Wednesday, 1 January 2020

My New Year resolution is to stay alive and well

2019 has been a tough year, the toughest thus far I must say. And because I'm extremely exhausted - imagine a person who has just completed a full marathon without prior training - I will cut to the chase.

I came back from the UK in August 2018 after completing my masters and by the end of the year, I was already worn by the change in pace of life, expectations from others and my own ambitions. On 1 Jan 2019, I wrote about how I was tired of putting on a facade that I've got everything under control and wanted to be true to myself.

2019 has come and gone and the truth is, I think I've walked a full circle and am back at the exact same spot where I started. I'm not talking about my career and personal development - these are things that I have invested a lot of time and effort in and while it has paid off, I realised they do not define the core of who I am as a person. The fact that I'm still as bewildered as before attests to that.

Instead, I think I'm talking about finding myself. How can I be 'true to myself' when I don't know what it means to 'be myself'? For some people, it is clear as sky. They know exactly what they want in life. Perhaps it is starting a family, or owning a successful business, or fighting for a cause that they passionately believe in. For me, truth be told, I really do not have a clue. And I think many other young people are experiencing the same thing as I am, and why mental health has been such a prevalent topic these days.

While one's career and personal development are important, I have found that they are peripheral in one's pursuit of happiness. According to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, once safety and security, and a healthy self-esteem that stems from personal accomplishments, are attained, a human being would strive for self-actualisation, which is to achieve one's full potential. At the end of day, what gives life meaning, I believe, is the ability to be the best versions of ourselves. And that varies from person to person, be it being the best mother you can be to your child, the best soldier to your country, the best partner to your spouse or someone who chooses to live for him or herself.

Reflecting on 2019 has made me realise what our issue is. We spend all our time investing in our careers and personal development, and trying to achieve 'self-actualisation' without ever pausing to think what it is that truly makes us happy who we are. The result is that we spend an entire life fighting for something we have never really wanted.

While I pledge to continue doing my best for my country, my organisation, the people around me and myself, I hope that I, and everyone else who is reading this, will not compromise on constantly finding yourself in the midst of the hustle and bustle of life. And keep reflecting on whether what you're fighting for is indeed worth it, especially if it is taking a toll on your mental well-being.

So, instead of announcing all the lofty aspirations that I (inevitably) might have, I'm proud to say that my ultimate New Year resolution for 2020 is to stay alive and well!

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