winterblue (winterblue)
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Believe it or not, you’re trapped.

Ten years ago, when you headed for the realm of freedom, bidding farewell to
your lovely wife and aged parents amongst hurrahs of your former peers and
friends, you really and repeatedly dreamed of loftily spiritual and abundantly
material end-results a few years down the road a stretch: a doctorate title, a
decent professional job, a nice home. Sort of a sprint into an American middle
class suite.

You really felt the surging of your supercharged adrenaline after setting your
foot on the American soil, you were enduringly engaged in a series of advanced
degree pursuits. Unwaveringly unflappable and unreasonably undaunted yet
downright downtrodden, you even undertook almost all sorts of underpaid jobs
up for grabs to foot the sizable bills of tuition and apartment rentals.

You carefully crafted your career strategy by muscling into the
tech-heavyweight sector on a tight job market to map your future niche
billets, and you even ditched your sanctified yet far-flung pursuit of a
doctorate, steering clear of being overly studious in this outrageously
material kingdom and getting with the program to eke out a living in this
profusely pragmatic world.

You pulled off on landing your first job with your super-sized technical
muscles despite your stuttering English. You incessantly jumped ship in this
much revved-up economy to move up a few grand on your salary roll, and you
even managed to get an upper hand at this steamily stoked stock market. Facts
trump all rhetoric, hard-work beats the nature: you bought new cars, you
bought new houses, you're bloated with the breezy feeling of being wealthy and
healthy as well as wise while you're piled high and deep in debt.

Fact is, you're financially strapped with a hefty liability—to pay off all
your debts as soon as possible or the rest of your life. To live grandly,
you've got to work even harder, yet merely working harder doesn't resolve all
the issues. The fashionable mantra is to work smarter but not harder, which
leads you to another tricky trap where you make every endeavor to learn how to
climb a few echelons up, if not heading through the stratosphere, on the
corporate ladder.

OK, there're many books on career development, but you just don't get it. The
language barrier seems to be so formidable (well, you've blown it away through
year's hard-work on learning a few language tricks and trades), and the
insurmountable cultural gap has been eccentrically gaping at you. Your know a
technical track is virtually a blind alley, while the managerial freeway is
absolutely wide open for winners who take all and losers who lose all. Looking
around, only a few compatriots have made it to managerial posts, but then most
likely their career will get plateaued sooner or later and they'll be stuck
somewhere in the muddle of middle management arena. Those who really have made
it to the top are guys who hit their stride as early as in their 20's,
relentlessly and strategically taking it in their stride and working their way
up on the corporate ladder.

Age aside, you are a hopeless outsider of those inner circles-call them
three-dimensional diversified mentor and protege network that is the single
most important factor to accelerate a person's career. Theoretically, you know
among three C's—confidence, credibility and competence—you barely have the
former two C's. Yes, your competence has been honed up a lot and taken a solid
shape through your own obsessed training and infallible education as well as
rotated work assignments. However, your confidence level is proportional to
your not-so-impressive communication skills, and your task to quickly
establish a network to nurture your career growth is so culturally
intimidating to you. Without a superior mentor's advice and counseling, your
career advancement is just a castle in the air, and your confidence and
credibility are nowhere to originate from. To make matters worse, your
competence is being quickly worn down in daily and tedious Mickey-and-Mouse
type of work. You have no chance to advance to a level demanding your
intelligence and diligence as well as persistence built in your DNA, and
you're ultimately trapped at a career stop sign.

First you're resentful, then you become numbed. You tell yourself, forget
about career, think about just making a living, which tends to cajole yourself
into your first trap: buying bigger houses and driving pricey cars, building
more equities yet getting deeper in debts.

Now you have to comfort yourself in the belief that as a first generation
immigrant, your task is just to lay some ground work for your kids, so your
high stakes naturally come to your next generation: your kids who now are your
only hopes. There're just as many books on kids' education as those on your
career development. You know the importance of education, and you don't want
to take chances or take it for granted either.

You're bound to shackle your kids' spare time with endless extracurricular on
soccer games, boy scouts, dance classes, paintings and piano lessons and so
on. You even go so far as to chaperone kids to a Chinese school to preserve
your rich Chinese heritage. You've found you have no time to gasp over those
hectic weekend schedules. So you ask yourself are all these really that
necessary? Do you miss the precious part of your life just plainly having fun
and playing with your kids? Are you zealously transferring your pressure to
your next generation? Do you emphasize too much academically while ignoring
the development of your kids' full character?

You've also realized that your value system always clashes with the one of
your kids sooner or later. You've lost your identity of certainty on how to
educate your kids and you simply go with flow because you've got a strong
tendency to mimic other Chinese parents' education styles; you subconsciously
want your kids to be number one in their schools respectively, but there can
be only one student who gets ranked number one in a school. Then you truly
believe in this land of nothing impossible, even a C student can someday make
it to the President of the United States—you better bet this isn't just your
wishful thinking, and you know many corporate CEOs who are making fast bucks
hand over fist are simply college or high-school drop-outs (case in point:
Microsoft’s Bill Gates or Oracle’s Larry Allison etc.). So why bother
pushing your kids so hard on their education? Can't you just let it rip?
You're desperately trapped in another bubble in which your eyes are blurred by
a fuzzy value system where everything sells yet clashes.

Now, let yourself admit you’re hopelessly and timelessly trapped on this
land, forever exotic to you.
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2001-10-12 -04:00
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