Advice Asked, Advice Given

My friend and old colleague in Korea asked me for advice. As I’ve described before, company life has a tendency to pulverize the human spirit into dust. Our older colleagues are physically and spiritually depressed and live lives hyphenated by company sponsored booze-fests. He wants to escape the corporate noose and move abroad to study English.

I advised him not to do it.

I understand him and the situation. I really do. He is a younger guy in his early twenties with much of his life still unwritten.  He is far too free minded to be shackled down by the golden handcuffs of security and a nice company pension. I tend not to speak in generalities but moving abroad for some time is usually worth it but I think that in his case he needs some time.

He doesn’t come from money. My old company was a veritable old boys club but he is a one-off just like I was. If he fucks up and finds himself in a financial pit he is utterly fucked. He needs to secure himself against this before venturing out into the world. I’m not saying he needs to be rich. If he came from a household where the parents were university educated and have stable pensions to sustain themselves and him in case of disaster I would have told him to go for it. This isn’t the case. He needs to at the very least build up a war chest from which he can sustain his travel and hedge against disaster. He also has a grandmother who is his financial responsibility.

There is no coincidence that I am writing this at thirty-four years of age and not twenty-four. I didn’t run off to waste time and drive myself into a hole, becoming a burden on those around me. I couldn’t afford to. Now? Well now I’ve taken care of all the loose ends and earned my freedom.     

He doesn’t have a dream. If his study abroad were a stepping stone to achieving his dream, the immediate risk would be worth it. However, he doesn’t know what he wants to do. Say he wanted to be a French chef and wanted to enter culinary school. I would have encouraged him to go and break his back and his wallet pursuing it. If he wanted to be a musician? Fuck it. Go for it. Dreams have a tendency to converge toward something positive and even failed dreams teach lessons. However his plans end at attending English language school abroad. Do not pass go.

Dreams can be powerful things and the more thought and detail that is put into them the more powerful they get, the more likely they are to be achieved. I personally learned this from one dream that I achieved and one dream that I failed. From a young age I wanted to understand how video games work. I wanted to understand what powers them an what can create these worlds on my TV. My goal, the academic steps to achieve them, and the end point of being a CPU designer were clear.

My failed dream is that of a competitive b-boy or street dancer. I lacked clearly defined goals. I lacked vision in what I wanted to achieve as a dancer. I merely wanted to dance and as a result, only accomplished just that. I still love dancing but the honest truth is that my dancing career is void of accolades commensurate with the amount of time and effort I put into it.

Thus my advice to my young friend was to not go abroad to study English until he saves money and formulates a plan to achieve his dream.  


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