This was a statement commonly pass about me. Do I care?
How much do you really know yourself? Besides knowing what we like and don’t like, what we can do and can’t do, many of us are actually living out others’ as well as the society’s expectations. We have been taught well that failure was never an option. When we were young, there was always a certain expectation of us i.e. study hard, pass examination with flying colours, get into a branded school, shoot for top university if possible and land with a well paid job with an established large organisation. Thereafter, work hard, mind your own business and don’t be a nosey parker, don’t risk failure and always stay on the safe side. Sound familiar?
Like any parents, we often wished our kids to be well behaved, bring pride to the family by scoring top in exam, participate in and win trophies in all activities and if possible, get a scholarship and work in government or government linked companies cause they are certainly fail-safe companies and pay better (salary, bonus and welfare benefits) than most privately owned companies.
In our Singapore society, we are all well trained to be submissive and disciplined. Follow the rules, obey the authorities and mind our own business. When in doubt, don’t be a smart Alec. Instead, tread on the safe side and watch what others do and then follow suit thereafter.
We have been taught there is no honour for being a loser. At home and society, we were so well beaten into shape to think and act within the box that we have literally surrendered our ownership and initiative in order to conform and comply. A typical example is driving habit. When there is no ‘U’ turn sign, we are so well trained not to make an ‘U’ turn. These seem to be the rules of life that have been well embedded inside our system that we lost the boldness, courage and initiative to lead, be difference and take risk. Anything outside the unknown seems to be fraught with risk and suicidal.
Singaporean at large think and act as a herd. A typical Singaporean trait is that whenever we see a queue, we join first and ask later. This ‘kiasuism’ attitude has become a trademark of many Singaporeans. Another common example is the assembly of large crowds in a new property launch. Property developers are so skilful in exploiting this ‘kiasu’ mentality that our government have to intervene implementing 8 different measures within 24 months so that Singaporean at large will not fall into the financial trap should property prices fall. Our education system has trained us to be book and exam smart that we also have lost the analytical skill to evaluate risk.
If we continue to live in a semi-conscious state of mind, reacting only external environment, I wonder how smart or successful can one becomes. My overseas friend was jokingly lamenting that life as Singaporean is so predictable and very thing is so prefixed that nothing is left to chance. When there is a robbery (recently taken place in Geylang), it seems so unreal and extraordinary event that gets most of us excitedly worried. The riot by the foreign workers in Little India and the strike by the mainland Chinese were 2 major events have taken many Singaporeans by surprise. Do we really care? I don’t think so. After all, we are confident our authority or ‘big brother’ will deal with it swiftly and decisively. That’s our careless attitude that has been bred in us.
We have also willingly surrendered our say, forego our rights in exchange for a safe and secured living environment. We have become so used to routine that anything out of the ordinary seems surprising. We have been cowed to conformity and compliances that we have lost our enterprising spirits. We have been educated in a system that scoring well in exam means we must be good. We have been shamed when we misbehaved, dishonoured when we failed and categorised as unSingaporean when we don’t conform to the regular norm.
That is the sad state of mind in most Singaporeans that we literally don’t have any interest to truly find out who we really are, live the life or do the things we aspired to do. We are living out the expectations of our families and society, that how I summed it.
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” ― C.G. Jung