“I feel it’s right…” I muttered under my breath, a little bit unsure of my conclusion. Timmie perked up, and said, “What did you say?”

“Huh? I said I think it’s right…”

“No,” Tim said, “what you said just now…. You said you “feel” it’s right… Finally you stop thinking and feel!”

Dumbstruck. I had not even noticed what I said. But Timmie did. He notices even the smallest changes in me. I think he is very wise.

But why did I not listen to him? Arrogance. My self-presumed superiority over others, my air of arrogance over Timmie, and my preconceived notion of my higher intelligence, blinds me from things I can learn from others. It makes me impatient and to want to act, thinking that I knew better. I rush into things, and get frustrated when things do not go as planned or when I had to wait for responses.

Thus, I do not fare well with ambiguous situations or uncertainty, because it means waiting it out, because it means inaction, because it means, I do not know what to do next. This was unfamiliar territory. For someone who enjoys self-reflection and thinking, it is ironic that in life I do not like to think and reflect, but simply act.

In addition, when things do not turn out right, I hesitate to ask for help as well. I do not receive help well. I love to give, offer my help, offer my home for others to stay, and yet feel so uncomfortable to stay at a friend’s home when I travelled. I was uneasy when people tried to even help me carry my suitcase. Inside, I thought, I should be capable enough to do it all myself. Receiving help seemed to denote I was incompetent. However, this notion stemmed only because I was arrogant to start with, assuming I was omnipotent.

This then ties in with why I compared myself with others, and then become miserable when I denounced myself as not as good. Comparison was fuel for my assumed superiority. So I had to check on how others were doing. I had to stand out. I wanted to be valued for being intellectual. I wanted others to notice. I needed to be distinctive to continue my self-fulfilling prophecy that I was still ahead of the game.

At the core of this desire to be outstanding, was immense insecurity and fear. Fear I was not good enough. Fear of “right” and “wrong”. Fear of judgment.

Why do what others think matter so much? Feedback was important for improvement, but I took feedback to the extreme, worried it would affect the image of perfection I had conjured up of myself. It was tiring to keep up a reputation, a façade of who I was.

It is not totally a mirage. Part of it was real, but the other parts I was trying to hide from the others. So, energy was spent on pushing bits of me to the backstage, whilst balancing other bits of me on front stage for others to see. Arrogance would not have it any other way. Fear supported the arrogance.

However, a balancing act is exhausting. More relaxing to stand in front of the audience, as a whole. This is who I am, this is all I am.

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There are habits I would like to change, such as act slower, and be more empathetic. But to start with, I must start with who I am, the whole of me, the naked core.

Understanding that it was fine to be different, fine to not always be the first, fine that I had strengths as well as flaws, and accepting all these notions would be a good start. I had illusions of grandeur that I could help change the world for better. I think it is better to start first with myself.

If my motivations for writing a book was to be well known, I don’t think the book would do well, for I would not be writing with my heart. If my aim was to help myself confront issues, and to help others, then whether it sold 1 million copies or none at all, would not matter. Helping others is not a trophy to show.

Arrogance must subside. It hinders me from learning from others, from enjoying simple activities, from simply living.

As for fear, we all fear. But I need to have the courage to admit I was afraid. Then I can move on.

I think my husband is very wise. He smiled, gave me a hug, and said, “I love you.” I might have said, “I told you so,” if the situation reversed….

6 Responses

  1. Sydnee says:

    What a beautiful and well written post!! I can relate so much to what you said. You have inspired me.

  2. […] The last few year’s introspection has led me to understand why I force myself to achieve – arrogance, dread of disappointing others and myself, search for independence to make my own decisions away […]

  3. Tess says:

    You are incredibly inspiring. I am so happy you have a blog and that you’ve recorded your journey – to the great benefit of all of us reading. It has helped me enormously on my own path. Thank you for sharing!

  4. […] decade has gone by since then. Life challenges, broken relationships, relocations, marriage, baby… Yet the feeling was the same as I performed […]

about Noch Noch

Enoch Li, (pen name: Noch Noch) was born and raised in Hong Kong and Australia. She has also studied / worked / lived in the US, France, UK, Japan, The Netherlands, China, and has travelled to more than 40 countries. She loves travelling and her curiosity in foreign cultures and languages has led her to enjoy her life as an international executive in the banking & finance industry. However, she was forced to take time off work in 2010 due to her illnesses and after spending time in recovery, cooking, practising Chinese calligraphy, reading and writing – in short, learning to take care of herself and letting out the residual work stress, she has transitioned into a Social Entrepreneur and founded BEARAPY to help corporates make workplaces mentally healthy, and support executives to become more resilient.