Sometimes my achievements feel like nothing later on
what will become of me
once I’ve lost my novelty?
will you still want me when I’m nothing new?
”Nothing New, Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift is known to be a lyrical genius. There are many deep meanings behind each of her song masterpieces. I recalled in one of her interviews when she was talking about her song “Nothing New”, she brought up this example: when you’re first invited to a party and turn up, everyone is excited and showering you with loads of attention and questions. The next time you show up to a party with the same people, they are still excited but don’t pay as much attention. The subsequent times you appear for the same party, your presence becomes a norm, and everyone else would be like: “oh, it’s ___ again”. Really, nothing new.
Sometimes, I relate to that.
During my university time, I thought Dean’s list was a very admirable achievement. Only top-tier students with high GPAs would make it to the list. Very surprisingly, in my fourth year, I was awarded Dean’s List for NUS Computing School. I was so elated!
So, I shared this great news on LinkedIn. It was not a content post, just one that contains a link to my online credential. Yet, the engagement level was the highest among my LinkedIn posts. Almost 5,000 impressions and 50 reactions, despite only having a few hundred connections. I felt like I was at the top of my world.
However, within the same week, I kept seeing peers across faculties sharing their Dean’s List achievements as well. Many were not even in my direct network but appeared on my timeline because of my connections. My timeline became flooded with similar Dean’s List certificates shared.
Soon, I just thought to myself, “oh, I’m nothing new”. I could get onto the Dean’s List, and so can many other people out there. What’s the big deal? It’s like I want to reach a certain peak, and when I reach it and I’m standing up there, I see so many other people there too.
Another case when I felt “nothing new” was after I wrote my very first article: 3 Months As A Software Engineer Intern: My Key Takeaways. It was a hit. Well, relatively speaking. Hitherto, it’s one of my top few articles in terms of the number of views and reads. Back then, I was so surprised! That dopamine hit made me think: “wow, people actually read my stuff?”
Looking back, it’s probably just beginner’s luck. For 2 years, I hardly reached the same outreach and engagement levels for most of my other articles. It felt as if subsequent articles I wrote didn’t matter, since I already had that chance to “shine” with my first piece.
But I know that’s not true. Which is why I questioned why I write publicly, so that I know my purpose and motivation for doing so. I don’t write to hit all those vanity metrics, that’s simply out of my control. I write to express myself, and I share my stories so that someone out there can relate & not feel alone in their experiences, or learn something meaningful or useful to them!
While these occasional waves of feeling nothing new can be quite daunting, it emboldens me to try and do things outside of convention. If I choose to walk a path everyone else (or most) is walking, I’m definitely nothing new. I’m just one of a gazillion. So, I guess I still learnt something new from my few occasions of feeling nothing new …
Thank you for reading!