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Pressure to excel but I want to do something else Anonymous 17807

Hi all, posting here rather than on a forum for anonymity.

For context, I'm currently a college senior at a top university in my country in Asia. Not gonna reveal too many details, but basically it's a school full of people that are wealthy, smart, or both.

There are lots of things happening in my life (young adulthood and graduation are transition periods after all) and for the most part I'm happy with where I currently am.

I am content with being average. although I am fine with being average, and I am currently contemplating to disinherit myself to become a monastic, I don't think my family or the people I'm surrounded would appreciate it.
I feel pressured to excel, and it does not even have to be an explicit, verbal thing. Because of my background (above), it is very easy to feel insecure when you're acquaintances with the children of businessmen, politicians, scholars, celebrities, artists, athletes, musicians, etc. It is easy to brush away insecurities regarding famous people, brushing off their beauty or glamour as 'photoshopped' and 'curated.' But I find it not so easy at all, in my case. When you go to class with actual models, national athletes, and teenagers that have start-up companies… even some of our country's presidents are alumni of our uni. It's frankly a surreal experience.
What makes it even more surreal is that seeing these people as acquaintances just going about their day, their day-to-day lives aren't that far of a stretch to the ones filtered and manicured in a social media profile. Another thing is that many of them are unaware of their privilege. While there are always those that are jerks about it, a lot of them are just so… "humble," or at the least, "innocent" about it? Real conversations I've had with my classmates on their experiences such as: 'oh i lived in 5 different countries growing up because my dad's a government official,' or 'yeah I placed on a national scholastic competition when I was younger. it was ok' or 'i do practice every week because i compete for the national team' etc. to name a few.
The thing is, they're so unassuming and nonchalant over their achievements and privilege you can't even hate them for it. The humility might just make one admire them even more.

I think I have some qualities that aren't bad at all, but I still can't help feeling inadequate by comparison to my (very skewed) social circle. I do not want to bring my friends down, but the social pressure makes me feel like I am wrong for not wanting 'to excel.' I just really want a slow, reclusive, minimalist life in a rural village where I can sleep on a hammock and tend to my chickens and my garden. Living a monastic/hermitic lifestyle pretty much cuts one out from high-wealth career options, not to mention marriage.

Still very grateful for many things, but at the same time I feel very disoriented since after all, graduating is a crossroads in one's life.

Similar experiences and advice welcome :)

Anonymous 17811

Is OP from Singapore?

Anonymous 17816

Nope, but another country near it.
Trying not to reveal too much but our uni is also in QS ranking, but it is far from NUS' rank 12 (iirc).

Anonymous 17894

gas all boomers.pn…

Oh I assumed Singapore at first due the meritocratic nature you described (and how identifying your top uni would make you recognizable so it must be small country). At-least be glad the people who have it easy make some effort to get a education or something instead of wasting their money/time despite the circumstances they were brought up in. As there are plenty of wealthy individuals who "throw their lives away"; and I would rather have a society where the scholars are all elitists landowners than where all the elitist landowners waste their money on parties and wars and the scholars are poor (like in feudalism where engineering was at first a field the "gentleman scholar" was not interested in). My take isn't the best but here is my take.

I can't control the circumstances of my upbringing (which my own are relatively comfortable compared to rest of the world and even in my own country) what I can control is my progress overall (not the end-goal or current status; but just overall progress). I am insecure if I feel stagnated or where I feel that I waste my time; and I gauge that by comparing myself to others. It's not jealousy about what they have and what I don't but the dread of my circumstances and background being better yet growing less, as if i'm throwing away my chances. As if someone were to be in my spot instead they would do much better overall than what I am doing and through that small improvement the world would be a better place even by just a tiny bit (but isn't that narcissism to believe that I matter in the grand scheme of things? No every little bit of effort and time that doesn't go to waste is still better for efficiency in managing our will! Right?).

I'l give a personal example I knew this classmate from HS one year above me; he entered college as just another random kid lost in college and deciding to major in law because you know how naive freshmen are. At the time when I was high-school age I had interest in math and that later expanded to finance/econ (not business) while this individual was probably vastly behind me in his math education and the other things I knew. I just for curiosity recently I checked his linkedin/twitter to see how he was doing. To save some time basically this kid in a span of 2-3 years went from a dumb lawyer student to someone who is majoring in a advanced-path maths degree (meant for post-grad study) for which he plans to use to get into some terminal masters quant-finance program. While I am here barely transferring out of a 2 year community college into some BA major in Econ, to put it simply he has surpassed me in all academic aspects. Another random person; who I never met in my life let alone talked to her; I just know her from browsing random linkedin/twitter profiles (I like to gauge myself to randoms by stalking their CVs, again insecurities) went from being admitted to a mid-tier Ivy school double-majoring in math and some art program at 17 and now I see that she has dropped out years ago after a episode of depression and from what I get from her twitter vents is doing part-time secretary work at a office and is deeply unhappy. All of that just ruined by depression, what was the cause? Could it have been imposter-syndrome (where she feels all her achievements are due to supposed affirmative action)? Romantic troubles? I would never know exactly but I suspect it was imposter-syndrome (which is rooted in insecurity).

I don't have any struggles financially (I actually have a /comfy/ sum of money saved through investing and trading) but I struggle knowing that I am not performing my best in terms of learning subjects (which is something I am interested) while my mind is at its sharpest age. Sure money is nice but could you imagine being a billionaire and not speaking another language (each to their own)? I have a habit of just logging how I spend my time on the internet by never deleting my browsing history and keeping logs from years back as I just like remembering everything and keeping track of how I spent time (also helps remembering stuff). I always try to justify whatever I did by saying that the memories obtained from that activity (whatever it may be) provide some worth, but maybe that's just a coping mechanism of mine. Perhaps I am obsessed with time as I see it as the "great equalizer" of sorts being that it affects all universally regardless of the different circumstances. Maybe I also dread knowing that dwelling in depression is known to shrink brain and cause memory loss (something that deeply disturbs me, knowing the time spent in building those memories just perishes).

Sorry for my late night drunk-tier schizo rants. Only thing I can end with is by saying that happiness is relative (in terms of what are people's preferences), but it is best to enjoy something you may be happy in (and others may not) like that rural lifestyle you mentioned even if people find that preference odd. What good is that top CEO job if you have no friends, you are burned out from getting to that position and you suffer from stress/reduced cognitive abilities due to episodes of depression? Is it just to impress others? Do our own individual achievements standing by themselves matter in the grand scheme of things? Happiness is very important for your mental health, and a key part to happiness is having friends and other people to talk to (loneliness is known to be unhealthy and some of the communities with longest lifespans are those with strong communities https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Zone "Social engagement –people of all ages are socially active and integrated into their communities" and while you can't please everyone you meet it is possible to find people you share mutual interest for each other through being passionate about something; as such it is best to be friendly and kind.

Anonymous 17899

I'm not op but I wanted to say you really wrote that nicely

Also to op: If you decide to live in a village, you might really regret it later. If I were you, I would continue with my life as it is and if you just can't take it anymore, move to a village. You'll probably earn quite a bit of money if you continue with your life now so if you ever decide to move it will be easier with money of course. Also, in school, especially such a prestigious school you are describing, there are many more chances to improve yourself. Living off the land comes with its own trials but I think you still learn more and face more trials in school.
I also feel very inadequate in comparison to my colleagues at college, which isn't half as prestigious as yours, but sometimes I just realize how lucky I am to be among such smart people and that being around them will help me grow, too.
that is, it would, if I talked to them , which I don't, ha ha…

Anonymous 17907

I can empathize with your experience. I live in the us, and I have close relatives who are very, very wealthy and move social circles I can't even imagine. I visited these relatives for a week and their lifestyle was mind blowing. The youngest ones were well aware of their wealth (talking about one of their nannies: "It's because she doesn't have money…"). But even so, they just can't comprehend what a middle class life is like. It's crazy. They went to school with the children of politicians, ambassadors, and super elite… It's crazy.

But OP, look up imposter syndrome if you're not familiar with it. You made or into that school. And now you're graduating. It sounds like you earned it. Why not try a career in your field? If you find it unfulfilling, you can go into the monastic life.

Anonymous 17909

Actual singaporean here. We don't have celebrities or atheletes people actually care about (lol)

I didn't grow up around rich/"successful" people, but trust me, the expectation to 'excel' is felt by pretty much every asian who made it as far as university. It's why all these chinkaporeans cried while watching crazy rich asians - the peer pressure is common to us all :")

I'm not saying you should do this, but what i did was to nope the fuck out the moment i graduated. With about 2-3k usd to live on (all my own savings from waitressing) i bought a one way ticket to a nice country admired by many and found a job there. I earn about half as much as a SG uni grad, but life here is more affordable and i'm actually happier…for now. I'm in a dead end job and have no idea what to do in the next two years. Btw i'm 25.

In the real long term i might wanna run an ice cream shop near a beach or amusement park. or a fried chicken stall at a university.

take your time. Life is long. Do the next thing that seems at bare minimum, some what enjoyable, and stick with it until you might find the next bare-minimum enjoyable thing you think you want to try.

You'll be fine <3

Anonymous 17910

except xuaxei or whatever her name is. half of singaporean youth love that crazy bitch and I cant understand why. actually i do, singapore is the most boring country on earth so they tend to go for something out of the normal

Anonymous 17911

Xiaxue's fame is nothing compared to the atheletes and college models in china/hong kong/taiwan/philippines' top schools.

I liked xiaxue when i was 15 and while i can get the appeal, her snark/wit can't beat modelling for victoria's secret or like getting an actual medal in the olympics

Anonymous 17912

We are talking about Singaporean celebs not China/Hong Kong/Taiwan ones (I lmao'd when you included the pinoy celebs there. Come on now)

Anonymous 17914

Pinoys go all over the world and breed like bunnies, when the rich kids fuck up and can't get into murican/where-ever university, they fall back on the dual citizenship cheat and send their kids to the top filipino uni! I wouldn't belittle the top pinoy uni's kids. Like i wouldn't rank xiaxue above them.

Anonymous 17915


Just chiming in to mention Zhang Jingna, who started out as a hobby photographer on deviantART and now travels the world shooting fashion covers and celebrities, and she was an accomplished athlete before that. Not a household name or traditional celeb, but it's gotta count for something that she's a world-famous artist now.

Anonymous 17916

She ever wrote about her classmates in art school shitting on her because she was often out of school to do air rifle, but her work was graded better than the rest
And isn't she based in new york now anyway? Or anywhere but singapore

>tfw too young to have gone to a meetup with zemotion

I still wish i helped her scatter the petals or something when she did those victorian maiden shoots. By the time i joined the comm even her friends were gone

OP 21481


Hi all, sorry for necro-ing this thread. I wrote a reply a month ago but the browser seems to have reloaded or something and it didn't save. sorry!! I read the earlier replies and thank you for the advice.

Thank you. I know people like that too. People that 'peaked' in high school (or earlier) but then end up dropping out of uni because of depression/other issues. Whenever I see those coeds of mine I can't help but feel a bit sad because they weren't able to make use of their full potential.
Will definitely look into Blue Zones as places I can build my future hermitage hahaha

Yes I'm really just bearing with it as long as I can lol. I really hope I "learn" to love the career path my major leads to - as much as I want to live rural I need the money for my family.

>I also feel very inadequate in comparison to my colleagues at college, which isn't half as prestigious as yours, but sometimes I just realize how lucky I am to be among such smart people and that being around them will help me grow, too.

it's a good perspective :) it really is a blessing to be around people that help you grow. Thank you

Yeah it's really crazy. I grew up middle class too, but when I was in high school my dad made some good business deals and suddenly they could afford to send me to this expensive uni. It was really a culture shock. The stereotype that the rich are 'detached' from how middle and lower classes live isn't a stereotype AT ALL.

That's really risky, but I'm glad you're happy at your current job :) An ice cream shop or a fried chicken stall sounds like a fun business. Best of luck to what you'll do in the next two years. thank you <3

RE: impostor syndrome is common among my coeds, and I probably have it too :/ When I tell my family how I feel they just brush it off and tell me that I just lack confidence. It's weird too, hearing it from my coeds that their achievements don't really lessen their insecurity.
I think a large part of it was that I picked my major because I wanted to master and learn more about it. Now that I'm graduating, I feel like I was really made aware of just how little I know, and even the scholars and experts in the field have thoughts that can be summed up as 1/2 educated guess and 1/2 ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. It's somewhat demotivating to know that I probably will never be able to master my field. It feels a bit like falling out of love.


I wrote the post during finals week and I was stressed because I felt like I wasn't doing so well in my classes. My grades were out, and while not low, I didn't make the honor roll (again) last semester hahaha

Just posted back here because I'm writing my resume and it stresses me out that it's so… bare lol. I still feel confused now - I'm graduating in three months and I'm applying for post-grad degree stuff. I don't feel 100% into doing it, but it's an opportunity so I might as well take it. Hope it goes well.
Thank you all for the advice. I guess I'll sit on the idea of being a monastic for a (long) while. Right now I'm just focusing on grad + personal problems and trying to become less dull and basic. Anyone please feel free to offer your own thoughts :)

Anonymous 21653

Glad to see you live, op

OP 29064


OP here, life update.

I graduated last May and while I didn't get honors, I was 0.2 away from it so an ok effort I guess? It's been a few months since graduation so the misgivings I had about it had mostly faded.

It's my first semester in law school and I moved into my own apartment so life is great for the time being. I get along ok with my classmates; one of my classmates also lives in the same building as me so having a neighbor makes me feel much less homesick. I try to see my boyfriend at least once a month.

I keep running out of money for utilities so I'm applying for a part time job. Really hope I get accepted and of course, that I don't flunk out of school.

I definitely still think about wanting to be a hermit or part of the clergy whenever I'm having a difficult time in law school, but for the time being that's taken a back seat. As much as I would want to pursue that I still have siblings to support as the eldest. I still don't know what career path I'll take, but I guess I'll just figure it out as I go along in a few years.
I don't have everything together but I really feel like I'm in a much better place now than last year.


I got accepted to the part-time job. It's midterms next week.

Anonymous 30231

Congratulations on the job and best of luck on your midterms.

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