I recently returned home after 4 months of travelling around New Zealand.
If I am being absolutely honest, my time away was wholly an attempt to escape the pressures of applying for jobs. It was not because I did not want to work, but because my pride couldn’t bear the mounting reality that I just might not be as good a candidate as I thought. Strip of the routines and demands of school, I suddenly find myself waking to days without any purpose. I was increasingly stalked by the fear that I never will amount to anything more than a mediocrity, and all these ideas of a worthy existence were just part of a millennial’s delusion.
I am painfully aware of how small my existence is, in comparison to the world’s vastness. I am a mere speck of dust in space, a blip in its timeline. I feel incapacitated to make a dent in the grand scheme of things, and this awareness only makes me want to shrink further into my bubble of self-pity.
Yet, I don’t think I am just a spare component of the system. The moment I was formed, I was crying, and breathing, and grasping. My heart knew to beat, and my lungs to inflate, kickstarted by nature the moment I was born. I am made of earth and water and air, the same organic materials that fill this earth.
How can I feel so insignificant, yet so troubled by this anxiety to make a difference while I still can?
The happiest people seem to be those most satisfied with their circumstances. It may not necessarily mean they are without ambition. Jiro, the sushi master from Jiro Dreams of Sushi, explains, “You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret of success.”
I think what he means is we find success by perfecting what we have been given. Rather than jumping from one station to another, praying that we will be miraculously good at something, we cultivate what we already have with love and dedication, and then use that to progress further.
The fates have been kind to me. I have a fickle but curious enough mind which urges me learn and write, healthy limbs that carry me through the world, and a community of family and friends who believes in me even when my own doubts threaten to overwhelm. How do I turn these blessings into a lasting legacy? How do I transform my fear into eagerness?
Perhaps as Rhonda Shimes says, I just need to start doing. In the same way my lungs inflate, my heart beats, and my guts digest, there is no need to overthink. My organs simply do, so that I survive.
“You want to be a writer? A writer is someone who writes every day, so start writing. You don’t have a job? Get one. Any job. Don’t sit at home waiting for the magical opportunity. Who are you? Prince William? No. Get a job. Go to work. Do something until you can do something else.”
– Shond Rhimes, Dartmouth Commencement speech
Life is unpredictable, and in this unpredictability, there is untold possibilities. I have been so ensconced in my own worries that I have been unable to see this simple truth. I can start small, such as nurturing the relationships I have and starting conversations with strangers to find inspiration. Undoubtedly, there will be days when I can do nothing more than curl up on the floor and try to keep my panicked breaths in check.
But whatever it is, I am done running away.