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Going your own way

It’s almost been two months since I moved back to Shanghai, so I thought it was time to reflect a bit on my past year in Hong Kong. I hope that recent grads may find this somewhat interesting (or insufferably annoying). However you may feel – I’d love to hear your thoughts.

I’ll start by saying that I’m on the fence about a lot of what’s written about Millenials. As one of my friends once pointed out, much of what’s written out of the media’s attempt to find something somewhat sensational to say about Gen Y. Much of which inevitably portrays us as either (1) sightless narcissists who represent the demise of society or (2) victims of the economic downturn who will never be able to afford to move out of our parents’ basement.

Some of this is may be true. Yes, I often feel that I’ll never be able to find a job that fulfils me professionally or personally, disillusioned by how we interact with each other, and emotionally victimised for no real reason. But those feelings are fleeting and what lies at the core is very universal, simple even.

I’ve had to learn in the past year is simply that we’re all spectacularly not special. What I mean my ‘special’ is not about narcissism or entitlement. It’s merely the idea of self-actualisation. We feel that if we work hard, do what we have to do, then we should be able to reach the milestones that we set out for ourselves. The problem with this approach is that ‘proving yourself’ is often not enough; it’s subjective and it’s not always seen.

We grow up, slowing realising that we’re not special. Being the centre of attention when you’re five slowly turns into having to share, to be responsible for yourself, to have to take care of other people. All along the way, you lose more of yourself and have to come to terms with being just another member of society, someone who won’t necessarily be heard or be able to make a change. 

By growing up, you slowly realise that self-actualisation is actually an internal exercise. You have to try to come to terms with the fact that you’re not special but finding reasons why being spectacularly not special is okay. In fact, it’s great because knowing who you are as a person in a world where no one is truly special is actually a beautiful thing. 

For me, right now, self-actualisation is really simple. I don't want to live in a world that's dark and biting. I don't want to live in a world where people are self-centred, conflict is inevitable, and everyone is trying to sell me something. Even if I have to built it, I want to live in a Lockian world where flowers smell nice and unconditional love is exists all around.