Thursday, December 22, 2011

To fly or not to fly, that is the question

It all started as an innocent tryout, just for the fun of it.
I have never thought of myself as a pilot, and eventhough the Hong Kong drama 冲上云霄 was really cool and everything, I have only imagined myself for a split second when the drama was shown on NTV7, and that is it.
Never in my life have I imagined flying as a career, as a path of this unknown life.

After form 5, life was miserable. Not because of how it went, but because of what it resembled.
I had always imagined going some where after form 5, places like matriculation colleges to continue my IPTA expectations, or some other places like landing a scholarship to a private university where I can officially be a geek, or even better is to land something bigger like a scholarship to overseas. That would be a quite, dream come true. Very obviously, I failed in all of those and here I am typing all away still in my Batu Caves house, the breeze blowing on my oily face and I sit like a boss on my IKEA.
I officially ditched secondary high school by attending 2 weeks of Chong Hwa Form 6 for UTAR Foundation in Science. That time, I understand that I did not have the capacity to endure another excruciating 2 years at Chong Hwa, not unless I give up my pride. At that time, I was determined to get out of there, somewhere, anywhere. UTAR isn't too bad: it's a university and it offers FULL tuition waiver based on combined number of As. How I hoped other universities offer this kind of meritocracy too.

I must thank Ming Hor for somehow inspired and encouraged me to apply to States universities. Because of his little encouragement, I handed in at least 10 more scholarships to other private(local) universities too(I'm saving the states stuff to a later post). Needless to say, I was not even replied by most of them, except INTI who called me up and said no. You can't say that I'm blindly hopeful, because I was not. I expected none, and I am happy to even hear from them. For me, trying is just for the sake of trying, because it would be stupid not to try. I am truly grateful for that little push, as weird as it may seems, I actually enjoyed the process of applying. How great did I feel when I realize that I can easily make it to that school if I have the mullah, and was only denied because I could not afford it. I was even grateful for UTAR foundation's rigorous academic, albeit pale in comparison with A levels and STPM(duh?), to prove that I still have a little of brains to study. Hey suckers, I can fucking score if I want to(I know it's too late. sigh.). AirAsia? this was way earlier on December 2010.

Then suddenly after 3 months of silence, AirAsia surprised me with the tests and interviews and assessments. I do not feel like having a chance, because I was not competing with high school leavers, the players consist of working adults, graduate students and a hell lot of aviation enthusiasts. Heck, I did not even know Airbus and Boeing are actually different companies! See, this is how unprepared I am. Before going to the first interview and after the notification of the first test, I reluctantly tried out for flight simulation. I did buy a joystick though! With a lot of zeal, I installed the flight simulation software(of course it's pirated) and even let my mum played it! It was fun, I must admit. WAS(so now you see how the post is going).

Even reaching the last stage, I was seriously hesitant about being accepted. I mean, I wear a spec, flown badly in the simulation, have no particular interest on aviation, and albeit talked like a boss, was never imagined in a pilot tuxedo. When doing the interview, everyone was sooooooo dammmmnnn passionate about flying. Have you heard of that new engine bla bla bla? Do you know they bought like 400 airplanes bla bla bla( I know about this though haha!)? So how many hours have you clocked in bla bla bla? OK lah I'm exaggerating a bit, but they really are more passionate than I am, or at least they pretend like they do. Hey, at that time I was suddenly an aviation geek too!

Receiving the offer was a hell of a big shock.
Seriously if that offer came in like 1 month earlier, it would have changed the whole course of my life and I'm now in Kota Bharu, Kelantan. But it didn't.
Okay, I did think about what to do if I got the offer, in my showers. You know, where I make my life decisions. That time, I was telling myself "You won't get it, and if you do, consider about it only after getting that offer. You will have the luxury of choice.". My point is life is never to think about what to do after you get some great offers or good stuff, but rather try to get it and think later. Holds true for everything that has no risks. Go and fight for the luxury of choice, rather than hallucinating the success.

I went to the briefing. I need to pay 240k Ringgit. I need to be bonded for 4 years after 2 years of academy. I will earn a lot compared to my peers. I have no job securities to worry. By 30, I will be captain and earn so much I will have to file in tax. I will be free when I'm 26, or more accurately 30 when I will realistically able to repay every freaking loan after coasting through my way to captain-ship luxuriously, enviable.

Every single person wanted me to be that successful guy. Mum was so excited she told everyone in Kampung. Aunt called up and congratulate me. Hands were shaken and gazes of awe was shone upon. To be frank, I enjoyed it for a while then. I do have a urge to take up the offer and just live my life like a pilot. I can make my mum so proud she can brag in front of those realistic relatives who compares only success by money and money solely. I can at last get away from KL, to stay alone on my own at a very very nice hostel with friends. I can stop worrying about my pocket money: I can buy chatime for my whole class, belanja TGIF everyday and wear posh Topshop. Dad can then proudly tell his friends that he has a pilot son who flies around the globe! Lastly, I can stare at pretty air stewardess til I'm sick of them.

It was THE rational move. Which fuck head would give up that 1 in a freaking motherfucker gazillion chance?!
If you know me well, I am only partially rational in the inside.
I gave myself an allowance of a week to think it through.
That week, I asked a lot of people. I asked myself countless times, pondering on this issue every second of it. I think about it when I shit, when I eat, when I sleep.
A lot, I mean 99.5% of people told me to just go for it. I can always pick up a degree later and start my investment when I have saved enough money. The job is so lucrative I can easily earn millions after 30s. I graduate nearly double of what my dad earns before he retired.
But that was never the path I have in mind. I did not imagine my life so mundane, even though luxurious and glamorous to a certain extend.
I asked myself, what about overseas studying? They say I will have so much money I can fly every month for vacation. And I would be bored to fly because I would be flying everyday every where then. But they don't get what I want! I don't want to just go some place and visit. I don't want to go there to just watch and then come back. I long the culture immersion. I crave their culture and practice. I want to experience living as not a Malaysian. Then come back Malaysia. I just want to go there and study. Not work not travel, study. It is not the same, for me it isn't.

Then I asked myself, what about the entrepreneur/business spirit inside of you? They say you can do business as a pilot too, and you will have a lot of capital by then. Business can't work without money you know, they mocked. And it's hard to do business! You will most definitely fail. At least as a pilot you earn so comfortably and by then you wouldn't want to earn more through business because you would have had so much money already!
But that was not what I have in mind. Entrepreneurship is a fun thing. I want to be an entrepreneur. I want to be like Tony Fernandez, not work under him. I want to be proud as a technopreneur, I want to TRY a startup, I want to feel the urge to work. I want to work 24/7! I am stupid, I favor working nonstop for what I love rather than working very little and earn a lot. Entrepreneurship is something I want to do for life, if I can. I enjoy the front page glamour as someone who tried to make a difference, not fly a plane.

The most important question is definitely - can I do all that while still being a pilot? Get the best out of both worlds?

The clear cut question is I can, when I am 30 years old. I will be free to do what I can when I reach that age, and have a lot of money to do so too.
But I don't want to. I am 20 now, I can start anything, any projects I want now, with no worries. I can think of any weird ideas, and find a bunch of mates to get it done. I can afford to FAIL.
If I start when I am 30, I worry that the fire in me will have died. I worry I will have a lot of burdens like parents, wive, kids and stuff that I cannot afford to give up. 30, I worry I will be unable to put down my secure job and jump into the fire pithole of insecurity. I will have so much to worry about rather than now. I can fail and start all over again when I'm 21. I can fail and start all over again when I'm 22. I can fail and start all over again when I'm 25. I can fail and start all over again when I'm 28. But 30 is another league of it's own. It means time for settlement, and time for shit to get serious. I cannot afford anything except a lot of materialistic hunger. In short, I cannot afford to FAIL.

The easiest way is to flip a coin. I did not do so, because I already knew what would happen if I did. If I be a pilot, I cannot live with the question of whether I can make it if I used the 10 years of my life to try things out. But if I go on with what I have now, I will not have that question. I know the life of a pilot already! I know how I will live that aviation career if I take the offer.
Hong Lee says I cannot regret any decisions. I will, if I take up the offer.
So in short, I gave up a whole future of financial stability for 10 years worth of try outs. Try outs to see if I can one day strike big, one day reach what I want.

OK now you can start the bashing like everyone else when they hear my decision.
Stupid, impractical, naive, insane, disillusioned.

In the end, I realized even if I fail, I can live the life of a normal engineer.
I love computers since young, affected by my eldest brother.
When I asked him to put himself in my shoe, he said he liked computer engineering since day one, and has never changed. He never gave me a clear answer, but I think I know already.
Do what you love, and only if you can't survive, resort to love what you do.
I'm pretty sure I can earn decently, maybe not as much as a pilot, maybe just a quarter of it or less, but I'm contented. I am satisfied with the notion of able to fend off money for dream. Not many have the courage to do so, and I am proud of myself.

To add a spice of cockiness:
All the recipients of the AirAsia Cadet Pilot offer was really, really, really good. There's a France scholar who went there for 8 years; a JPA US-bound scholar who gave up his offer to come to this; a Kings Abdullah scholar who went to UK to study for 5 years and was just back; a matriculation college guy who knows CheeTeck, and trust me he is damn smart too; a practicing engineer and another Nottingham-graduated engineer in the finance field; a male flight attendant who looks like Vin Diesel; and also a SPM leaver who got really awesome result too, I presumed.
I was the only one who rejected the offer. ;)

Can't wait til 10 years later when somebody makes the other half part, where the cereal guy throws up.

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