“Your life is shaped by the opportunities you turn down as well as by those you seize.”
– ‘My Life ‘ by Bill Clinton
Every day, we are looking for the right answer. We are trained to choose the right path for our future, rather than just for today. We often need to choose one or the other in many cases, and no one can tell it will be the right one. Making decision is like jump into the pool with the both feet. You can’t really ringer around the edge and say you are going for a swim. The notion behind the act, trying, is all same. We are trying to make a better future and enjoy life without knowing what’s going to happen. If it fails, at least it’s better to know the result for sure than wondering it for rest of my life.
There are only some regrets from the decisions I made. I don’t let them bother me most of the times, but it comes in waves when I’m in a vulnerable condition.
There are very few occasions that I wished I could go back. The time when I didn’t apply for science high school; it made me realized that life wasn’t really faring. I didn’t know there was such place that I could study in-depth science because my grade in middle school wasn’t good enough. No one thought to extend the information to me, the one who couldn’t have got in. Maybe I could have known if I tried hard to think outside of the box. Because I was just a kid, I blamed the grown-ups. I thought I was too young to be responsible for everything happening in life.
I could have started my travel career way back If I made a different decision. In the middle of my second visit to New Zealand, I got a job offer from Earth & Sky, the tour company runs a night sky tour to Mt. John Observatory in Lake Tekapo. I was working as a teacher and staff member at a local observatory back in Korea, and I wanted to see the finest night sky in southern hemisphere. Earth & Sky and I made an exchange deal, that they gave me a free of charge tour and I gave them a feed back about the tour as a ‘professional’. He was very satisfied with my work, and offered me a working holiday job position. I was about to start a graduate school after the trip, so I thought I couldn’t take that the offer. It was really tempting, and it was the first job offer I got totally based on my skills, not from any other specs I had. If I’ve known more diverse way of living, I would take the job in a heartbeat. But because I was just an ordinary Korean who thought graduating school was the most important part of life, I thought it wasn’t the right thing to do.
When I started working as a mechanical engineer at old & gas plant company, I got two other offers in different positions. The one was a researcher position at an R & D center of an international tire company and the other was the also a researcher position at a military-related company that was highly related to my Master’s degree subject (Computational Fluid Dynamics). They were also well known for their generous vacation system, which was pretty rare in Korea. I only took the job I had because of the name value. All three were prestigious companies, but not bigger than Hyundai. I was seriously considering taking the job at the military company because of their holiday program, but I went for the one with the higher name value.
What Bill Clinton said in his book, it’s a simple perspective that can put all the regrets in peace.
If I went to the science special high school, I would go to the university with a good science program (probably in Astronomy), and studied until getting Ph.D. Maybe I could score an amazing job overseas as a researcher in the space program, or maybe in NASA (which was my dream).
If I took the job in Lake Tekapo, New Zealand, I would become a totally different person. I would not have graduated the university. I would become a night owl, to work at an observatory every day. I might permanently move to New Zealand, rented a small apartment and maintained a small scale life while managing the observatory.
If I chose to work at a different company, I might still stick with it to this day. I’d be happy with the extended two weeks vacation a year, working in front of the computer every day, and saving a lot of money.
The three biggest regrets in my life would lead three very different life paths. To a space scientist, to an amateur astronomer, and a CFD researcher.
I don’t know which would be the best for me. Maybe there are three different Juno, working as three different jobs in other multi-universe. I wouldn’t know what would be the best. But one very clear fact is that none of the paths would lead me to the position where I am right now – Juno who travels the world and lives an independent lifestyle. I’m highly adoptable. I can see myself being happy in the lab, in an observatory in the mountain, and in an office. But I’m not sure if that would be better than the life I’m having right now.
But here I am, writing this post in Galle, Sri Lanka, longing for the air-conditioned room. I didn’t become a scientist, an expat or a researcher, but one thing for sure that I’m grateful for the life I’m living right now. If I think of it, my life is like as it is because I declined all the opportunities. If I went for the different path, I wouldn’t have met any of you who are listening to my stories. Funny how life turned out, don’t you think?