Ikigai, success and why delaying something is okay

The year was 2013. It was Politics of Education class (one of my electives) with Sir Louie who became one of the closest professors I’ve ever had. We were discussing the works of Paulo Freire (The Politics of Education: Culture, Power, and Liberation, 1985) when we touched on the concept of Ikigai.

Image taken from forbes.com.

This image represents the best way to describe what Ikigai means. It is a Japanese concept that means a ‘reasons for being’. It’s described as the value of being alive which makes one’s life worthwhile; it’s about finding satisfaction and a sense of meaning to life. When we do what we love, we pursue what we’re good at, we get paid for doing it, and when we do something that impacts the world around us, that’s what our Ikigai means.

According to Freire, the oppressed must be their own example in the struggle for their redemption. Linking it to our Ikigai discussion, this means that people (in our context, the students) can make and remake themselves when they learn. When they find their reason for existence, not only they learn out of their struggle but they unlock the knowledge and realise the importance of finding their purpose and taking responsibility for themselves as being because everyone can know that they know and knowing that they don’t.

I used to think that my reason for existence was simple – be rich, live life to the fullest… all I wanted was to live in a nice house without the fear of not being able to provide for myself. I know most of us want to do this but I really wanted travel and experience adventures from time to time. When I started working and when this pandemic took place, what used to be important to me means nothing now.

I realised that growing my savings and earning money is okay but my personal time is more important now. I know it’s not just me when I say that there are days when I couldn’t get out of work on time because of overflowing tasks. However, on most days when I could log off work as soon as the clock hits 6, I find time to do things that are not work-related which includes a lot of sleep since I work night shifts.

Why is this important to me? I discovered that I feel successful when I make time for family gatherings and I never miss one. I am happy and at peace when I find time to play gaming consoles to end a long day at work. I bet if everything was still in the old normal I wouldn’t be able to find time to do these things. I was also determined to finish my goal of reading at least 50 books this year. The sad part I am nowhere near half of my goal.

These days, when things have gone bonkers because of the pandemic, I felt that it’s okay when all I ever thought about was my safety and of those people around me. Delaying something and adapting to the changing times is more important and that does not mean I failed (I still read books every now and then).

I still do not know what my Ikigai is but it now makes sense to me.

  • Things happen in my own timeline and pace and if I keep comparing my story to others, it will only bring more harm than good;
  • What once meant the world to me may mean nothing in future;
  • Changing priorities is okay;

When you found your reason for existence please hold on to it, defend it, and ensure that it gives a positive impact to the community that you belong to. If you haven’t found yours that’s okay. Things will fall into its rightful places to those who know how to wait.

A message to my readers (and soon-to-be-ones)

I lost track of time. I know it’s not only me when I say couldn’t recognise what day it was already. I forgot about my passion projects, thinking that the ‘lock downs’ were only going to last for a couple of weeks, if not three months max. When traveling and seeing my friends were my only refuge and escape away from my cloudy thoughts, I couldn’t do it because of the situation these days.

It’s been more than six months since strict quarantine measures have been in place. The situation has barely improved in my country and it feels like it’s getting worse day after day. I’m quite disappointed and I feel sorry for not being able to write the past months. I wanted to focus on how I can stay alive, and here I am!

Heartbreaks: When Nightmares Turn Into Lessons

September 7, 2015. 5:34 PM.

I was weak and vulnerable that day. I haven’t eaten anything for three days straight because I felt full. I barely moved at all but managed to get myself to the Adoration Chapel. I desperately needed a sign from Him, so I prayed hard like I’ve never prayed to Him before. He responded to me by letting me meet him for the last time of my life. He was there, standing right in front of me as I was crying my heart out. He asked, “What’s the matter, tell me?” I said nothing. He picked me up on my arms and walked me on the bench to talk things over. He always knew I was having issues with my family and he has been my shoulders to lean on. He was listening to me very well and had been advising me that everything will be all right – not until the moment he uttered something about us.

He told me everything, and that was the only time I felt he was being honest with me about his feelings. I was really waiting for that moment when he would tell me that he had been having an affair because I knew all about it already. He didn’t mention anything about that, but he’d been telling me that he didn’t deserve my love because I’m always the forgiving one and all because he’d been committing things he shouldn’t be committing in the first place. I don’t know what to say, but I really thought he’s being unfair because he used my vulnerability that day; hence a double whammy for me, if others would say. I uttered nothing but silence because he knew my eyes spoke sadness all along.

We talked about things I didn’t understand at all because nothing came into my mind except the thought of loneliness and being broken. When the mass has ended, I managed to get up from my seat and walked inside the Adoration Chapel. I needed an arm to hold me and God was there. Thank God for He was there to catch me through my prayers.

The prayers may have done the miracles for me because I managed not to cry anymore and decided to go home. He decided to walk me home for the last time. He heard nothing from me, despite his efforts to make everything feel lighter and a little positive. I told myself, “This guy is crazy, isn’t he? He broke my heart yet he’s trying to console my emotions by making me laugh. Such a shame!” I managed not to smile and not to give any glance to him that moment. and I never regretted a thing or two about that.

He asked me why I was so distant to him and he tried to pull me closer to his arms. I refused and told him that ‘I am good’ and he didn’t have to worry about me. He frowned. I rested a poker face.

He was telling me stories about our good memories together, but nothing registered in my mind but pain. Maybe, he thought that I would be consoled if he made me remember everything that night. Maybe, he thought that I would be the same Kim, who would easily forget everything after a few moments of deep thinking. Maybe, he didn’t think that what he was doing that time would make the pain worse than ever.

I managed not to let him come near our house because he’s banned from coming in there, so we parted ways when reached the nearby street. I was numb when he hugged me. I turned my back against him, and so he did his back to me, too. Suddenly, I felt a sudden rush of adrenaline down to my legs and made me run after him. I did not hug him, but just tapped his shoulders. He stopped so we could talk over.

Now, here’s the part where I told him everything I needed to tell him – about him, my life with him, my life without him, my days, my stress, my problems and everything… everything he wanted me to say while we were walking home, but there was no single moment when I begged him to stay. I said, “If God allows, then He surely will.” That was the moment when I have accepted everything and have already moved on. Yes, I have moved on that fast. “Why not?” I asked myself. I did not doubt everything because I knew that God has a plan for me.

I may be broken yesterday, but never again today. Indeed, the memories are there and will always be present, but that wouldn’t hurt me because those memories would serve as a good reminder that everything in this life is fast changing. I suddenly remembered that we are living in a world of impermanence and these things will make us better individuals not because we need to but because that’s how it is should be – we keep learning in life, because if we stop learning, then we fail to live life.