empathy

Underachieving can be ok

Painting by Nguyen Xuan Huy

Painting by Nguyen Xuan Huy

It doesn’t take a life-altering epiphany for most people to become aware of just how “common they are,” to know that you might not be the best at anything.

I grew up in a generation of overachievers, in a world littered with benchmarks for everybody’s self-worth, where people eagerly step on one another to get to the top. Meanwhile, I mastered the knack of being idle on my couch, binge-watching unremarkable TV shows, and gorging myself on cold Chinese food.

In today’s world, being ordinary is almost equivalent to being a nobody.

Some people are the flawless embodiment of perfection. They walk through life as though they owned the world and have all the answers. I am not one of them.

I do not have a defining talent. I am not the prettiest one in class, or the smartest, or the funniest. I don’t even know enough curse words to be an intimidating badass, nor am I charismatic enough to be a girl-next-door.

I see myself oscillating between personas now and then, wearing whichever suits me best in any given situation. I don’t know what people remember me by when they meet me for the first time. I don’t know what I would like them to remember me by. I don’t know whether I say what naturally comes to my mind during interactions or what the other person expects to hear.

Most of my life has been like living in a haze, trying to grasp portions of something tangible and real. My mind is a jumble of jigsaw pieces I can barely piece together, so much so that I am confused as to how I should scale my own value. I don’t know whether it’s jealousy for the ones who are gifted or a plain lack of self-esteem.

Still, I give myself credit where it’s due. I know the world is full of possibilities and that I won’t end up being an unemployed gambler on the run – knock on wood. I may even do pretty well in life.

What are the odds for someone as average as me to, say, star in a movie or climb a mountain? How likely is it that they will name a constellation after me or write a biography for me? But do I even want this? Not really.

The fact that I am aware of my limitations can also mean that I have more clues as to what direction to head in. Before I attempt to strive for anything, I am confronted with a reality check. I amend my bucket list every now and then, convincing myself that I am a pragmatist. It is not even sad. It’s that feeling you get when you have a superior sibling or your friend wins a lottery.

Written by Ananya Pattnaik

Try to take your eyes off Vietnamese artist Nguyen Xua Huy’s disturbing artworks, we dare you.

 

Courtesy of Nguyen Xuan Huy

Courtesy of Nguyen Xuan Huy

 

Courtesy of Nguyen Xuan Huy

Courtesy of Nguyen Xuan Huy

 

Courtesy of Nguyen Xuan Huy

Courtesy of Nguyen Xuan Huy

 

Courtesy of Nguyen Xuan Huy

Courtesy of Nguyen Xuan Huy

 

Courtesy of Nguyen Xuan Huy

Courtesy of Nguyen Xuan Huy

 

Studio visit with Nguyen Xuan Huy, courtesy of Rothamel Galletry

Studio visit with Nguyen Xuan Huy, courtesy of Rothamel Galletry