Recently, I have been reading year-end posts of the people that I follow but one post that tugged my heart the most was a post where she narrated her downfall, how she spent a lot of time feeling like a fraud after, and how did she overcome it.
As I read her post, I immediately had so much appreciation to her. I had read posts that 2020 hadn’t been a “good” year for them (I mean the year has brought both good and bad) but it takes courage to be vulnerable and share how you struggled the past year how you reacted to them.
Her post made me remember what happened around this time, last year.
I was with my community and each one of us talked about what we have learned for the year 2019.
What I talked about was how happy I am because I grew so much because of my responsibility as a class president during my 12th grade and I am also happy that my classmates and professors acknowledged my efforts.
Then come our graduation, when everyone is happy (including me) that high school has offically ended and we are now going to college! However, after that, my parents came to talk to me how disappointed they were that I haven’t achieved any academic achievements that year.
It broke my heart. Because I thought they knew how much that experience mean to me. I haven’t even thinking about external achievements because I am just so happy how tremendously improved that year and did things outside of my comfort zone to be of service for others. The responsibilities that I took shaped me and will help me on the long run.
I thought they would also be happy for me that I improved well in terms of personal growth. But instead, they looked for external achievements. As if my experience that I had because of my chosen responsibility is neither enough nor better than an external achievement.
I had a responsibility to my classmates, but that did not made me slack off my academics. I studied but still, my priority is my responsibility. My grades aren’t “barely passed”, if you are asking, I think—considering that I got a lot of responsibility during that time—my grades are great.
Honestly, I felt like a fraud. It made me question my beliefs as well.
Before the first day of my last year in high school started, I declared to myself that I’ll focus on personal growth and being of service to others. For years, I focused on academics and getting academic awards but they barely made a difference in my life. I get excited and happy but after a few moments, I’m back to what I feel initially before I had the award. And so, I declared to prioritize responsibility, experience, and growth.
And how my parents reacted made me question whether I should just stop seeking growth for myself and volunteering just so I could focus a lot on getting external achievements. But that did not made me happy. I was not satisfied. A medal does not comfort me on nights when I feel like sad but a memory of a certain experience does.
After all my efforts, my growth, my improvements, is it still not enough?
As I am writing this, I can still feel pain from the memory on how I cried that my parents can’t see how much I had improved because what they want is an external achievement from me.
But, thankfully, I calmed myself and think about the experiences that would never occur to me if I did not volunteer as a class president and what I learned or the relationships that I gained because of that experience. Gradually, it made me feel joy and that’s when I realize that even if they are my loved ones, I can’t control their reaction, and their expectations. Even if this are my beliefs and this is what I want to do that does not guarantee that my loved ones will support me or even be proud of me for it.
From my experience that year, I learned that responsibilities change me a lot and so, I took it as an account to look for avenues wherein I will improve and also, I would have fun while doing it. As Albert Einstein wrote in a letter for his son, “That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice that the time passes.”
I never did try to argue with my parents because like I said, their beliefs are not within my area of control and I would continue hurting if I did care something that isn’t in my control anymore.
As for me, the fact that I am fully aware and without a single doubt, on what my personal values are and how my experiences enriched my life, no one can possibly tell me that they are unimportant or that I should have done more or be more because I believe that I have done what I could. I am enough.
And to people reading this, you had made it to this year, 2021. Even if you think that you haven’t have any “achievements” this year that is worthy for a lengthy year-end post or an external award, consider this quote from author Ann Hastings:
“Satisfaction is always available. It is just not always looked for. If, when you enter any experience, you enter with curiousity, respect and interest, you will emerge enriched and with awareness you have been enriched. Awareness of enrichment is what satisfaction is.”
I believe that everything happens for a reason and I also believe that 2020 was not a wasted year. You cannot control what other people says but you alone can find joy on what enriched you the past year. Whether its an obstacle or a victory, every experience enriched you (probably a lot more enriched if its the former).