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Work&Money: what are you working for?

Have you ever felt so unsure of yourself? Feeling like every single day that you are spending is spent in a way that is somewhat… pointless.

I’m currently working on a profile article of a young Thai actress. She is my age, twenty-two. She was born into a (slightly almost) poor family. Her mom used to work really hard, but now she doesn’t have to anymore. She worked really hard to get into the acting industry. She participated in all sorts of competitions from dancing, singing, to acting, since she was merely four. And it eventually paid off. She got into a Thai reality television singing competition when she was just 16.

The 22-year-old actress has been the main source of income for her family ever since. She paid for her own education since she was in high school. She was able to buy a condo in the center of Bangkok on her own, and now she is about to buy a car as soon as she gets her driver license.

She works up to 16 hours daily. Although she has to work really hard and gave up her high school life for starring in many series and dramas, she said it is worth it no matter what because it is her dream and ultimate passion. She is driven by the love and caring of her mom, and the hope of having her family lives well.

As I was interviewing her, I felt like my life has been somewhat easy and it makes me feel so afraid that I might not be able to satisfy my parents. Or even myself. I know my parents would say they want nothing but seeing me live happily. I know we should be satisfied and gratified for whatever we have for our present-selves. But I also want my parents to be able to brag about me to others. I want them to be able to show off the car I bought for them with my own money. I want them to be able to tell their friends how successful I have become. I guess that is my ultimate goal.

I honestly am utterly envious of people who get to work since they were teenagers. I‘m envy their working experiences that I couldn’t just ride a time machine to get some. I might sound like a brag-bitch now that I’m about to tell you a bit of how my life has been. I never had to work to pay for school or any silly things I want. I was born into a family that is capable of buying me anything that I want and need. I have a credit card and I have a car that is always filled with gas paid by my dad.

Extremely fabulous how that sounds.

I know. I know. Now you are probably thinking ‘Hey kiddo, trust me it’s better to not work and have the money’ Yes, I know it’s better. The reason why I can study wherever and whatever I want is because of what my parents had been through in their youth. My mom and dad had to work real hard to pay for their schools. They never got what they wanted. They could barely get what they need.

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I remember my dad used to tell me how much he liked to sleep over at his friend’s home because whenever they had dinner, they would ask him to join, which means my dad would get to eat something nice for free. I think he feels it was pathetic and he was ashamed of it, so he often tells me and my sisters this story. I think it’s also because not only that it now seems quite amusing for him but also that it always reminds him of how poor he was, and how it makes him gratify and appreciate all the things he could now easily have.

My parents always emphasize how they had to work, save money, and study well to get what they need; foods, residence, and clothes.

Once when I was little, I asked my mom for a new set of paper dolls (when I already had tons of them), my mom rejected me with a story of her school life, which has scared my brain for life. When she was about seven or eight years old, she had to save money for novels and comic books. And she had to hide them under her bed so that my grandma wouldn’t know she spent the money on books. My grandma used to prioritize working over education. My grandma hated books, but she wanted my mom to become a doctor. Ironic, isn’t it.

Nonetheless, my mom said when grandma eventually found her hidden books, grandma sold it all and spanked her as if she was a stray dog stealing food.

But it had pushed my mom to get into the best art school in Thailand (my grandma wasn’t happy about it). My mom was a fine art student. During her university life, she had to spend a lot of money monthly for her artistic stuffs, papers, brushes, paints…. Whatever, I don’t really know but I do know they are freaking expensive. As my grandma hated every jobs that are not relevant to the government, medical, science, and math… (All the stuff I didn’t apply for), she sent my mom merely a tiny bit of coins that are merely enough for enrolling in each course. So my mom had to work to pay for other things; apartment, food, clothes… etc.

My mom said there are times that she were unable earn enough for the month. She had to decide whether she should spend her last few coins on a stick of four pieces of meatballs for dinner or on a bus ride to get back to her dorm. And if she paid for both, she wouldn’t have enough money for school.

Now, I might get things I want by merely maintaining my grade, doing my best at what I have to do, and remaining as a good daughter, but the way I currently live, the way my life has moved forward is always pushed by my family’s money. Without it, I’d be nowhere. I wouldn’t be studying in the top university with the GPA above 3.5.

I know it is their ultimate goal to have their children live comfortably, study well, and able to buy whatever is needed for education. They have succeeded it. That is how my sisters and I have lived our lives.

And it makes me feel so unsure of myself because I have zero experience of working to earn money. I’m truly jealous for those western kids who were culturally forced to work during their teen years. In Thailand, in the society I live in, we don’t have to work. We study. We do our best at our job (study). And then we thrive to get the best job as a pay back from all the effort and money our parents poured for our education.

For me, what has driven me to love studying and put lots of effort into it is definitely my parents and the feelings after buying ‘material things’ Yes, true that life is not all about material things. It’s the matter of your feelings, families and friends. But man, honestly, for me it matters, especially when you get to enjoy the ‘material things’ with your family and friends. And as I ‘personally’ believe it is best when they come together, thus it does fucking matter.

I feel like those people who are happy with their present state of life and whatever they currently have. Those people are gorgeously awesome. However, I still prefer having material things to chase after and work hard for. But, of course be smart and don’t spend more than you have. I’m so grateful for having the parents who are deeply serious with teaching their children to be able of separating the needs and wants from each other. Yes, it’s horribly hard especially when you aren’t working to earn the money yourself yet.

Don’t get me wrong. I do know the value of every single thing I earn as I always trade things with grades. It is how my parents raise me. They don’t just hand me money to buy silly stuff I want. I work for it. But, as a 22-year-old who is still studying, exploring the world, and is so ready to work, I wish I could go back in time and tell my 15-year-old self to find any job to at least experience the effort to get the money (that is not from my own parents).

Jidapachu,

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