Saturday, June 13, 2009

Growing Up

It's down to the last few hours of a wonderfully eventful summer vacation.

My last summer vacation, my last first day, my last year in college.

The beginning weeks of this year’s summer vacation felt like a journey back in time, back to cheery afternoons and family holidays, video games and storybooks, binge eating and oversleeping. There was a time when I would take these things for granted, a time when I was too excited to grow up and chase my dreams. This time however, I dearly held on to every last vestige of that fleeting childhood. It was not too long ago when I would spend my summers taking some superfluous class in the mornings, playing Scrabble and Monopoly in the afternoons, and laughing around with my brothers in the evenings. My heart still desires to relive those Neverland moments, but my mind is telling me to move on and get ahead.

And so as April crawled by, I reluctantly passed on my final opportunity to be a bum and decided to look for work. Luckily, I stumbled upon one and for the next five weeks, I immersed myself in the toxic delights of the corporate world. I got a glimpse into the proverbial ‘real world' through the prism of enlightening experiences, new friends, and a fresh environment. The journey that commenced with my foray into the hallowed triumvirate of business subjects (Mkt, POM, Fin) finally found direction this summer.

The few weeks of work made me realize both the benefits of classroom education and the value of experiential learning. But at the same time, it also made me reflect on the one vital question haunting corporate life - How meaningful is it really to dedicate one’s youth, intellect, and energies simply to enrich my company and its shareholders? Indeed, the practicum was a significantly eye-opening experience.

More than that, it also served as a springboard from teenage to adult life. There is a sudden sense of maturity that comes with working for one’s wages, even if only for a practicum. I felt that some of my youthful idealism morphed into adult practicality in the course of those few weeks at work. I also felt this sort of change in my friends and batch mates.

A few years ago, conversations with friends centered on video games, basketball, and outings. This time around, most conversations revolved around electives, further education, business, and corporate life. Everything seemed to have a more practical edge to them. We never do anything just for the sake of doing something anymore. Everything we do has to bolster our credentials, improve our skills or fatten our resumes.

This is an interesting time - a time when every little step today will prove to be a giant leap for tomorrow, a time of being on the brink, yet not quite. Growing up is indeed an interesting time, for it brings a sense of finality for what has been and a sense of freshness for what will be.

Finalities and endings always roll between the sweet flavor of accomplishment and the bitter taste of farewell. Yet the coming of these bittersweet sentiments also marks that precious time of reflection between leaving behind and moving on. This summer has been exactly that - an invaluable, inevitable transition between the carefree clutches of childhood and the arduous, exciting world of grown-up life.

Growing up certainly means going beyond, but I hope it does not mean leaving behind. Nevertheless, it has been a wonderfully eventful summer vacation for me. Thus I will end with a memorable quote from my philo teacher –

“To all that has been, Thank you. To all that will be, Yes.”

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