl for women. I've seen rich, older dudes do that, but it's just not something I want to become. This uncertainty adds a lot of guilt and confusion to my life.
I'm a happy dude, but I wonder if my family is happy for me. I even wonder if my mom prefers my brother's life choices to mine sometimes. He's the one with the stable job, and he's already married.
We all have our responsibilities. Believe it or not, the people who live life on their own terms still have responsibilities. I hate to admit it, but I think I may have to relent one day and go get a job.
That's the thing about life: Sometimes, you just want to do your own thing. But, you need to make sure you're not dragging others down.
Sometimes, you want to be free of worry and not let things like money get in the way. Yet, this one thing alone in life can make a huge difference to both you and those around you. But as I said, I make no excuses.
I'm just trying my best to work a lot harder. The only way to ease the guilt and eradicate this fear is to work my ass off. Otherwise, I'm going to be just that: a burden.
Alden Tan is a writer and b-boy who writes his own blog for a living. He has nothing but honest and real stories, since he hates the cliched fluff the self-help industry gives. To stay in touch with him, get his free book, "12 Things Happy People Don't Give a F*ck About."