As recently as 3 years ago, if you asked me what my biggest fear was, I’d tell you,
“Leading a mediocre life.”
I feared being average and normal, or having a life that wasn’t exceptional, a life that made no difference to anyone. Where no one would feel the loss of my existence.
I was brought up like many children in competitive, fast-paced Singapore to be an achiever. Our self-worth was tied closely to how well you do in school, how successful you are in your career and later on in life. We swim against that constant toxic tide of material and social comparison. It’s unfortunate, but a sad reality for many of us here.
Today, I still want to have a life that is full of love and empathy for others. I still want to make a difference and be of service to the world in many aspects of my life. But I no longer fear the mediocre or mundane. In fact, I’ve learnt to find beauty in it. And here’s why.
Over time, I’ve come to realise that none of us have to get sucked into that vicious cycle of endless comparison. There is no need to join the rat race. Don’t even sign up for it! And more importantly, there is nothing wrong with being average. This is not to say we don’t try in all ways to be the best person we can possibly be. But rather, understand that it is often the people who find contentment in whatever little they have that are the most fulfilled and happy.
Striking a balance between self-improvement and contentment is one of the most challenging things I’ve been trying to work on. I still find myself recalibrating the scale every day. But as I get older and hopefully wiser, I realise chasing a moving target is a curse that satisfies no one and leaves you more empty than when you began. This doesn’t just apply to one’s career, but also the standard of living and luxury you pursue, as well as who you choose as a life partner. There will always be someone more attractive out there, better opportunities, bigger luxuries. It’s a big world! But until we learn to be still and content, we will chase forever. It never ends. And isn’t that an exhausting way to live?
Today, I appreciate every single one of my tiny achievements and feel grateful for them. I no longer relentlessly pursue the next milestone, but instead wholeheartedly enjoy what I have and prepare myself for opportunities that might soon present itself. Meanwhile, I feel more at peace, free, and most importantly, happy with who I am and what I have than ever before.
And that is, in my opinion, the most precious feeling in the world. I hope you feel the same.