Embracing Life’s Evolving Stages and Our Interconnected Lives

Desmond Du
5 min readJan 18, 2024

Abstract

Sharing my personal journey as I approach my 30s, I navigate through a profound sense of uncertainty regarding what lies ahead. During a visit to my alma mater, Singapore Polytechnic, an unexpected encounter with a former teacher, Mr. Isaac, leads to a transformative exchange of wisdom. This encounter reshapes my perspective on the various stages of life and prompts me to reevaluate the decisions that lay ahead.

Life in Stages

Have you ever reached a point in your life where you felt adrift, unsure of your next move despite having achieved significant milestones? I recently found myself in such a predicament as I approached my 30s. Graduated with a master’s degree, moved to a new city with my partner, secured a full-time job, and achieved financial stability, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing. The relentless search for the next big thing in my life left me feeling troubled and lost.

But everything changed during a visit to an open house at my alma mater Singapore Polytechnic. This trip wasn’t about expecting life-changing revelations, but rather a chance to reconnect with old teachers and soak in the nostalgia. It was during this visit that I stumbled upon Mr. Isaac, a teacher who had imparted 3D knowledge to me nearly a decade ago. Little did I know that our conversation that day would provide me with a new perspective on life’s stages and how to navigate them.

Selfie with Isaac, Lecturer at Singapore Polytechnic who taught me 3D design and animation almost a decade ago

After hearing my dilemma, Mr. Isaac shared his wisdom by likening life to a game with various stages. He explained that I had successfully cleared the “career stage” — obtaining a degree, securing a job, and establishing financial stability. It was time to move on to the next level and ponder on what kind of lifestyle do I want to live. The subsequent stages in life can vary for each individual, but Mr. Isaac emphasized that the final stage often involve marriage and family.

Starting a family isn’t just a societal expectation; it’s a crucial component of our later years. Who do we want to spend our lives with when we grow old? Do we want to live a life of singlehood, be married, or have a family? This decision requires careful consideration because this could also mean making the preparations in the present moment such as financial stability, health considerations, living situation, career implications, parenting readiness, life goals and personal interests, and other long-term plans.

Living a solitary life presents a unique set of intricate decisions and challenges. For instance, you may need to consider who will take care of you in case of an accident or sudden illness. Additionally, determining the beneficiaries of your estate and assets requires careful thought. Furthermore, as we age, our friends may become absorbed in their own families, leaving us with less time for the close-knit bonds we enjoy now. How will one find consistent social and emotional support, especially during times of stress or loneliness? These questions aren’t meant to undermine the choice of singlehood, but rather to encourage a thoughtful examination of the lifestyle to which we wish to commit ourselves.

Mr. Isaac further emphasized that whether I choose to be married with or without children, this matter should be discussed with my partner as it might affect our career goals and the potential sacrifices each party has to make. He pointed out that the type of job we have can significantly impact our ability to achieve family-related goals. For those aspiring to start a family, a job may transform into a means of income rather than the primary focus of a career. Certain professions, like teaching, aligns with school calendars, offering more time to spend with children during breaks. On the other hand, fast-paced careers in fields like advertising and marketing may limit our availability to be present with our families, potentially affecting our children’s well-being. Everyday is our life, the future isn’t something that’s compartmentalized but it is built upon the present.

Mr. Isaac’s message was clear: the responsibilities of raising a child should not be underestimated. It demands immense effort, patience, and preparation. To raise a happy and healthy child, one must be fully committed. This realization led me to reflect on the limited time we have for ourselves before embracing the responsibilities of parenthood. My parents’ story came to mind, with their extensive travels before starting a family. It made me realize the importance of living life to the fullest before the responsibilities of parenthood become the primary focus. Just as how my parents seized the opportunity for adventure and personal growth before having children, we too should make the most of our time before transitioning into the roles of parents and providers. Ultimately, I was reminded of the fleeting nature of our existence; every moment we possess is ephemeral, and I have to cherish each of my daily experiences and interactions no matter what stage of life I am in.

Quote from “Her” (2013)

A meaningful life

Near the end of our conversation, I began to see the transition between the career and family stages more clearly. I was so fixated on what I should do with my life, that I overlooked a more significant question:

How can I live in a way that profoundly impacts the lives of others?

Our human experience is not solitary; it is deeply intertwined with the lives around us. Recognizing this interconnectedness opens up new avenues for understanding and living a meaningful life. As I reflect on the multitude of individuals I’ve encountered, I’m mindful of the substantial impact I’ve had on their journeys, particularly through my writings, tutorial videos, and guidance that have aided them in developing their design career, achieving acceptance to SCAD, or inspiring them to be their highest selves. At times, people have conveyed their heartfelt appreciation, warming my heart with gratitude.

Leaving my alma mater that day, I found peace and felt a renewed sense of purpose. While I don’t have a definite answer on what I should do with my life now, but I started thinking about how I could serve others. I began to see this new phase of life as a stage of community involvement and artistic pursuits– a stage where I could give back and make a difference in the lives of others. It might involve resuming my YouTube channel making tutorials, or engaging in activities that allow me to be my most authentic self. The journey ahead may still be uncertain, but it’s filled with the promise of making a meaningful impact on the world and people around me.

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