-So sorry for the belated post, everyone. I use the weekend and beginning of the week as time to reflect on the episode, and to really engage myself in these reflections. As I was typing this up yesterday, my health took over, and I couldn’t finish writing. As a result, this post is also very short. Depending on the trajectory of my health tomorrow, I may need to take a break this week from posting an episode 🙁 –
I hope a lot of you were able to relate to this past episode on education and success. I think stereotypically, Asians get a lot of attention for having Tiger Moms and Dads who care way too much about grades, talent, money, jobs, and prestige, but I see that kind of thinking in friends of other ethnic backgrounds as well. The whole world as a whole has kind of defined for us what success looks like – we either make it academically and professionally, or we make bank through social media. It can be sometimes hard to see success defined in any other way.
I am past my early twenties, and I feel the burden of not being successful – where’s my house? I see 19 year olds buying houses for their moms and getting engaged, and I’m just in a small studio apartment with my cats, making it paycheck by paycheck. It can be so discouraging when we rank our successes through the lens of comparison. For those of you with siblings, maybe you have also experienced this: that everything you do is compared to what your sibling did. I grew up constantly being compared to my sister: why aren’t you skinny like her? Popular like her? Athletic like her? These aren’t even qualities I was critiquing myself for, but I learned to embody this identity of “not good enough”. And this is particularly sad, because I’m talking about my younger sister. Even now, she’s engaged while I’m still ring-free, and you bet my mom is on my case for that. Sometimes, it’s just really hard not to compare especially when someone else is pointing out the comparison for you!
I think, at least for myself, it’s easy to become defensive and deny that I am “worse” in comparison, but to be honest, why? As human beans, we’re not perfect. If we were able to be the best, receive the best, and do the best in everything, then what would keep us in check and stop us from treating ourselves like a god? We have flaws and faults, gifts and opposite-of-gifts. It’s okay to not be the top dog. We don’t need to bear the stress of trying to reach perfection, because we weren’t meant to function by comparing ourselves. For example, I am very confident of my reading abilities. The fact that I’m not a good body builder doesn’t take away from my reading abilities, and even if someone were a better reader than I, my skills are not diminished. We were each uniquely created for a different path. Comparison gives us a heart of envy, pride, and shame – envious of others’ skills, prideful of our position, and ashamed when others are “better”.
I know I made this disclaimer multiple times in the podcast episode, but I’m not saying that education isn’t important. However, is it really such an important part of our identity? COVID-19 has been such a big example of money and academia meaning absolutely nothing. Money might buy you a more comfortable patient room, but there is no cure for COVID-19. The rich and the poor patients are just as likely to die or live. So I challenge you – strip away the money, the real estate, stock investments, academic grades, school alma mater… strip away all the things that are fleeting – what defines success for you? The Bible says this:
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Colossians 3:15-17
The Bible agrees that wealth is important, but it is not found in material things. Instead, it is found in peace, thankfulness, wisdom, praising God, worshiping God, and acknowledging God. These things can be taken with you, eternally. I know that not all my readers are Christian, but still: I encourage you to redefine your definition of success, and see what it is that truly is of value to you.