Here's what I've learnt from Madam Halimah about pursuing passion as a modern woman in today's ever-changing world.
Less than a month into her term, President Halimah Yacob is proving that she’s a president with the heart of a citizen. Over the weekend, she gamely sat down with a group of youths for a dialogue session organised by the National Youth Council.
I was present, seated at the second row too, and I picked up a few tips to navigate career aspirations and family life. Here is some advice from our president, for young Singaporeans.
1. Pursue your passions…pragmatically
When asked about her childhood aspirations, Madam Halimah mentioned that the times were different when she was young.
Her focus was to “quickly finish my education, get a job, take care of myself and my mother.” Without knowing where life might take her, she ended up achieving so much more than she expected.
Times have changed since the “work or starve” era. In today’s vibrant world of technology and choices, youths are seeking to fulfill their passions, not only their responsibilities.
The opportunities given to the youths of today are abundant, but the “willingness to let go” is something that parents might struggle with, pushing for their children to pursue stable degrees instead.
Madam Halimah said it is important for youths to talk to their parents about the passions they want to pursue, rather than be risk-averse and end up stuck in a miserable job.
Of course there was a caveat – Madam Halimah reminded youths to “pursue passion with pragmatism”, or in other words, follow a passion “that can help you earn money”.
2. Young mothers, don’t feel guilty about returning to work
Madam Halimah exuded warmth from the way she had the whole room cackling with laughter, and the loving tone she held when speaking about the importance of family.
The #ladyprez shared about the struggles of modern women torn between career and family. While the mother of five shared how nothing beat setting aside time for her children, she reminded young mothers not to succumb to the guilt of leaving house to go to work.
“It is unrealistic to expect women to give up their career, their jobs, what they love doing, and what they go to school for,” she said.
Madam Halimah shared that the key to ensuring a well-balanced career and family life is to “develop a support system through families”.
The struggles of chasing career aspirations and balancing societal expectations are often on my mind as I inch toward womanhood. It is thus comforting to know that these struggles and fears are shared by many others, including our dear Madam Halimah.
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