When I was a young child, I thought that graduating from school meant that I’ve completed ONE step in life successfully. But various experiences made me come to realize that every second in my life is technically a step … a step filled with uncertainties and an overwhelming number of things to be explored.
I would not describe my school journey as a “happy” one. I thought that I would leave my high school with so much knowledge and be in a position that I’m satisfied with. It turned out to be the complete opposite — I forgot a lot of things I learned and I still have goals left to pursue. Nightmares, rejections, failures, mistakes, misunderstandings, flaws, errors, inaccuracies … all these words that intimidate everyone spontaneously poured into my life throughout the years. It was hard to face these challenges and escape those painful feelings that happened as a result. But you owe it to these challenges that allow you to understand what it is to be human: that life is hard and filled with so many lessons to be learned. And I’m proud to share in this post the “cliché” things I’ve learned in the past 18 years of my life.
1. Having a permanent and early passion can be very dangerous
I wanted to become a doctor for four years because I thought that becoming a doctor would allow me to help others. I remember pasting anatomy pictures all over my computer case because I wanted to declare to the world that being a doctor is the only thing I can ever imagine doing in my life. I was basically a very close-minded person because no matter how many people told me to consider more options for myself, I stuck to the same passion,
DOCTOR DOCTOR DOCTOR.
But after allowing myself to completely explore my interests, I realized that every occupation can make a unique difference and that I should never restrict myself to only one passion.
As I opened my heart to investigating everything I had access to, I became passionate in a variety of things, from language to STEM to political science and so on…
Until this day, I still do not know what to do. The thought of deciding on a career right now still scares me. I just know that I want to do engineering because I want to make people feel safe, increase efficiency, watch technology progress, use physics, and invent something that can benefit humanity. But questions like what kind of engineering I really want to do or where I want to work in the future is still a mystery for me.
For a lot of people, especially Thai people, having a passion means that you are responsible, calculated, and mature. But that isn’t always the case, though. Although having an early and permanent passion can allow you to start before others, you might have to go through the burden of working on something you eventually don’t like. Sometimes, knowing what you want to do is good, but quickly deciding on what you want to be at such a young age can be harmful.
2. Perfectionism is ideal, but impossible to achieve
Every once in a while I would suffer from panic attacks or suddenly break down when I’m alone. I couldn’t find my own balance, for I feared that if I did too little, I could have missed the opportunities that I could have grasped along the way.
Our society is going through revolutions with social media as a part of everything. Scrolling through IG posts, spending countless hours on Facebook feeds, texting thousands of messages in line.. I suddenly became aware of what others are doing and how “happy” their lives are. As a result, I felt the need to present myself in a well-rounded manner, which resulted in my effort to try to do EVERYTHING at the same time.
Perfectionism is extremely dangerous because it leads you to make the wrong choices. Although, you’ll be able to recover and find a new starting point after you make the wrong choices, the experience isn’t pleasant at all. You will be wasting a lot of time, leaving the skills you could have picked up along the way, and become overwhelmed by exhaustion. It’s better for you to do one thing well than to do 100 things mediocrely.
3. Don’t underestimate the power of small details and common sense
As you grow up, you’ll realize that your failures most likely come from the things you didn’t bother to notice because you think it’s just “common sense” or something too cliché.
Think about studying for example. If you think about studying as just the work you do to review for a test, then you are completely falling behind. Studying can come in many forms, so it is extremely crucial to know what works best for you. As you break down the methods of studying, everything becomes blurry all of a sudden. How are you going to study to get the best score? How are you going to maximize your time and maintain your focus along the way? What’s the best way to take notes? All these questions are small details that you sometimes overlook and that’s why people perform differently when it comes to assessments.
You can compare it to a journey: you’ll be more more more more likely to trip over a pebble than a MOUNTAIN. Hence, it’s essential to keep making connections from one idea to another — to get a grip of all those small details. People have different experiences, so some explanations work for them and some don’t. Therefore, it’s significant to use the imaginative mind to form ideas that are meaningful and that will stick to you.
4. Networking and having friends are powerful
Believe it or not, for the past 18 years of my life I thought that making friends was a waste of my time. Often times I would sit in the teacher’s classroom before the next period begins, without having second thoughts on whether or not I should communicate with my friends or my acquaintances. I believed that everyone wanted to take advantage of me and talked to me because they just wanted something from me, causing me to shut the outside world out. Consequently, I was always the last one to know about something and I was the “forgotten classmate”, even though I was at my high school for 15 years.
Everyone has their own personal reasons. However, you shouldn’t let that take your positive spirit away from wanting to surround yourself with your loved ones. Success in life doesn’t only come from your grit and your growth mindset, but it also comes from the people that have helped you along the way.
People can help you with anything believe it or not, from recommending a good restaurant that you can eat at to introducing you to a colleague for a job offer. Just continue to keep in touch with everyone and ask them “how are you?” once in a while: they have more value than you think they do.
Every minute a person spends with you is a priceless present they give you and can’t have back. Be thankful when someone talks to you and learn how to say “sorry” to them when you let them down.
5. Your scars make your life more meaningful
Apart from aspiring for a world where discrimination doesn’t exist, I yearn for a world where everyone can learn to be vulnerable. Everyone has different experiences and it is their brokenness that really makes them who they are. From your brokenness, not only do you start to realize the value of those happy days, but you also start to define what happiness really is to you and how you are going to lead your life. When you share your brokenness to others, you lift the weight off from your shoulders and and also give the chance for someone to learn from you too.
Imagine how powerful it is when everybody exchanges their scars. It’s like giving each other a completely priceless present that can empower individuals to develop compassion and become enlightened. And when you do, you’ll open another lens that you’ve never looked through before. Most people tend to associate vulnerability as a form of weakness or stupidity, but it is actually a hidden strength that every human being can easily acquire with the right courage.
6. Compassion kindles eternal motivation
Compassion, compassion, compassion… a word with just 10 letters but carries so much more weight than it seems to. Practicing compassion for others is important because it subtly creates an inner strength for yourself.
So many times I hated my myself and hated my life. Sometimes I even wanted to end it. Especially the last years of my school journey, I spent my time crying everyday because I couldn’t find my own worth. But history and politics taught me that there are millions of people out there that are really discriminated, living in poverty, and tortured. There are so many people out there starving for food, fleeing from war, abused, isolated without anywhere to go… more than I can ever enumerate.
Everyone can choose to end their lives at any moment, but think about the slightest difference you can make if you continue living. And is it really fair for others that they can’t ask for help, but you can still complain about your materialistic life? Open your mind and look at the world with understanding. Life can be painful, but there are people living worse lives than you are.
Compassion also brings happiness that you can’t explain. When somebody hurts you, it’s good to meditate. Close your eyes and genuinely wish that they are happy. Compassion softens you to become another person that you never realize you can be. It makes you discover the sufferings of others and the simplicity of human life.
7. The purest form of happiness comes from what you already have
The more things I did, the more I find that the purest form of my happiness comes from the time I spend with my family and the original simplicity of my life. Nothing is better than getting to spend a day with your loved ones as you listen to the sound of birds chirping in the morning.
A lot of people spend their entire lives striving for the luxury, the position, the reputation, and the power, but if they stop for a second they will realize that they are completely missing out. Of course all of them are important, but if you let it take your happiness away from you, then whatever you’re striving for isn’t worth it.