Summer 2013 • Yosemite National Park

Yesterday, someone asked me, “What gives you the greatest sense of satisfaction?”

I thought long and hard about this: what has been my greatest achievement in life? I suppose the two words “achievement” and “satisfaction” are not synonymous — you don’t necessarily need to feel a sense of achievement over something to feel satisfied (and vice versa). In retrospect, it is really hard to pinpoint a specific event or aspect about me or my life that really sticks out. As I’ve mentioned many times before, the term ‘enough’ is just a construct that we make up ourselves, and similarly, the words ‘happiness’ and ‘achievement’ are very subjective and fluid. How do I illustrate something that is so fluid, arbitrary and ambiguous?

I then tried to ask myself, “What have I done/what is about me that is worthy of praise/recognition?” Sure, there are moments in my life that I have felt a mild sense of accomplishment, for example: an acceptance letter from a university, graduating with a Masters degree, but these so-called ‘accomplishments’ feel meaningless when you experience it/look back upon it. Five or ten years down the road, nobody’s going to care whether you graduated with a first class or a 2:1 — what do they matter? I try to make sense of my life and my worth, and how lately I have been frustrated over how when I want to blog about an issue with an organisation, I have to adhere to certain guidelines because the organisation has specific visions and aspirations, and that I have to go through editors or wait for ages for something to be published. And then I realise this: that one of the things that I feel a sense of self-validation about (rather than using the term ‘satisfaction’ or ‘accomplishment’), is not tunnelling through whatever darkness I’ve been through or Cambridge or the WHO, it is the realisation that I do not have to be tied down to any of these organisations that I work with or even use them as a platform to get my opinions across. I don’t need to conform to any of their guidelines or expectations because I have a voice, and I am my own voice. I feel liberated thinking about this. This is not really something that I have done, and it is not a unique personality trait, but my thoughts have been developed over time, through my interactions and my experiences with this world that are unique to me. The fact that I can readily form my own opinions and that I am eloquent enough to convey my thoughts across to the people that matter/who matter to me most is a sufficient reminder that I am unique. Nobody can shut me down.

And I will speak.

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