I was always affected by the things around me and worried about the perception of others. I suffer from a single-sided hearing loss since the age of 12 and underwent a total of 9 surgeries thus far. While the situation has improved and stabilized over the years, conversing has always been a barrier for me as I can never listen clearly and understand what people are trying to tell me. Most of the time, I would pretend I understood by responding with nervous laughter while hoping it was not a question. The lack of confidence slowly progressed to a point of social isolation, where I avoided contact with anyone and felt reluctant to share any encounters.

I have always been told to be physically unfit for tons of things due to the constant medical attention required, but that eventually turned into a motivating force as I hated being perceived as a weakling. I started disregarding the thoughts and ideas planted by others and began exploring opportunities to achieve a greater sense of belonging. My self-discovering journey started by diving into different hard skills and sports associated with failures. Despite picking up a handful of skills, namely obstacles crossing, designing, programming, 3D printing, etc., I soon realized my direction was incorrect as the saying “jack of all trades, and master of none” subverted my expectations. I found myself all over the place, where the sense of belonging being barely defined while I was still in the downward spiral. I thought this was the end of the journey as I convinced myself to accept the fact that I can never do any better.

As if I was not defeated enough, I had hit rock bottom when the doctor advised me to enjoy life whilst it lasted due to the observed continuous erosion within my skull that might lead to an irreversible impact. Instead of dwelling on it, I went all-out with the mindset of “living every day like it is my last”, as I wanted to passed on with no regrets. My focus slowly drifted away from checking items off my bucket list to just doing what I really enjoy, and this is where stoicism comes in. My indifference towards public perception grew exponentially as I do things that spark joy in life regardless of how inexpert I am at the particular activity, where I eventually realized failure is the catalyst that propels you in the direction of finding your purpose.

I have also acknowledged that countless things in life are beyond our control, and to be stoic, is to be unaffected by these things. While it is advantageous to look back and learn from your mistakes, the over-clinging of missteps will result in neglecting a key opportunity as the mental capacity will be reserved solely for those unattainable external factors.

Notwithstanding that I have still not found my Ikigai, I am happy with how it turned out. The indifference about the impression of myself and shamelessly going through rounds of trials and errors greatly contribute to my confidence today.

“Do not fear failure; in great attempts it is glorious even to fail.” – Bruce Lee.