Covid-19 & a time of Thinking


Without being too conscious of it, the 3-month period of working from home has fostered a period of greater reflection. Rather than the melancholy that people might tend to have experienced during this exceptional period, I seem to have experienced a break which I had been needing for years now. Perhaps it is my introversion finally having space to express itself, and I finally have more space to ideate and think about things that the world needs which I can contribute to. For the longest time, this side of me seem to have disappeared and life seems always about execution, manifesting activities.

It is also a period when I have much more time to think about Ikigai which is a concept I’ve come across rather long ago but failed to spend more time thinking through. The ideal confluence of ‘What I love’, ‘What I’m good at’, ‘What the world needs’ and ‘What I can get paid for’ seems almost elusive on first glance. But I think we’ve been so conditioned, so influenced by the society, the Singapore-education’s linear approach that we’ve created some false dichotomies and choices in life, seeding our own misery.

This is the reason we conduct surveys that forces people into a corner; but this recent woohaah also led to some good reflection. I recall the times when I gave up on initial hopes of getting into the arts (I dabbled with graphic design, film-making, animations during high school), thinking I wasn’t good enough at it even though I kind of enjoyed it. At the back of my mind however, I did feel that if I go down that path, I’d be a letdown to my parents even though they never forced me into one area or another. And the reason is that I shared the common view that an artist won’t be able to make money.

I’ve certainly gotten myself into a profession at the moment, doing something I’m relatively good at and can get paid for it. The fact that I love economics and my work is tangentially related to that helps. And for the longest time I did genuinely have that sense of mission, and that I’m making a difference. But gradually, service at church helped to fill that bit on the sense of mission, which perhaps made me less insistent on doing ‘meaningful work’ in my day job. Life can really ‘slip’ in this way when we just try to go with the flow. Or perhaps when the waves of circumstances leaves you without a choice of the direction by which to go.

I’m definitely going to be more deliberate and mindful in considering the concept of Ikigai. And may the Lord open doors towards more meaningful work that I’d find more passion in.