Change is wonderful” I always proclaim confidently. How so? Well, I speak from experience. Hundreds of times you may have been told something, but if you experience it once, it will remain with your forever. I have been told hundreds of times two mantras “be what you want to be” and “be yourself.” Unfortunately, the first seems to contradict the second, and is often confused with: “be what you think you should be.” I was one of the confused ones.

When I was young, I picked out the characteristics I thought were needed to become a virtuous person. I tried hard to be quiet, respectful, rule abiding and studious. I became a perfectionist, deeply self-righteous and aloof; yet I came to become admired and respected. A by-product of this was an addiction to the praise bestowed on me for being an “excellent student” or “such a polite boy.” I was egotistical — not in a flagrantly self-loving manner, but more subtly. But the compliments were reliant on my struggle for perfection, so I was self-depreciating. This pursuit of perfection and praise drove much of my life.

But the times in my high school were very different. I became firmly entrenched in the battle with myself. I went partying with friends and took part in high-level pranks. I sent fake progress reports home and experimented with everything I was exposed to.

Before long, I was living amidst some terrible lies. Yes, few moments can change (or destroy) life. But for me, experiences led to rebuilding process. I was saved as I went saving those aspects of my prior self I thought were worth saving. It was a lengthy process and it was painful, but the result was a great revelation.

I realised that “be what you want to be” is the same as “be yourself”. Life isn’t about fulfilling an externally imposed expectation; it’s about being who you are. And that doesn’t mean becoming complacent with yourself as you are right now, at this moment, but rather to bring out the best within you and correct the flaws you find.

To act in accordance with your true self is to be the best possible person you can be. Having finally realised the true meaning of the idea, I was revolutionised. I was happy and I discovered why change is wonderful.