Why must life be a competition?Coincidentally, I was having lunch with a friend yesterday and this topic came up - why are Singaporeans choosing not to have babies?
I ONCE met a trumpet player from the United States and asked him which competitions his school band had taken part in. Stunned, he replied: 'Not everything in life is a competition.'
It was inconceivable to me that students would participate in school bands and other CCAs out of pure interest, and not for points.
It is a tragedy that many Singaporeans believe exams, rankings and stress are necessary evils on the long and winding road to success.
The mantra that 'Your studies should be first priority' is never far from our parents' lips. 'Don't waste too much time on other activities' and 'This is a very important academic year' are close seconds ....
The interesting answer - it's the result of a collective herd mentality instilled by the education system. Back in the school days, the mentality could be expressed like this: "Your studies should be first priority; don't waste time on other activities." This got imprinted into the minds of the entire generation.
Fast forward to adulthood, and the same imprint is still there. It's just that it has adapted into a new form for those who have finished school: "Your career should be first priority - don't waste time on having children."
In the psychological landscape of Singaporeans, parenthood has become the equivalent of "CCAs". It's the thing you might really, really love to do. But your kiasu instincts are telling you that you can't take the risk; you might not have the time; you might not have the money; and it's much safer to just concentrate on your
Christine Chong posed a good question - "Why must life be a competition?". The problem with competitions is that they have rules, and the rules were made by someone else, not you.
It's okay to compete for a while, and it might even be fun. But you should pick and choose your races. You should also bear in mind that it's all just mind games and you always have the right to refuse to play.
If you don't see that, and you simply live your life as one big, endless competition, then in all likelihood, you'll simply end up living your life, according to someone else's rules. Not your own.
A reader, Kelvin Ng, emailed me last week. He was trying to locate one of my old posts - where I had written something about "life audits". A "life audit" is a time I set aside to reflect, feel and think about how & what I've been doing; and what I want to do next; and why.
It's not about how my peers are living their lives. Or how my boss thinks I should be living mine. Or how my mother would like me to do (which includes buying landed property). Or what society in general might be expecting me to do.
It's about how I want to live my own life.
Here, Kelvin - the link. Try it out. Because in the long run, life just isn't very fun, if you have to keep playing by someone else's rules.