I wrote this for our English conversation salon at Tamana Library.
I’m a pretty good person to ask about this because I’ve been planning on getting famous since I was 8 years old. The plan is to write novels so brilliant that my kids have to read them in English class. I’m already 23 years old, so it’s too late for me to be a child prodigy, but that hasn’t hurt my self-belief. Look for my name when you go to the bookstore.
I sound insufferable, right? I have worked hard ever since high school. I have accomplished a lot the last 10 years. But one of my biggest challenges is to resist pride. Living in Japan makes this especially challenging. People here are so nice! They never criticize me, and they always compliment me. I have heard “your Japanese is so good!” every single week I’ve lived here. But I always forget to compliment other people after they’ve complimented me. They think of good things about me, and I just think about myself.
Why do I feel my life won’t be a success until everyone knows who I am? This is the kind of thing a teenager would think: “I need everyone in the world to know about me!” But fame, like money, is a very rough measurement of accomplishment. It makes artists and politicians seem much more important than everyone else. People didn’t think Bach was a great composer until 100 years after he died. Plenty of Americans are famous for the wrong reason. The best parents in the world get no recognition.
Even I were more talented than other people, I wouldn’t deserve any privileges. Jesus said that anyone who wishes to be the greatest must become the least. In other words, a leader has to serve every other person. I have to cook and clean as much as the next person. One thing I appreciate about my job is that I’ve learned how to serve others. I have to put lots of time into helping very poor students, because they deserve as much time as anyone else. I’ve worked lots of overtime so that my fellow junior high school teachers don’t have to.
Another thing I’ve learned over the last year is how to be tough on myself but flexible with other people. I used to compare myself with others constantly, and I’d be unhappy inside when people asked me to do things I didn’t want to do, like drink another beer or spend a few more hours at a town festival. Now I’m tough on myself, and I don’t worry so much about how other people spend their time. We’re all different. When I’m with others, I relax: eating a little too much, staying up a little too late, trying to enjoy each person and get the most out of the moment rather than worrying about what’s in it for me.
The truth is I don’t know what I’m going to do when I finish studying in Taiwan. There are so many options that I can only trust in God to find the right one for me. I have only one life, and I need others to help me get the most I can out of it.