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What Really Matters?


Jane was born to an interracial family, a fact usually celebrated by the people around her due to her diversified cultural upbringing. She took advantage of the social benefits she was born into such as the language, exposure, and networking opportunities. She was well tuned to speak different languages and adjust herself to other cultures in a snap, making her favourable by many in an instant. Growing up in a multicultural environment, the constant need to comprehend and adapt to various customs led to substantial resilience and adaptability that became her forte. These qualities then allowed her to live in three different countries, adding another score point to be applauded and envied about in casual conversation. Nobody would ever know the dejection she experienced, of never feeling like she belonged to either side of the bloodline and always being referred to as the “other.” And while she was able to adapt easily to her surroundings due to growing up in a multiracial environment and living in different countries, she still felt a lack of belonging, as though there was an invisible wall preventing her from fully immersing in the local life wherever she is. 


Andréa dwelled in a bustling city. Having graduated with an education from a reputable institute, she is now fully equipped with global, professional work experiences. These qualities eventually landed her a leading role in a corporate empire – a position hundreds of candidates fought for – that now served as a handy tool to impress everyone who asked about her work. Her corporate achievements defined her as a valuable asset to the team. She was always surrounded by crowds, but who would ever know about la solitude du chef? When things went south, she would have no one to express her deepest emotions to about the corporate wars she was fighting.

Harriette always lived her life to the fullest, maintaining a good career while frequently travelling around the world. Planning trip after trip seemed to be her favourite hobby and a proud personal achievement until she eventually realised that nobody would be waiting for her at home after she returned. She wouldn’t have anyone to share her good and bad days, and this knowledge caused loneliness to start eating her up. She turned to her family members and forged connections with dates to drown out the solitude, and yet never really addressed her desire for a relationship because subconsciously she was too scared to lose it and constantly doubting herself. As time went on, people she dated got into new relationships or became happily married. Meanwhile, there she was, watching as the world revolved around her, knowing perfectly well that she had shut the door on the right person, continuously lusting for someone she could call home. 


Does any of this feel familiar? Standing at the peak, sipping on champagne, but all of a sudden feeling emptiness emerge involuntarily, triggering a series of emotions and a head full of, “What now then?”  Il n’y a que la vérité qui blesse, or similarly, siapa makan chili dia akan rasa pedas. Our human defense mechanism will automatically deny us from relating to any of these scenarios, but if we look closer, we’ll feel the hit of how much opportunity and time we have truly lost in the pursuit of true happiness. All three of them thrived in their unique way, earning approval and applause from their families and society. Yet, they still found themselves grappling with a sense of emptiness at certain paints. How could Jane feel dejected when she was born into a privileged, diversified environment? How did Andréa end up in urban isolation when she was living everyone’s dream? And why did Harriette still feel like she was missing out on companionship even though she was constantly bettering herself? It’s because they were constantly trying; trying to be the idiolised version of themselves and forgetting to live in the moment. 


While we can easily escape reality in this modern society that’s been so armed with technology, the control remains in our hands – it is up to us to slow down and set our priorities straight so that we can define our happiness. Jane could’ve stopped trying to fit in and embraced her uniqueness instead. Andréa could’ve shared her thoughts with her team or connected with similar professionals to develop more sentimental engagements. Harriette could’ve owned up to herself and accepted someone into her life without being constantly clouded by anxiety. 


It is never wrong to keep excelling, but is that all we want when we’ve become old and grey? Find whatever happiness you can while you’re surfing through life, let go of the past, and truly live in the moment without the perpetual worry of a potentially better tomorrow (because it will all be fine in the end!). In fact, no one really knows what “better” looks like because it can be defined and benchmarked individually and influenced by everyone’s own rhythm. Let’s hope we can all find the balance to discover what truly matters and live a meaningful life.