I’m always remembered by my childhood friends as a shy, awkward chap. One who keeps to himself and tends to shy away from crowds. I always had trouble making friends, as introverted people usually do. My passive approach to friendship probably made me seem distant, or even unapproachable. Despite all this, I’ve held many posts over the years that are more commonly associated with extroverts. I’ve led orientation groups, prayer circles, and even counselled dejected individuals who struggled to find the strength to fight on. Many tell me that I have an incredible sensitivity to emotions that few possess. I’m not sure about that, but perhaps that’s what landed me all those opportunities. A decade later, however, not much has changed. I still value time alone, away from the swirling chaos around me. Waves of insecurity and discomfort continue to drown me whenever I’m in a group setting. Most of all, I’m still very much an introvert.

My new year resolutions haven’t changed much either. At the start of every year, I’ll still promise to change for the “better”. An elaborate plan would be crafted before the start of every academic year, one which would hopefully push me towards the lofty highlands of popularity. In hindsight, popularity was never for me. I simply lacked the appropriate character traits to achieve it. A small, tightly-knit friendship circle – that’s what suits me most. Upon making that realisation, I tossed my fallacious aspirations out the window, and opened my arms to the tender embrace of freedom. In trying to be what I wasn’t, my wings were clipped. It’s a miracle how something as simple as adjusting your expectations can change so much in your life. I espoused the introverted side of me, and learnt how to love myself for the cloddish man I am.

The game of life is a tricky one, for it’s easy to go off course. Like sculptors, we all have different ideas when it comes to carving the perfect image of ourselves. Some of us pursue popularity, while others might chase material wealth. It takes courage to fight for our dreams and aspirations, but it takes even greater courage to accept that we sometimes choose the wrong paths towards them. The key, dear readers, is to play the game of life according to your strengths. If you’re a quiet, unassuming person like me, seeking countless friends or unrivalled attention may just be out of reach. On the other hand, the insights you acquire from being a silent observer might make you a priceless advisor! Knowing who we are and what we’re capable of, that’s the secret to success. Of course, everyone has their own definition of success. But if yours is simply to be a happier person than you were yesterday, the course of action I described above might just be the perfect first step.