I was just sitting around in a busy café, waiting for the person with whom I had an appointment to arrive. The café was located near my home and I was ready for my phone to ring. It was near feeding time for my younger son. Call me warped but if my maid called me telling me my son needs feeding, I had no doubts I would spring into action, business be damned.
It was a very busy coffee place with hordes of young and pretty/handsome people in coats and jackets. I was there in my hand-painted blouse that I thought looked pretty hip. Urm, apparently not.
I was sorely out of place, much like a sore thumb sticking out of a handful of normal looking fingers.
I started to ask myself, “Why am I doing this? I have a law degree, four years working experience as a Legal Adviser in a local leading merchant bank, some valuable experience in the Internet business….why am I settling for this?” I could be wearing overcoats like them, being busy like them, earning an income like them.
I didn’t have to worry about how business would be this month or next month or the following year. I didn’t have to chase debtors down and knock down their door for a RM300 cheque! I didn’t have to beg, over the phone, for a cheque that I needed to pay my phone bills. I didn’t have to…but why did I pick this path as a freelancer?
I watched the people around me again. I noticed something different now. They all looked harried and wonderfully occupied. They seemed like they had direction and looked really important and well-respected.
My parents think: everyone else has a job and are earning a stable income, Marsha. Why did you choose to stay at home? What’s the advantage that you’ll get?
Like any other conventional parents, they worried for me and are concerned about my future. They are also stumped with why I would waste a law degree and settle for this.
This is what they don’t see.
If I do what everyone else is doing, I will end up where everyone else is headed. Nowhere.
Is that my destination? Is that my goal? Nope. No siree.
I wanted to make a difference. And I cannot make a difference unless I am different. Tell me, is this the right analogy to arrive at? If I am doing what everyone else is doing – what right do I have to tell others that life can be different?
In order to be extraordinary, you have to be out of the ordinary. If you’re doing ordinary things, you have no right to be extraordinary. Extraordinary people do things differently and have been damned, derided and condemned for their seemingly ‘impossible’ ideas.
When Albert Einstein came up with his theories, did everyone agree with him? When Henry Ford first designed his cars, did everyone say that it would work? Everyone told Alexander Graham Bell that the world did not need a tool like the telephone. When the first television was made, the world scorned at it.
These people have remarkable stories and are successful. But do we see what they had to go through before their ‘ideas’ were accepted? Their hardships are what made their stories inspiring.
Imagine if their ideas were simply accepted and the world agreed that the telephone is the greatest invention on the planet.
Everyone scorned and laughed when we suggested taking people to the moon.
Everyone laughed when we wanted to send people around the world.
No one believed us when we said we can do heart transplants.
It appeared impossible to generate electricity.
“The businessman who goes against the current of popular opinion should expect to be opposed, derided and damned, that’s what made me rich!” – John Paul Getty.
So, once again, I look at those people walking past me, laughing among colleagues and I wonder, “Where would they be 30 years from now?” I know where I’ll be. And I don’t think many of them would join me where I am later on in our lives.
Marsha Maung is a 30-year-old mother to 2 boys. She is a work at home graphic designer and writer with her bedroom-cum-office in Petaling Jaya, Selangor. She is inspired by original ideas and loves nothing better than to blow bubbles in the park and getting her hair yanked by her kids. Her personal website is at www.marshamaung.com. She also designs apparel and housewares at www.allmomstuff.com.