Things I realise about myself only after almost 32 years on this earth.
Contrary to what I thought, I don’t focus and think best when I’m at home in my room, when it’s quiet and there are no external stimuli. I don’t do my best work when everything is ‘nicely set up’. It’s when I have nothing else to focus on in a cafe, short of a notebook, a pen, and a cup of latte - this is when I write my best stuff. In a cafe, I won’t get too comfortable; I won’t think to first clear my bladder before starting work, or to first walk to the kitchen to get a glass of water, or to first arrange my books neatly on my bookshelf, or to first pay my credit card bill, or a myriad of other nonsensical affairs that I would never had taken an interest into, if I was not at home.
I am not as special or extraordinary as I thought myself to be. I may not thrive as well in solitude as I thought; I may need others more than I would admit. I can’t let go of wealth and physical comforts as well as I thought I could.
I am lazier than I imagined myself to be. If given the opportunity and the environment, I will choose not to work. In fact, I will choose to do nothing. Not even to ‘travel the world’ or ‘enjoy myself’. I will probably sit in a chair and fall asleep - most likely too lazy to even settle into a bed. Even now, I am feeling sleepy just by typing this.
I am hopelessly idealistic. Everything should be perfect, according to how I imagined in my head. But things hardly go according to how I imagined.
I am luckier than I realised. I am way less capable than what I give myself credit for. No part of me is self-made. Every bit of success, or favourable outcomes, that I have achieved, has a greater element of pure luck in them than I ever realised.
I value physical comfort. More than I realised.
I crave sexual gratifications waaay more than I would even admit to myself, let alone to others.
I am conscious of what others think; the opinions of others matter. I am a people pleaser, which is completely contrary to how I imagined myself to behave - to the point that I keep reminding myself and others around me that I don’t care about others’ opinions, as if the more I repeat it, the truer it becomes.
Kierkegaard: “If you marry, you will regret it; if you do not marry, you will also regret it; if you marry or do not marry, you will regret both.” - I thought I had the simple answer for myself, to not marry, and was ready to accept the associated regrets. But how foolish am I. It’s not an easy choice, not an easy option to commit to. I don’t understand myself as well as I thought.
Life is about changing priorities. And it’s not about you actively shifting priorities to better fit into your schedule or to optimise overall outcomes. It’s about priorities changing themselves, as you age and grow and take in experiences. Suddenly, your hairstyle or wearing matching clothes or that cute girl or a good GPA or a good salary or staying in a landed house or getting your child into the best primary school or the best university or the best career doesn’t matter anymore. Next thing you know, you will be eating char kway teow every week, in spite of your high cholesterol and high blood pressure, because you know your days are numbered anyway.
The upshot is to realise ahead of time what will soon be deprioritised by your future self. That said, as long as you are still deriving joy, there is no reason to prematurely stop doing something, thinking that it will soon become unimportant in the future. What is life for, if not to live it to the fullest and to flow with every second gifted to you, doing what makes the most sense to you in every minute of every day?