The Art of Exploring Possibilities

Don’t get me wrong, I love food. What I don’t love so much is standing in the food court, faced with plentiful choices, but unsure of what to choose. I know this may seem like a trivial problem but this dilemma — not knowing the right thing to do — manifests itself in many other areas of my life, leaving me paralysed by the endless array of choices.

I would rather avoid having choices altogether. Growing up, I went through the six-year Integrated Programme, secretly happy that I didn’t have to choose a new school.

I’ve been blessed with these easy options, progressing from one thing to the next, but now, graduation was on the horizon, and I realised, my official entrance into the workforce and the many choices it offered, was not going to come easy. This is what brought me to the Design Your Life (DYL) workshop by Bold At Work.

What I hoped to find in DYL was clarity and courage to face my next crossroad in life. Potential career options were pulling me in all directions but I felt great inertia weighing me down. Beneath the inertia were many questions and doubts about my future.

What is my passion? What are my goals? What is truly ‘me’ vs mere expectations imposed on me? What can’t I compromise? Am I satisfied with this (insert possible career here)? Do I have the tenacity to do this (insert unorthodox career here)?

The thought of diving headfirst into this whirlpool made me want to shut it out completely. Not the best way to overcome it, I know. In DYL, we were asked to imagine possibilities. Using a step-by-step process, we took a crack at getting rid of the giant monster that was my ball of anxious thoughts. First, we each brainstormed keywords of interest to us. Next, we mashed these concepts together to create several make-believe job descriptions. It was fun to allow myself to dream big and dream crazy.

We had some time to reflect on what we dreamed up. The truth was that these newfangled career ideas only sounded good on paper. As excited as I was, I had already suspended the belief that these any of these imagined careers would become my reality. I realised that these imagined possibilities had to be anchored in reason and experience before I could make them happen.

This realisation was perfect, because the next step in DYL was prototyping.

As a group, we thought of actionable ideas to help each person achieve their imagined goals. I truly appreciated the input given. There were actions I’d never thought of, and my fellow life designers connected me to resources and people out of my normal range. This helped me break down the huge uncertain future into simpler, more achievable goals.

We were then asked to complete one of the action ideas. In essence, we were creating, modifying, and adapting, working towards our final design, step by step.

The question I had for myself was: How was I going to meld my love in art and my faith in God into a career?

This led me to Tamae Iwasaki and Eitaro Ogawa, the Japanese couple behind the group art exhibition, Pameran Poskad, which they jointly organised with Bold At Work this year. I learnt that they specialised in printmaking and were faithfully following God’s call to enter the mission field in Japan full-time. They were the perfect people to speak to.

The couple made me feel right at home with their kind demeanor. We eased into a candid conversation about their artistic pursuits and working experience. Tamae and Eitaro shared their work philosophy — we work for so many reasons, be it financial stability, family responsibility, or personal fulfilment, and it is our responsibility to make our work good. We find our passion, and we complete our duties keenly. It’s our responsibility to have a cheerful attitude toward giving.

The simplest example left the deepest impression. Eitaro shared about the coffeeshop uncle they used to see every morning before work. The uncle made an understated, unglamorous cup of coffee, yet it’s brewed to the same excellent standard he held himself to yesterday, the day before, the week before. Because of the uncle’s standard of excellence and attitude of giving, customers will always get that good cup of coffee.

About faith, Tamae and Eitaro reminded me that I could minister in any field of work I enter. Ultimately, in work and life, there will be seasons of success and struggle. As long as we hold fast to our faith and values, the right place is where we’re at in any given time.

And before I ventured to share any details about my artistic ambitions, Tamae and Eitaro posed a critical question: do I find joy in creating art or just consuming it?

The conversation went deeper than I expected. It was no longer just about tangible career options. I exchanged my anxiety about my future for the understanding that there is no single ‘right choice’.

DYL helped me gain some courage to face the future — by breaking down a giant problem into bite-sized, palatable questions to answer. Before the class ended, we each wrote a letter to ourselves five years from now. Here’s one of the lines I wrote:

“The 28-year-old you might regret the choices you’ve made, but the 23-year-old you will never regret the person you’ve become.”

Written by Dorothy

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

The above is a reflection of MadAtWork (Designing Your Life) workshop by one of our participants- Dorothy. Through brainstorming on life possibilities and learning how to actualise ideas from imagined goals, Dorothy is confident to venture towards her passion for the arts while holding on to personal values and faith, and knowing that every choice is an experience to learn from.

Dorothy Wong majored in communication studies in NTU and came to DYL in March 2018, the semester right before graduation. She did make a choice among the endless options open to her and is now working in the public healthcare industry as an administrator.

You can design your Life too! Join us at MadAtWork to explore possibilities and ideate for your future. Find out more here: https://boldatwork.sg/mad-at-work/