The certainty of life is that, nothing is certain in life. We can’t have everything we want, neither can we expect anything from it.
Human beings are born to be unsatisfied. No matter what we already have, we always want more. Whatever result we have achieved, we always think of how we can improve further. That’s what makes our species stronger, and how we can survive until now.
When I do my essay or work on music, I always find something new every time I look at it. There is never the ‘perfect answer’, we tend to be critical of ourselves all the time, no matter what we do. Even when we work hard on something, the result is always uncertain. We may think that it was a job well done, sometimes people might feel the same, but some might find that it was a lousy job, or even tell us that we didn’t put in enough effort. Our future is also uncertain all the time. We may plan ahead for something, but that’ll only work out because we assume certain conditions that will meet our targets. The reality is, we can’t guarantee a 100% that our future is set out for us, no matter what we do…
…and then we all die in the end. Even until that point, we cannot guarantee that we would have lived a fulfilling life, a life with no regrets whatsoever. We cannot assure ourselves that we have achieved whatever we want to in life. Scrap that, we don’t even know when and how we will die until it comes.
Yet, our social values and systems try so hard to overcome it. People try too hard to quantify success and benchmarks for success. Standardised tests, qualifications, social statuses, age limits, you name it. We have been brought up in an age where getting good grades for exams and attaining a degree will guarantee success, if you fail in your exams, you’re lazy and stupid; you’re successful if you’re rich, you’re incapable if you’re poor; you’re responsible if you’re married and have kids, you’re selfish and wild if you stay single. In some societies, there’s even the presence of hierarchy and the fear mentality. Your boss/parent/teacher has a higher authority over you, so whatever they say are the only ones that count. Otherwise, you’re rebellious and disrespectful. If you’ve achieved something, you are set for life, your future ahead is glistening. If you fail, life ahead is gonna be tough. Such benchmarks seem to make us think that there are things in life that will be certain to us.
As a student, there is no doubt that I work very hard. Every time I find something new/a mistake in my answer, I struggle to change it and expect myself to remember it quickly. I am a slow learner, yet I can’t afford to digest things at my own pace because there’s a deadline looming ahead of me (and deadlines are dead certain).
Our education system thrives on model answers, I try very hard to perfect something, and when I find something that seems perfect, I try very hard to maintain it. I am brought up to think that the moment I submit my answer, it ultimately has to be the best version. Besides work, this attitude has also manifested into my daily life and the way I interact with people (although fortunately I become more aware of it as I grow older). I am afraid of being too comfortable with the people around me, I fear that I take my relationship for granted. I fear that one day I might be taken advantaged of.
Life seems to be full of certainties that any form of failure or criticism can seem like a bomb that has fallen. If I muster enough courage and determination, I will work very hard to prevent that bomb from falling, or lessen the damage a little…and it becomes a vicious cycle. Life is full of uncertainties, yet knowing this I still continue to strive to make things certain. I have been foolishly sucked into this system.
While struggling to make things work consistently, the result ironically will always turn out not the way I wanted. I work so hard to perfect the same set of actions on the piano (I know it’s a stupid thing to do, but let’s not go into there now), yet when it’s time to play for my teacher or perform, I play as if I have not practiced at all. I am so worried about making things certain that that seems to be the only thing on my mind before every performance, and I freak out or get anxious. No matter how much pep talk I give myself, or no matter how I change the way I do sound checks, the result will always be the same.
Now that things have come to this point, I ask myself:
- Why the heck am I so obsessed with the certainties?
- What is it that I am afraid of?
- If I know things will never be certain in the end, is it even worth worrying about it?
- Will living a life full of certainties help me live a more fulfilling life?
I haven’t given myself a new year’s resolution this year, but I think I have found one now. This 2018, I want to learn to embrace the uncertainties, to live life over the edge a little and take risks. To not stupidly conform to benchmarks and rely them on markers for success. To not be ruled over by authority and dare to stand up for what is right. To accept that things will never be the same as before, to keep a inquisitive mind and never take things for granted.
Till next time, take care everyone.