Dear Class of 1994,
I regret to announce my resignation as “Most Likely to Succeed.” Nearly twenty years since the senior superlative was announced in our yearbook, it’s clear that I’ve fallen short of your expectations. Meanwhile, “Most Popular” Jennifer B. recently received 44 happy birthday wishes on her Facebook timeline.
In these uncertain times, there is talk of different definitions of what it means to succeed: loving your job regardless of financial reward, having a family, attaining internal peace. But as eighteen-year-olds in rural Florida, we saw only one road to success: amassing status and wealth—and/or orange grove acreage.
I understand the hope you had in me. I was part of the Academic Team. I drove a new Ford Mustang, surely the first of many sports cars. I swept the math and science awards. But if you knew the truth, you would have seen the warning signs.
I joined the Academic Team because of a girl. The Mustang was the prize for the endless nagging of my father, Dr. Corpus. And of course I won the math and science awards: I was the only Asian in our class.
I valued my position as our standard bearer over the last two decades. I tried to make you proud, but what transpired instead is what I refer to as “The Curious Career of Benjamin Button.”
I started strong by earning a degree in engineering (with honors). However, one of the last things I learned in college was that my field was remarkably dull, so I got a job with the university. My position was Computer Support Analyst, abbreviated in the system as Comp Supp Anal.
Being a Comp Supp Anal gave me ten years of health insurance and a fair workload, but I became convinced my true calling was in New York City. I moved to NYC—the first of us to do so—and eventually found work as an office manager for a non-profit, answering phones and ordering toner cartridges with my B.S. in engineering (with honors).
A year later, I was promoted to manage social media and write. Mrs. Shayman always said I should be a writer. I felt like I found my calling, but by the next year, I found myself laid off.
When I couldn’t land another job, I applied to be a marketing intern for a thriving social media company. I was hired, earning minimum wage and the unofficial title of Very Senior Social Media Intern at the age of 34. Getting paid the least amount of money allowed by law helps you reconsider your likelihood of succeeding. I handed out buttons and balloons at craft fairs. I engaged tourists in Times Square to sign them up for tours. My fellow interns, all college-aged, looked to me as a father figure, likely because I had two children.
The three-month internship eventually led to freelance writing work. I enjoy freelancing, as it allows me the flexibility to spend hours everyday wondering what to do with my life.
I am sorry to let you down, especially you doctors, lawyers and moguls who were snubbed by my selection. Perhaps we can provide closure with a “Who Actually Succeeded” award at next year’s reunion. Feel free to contact me with any ideas or volunteer opportunities in your mailroom.