Normalcy: What is good enough?
Have you ever wondered what your life’s purpose is? I bet you have! At a certain point, everyone tends to question why we are here. Why are we here? What is meaning to you? The question of purpose is innate to every one of us. If you have the answer, share it with the world, please. A lot of us would appreciate it.
Would you agree that we were born in this world not knowing exactly what we need to do? Growing up, certain societal standards have been imposed upon us—good grades, good behavior, good friends, staying healthy, excelling in sports or the arts, and so on and so forth. And because of these standards, whether we admit it or not, internally, we also expect the same for ourselves. We feel that we must be this or that to achieve our purpose. Do we simply exist here to be good? Is that it? If it’s that straightforward, why do we still feel incomplete and undecided about our life’s directions. What is right or wrong, good or bad?
Then we get to ask ourselves, if we constantly fall short of the standards of good as we know to be true in our minds, as instilled since childhood, what then is good enough? Should we consider ourselves failures in life if we do not achieve what is expected by others or even ourselves? Are we absolute screwups when we have wronged and terribly hurt other people? If we have failed and become better but again make a mistake, are we still not good enough?
If you’ve never at some point in your life asked these questions, I may be standing in the world alone with these thoughts because I have certainly asked them over and over throughout the years.
I wish finding the right path and purpose was simple. But no, this isn’t black and white; that’s only for photography and old movies. There’s no straight answer. We all know this—every journey is dependent on a multitude of factors. That is what makes life interesting. However, we often talk about other people’s lives rather than ours. Note to self: Mind your own business!
Day in and day out, we try our best to be the best version of ourselves.
Day in and day out, some of us go to school to learn. Arguably, some people even think that school is where we practice discipline. Though some of us feel that teachers are either modern-day heroes or demons pretending to be angels. Sometimes they really test our limits and make us question the point. Even if better time-management skill is developed, we feel that the required schoolwork is too much. I may be saying this largely from an Asian context, but do they really expect us not to sleep at all in order to complete all our required homework and projects? Are we not good enough if we choose to sleep eight hours instead of doing what is necessary for good grades?
When you consider the current generation of students, you realize that expectations have risen in a significant way. Succeeding academically was already difficult 20 years ago, but I don’t remember the workload being this heavy.
Getting accepted into a good school now creates so much anxiety for children and parents. Families are required to live in proximity, are expected to earn x amount per year and must have excellent letters of recommendation. The many months of waiting to find out whether you are good enough for academia is highly emotional.
It is equally tough to stay and earn good grades. Where are the pragmatic expectations? If work-life-balance is becoming a huge issue right now—so much that companies around the world are creating all sorts of benefits for their employees to achieve it—can we not create school-life-balance?
And then, when we graduate and enter the workforce, there are more expectations. Day in and day out, we go to work, give it our best shot hoping that at some point in the future we are rewarded for excellent performance. And we strive toward our chosen careers largely for two reasons—recognition and money. Well, there is a minority of people who really kick-ass for the sole purpose of helping other people grow. Bless those souls. They are the modern-day saints.
Let’s be real, most of us work to survive and be able to buy the things that we want for ourselves and for those that we love. The majority of us also have this insatiable need to be recognized for doing something good. For some reason, we need validation that we are on the right track or at least doing something worthwhile. We have a deep need to be someone that our family and friends can be proud of.
When you have achieved a certain level of work status or are able to purchase high ticket items, such as a house or a premium car, you are good! But are you really? Perhaps… This all depends on who you are asking and their perception of contentment.
Day in and day out, we talk to and connect with our family and friends either in person or through social media. We want to connect, we want to belong, we want to be loved. For some, they share their innermost thoughts. Pardon my French, but some people just don’t give a shit about your thoughts. To each their own, right? Let them be.
Besides, I can’t be hypocritical, though I usually post landscape photos from my travels, I occasionally post photos of my meals too, especially those amazing cuisines from different countries or at the very least, my favorites. Just check how many beef goulash posts I have made since I moved to Hungary. You’ll instantly realize how much I love it. It’s my favorite meal in the entire world! It’s quite sad that I had to cut down on it to stay healthier.
Okay, to be honest, I was overdoing it. I ate it almost every day for four months.
If you have a lot of people following you or liking your posts, does that mean in this day and age that you are well connected or that you belong? Is it a new yardstick used to measure being good, being better than others?
For some, how they look online is part of being image-conscious. Day in and day out, we worry about how we look or how we present ourselves. I have recently noticed that there’s this huge market for health and wellness. This is particularly noticeable with the rise of portable fitness systems, health and activity monitoring apps, mental fitness studios, rejuvenation devices and beauty products, multifunction protein shaker bottles, and calorie-controlled food packages. I could go on and on.
If you ask me, the health and wellness industry is an amazing business to be in right now. It’s one of those pull products where people keep craving more. These products practically market themselves. You can see people all over attesting to what works for them and spreading the word online. You only need to give out sample products and voilà, you get your free word-of-mouth marketing. Do they still call it word-of-mouth? Or should I call it, digital word-of-mouth marketing or simply viral marketing? Whatever! You get my point.
In the past, if you smoked a cigarette, you were cool. Having a bottle of coke was awesome, then it became a normal day-to-day drink. But not today! How much sugar does it contain again? No colored drinks, please. And oh, I am happy to pay extra for a bottled water, which is probably not even necessary. And did you know that in some countries, vodka or wine is cheaper than water?
With all the pressure to do well, earn well, and look good, day in and day out, we are bombarded by all sorts of emotions. On a good day, the emotions are obviously positive. But you and I know that sometimes we experience those dramatic and disproportionate levels of emotion. When you consider the inertia of your life, plunging ahead of you and you’re almost powerless to stop it.
Some emotions lead to nervousness, fear, and worry—emotions that sometimes just make you want to run away from everyone and everything. Emotions that lead some people to resort to drinking or substance abuse, just to have a temporary escape. Others turn to meditation and yoga.
By the way, this is another “in” thing right now. Yoga for inner awareness, mental peace, freedom, and happiness—or maybe just yoga for a sexy body? Don’t judge! We do what we must do to tame our inner demons.
Day in and day out, we try to rebalance our lives. When we feel like we are running too fast, tired and beaten, we try to slow down, go out and chill, or take a vacation. When vacation time is over, we often tell ourselves, “Back to reality.” Hold on, did we just go on a fake vacation? Virtual vacation perhaps? I’m not being sarcastic. I just find it ironic.
Honestly, do we really know what the hell we are doing with our lives?
We must ask ourselves, what is good enough? What’s the key here? Inner peace? Happiness? Contentment? Success? Y.O.L.O. I don’t know. Each one of us will have to figure out what we want to do with our lives. Have you taken the time to close your eyes and conceptualize what your dream world would be? Where would you be? What would you be doing? How about your family and friends? What kind of relationship would you have with them? If you can describe your dream world in vivid detail, lucky you! How far are you from what is real right now?
Don’t expect me to have answers for you, because I really don’t. This is not the book that will give you answers. But hopefully this is one that will provoke you to think. A book that will lead you to look back, learn, take responsibility, and move forward with a sense of confidence, pride, and purpose. A book that will awaken you. A book that will hopefully persuade you to let yourself be who you are.