Teen Tales: Still Searching

By Oi In Lin 2021-06-15 17:01:32

If I were asked to describe myself in one word, I would say, “wanderer.”

There’s always this pressure of knowing what you want to study in university or what you want to do in life. I was envious of my classmates who had dreams to pursue, because I had no vision for the future. All I knew was that I had thrown aside hobbies to focus on schoolwork, and used all of my remaining energy and motivation to excel in what was expected of me. Growing up, I was made to believe that my intelligence and worth were dictated by proficiency: whether it was academics or sports or music, if I didn’t excel, I was a failure and would never amount to anything in this world.

What was the point of being alive if I was just a soulless husk who only knew how to follow instructions?

By the time 2020 rolled around and it was my turn to graduate, these thoughts only took a turn for the worse. I couldn’t handle the thought of jumping straight into another four years of school with such a hellish mindset, so I decided to take a gap year. I wanted to return to the passions I gave up on and the interests I never dared to try. I wanted to pursue whatever piqued my curiosity and to enjoy activities without caring about how good I was. I wanted to feel like my own person.

As a result, I picked up music again, I took on cooking lessons, I returned to writing, my passion for video games was reignited, and completing a variety of internships offered valuable work experience and insight into different industries. Even though I still have no idea what I’m going to do in the future, all of my experiences are steps forward in understanding myself better and findings things I love. It’s as if I’m collecting puzzle pieces that make up who I am. There is no endgame or final checkpoint - the endless search for fulfilment and what being alive means to me, has only begun. My former self would be paralysed by fear and uncertainty, but now, I’m excited for the adventures that await me.

There’s a phrase in Latin: “Ad meliora”. According to the ever-so-reliable Internet, it means “toward better things”. As I continue to wander, exploring this vast world a little more, I can only hope that through all the ups and downs on this lifelong rollercoaster, I will at least be heading towards the better things in life. 


Oi In Lin, 19, has lived in Shanghai for the past 15 years. She’s always found with a cup of good coffee and is either video gaming, practicing music, or eternally sobbing over writer’s block.