What if you have already won life?

Last year, I was in a martial arts training and someone cried because she cannot do a kick properly, and the teacher asked me to go to the toilet to see if she was alright. I knew that is a sign of depression, or at least, it signified the fear of failures. But I did not have the courage to bring it up. It was really awkward and I said some random stupid shit that I have done when I was little to make her laugh. She did not laugh. Anyway.

This experience caught me thinking, what should I say when someone you are supposed to build up a friendly relationship with cry at the least triggering things?

‘Do you know that you cry not because of that kick/thing that you have done, but because it reminded you some sort of sad and painful memories in the past that convinced you ”you will never succeed again”?’

‘I know you cannot help crying, so there is no reason to be embarrassed about.’

‘And I am here to tell you, that you are not worthless. You will win, but not in the way you expected. A few years ago, I was really depressed about my public exam results, and I swear to god if there is one more chance I will pass with flying colors. I will try so hard, I will not sleep until I finish revision. I will do anything, just to get back the self-esteem I had lost. But things were still difficult, it was just me becoming more and more desperate and crazy. Nothing really changed really. How I studied did not change just because I wanted to win. I was just getting deeper and deeper into the inferior feeling. Then, day after day I thought about other stuff. I did other stuff. Many of the emotions remain unchanged. But my perspective towards this world changed.

One day I was thinking, what if God created a game that I have to fail 100 times before I figured out all the skills I need to find the key of success? What if there are more than 100 traps in this pathway that leads to success? Why am I quitting on the second or third level? Why am I feeling numb about all the emotions and shut down my whole emotional system just because I bleed? What if I stumbled and fell 99 times but I can still smile and try again?

Think about it. What if that is life? If that is true, I think the game is not about winning or losing, but a testing of your mental strength. A test of your mental flexibility, durability, endurance, the ability to feel and love in the face of losing everything you have.

If you have failed 100 times but you are still able to feel and love, but still able to be sensitive and gentle to yourself and others, I think you have already won.

Some individuation happened.

Carl Jung once said he felt like everyone has two different personalities. Generalised from his own childhood experiences, he mentioned in his autobiography Memories, Dreams, Reflections (1963) that when he was little, he identified two sides of him that are distinct from each other. Jung named them No. 1 and No.2. No.1 was the child who wants parental approval and success while No.2 was spiritual, wise, rooted, mystical and love nature, was his true self.

The similarity between my childhood with Carl Jung was, both of us are extreme introverts, some may even use the term ‘schizoid personality disorder’ to describe this particular condition. Being withdrawn and aloof, we both took our inner life seriously and had a more developed No. 2 than the average in society.

However, different from Carl Jung, I had a hard time developing my No.1 side of me. From time to time, my No.2 dominates the situation. My No.1 development was lagging behind but I did not see a problem with it. No.2 is all about being yourself and live in the present, without concern over other people’s opinions and it can push me to go against societal norms and from time to time, persuade me to ‘break the rules’. But my maldeveloped No.1 side was telling me I am inferior and I am not good enough, never good enough. People will not look upon me with respect. Maybe my No.1 side had become my shadow for a long time but I was not aware of it.So I cling to my No.2 self even further.

My breaking point came when a very close friend who I’ve seen as my opposite persona (who had a very well developed No.1 ) succeeded in achieving something I am jealous about. I realised my No.1 side have always been there inside me, and it’s time to deal with the development of myself. Some inner work needs to be done.

Quick enough, just within a week or so, I started to explore lots of career choices I have never thought about and have more positive emotions within myself. I reviewed and rejected many of the previous statement I took as facts and suspected to be wrong. I used to take my parents’ view of me as inferior and ‘the kid who will always live under mama’s skirt’ started to become a fire and fuel me to develop myself. I had never worked on my outer layer of myself. Now I can see that even though I am spiritual, loving and self-accepting, something is off and I will never succeed. Other people cannot see my strengths neither because I have never tried to dress like the person I wanted to be seen as. Now, things are clear, I want to be seen as a powerful independent woman.

I felt so much better about myself after that existential crisis about my own identity and self. I still have not figured out my future and I am sure this topic will freak me out and stress me out every time I think about. But I am ready, ready to face the side of myself I have not looked at, and make peace with it.