Greed is apparently one of the seven deadly sins. Deadly as it may be, I find that a little greed does some good for people, but like many other things in life, there is a limit to it. Unfortunately, the line of distinction between good and bad greed is often blurred. The dictionary definition of greed is that it is an intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power or food. But is greed a bad thing if there is an intense and selfish desire for self-improvement? Of course, self-improvement is subjective, but why would anyone shun away from the opportunity to make better men and women out of themselves?
I think there are two types of people in this world– one with a constant desire for self-improvement, and one who is easily satisfied. No prizes for whoever guesses which category I belong to correctly. I have several friends who belong in the latter category. The girls are happy where they are, working 9 to 5 with minimum wage, or don’t strive for any outstanding academic achievements, and aim to just get married and live happily ever after. The guys just want to secure a stable job, even if it means regular salaries, and would be happy just being able to spend leisurely time with the people they love every day. On the other hand, I have friends, much like myself, who put themselves under intense amounts of pressure all the time because they are wrapped up in trying to outdo themselves.
Some people are happy with just their diploma, but some others strive for their masters or phDs. Some people are happy with minimum wage, some others work towards earning 5-figure salaries. I suppose this boils down to differences in priorities, but for overachievers, when is it enough? When should we stop, take a good look at the things around us and think, “I’ve made it”?
Many years ago, when my mother was in a particularly tight financial spot, she told me that she thought to herself, “I just want a new car. Nothing too fancy. Any new car would make me happy.” When she made enough to get a new car, she bought a locally-manufactured car. Now that she’s in a better financial standing than she was that many years ago, she says she yearns for a new and better car.
I’m just like my mother in this way, but I wasn’t always the way I am now. In fact, when I was still in secondary school, I was satisfied with B’s. In Form Six, it got worse, and I did not even strive to pass because I thought it was impossible to achieve anything out of that ridiculous education system. Now that I’ve experienced failure, I know with conviction that hate its bitter aftertaste. That is why in university, I accept nothing lower than a certain target I set for myself since the day I entered.
However, after this semester, after feeling so dejected and faced with the prospect of failure (which, in my terms, is not meeting up to my own personal expectations of myself), I’m beginning to question when it is all supposed to end. All this internal self-rivalry drains a lot of my stamina and emotional stability makes me ask myself, “when will I truly be satisfied?” And people oftentimes tell me that there are some things out of my control, but that is a reality I find very difficult to accept. I am a person with a constant, innate desire to exert control over my own destiny.
Because of my inability to be easily satisfied, failure comes as a big blow to my self-esteem. It is an eye opener, though. It brings forth questions that I should truly consider before I embark into true adulthood. When does it stop? When will it end? When is it enough? So many questions, but I have my entire lifetime to figure it out.