Upon Embracing My Future: The Certainty of Uncertainties

If you are going to ask me about my future plans or your future plans, read this first!

Graduation is supposed to be a time of celebration and excitement for what’s to come, but for me, it’s been a source of anxiety and uncertainty. As the countdown to my July graduation draws closer, I’m bombarded with questions from friends and family about my plans for the future. For those who have not known about my plans to do a Master’s programme, they keep asking about the institutes where I want to teach. Yea, they suppose I will graduate and become an EFL teacher. Explicable! For others who have been informed about my plan for further study, they are concerned about what comes after that. Regardless, all the questions boil down to plans, and future. That’s enough to make my head spin, and for me, it’s been a constant battle to quiet the doubts and fears that creep in. 

I was recently privileged to attend Language Teaching and Learning Today 2023, and one speech that stood out to me was delivered by Professor Andy Gao, on Agency in Language Education. His words resonated deeply with me, particularly when he spoke about his evolving perception of the world to set the context for his conceptualisation of agency. As a teenager, he was taught to see the future as a bright and promising place, but now, he acknowledges the reality of a complex world full of uncertainties. This realisation is not unique, especially in light of the recent pandemic and the rise of AI technologies. Amidst the chaos and confusion, Professor Gao stressed the importance of being proactive and taking action on our ideas in a timely manner. He emphasised that if we wait too long (let’s say four or five years) to pursue our ideas, they may become outdated in the fast-changing world we live in before they are truly well-constructed. As I sat there listening to his words, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of urgency and a twinge of intimidation. The world is changing at an unprecedented pace, and those who are unprepared may find themselves left behind. 

Sometimes, this world, in its own changing course, has a funny way of taking us down unexpected paths. Just two years ago, I was filled with a deep-seated hatred for linguistics. I saw it as a realm that was completely out of my reach, and all the courses, exercises, papers and discussions with my friends only confirmed my fears. I swore to myself and to those closest to me that I WOULD NEVER PURSUE A MASTER’S DEGREE IN APPLIED LINGUISTICS – it was simply too arduous and beyond my abilities. However, as fate would have it, things took an unexpected turn. One year ago, I found myself in Contrastive Analysis and Discourse Analysis courses, starting with tons of concerns about what the future held. Gradually, things got brighter and I’m now quite more confident to claim: I’M GOING TO PURSUE A MASTER’S DEGREE IN EITHER APPLIED LINGUISTICS OR DISCOURSE STUDIES. The truth is, I still see Phonetics, Phonology and Morphology as uncharted territories that I may never be able to fully grasp. It sounds like a desperate situation, but there’s more to the story. Through my coursework, I’ve discovered that linguistics has much more to offer than just those subjects I struggle with. I may not be able to walk through certain doors, but I’ve found other tunnels that leads to the world of linguistics – discourse and pragmatics.

The world is constantly evolving, and so am I. I believe, however, it’s not just me. I realised this when I spoke to some university lecturers about the career paths I could expect in the future. One of them reminisced, “Back in my Master’s programme, AI was something alien. But now, it’s everywhere.” As the conversation went on, it became clear to me that the most important skills we learn at universities are not necessarily specific to a certain job or field. Rather, it’s our ability to adapt to new situations that truly sets us apart. These transferable skills are invaluable in a world that’s constantly changing, and I’m excited to see where they’ll take me in the years to come.

As for those who ask me what job I will have, I have to admit that I’ve been terrible at predicting my own path. Yea, I’ve always got something in mind, about my desires and expectations. Truly, however, I can’t tell whether they will always be there, in my mind. As I reflect on my journey, I am reminded that learning is about exploration, not knowing the future. I can’t predict what I will do or offer to the world, but I’m excited to find out. If you’re that curious about my career, come along for the ride and witness the unpredictable twists and turns. After all, life is not a five-year plan that I can predict and control in a five-minute conversation. 

Similarly, if you ask me for any advice on your future path, the only thing I will say is that the future is uncertain and full of opportunities that we cannot predict. So if you’re considering pursuing higher education for a specific job, think again. Don’t limit yourself by trying to predict the unpredictable. Embrace the unknown and trust that life will bring you where you need to be. Here’s to the future – uncertain, unpredictable, and full of endless possibilities. Let’s make the most of it, and see where it takes us.

P.S. Big ups to ChatGPT for the assist on this story!

2 responses to “Upon Embracing My Future: The Certainty of Uncertainties”

  1. You always be my inspiration in my decision about my career path.


    1. That’s lovely to hear. I hope you can always find joys in what you do!


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