My post might be a little heavy for a beautiful Friday morning so I’m gonna start by sharing some photos of my recent work wear. I’m loving this simple but sturdy navy dress with billowy sleeves from Alexander McQueen.
We’ve all grown up learning that certain models of success are what we need to strive after. I still remember how the huge external family on my maternal side would gather every Chinese New Year to compare new jewellery, children’s school grades or new car purchases. “Having Face” was important and humble brags are normal in the typical asian hierarchy. I hated it then and I still hate it now. It made people categorized people and only the “right” achievements would be validated. It is possibly the reason why I’m never close to a few of my cousins. If you are better than them, their envy (driven by their parent’s comparison) will make them detest you and if you are worse than them, well, they shouldn’t be hanging out with you of course. By contrast, my paternal side of the family seemed more cohesive and less self absorbed while I was growing up but that didn’t mean that they didn’t encourage me to be successful by studying hard and earning more money.
When such values are indirectly ingrained from childhood, it’s only natural that we continue to strive for the society’s version of success. Whether it’s climbing up the corporate ladder, acquiring material possessions, or getting married and having kids, we often don’t take the time to assess if these achievements are what will truly make us fulfilled. What is right for one person may not be right for another. For the better half of my life (to date), I’ve worked hard and in many ways gained both the recognition and success I was encouraged to achieve. Still, that is never enough isn’t it. If you have wealth, you want fame. If you have fame, you want power. And if you have all three, you want even more. As the chinese saying goes “一山还有一山高” (there will always be another higher mountain) and you will never live up to the expectations of what you can or should achieve in the eyes of others.
By identifying and honoring your unique values and the passions that drive your happiness, you can create your own definition of success that is fulfilling for your life. Coming to a strange crossroad in my own personal life, I’m seeing things a lot differently now. Maybe it’s just a part and parcel of the aging process but I’m simply content to live my life in a way that makes me smile everyday. If close friends and family can love me regardless of my life choices and quantifiable success, I’m delighted to share my love and achievements around. Should they feel resentment for my choices, I won’t blame them either but it is no longer a burden I carry on my back. To clarify, I’m not against the pursuit of wealth or fame or power for anyone. I just feel that anything you pursue have to be on your terms, gain through honorable means and gives you personal fulfilment in the process. Don’t let the rest of the world bully you in doing what they think is right for you. After all, you are the only one who has to live your life.
Dare to be great, to be different and to work for what makes your life worth living. Thanks for reading. TGIF.