Sometimes the closest people you know can tell you that you can’t do something. It might be a friend, a random stranger you met or even your parents. They might tell you you’re crazy, that whatever you’re doing is just a phase, look at you weird or just tell you that your dream flat out won’t work. Truth be told, they don’t mean you any harm. In fact, often it’s the opposite. But something that I know for sure is that they just don’t get it. You know something they don’t know.
I remember growing up I was told I couldn’t do a lot of things. As you may have read before, I ran the medical club in High School. When I first joined, I was just a freshman and by the end of the year, the president of the club passed the club to me to run. I was only 14 years old. I remember I went to my first meeting with the other elected officers for the club. Everyone was a senior and they all gave me a look as if I wasn’t fit to run the thing. Who would blame them, I was leading people 4 years older than me. Everyone said I was crazy but I pushed forward and this club became my life until I graduated for uni. I learned so much.
In fact, a lot of my time was spent selling things to raise money for different medical charities – from hot dogs to bubble tea to t-shirts. I was called a hawker by my parents who wanted the best for me – and that entirely consisted of spending the majority of my time sitting down with my textbook and not selling things. It really was a blow that they thought what I did was useless but instead I found a way to do well in school and get to keep my newfound joy. Sometimes the very people who don’t believe in you can help push you to an even better height. They just didn’t get it. They didn’t get how much I wanted to help, they didn’t get how important an impact a bunch of students could do, they didn’t get how much this all meant to me. But I did. In my stint at the medical club, I managed to raise $26,000 for various medical charities and set up a volunteering system at NUH hospital so that people could volunteer to help patients pass their time, impacting possibly thousands of people. Maybe they don’t get that your dream is what you’re meant to do, that you live and breathe it, that you can’t go a day without it. But you do. You do.
Skip to now, I get told all the time to get a “real job” (I have a job, thank you). People ask me what I’m doing and some just don’t get it. They look at me weird, dismiss my work or tell me that I’ll never make it. I remember I had a man who sat me down and told me that it’s hard out there. Even if I was amazing, there’s no way that I could make a decent living. There was no way. He wanted me to tie myself down to him. You know what, I just took his words, put them in a box, nodded and smiled and threw it away after I left. Why? Because I’m not going to waste my time trying to impress and convince him. He just doesn’t get it. Sometimes people only see things in one way. A square, a box. You won’t have a good life if you’re not a doctor. You won’t make it in life if you don’t get into this university. You’re a failure if you’re not earning this salary. Why do I have to fit into their square perception of how I should live my life? I know where I’m going, I know what I want and I know how to get there. But they don’t. They don’t know where I’m going and they can’t fully understand because they’re not me. And you can’t blame them. I reckon you can either spend hours explaining yourself to someone who may or may not care less, or you could smile, nod and move on. Once your work is done, it will be crystal clear.
They just don’t get it but what is important is that you do.