SayKiat / Essays /

I'm Not Holding Back Anymore

Might Guy (from Naruto Shippuden) opening stance for Eight Gate ready to fight Madara

A raw and personal reminder that I'll shoot my shot, whenever I can.

Life has changed me drastically since I graduated in late 2018. I’ve had identity issues personally, professionally, and politically, not knowing where I stand in every spectrum.

The past five years have been a self-discovery process, albeit ridden with tragedies that impacted my confidence in my work quality. I began to shy away from sharing my work because I’m afraid of criticism and skepticism, feeling that no one cares enough about my work. At one point, I even felt ashamed to share my work because I felt that I didn’t receive the right guidance from the right people.

As a designer surviving in this tightly-knit industry, my hyper-awareness also made me feel small and even a little resentful for not knowing where I stand in my own work.

Not just work

The lack of self-esteem slowly crept onto other areas of my life.

I had instances where I admired people who have strong opinions about social issues and values. I remember my first time hearing this statement in real life

“Gender is just a social construct.”

What construct? Who constructed it? How is it a construct? I wondered, but I didn’t ask much because I was convinced that these people know what they’re talking about, because I thought I was too dumb to comment on anything anyway. I needed other people to tell me what’s right and wrong, because I’m too afraid to evaluate those statements.

Slowly, I let other people talk me into thinking that I’m lacking in talent because I don’t have any opinion about anything, and any opinion that doesn’t fit into their agenda simply means I’ll need to improve my “personality”.

The world will ask you who you are, and if you don’t know, the world will tell you.

Carl Jung

Soon, the identity issues snowballed and flattened me.

Coming Back to Work

Hence, all this while, I was constantly working my ass off just to “catch up” with whatever I’m lacking, so that one day I’m worthy of a genuine compliment and connection. However, this became an issue when last year I was close to burnout twice, where I felt I had to constantly perform, while not knowing where my effort will lead me.

But along the way, I noticed that what I am experiencing does not align with what I’ve observed. There are people who did seemingly “nothing special,” yet still able to make a name for themselves. I’ve also seen narcissists who did nothing in their life but brag about their achievements or even bring down other people’s success by belittling their profession and work ethic.

In a positive contrast, I’ve seen people who gave their best despite living in extreme disadvantage flourishing. Those are the people who continuously honour their craft and trust that the process will manifest greatness. Along the way, you can’t help but feel inspired by their positivity and root for their success. They’re authentic by being vulnerable to failure and willing to share what they feel about the tragedies they’re fighting for, and more importantly, tell us why it’s worth fighting for.

This is where I slowly realise … why am I feeling sorry for myself all this time for trying to “catch up”? When is the time I should feel ready for the next level?

Do not wait: the time will never be ‘just right’.

A Napoleon Hill quote from Goodreads

“Stop waiting for thing to be perfect. Nothing changes if nothing changes”

I think Theo Von’s podcast capture my issue the best.

These clips really hit the nail on the head for me. I had let my feelings of unworthiness doubt my own potential and limit my self-belief. As a result, I didn’t give my all to shoot my shot at anything. Thus, it seems like success never came to me.

In Theo’s words, I am waiting for someone to tickle me so that I can laugh. Why can’t I just do it by myself, or even for myself?

As I am approaching the third decade of my life, I want to make it worth every sweat and tear. I want to experience life without limited beliefs and skepticism. I’ll draft that LinkedIn post that everyone deemed cringey. I’ll bench that 20kg dumbbell. I’ll put in an extra 10% effort into my side project and actually market it. I’ll work on improving my knowledge so that I can work and lead better. I’ll reach out to that friend who struggled in his life and pat him on the back, telling him everything’s going to be fine. I’ll refuse to let those incompetent narcissists have their way in my life. I’ll travel to new places alone or with love ones and experience new things. I’ll show the novice in gym how to operate machines. I’ll tell a person on their deathbed that they can rest assured I’ll carry on their will.

It’s true that everything we wish for will not come to be. But things that we must do must always begin with a wish.

Might Guy from Naruto Shippuden
An image without description

I’ll shoot my shot at everything that resembles progress whenever I can, and never feel sorry for trying my best.

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