By Regina Hong, Yale-NUS College ’17 – See bio
When you were a child, adults were gods whose edicts you worshipped. You submitted yourself to their reprimands and corrections. Your tributes to their perfection came in the form of results slips brimming with the coveted “A”s, just so they would deign to tell you how useful you were going to be when you “grew up”. You sought solace in their reproaches in the belief that if you took them to heart, you would turn out as perfect as they were; fellow believers anointed with the same star. After all, perfection was a secret formula, a clique you were inducted into only upon the threshold of adulthood. And the often invoked ugly duckling turns into a beautiful swan after all its trials and tribulations right?
Then, one day, you came to the realisation that you were “grown-up”. You marched up to the door labelled “Adulthood” and knocked expectantly, anticipating that shimmering oasis the adults promised and seemed to embody in your childhood with their power suits and flashy tuxedoes. Instead, you were cast into a world of gray buildings and jaded people with less souls than battered vending machines.
They said “Earn lots of money and you will be happy”. You see people who have enslaved themselves to money, followers of the cult of “More”, hankering after more without ever knowing what they lack. They paste plastic smiles on their faces and tell you that they are happy, that they can buy whatever they wanted. Inside, they cry for a break from the monotonous grind of work, as they search endlessly for the one thing that will put a stop to their hunger.
Take a step back from those cash tills. Hear the joy in having the wind sing in your ears, feel the love a stray cat has for you as it winds itself in welcome around your legs, taste the sweet taste of coffee on a day off and see what a joy it is to be alive in itself. To be able to run, to leap, to dance, to love, to read, to sing. To watch the night sharing a waltz with the day as they spin into dawn; to hear the waves, with a rhythm as old as time, break steadily upon the beach.
Life isn’t about the best grades, the prettiest face or the highest-paying job. It’s about living life free – hopefully free of financial constraints, but mostly just free to enjoy life’s little pleasures instead of being blind to it all in the mad rush of work. You may never become the swan with the best plumage in the group. But let it be said that you lived life in the best way you could.