I mentioned that a friend of mine passed away earlier this year. I thought of her recently, and decided I was going to talk a little about her here.
Bunny was an ex-classmate, back when we were 17 and the most imminent things on our minds were trying not to fail our tests and getting enough sleep. Sometimes we even think about skipping classes and not getting caught for it. (Yes, back then we had the weight of the universe on our shoulders.)
We nicknamed her "Bunny" -- which might give you an idea of the kind of warm, fuzzy feelings we have for her. But most of all, we call her Bunny, because she can be something of a silly bunny at times. She was one of those clueless girls that you love in spite yourself, even as you keep pulling pranks on her relentlessly -- because she's so such an easy target.
A small group of us from the class stayed in touch. We went to each other's weddings, watched some of us become parents. We were there when Bunny met her boyfriend (later her husband) Wei, in the university. After graduation she joined a bank doing sales where she was paid well. A few years later, Bunny left that well-paying job to pursue a Masters in International Relations in Australia. When questioned about it, Bunny explained she didn't really know what International Relations was about -- it just sounded interesting.
After her Masters, Bunny worked as a teacher in a kindergarten for international students, before she went on to teach in one of the most prestigious all-girls school in the country. She never made as much money as her first job though.
When she talked about her somewhat dramatic career change, she explained: Back in her first job with the bank, you have sales targets, and the competition and pressure is immense. It's a very result-oriented field, and sometimes to close the deal, you may need to employ certain ethically questionable tactics. There's also the backstabbing between colleagues: the person sitting across from you might just steal your clients from under your nose. After a while, you start to wonder if you ought to do the same. She did not like the kind of person she was turning into.
"Money is not the most important thing," Bunny had said simply.
Some might argue if she had been a stronger person, she might have found a way to meet her sales targets without compromising her integrity -- I think that is missing the point. Bunny found herself changing into someone she didn't like. She had the self-awareness to stop before she truly lost herself. She knew what was important to her -- and was bold enough to walk away from the kind of income and lifestyle that many would find difficult to let go. Perhaps our Bunny was never as clueless as she pretended to be.
We loved that little silly bunny.