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The Next Small Thing

Have you ever wish of shedding light on the word’s greatest mystery? Or finding solutions to socio-environmental issues? Maybe ending poverty? Perhaps you know someone who’s determined to discover the next big thing. Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s most likely not possible. This isn’t me being pessimistic, but me being realistic.

I was at Green School with Isma the other day when we overheard a student saying he wanted to do “more than that” and to do something with his life. This reminded me of my childhood dream: restoring the ozone layer. I had other big dreams throughout my teenage years, including winning a Nobel. As I grew older and understood the complexities of these issues, I realised that I don’t have to find the next big thing. All big things won’t happen without a collection of small things. In fact, the world’s greatest discoveries was built upon thousands of small findings. Therefore, I've been focusing my energy on the small things and have faith that it will lead me to the big things.

I'd say the one big thing I have achieved was attending university on scholarship. This achievement wouldn't have been possible if I didn't attend tuitions on Saturdays, did and re-did every single past exam papers I could get my hands on, or texting my teachers whenever I encounter difficulties. These small things snowballed to me achieving my big thing. Similarly, Charles Darwin didn’t write On the Origin of Species overnight; his grandfather was familiar with the concept of evolution and Charles has been interested in natural history since he was eight years old. He also went on several voyages where he was able to explore more about natural history and geology. On the Origin of Species probably won’t exist if Darwin wasn’t exposed to natural history at a young age and continued to zealously learn about taxidermy.

I think the phrase “doing something with my life” is seriously misunderstood. When I was young, I believed that I’m worthy only when I can achieve the next big thing. However, we are all inherently doing something with our lives: whether it's volunteering on the weekends, exploring new interests, or enjoying our hobbies. These small things are often the key to the bigger things. Trying to chase the next big thing often results in burnout. I listened to a podcast where a YouTuber’s life coach instructed her focus on both small and big things. I know a life coach may sound gimmicky to some people, but I think that's a sound advice. Focusing on small things and celebrating small wins helps ground our state of mind. This may also be an opportunity for us to find clarity of what our goal is.

I'm not saying that we should be content with whatever life gives us. I'm saying that there's no need to pressure ourselves to find, chase, and be the next big thing. Define your dream and do small, realistic things to achieve it. You may not achieve your dream in your lifetime, but you've created a path for the next person to realise your dreams.

So, what is your next small thing?

This blog wouldn’t have existed without the discussion I had with Isma. Thanks for being an inspiring person that you are!

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