The lies I tell myself

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“Underachieving Underachiever”

That was the title I gave myself. The title to remind myself who I used to be, the title to remind myself who I still am.

I was always the “disappointment” of my family. Bad grades, videos games, socially awkward, you name it. To compensate for my lack of talents and skills, I pretended to be cool by doing edgy things only immature kids would do.

It obviously wasn’t cool, having no friends, being the bottom of the class, getting into trouble with other kids. It wasn’t cool at all. While my brothers were achieving high grades, winning competitions, getting recognition from the public, I hid in my dark dirty room playing MMORPGs¬†24/7.

Nearing the end of my college only had I realize how pathetic I was. A “prestigious” university representative came to advertise at our college, and after seeing my forecast¬†results for my finals, he laughed at me. He said I wouldn’t make the cut, and my friend who there join in on the laughter and said the same thing to me.

There was nothing I could say because I knew it was probably true. It was so true that I was upset with myself, disappointed in myself. How could I have done this to myself? How could I have jeopardized my own life this bad? I had people tell me how stupid I was, how much of a loser I was. But when my closest friend couldn’t even believe in me that time, how could I even believe in myself?

From that day onwards, I started living my first lie:

“You’re hopeless. You’ll never amount to anything.”

The exact words my friend told me.

 

Living the first Lie

Those words really got me. I was so furious and upset that I wanted to tear everything down. I wanted to prove them wrong, I wanted to show them I wasn’t hopeless, that I still have something left in me that I can show. So I studied, night and day, till I had exhaust all I have left.

By the end of college, I managed to score an 87 score average from a 60+ forecasted results. It wasn’t amazing or anything, but it was an improvement, it was a lot more than I could have hoped for.

But it didn’t stop there. Despite knowing I wasn’t hopeless, I lied again.

You’re hopeless.

You’re worthless.

You’re nothing.

Even after my finals, the words keep echoing in my mind. As soon as I pick up a video game, I felt so guilty that’ll I stop after a few minutes. How could I continue playing when I’m already at this state? I subconsciously convinced myself into believing that there was no time to fool around.

Knowing that I’ll be doing computer science when I enter university, I started teaching myself programming before the semester started. I didn’t want to lose to the foundation students who already had programming experience, I didn’t want to be looked down upon, I didn’t want to be hopeless.

I practised¬†programming through FreeCodeCamp and later went out my way to voluntarily build a web application for a non-profit. I was later introduced to Medium where there was an abundance of articles about overachieving overachievers. It was crazy, people who were my age were having their own startups, their own freelance gigs. I was upset at myself, I couldn’t do what they could do. And I told myself the second biggest lie:

“You’re not good enough. You’ll never be good enough.”

 

Living the second Lie

These lies were supposedly mine and mine alone. However, I selfishly reflected those lies unto friends who I thought weren’t on par with me. I pushed them as if I was pushing myself, and I ended creating a toxic cycle where we pushed each other for the wrong reasons. I should have rewarded them for improving, instead, I punished them for not improving enough.

I’ve got no idea why they stuck with me. It’s true that everyone wants to improve, but to be punished for it? No one would ever want that. Yet, they stuck with me, till the very end of my first year.

By the end of my first year at university, one of my friends came up to me and said:

“You’re like a role model to me. You’re honest and good at everything, I really look up to you.”

I should have been happy and proud at that moment, someone had finally acknowledged me. I did feel proud, but as the days go on, I kept thinking:

What if he finds out I’m not as good as he thinks I am?

What if realised I’m not worth looking up to?

What if doesn’t believe in me anymore?

The questions kept eating up at me and alas I lied to myself again:

“You don’t deserve this. You’ve done nothing.”

 

Living the third Lie

When I moved to Brisbane, I thought getting good grades wasn’t enough, I needed something more, I needed to do more.

I ended up giving it my all, winning my two hackathons, networking with people in the industry, and scoring an internship. I didn’t want to let people down, I didn’t want to show weakness, I didn’t want to be a failure. I lie to myself day and day, constantly reminding myself I haven’t done enough.

It’s not enough to be just learning.

It’s not enough to be just getting good grades.

It’s not enough to be just networking.

It’s not enough to be just winning hackathons.

It’s not enough to be getting internships.

It’s not enough to be just building projects.

It’s not enough to be just having people look up to you.

It’s not enough to be just enough.

It’s not enough so you don’t deserve anything.

The lies only fed into my fear of failure. I fear failure more than ever, yet I cannot stop because everything I achieved was not enough.

Everything went south on the first day of my internship. I had a difficult time setting up my development environment on the first day, “it isn’t your fault” they said. But I was disappointed in myself for not being able to do better. By the end of the day, all I wanted was to see the girl I liked, it’ll be all much better if I could see her right?

She rejected me that day.

It was a relief at first, I didn’t have to chase anymore, I didn’t have to do anything anymore. But the lies started eating me up. I broke down, I couldn’t take it, I couldn’t believe it. I betrayed everyone who put their trust in me because I became hopeless, because I wasn’t good enough, because I didn’t deserve their trust.

It took a few months before I got back to my senses,
Who have I been trying to impress all these time? Why do I have to lie to myself all the time?

I started telling myself the truth. You aren’t hopeless, because you have hope for the future, and you’ve already carved your own path for it. You are good enough, you’re good enough that even your friends stick with you, and for them, you are enough. You do deserve this, because you’ve worked hard, and because you continued until the end.

The past few years were miserable, but for the first time in my life, I was genuinely happy. I was happy I failed, because I realised there were people who’ll be there for me even if I’m at my weakest. I was happy because no one gives two shits whether you failed, all that matters is that you’re alright.

It was alright for me stop living these lies.

 

It’s okay to be honest with yourself

You don’t need to live someone else’s lie to be successful, you define what success is for yourself. People might laugh at you, people might mock you, they’ll force their ideals on you. But if you’re doing whatever that’s true to yourself, you’re already on the right track. Even if you fail, you take those experiences and improve yourself on it, that is success.

It was difficult to acknowledge that failure was normal, but I’ve finally realised that it’s just a normal part of life. Knowing that you’ve done your best, that you’ve done it for yourself, is already a win in my mind.

About the author

Jia Sheng Chong

I just write stuff.

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