It’s very often that we are encouraged to think big.
Be it in our life or business; we are bombarded by people that tell us that we need to think bigger to succeed in life.
In the media, more often than not, they only highlight the visionaries. These big ambitious thinkers steered the way to a company’s success but rarely mentioned the behind the scenes people that focus on the little things.
I’m like so many others, have also been influenced to feel that I need to be a big thinker. But as time pass, I realised that without the little things, there wouldn’t be the big things.
We are such natural planners that we spend more time to plan than to take the first small step.
So often, we are overwhelmed by how big we dream that we don’t know where to even begin and eventually give up. It’s like thinking of running a triathlon without ever train for the first 500m run.
By thinking small, it helps us to focus on the process of the work and not so much the destination. We learn to enjoy the process and eventually build up the stamina for the long run.
And when things get muddy, we will have better tools to keep us going because we can go back to focusing on the little things.
One small, little step, at a time.
The creative process is supposed to be messy. As adults, we have a natural tendency to keep things organised and be led by rigid rules. But it is challenging when we try to be creative when you put yourself in a box too small for you to stretch fully.
When kids play with their toys, its never in an organised manner. We see them jumping from one toy to another, throwing it, picking it up, smashing it, make noise and put unexpected things together. To them, there are no written rules on how to play; the only rule is to run wild with their imagination. That ignorance of rules liberates them to think freely and have pure fun.
Yes, with commercial work, we have objectives to achieve. That doesn’t mean we have to go about it the same way every time. Technically, the only rule we have is to achieve the said objective within a specified time frame and budget. Other than that, we can let our imagination run free like a child.
We could remind ourselves that to have genuine fun being creative is to sometimes withhold ourselves from sticking to too many rules. We need to learn to let go, press reset and be as messy as one can be.The creative process is supposed to be messy. As adults, we have a natural tendency to keep things organised and be led by rigid rules. But it is challenging when we try to be creative when you put yourself in a box too small for you to stretch fully.
As I was looking back at the year, my mind naturally tends to veer towards on how much more I could’ve done. There is a sense of depletion when you feel like you’ve not done enough compared to others. I think it’s important to be reflective, but dwelling on it over and over again will not help anyone, especially yourself.
Because life is not a race and you’re allowed to explore other things apart from what you think you should do.
I need to remind myself that the year is only as good as what you think of it. If you want to focus solely on all the downsides and the lack of, any year will be a bad year. But if you pay attention to the things you’ve accomplished instead, every year can be a great year.
Most importantly, success should be defined by you and you alone and should not be a comparison to your neighbours. It is your game to play, after all.
Enjoy it as it is and when you’re ready to jump back to your main mission, go with all that you have.
These days, most of us are now living in two extremes of modern media consumption. On one extreme, we are absorbing every little sensationalised shocking news that is fed to us every second of the day. On the other end of the spectrum; we are also consuming a perfect image of the world that people painstakingly craft into perfection to gain another social like. But, I can't help but be curious about the middle ground of both extremes—the areas of mundane, ordinary, raw moments of being humans.
As a self-proclaimed introvert, my instinct is to always blend in as blending in makes me feel safer. I purchase safe coloured clothes and wear plain looking shoes, and for the most part, I try to speak like a normal human being. While there is nothing inherently wrong with that, but I do wonder why do I want to stay so guarded?
After years of going through the grind to walk carefully within a standard guard rail of society, I realised I am becoming more and more like everyone else. An ordinary fictional character that I've mould to conform to the general liking of our society. I suspect this is why I am never truly satisfied with who I am.
The overarching preaching of "being yourself" can be somewhat confusing if you can't even identify who you are in the first place. I have always thought that I was unique, and some might also label me as a hipster, but after some self-reflection in the last few years, I realised my habits and patterns are highly predictable. That is comforting but also quite disappointing.
I've always wondered who would I be if I am the only human being in this world. If there is no sense of comparison with others, would I still care about crafting the perfect image to show to the world? Or would I be as raw and embrace my imperfections? Wouldn't that be liberating?
Being raw, in my opinion, is an anti-thesis towards perfection – it means that we show the beauty as well as the ugly. We show the work-in-progress and the failures along the way. It's about letting go of showcasing only the best and celebrates progress. It's about being free from yourself.
But most importantly, by practising being raw, I'm hoping I will find myself again, whatever that is.
To search for who we are, don't we need to embrace our differences and encourage others to be different? And instead of having arguments about who's right or wrong, shouldn't we embrace our diversity in thoughts and beliefs? Yes, cultural backgrounds do form a different pattern in different regions of the world, but the internet has shown us that we all can share the same sentiment that we are all one lump of imperfect humans, after all.
By being raw, we would also be more appealing, engaging and most importantly, more human. We allow others to look into the imperfections that we all have and let them know that they are not alone. Just like the main reason we go to live concerts is so that we get to see our favourite singers pull off a non-edited rendition of our favourite songs. We embrace the mistakes made along the way because those mistakes are the ones that create this unique experience at this specific moment.
So, I would encourage you to embrace your rawness, ignore picture-perfect illusions and look deep within yourself to discover what makes you, you.
We are addicted to validation. As kids, our family always praised us for doing what seems like minute things by adult standards—things like taking our first steps or saying Mama for the first time. We celebrated the little wins.
As we grow into adolescence, these words of affirmation that we crave for lessen in numbers. We then work harder, push, criticize and berate ourselves for getting one more of those “good job” fixes. We’ve grown into an environment where, without any external approval, we devalue ourselves to nothing.
Of course, this is just a story we tell ourselves. Along the way, we lost the ability to pick ourselves up and celebrate our small achievements. We are so hard on ourselves that the little progress of yesterday is not even worth acknowledging. When we finally get the compliment we craved; we brush it away automatically under a pretence of modesty.
Why don’t we take a step back and celebrate ourselves for a moment? Albeit small, like baby steps small, it is our journey to own. When we start to champion ourselves, I can only hope that we radiate the energy to champion someone else too.
As far as I can remember, I’ve always been a slow person.
My mom told me that my kindergarten teacher used to say to her that “he is a very slow boy”. So, that has pretty much set in my head ever since. An identity that I cling on for many years after.
Fast forward to my first job, I remember how Sergeant Boss used to taunt me for a good couple of months on how slow I am in completing assignments. Slow. Blur. Dumb. We all know that it is obvious. She’s frustrated, and I can’t do anything except working in constant anxiety to be as fast as I can.
I laboured in extra hours to catch up and prayed to the “God of Speed” that I don’t get fired. A little over month 3, I finally got the hang of it. I was completing jobs at a faster speed and transitioned from crying out loud to crying inside. One night, as I’m feeling proud of my day’s accomplishment, I decided to clean up my computer and hard disk before leaving work for the day.
It was around 10 pm, happily deleting files and cleaning up the trash bin. Ka cha… clicking on ‘empty trash’ before shutting down the computer. I felt a cold shiver ran down my spine. I realised that I’ve deleted the company’s work from the past 5 years. And cleared the trash bin.
I see red dots everywhere. I am extremely intrigued and terrified by red dots. It pulls me in but drives me away. Red dots scream for my attention, “Me! Here! Touch me!”, and as soon as you kill it, it reappears somewhere else. It is magical but black magic.
The unending torture haunts me and inflicts sleepless nights staring at the ceiling reflecting about the red dot. My friends know I hate red dots, and I feel closer to those whom I know hate red dots too. “These are my people! I am not alone.”, I mumble with my shaky voice. But why can’t I live in a world without red dots? What do the red dots really want? I need help. Leave me alone, red dot!
I see red dots everywhere. It disgusts me, and it is every-fucking-where. Its hypnotic spell pulls me in yet pushes me away. It screams for my attention, “HEY! HERE! LOOK AT ME!”, and as soon as you exterminate it, it reappears elsewhere. It is magical, but its evil, black magic and you don’t want to mess with it. It inflicts unending torture that haunts me day and night. It gives me sleepless nights staring at the ceiling, trembling, contemplating whether I should kill it once and for all… My closest confidants know that I fear it, but they got my back. Together, we are going to destroy it.“THESE ARE MY PEOPLE, I AM NOT ALONE.”, as I rumble up the little courage I have left.
Can we fully eradicate them from our lives one day? Is there a button that we can push to kill it once and for all? If there is, I am going to push it! Die!
You red dots! Leave me alone!
Written by Liwei
How much of it should we subject ourselves to before we can say we're "living outside our comfort zone"? Because, apparently, to live an extraordinary life, one must venture into the zone of discomfort.
But precisely what kind of discomfort should I subject myself to? I hardly think jumping into shark-infested waters will offer me the kind of growth I need in my relationships or career.
Once in a while, the fear of living a life of utter complacency would creep up on me, and I'd start to question whether I am where I "should" be and then I'd eat some ice-cream, and that feeling would go away.
Eventually, it happened – I started to feel a growing discomfort in my comfort zone.
Unwilling to change, I tried getting used to the discomfort, hoping that it'd eventually go away. It was like sleeping on an old favourite pillow that has become lumpy and every night, beating and fluffing it in an attempt to get it just right, but it's just not the same anymore. After many sleepless nights, and many a moody, angry encounter with pretty much everyone, I relented and thought, "I need to change."
By now, you can see, I have more questions than answers. One day, tired and a little defeated, someone told me to ask myself THE question –
What do you want to feel in life?"
I thought, "I should know this", but it turns out I didn't.
I then wrote a bunch of words down and picked five that I most resonated with. To be sure, I printed a list of 50 words (googled what half those words meant) and cut it down to what eventually happened to be the same 5.
Aside from being a checklist for my decisions, those five words have also given me a clearer understanding of what I want in life (for now) and with that, the zone of discomfort I would need to venture into to get there. And no, it does not involve jumping into shark-infested waters, for now.
Hope you are hanging on ok. A bit of a personal story; I’ve been staring at the wall trying to think out of my inner issues for years, and so far, I’m happy to report that it ended up nowhere. I guess; naturally, we all try to deal with our innate issues in attempting to “think out of it”. We are all thinking that there must be one magical solution pill that will solve all our internal problems. But in most cases, we can’t deal with our inner demons, just like how we deal with external matters. In my experience, trying to think out of it is almost impossible, and I ended up trying to numb it with all sorts of other shit, and before I know it, I’ve dug myself an even more giant hole. Quite recently, I began my journey in looking inwards and facing my shit upfront instead of running away or boxing it, which I usually do. Long story short, to me, with the right guidance, it’s not about finding a solution but rather understanding the root cause. I do think it makes sense that if we are physically ill, we go to a doctor to find the cause of that illness. Why don’t we do the same for what’s inside our mind? Here is me hoping that you don’t implode from within and seek out a friend or better still a professional to guide you through your inner demons. We all have it, might as well face it and be friends with it. Hang in there peeps and keep breathing.