Chinese New Year is one of the times when you see a lot of the relatives that you don’t normally often see. I like my relatives (in general), and I know they care about me, but one of the ways they show that they care is by prying into my life.

I’m an open book. I don’t have many secrets (if any at all), and I don’t mind telling people what they want to know. However, I do have questions that don’t like to receive, and there’s this one question in particular that always comes up. Many people know that my high school dream was to become a pilot. These people also know that I’m now on my way to becoming an airline engineer. That creates the question: “Did you give up on your pilot dream?

First of all, I hate that question. It makes me feel that my career is ‘subpar’ to piloting. Sure, the average income of an engineer is probably less than that of a pilot. Some people also make the argument that pilots have the whole suit and uniform thing that makes them look a heck of a lot cooler. However, my job as an aerospace engineer is just as respectable as a pilot. We know the theory behind every aircraft system, while a pilot knows exactly which button does what in the cockpit. Our jobs are different; it’s not like an engineer is a ‘failed pilot’. We each have our different responsibilities, but we deserve the same respect and credit for our duties.

Despite it being a bad and unfair question, I’ll still give you a fair answer. I ask myself this every now and then too, and the conclusion that I’ve come to is this. If it costed me nothing to be a pilot – if someone were standing in front of me right now and asked to hire me and train me to become at pilot at none of my expense – then yes, I would take it. But the truth is, I do not love piloting enough to be a pilot. At least, not for now. The years of studying, hard work, and competition against people from all around the world, just for a spot in a cadet program that would put you behind another few years while you endure school all over again. If it is flying that I love, then I can find myself on a plane any time as a passenger. If it is vacationing that I love, then that is by no means a good reason to become a pilot. No, I am not being bitter. This is just my personal opinion speaking, and deciding that it’s not worth it to me.

However, what I do love is airplanes. I chose aerospace engineering because of this. I enjoy watching planes fly and understanding about exactly how they work, because they are such complicated and yet elegant technology. It gives me passion to go to work every day and walk along the noisy apron of aircraft. I hope you know, just because I am not working towards my way of becoming a pilot does not mean I settled for anything less. If there’s anything you should know about me, it is that I work towards my goals and I never settle. When I do settle, that’s because the hard work isn’t worthwhile and the achievement is not something that I truly want. It is not because I am unable to achieve it.

But what I really want to say is, you’re asking the wrong question. As a wise person once said:

Nothing is ever easy. But life isn’t about what’s easy. It’s about what’s worth your while.

(Oh wait, I think that wise person might be me?)

I hope this quote helps you shape your question the next time you want to ask me about my career, or maybe even some inspiration when you’re deciding what you want to do with your life. No, I did not give up on piloting. I simply found a different path that is more worthwhile.

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