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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Nanyang Tech chapter.

The death of the self is one that is not often talked about. The skeletons in your closet that you like to avoid and rather not talk about. The forgotten tears on your pillow and the moments you wished you stood up for yourself, or spoke up for your needs. There is always this part of us that we have kept hidden from the world. Our best selves, which we put at the backseat when we encounter others, especially when one is still in survival mode. As a result, it  won’t bring us to the best experiences meant for us, or bring about the people that are truly a reflection of who we are. How can we then put our best foot forward? This article is inspired by my past, where, despite knowing how I could have done better for myself, I didn’t do so simply because I was just operating based on what I knew best back then.

I lost my voice when I was in secondary school, stayed in a CCA that I hated and never felt that I belonged to, and had no like-minded people around me. I was in an environment full of Sensors, and  as an Intuitive, they couldn’t understand why I couldn’t integrate with them or how I couldn’t be as aware as them of the environment while we were out in the field when we had to do outdoor rehearsals. Looking back years later, I should have spoken up for myself to the teachers, and let them know that I was not cut out for this environment. I always thought I was stuck in the circumstance, and that I did not have a choice because I appealed into the school, through my musical merits, hence I’m obligated to stay in the CCA. However, there is always a choice no matter how impossible it seems. But no one taught me how to voice it out. Not even my parents. There is this hidden acronym, A.S.K, on the word “Ask” which not many people know about.  It stands for:

Ask and you shall receive

Seek and you shall find

Knock and it shall be open

Many of us grow up not knowing how to ask for our needs, let alone let others know when we want something. In an Asian society, especially in a conservative one, we are conditioned to prioritising others before ourselves. Consequently, our needs and wants tend to take a backseat in our lives to our detriment. Are we too selfless? Should we be more selfish? This is one of the issues we face in present day society, and why the older generation might deem us as more selfish. The ability to think of what’s best for ourselves, and put it into action, would sometimes mean letting down the people close to you (even well-meaning family members). Staying in the ‘others before self’ value system would mean overlooking yourself in terms of who you actually are, what you would like to pursue in all your endeavours, and that would lead to living an inauthentic life, as you forgo the best possible life you could have lived for yourself. 

If you could describe yourself, what would your highest self look like?  Would neglecting your wants and needs help you in becoming that person? If the answer is no, then the next time you should ask yourself, that if you were to continue to shun yourself again and again from the world without articulating your most honest, raw, and authentic point of view, are you being fair to yourself? Are you doing yourself right? How can you expand on becoming your highest self?  How does one do it without taking the necessary steps to build the capacity for rejection and knowing one’s self-worth, and to speak up for their unborn self, regardless of the outcome? The unborn self refers to the self that could have been, but was not truly realised because you were not truthful to yourself. 

At the end of the day, the first step to the true beginning of your life will come from the ability to let go of the past and move towards a more well-intentioned future. Sometimes all we need is a few seconds of bravery to speak up and make the change for ourselves, and redirect our life to the way we want it to be and not one that is dictated by the expectations and unfulfilled desires of others. 

Aline Ang

Nanyang Tech '24

Hoping to be the change for a better world... Email: enilaangjialin@gmail.com Insta: @lovethyself.lin