“We’d like to make you an offer,” the e-mail began. I gasped, whispered yes!, briefly soaked in the feeling of sweet victory, and breathlessly shared the good news with a few people. Then, a few minutes later, it turned to disbelief with a tinge of doubt. Wait, what? They chose me? I wonder why… Note to self: STOP right there. I should’ve Googled it much sooner. Type > > I m p o s t o r S y n d r o m e, and within seconds, I would’ve realised that I wasn’t alone—that feeling like a fraud was more common than I thought. It wasn’t until I came across Natalie Portman’s Harvard Commencement 2015 speech that it dawned on me: it’s NOT just me. Natalie Portman experiences it. Even Natalie Portman. The Natalie Portman. I felt a huge sense of relief. I was then able to detach myself from the “feeling” and look at it objectively. I read article after article and found out that it’s more common among women, and it’s common …
The experience has taught me many things, one of which is this: there is no right answer to what success is. Because happiness is subjective, it isn’t rational to have a one-size-fits-all measuring stick for life. We get to decide how we measure the quality of the lives we live. Forget everyone else’s notion of success, happiness and fulfilment. The most accurate life compass you can rely on lies in your heart and the depths of your gut.
It’s a natural response when encountering the new or unknown, be it a person, place or thing—human beings size up whatever is before them, instinctively deciding whether it’s a friend or foe, a threat or an opportunity.
I am a so-called ‘third-culture’ kid. I am one type of Asian with mixed ancestry, raised in another Asian country with a completely different culture, studied in Chinese, British, American, and Canadian schools, speak four languages and later worked and lived in Russia and Europe.