Ladies and Gentlemen,
Before I start my speech, I’d like to ask you a question. What was your worst fear when you were a child? Some of you might say ghosts, or police？ Or even tiger!
Well, for me it was a bit different. My worst fear was not becoming the “perfect kid” that we were expected to be.
Too often, we were told by our parents, teachers and society that we should have got a good grade like that perfect kid. We should have behaved like a model student, who never wasted time on dating. And we should have been as well-rounded as that perfect kid, who speaks 1 foreign language, plays 2 musical instruments and excels at 3 different sports. The idea gradually transformed me, as I began to seek sense of accomplishment from exceeding others.
From the very first day of college, I worked as hard as I could to be a straight-A student. In order to catch up with “that perfect kid”, I participated in extra-curricular activities that I wasn’t truly passionate about. Even in my personal life, I tended to date guys based on their height and attractiveness, as if that was the way to happiness.
But, is it really?
Last Spring Festival, I chose to continue my internship in Beijing instead of going home to spend time with family. On New Year’s Eve, my mom sent me a family photo where everyone-but-me was having the reunion dinner. “Sweetheart, how we wish you were here! But don’t worry about us, work goes first”.
In that picture was my newly-wed cousin who was pregnant with her first baby, my 80 year old grandma whose wrinkles got deeper with each passing year, and my father--a man of few words but whose love meant a whole world to me.
Work goes first? My mom’s encouragement could not even convince herself, much less me. As I thought about the family moments I was missing, I burst into tears and was overwhelmed by a sense of sadness: Was it what I really want? Was this need to become the perfect kid really the source of my happiness?
As I reflected on these questions I decided, that even though out-competing others may give me a sense of fulfillment, it could not give me happiness. Instead, it could only be counted as my last piece of vanity.
Once down that path, I have been in a never-ending chase for better grades, more wealth and higher social status. Along the way, friends became competitors, and family became We-chat friends...
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am not saying we should not strive for excellence. Being competitive is precisely the defining quality of our generation.
But at the end of the day, happiness is not about all of us fitting into one model, or meeting one set standard. It’s about each and every one of us doing the things we truly love. Each of us, by living our own lives and dreams, adds to the definition of happiness.
Because happiness is not given by others, rather, it is earned by fulfilling the expectations of ourselves.