‘What would you say was your greatest achievement?’ an interviewer asked.

My mind involuntarily scanned through my memories for moments of colossal success, moments filled with sweeping praises, and ones with material acquisitions before weighing their worth and placing them in order so that I could easily pinpoint ‘Number 1’ and say out the words I hope would earn a “Wow!”.

Have you ever noticed how our minds are wired to think of just wealth and recognition as achievements?

If you ask a child what he or she wants to be when they grow up, their responses might be more idealistic than realistic, or so us adults think. Some children dream of becoming astronauts while others might want to grow up to be like the friendly-neighborhood superhero Spider-Man. As skeptical as we are, we would much rather accept the first answer with a strong sense of doubt and laugh at the second shortly before telling our children Spider-Man doesn’t exist in the real world.

Children are not very articulate. But if you pay close attention, you might notice that their aspirations are synonymous with ‘being happy’. Spider-Man is obviously not real, but the very idea of him is. Peter Parker is an altruistic individual who wants to make his city a better place for everyone, and in doing so, he achieves happiness, a state of mind that is elusive to many of us. In a way, by rejecting our children’s dream, we might be crushing their chance at happiness.

We teach our children society’s standards and shape their definitions of ‘success’ and ‘failure’. Society deems big houses, fancy cars, designer clothes, and high-paying jobs to be markers of success that will eventually lead to happiness. A person not attempting to achieve any of these is labeled a failure.

But some of us become trapped on the road to success, which sometimes turns out to be an endless ring road. Nothing suffices. We jump from one want to another just to stay on top of the game and be better than everyone around us. But how many of us are truly happy? If anything, the need for more is a constant burden.

I wish to see a reality where when asked the question “What do you want to be?”, we would answer with “happy” and truly mean it. Perhaps then, happiness would not just be the elusive butterfly we see in the meadows. Perhaps, we might finally be able to catch it.



She sat on a soft-cushioned chair in front of the dresser and looked at her reflection in the mirror. The morning light seeped through the gray mesh curtains and lit up the room. The yellow rays warmed her skin and defined the lines on her forehead and the outer corners of her eyes. She looked on into the mirror and saw in it a reflection she no longer recognized. 

She was aware that the woman in the mirror looking right back at her was herself, but she also knew how mirrors work, how they really work. They show you who you are when you are inverted, or what you pretend to be with all the layers of makeup caking up on the surface of your skin, concealing what is beneath, concealing you. Worst of all, they make you believe you are someone you are not, so that if your replica passes by on an empty street, you will walk on without faltering. 

When you look into a mirror, you are never really looking at yourself. It’s because your eyes dart from the slightly smudged eyeliner at the tip of the wings you drew, to the red stain that leaked onto your teeth, and to the small strand of hair rebelliously sticking out at the side of your head. It’s because when you look into a mirror, your eyes never meet your eyes. 

She gathered all her courage amid her veins crippled in fear and met her gaze on the silvery reflective surface, overlooking for the first time the things that did not matter, ready to confront the stranger she has become. 


He left
and this world
and made his way into oblivion
as he slowly dissipated
from the memories
of everyone he once held dear
But she is reminded
of his absence
despite the dementia
as the deafening silence
roars from the empty rooms
and echoes off the walls
of the empty house

She soothes her broken heart
with the thought of him
living inside her
as she breathes in the air
he breathed in and out
She soon forgets
all the pain; the misery
and drifts into blissful unconsciousness
only to be woken again
to the memory of his presence
before searching the deserted house
for a soul that would never return

The scab falls once more
and her wound breaks open
The pain gushes out
together with the tears
He died once
but she dies inside
a thousand times over