Fulfillment is often defined as “the achievement of something desired, promised, or predicted” or “the meeting of a requirement, condition, or need.” But what fulfillment means on paper and what it means to us in our daily lives differ immensely. The feeling of fulfillment in life is one which leaves you feeling satisfied, content, and on a high. Oftentimes, this high is rather subtle, similar to a wave that peaks but even when it crashes on the shore, it leaves you feeling satisfied. There’s no science behind this feeling and no fail safe way to experience it — we get this feeling from many different places, and these sources are different for everyone. Some may feel this way on their payday, some when reuniting with a loved one, and others after doing work they feel truly passionate about.
In my immediate social circle (i.e., my parents, family, and their friends) immense value is given to hard work and friends and family. By doing good, giving back, and working hard, many of them feel fulfilled. Last winter, there was a wedding in the family, and all of my aunt’s three sons returned to Lahore and lived under the same roof for about two weeks. While that is a rather minor incident lasting for only a few days, I remember my aunt telling my mother that she has never felt so content than she did with her entire family being home with her. Her skin was glowing, and her smile was as radiant as ever. That was one day I knew she felt fulfilled.
My parents’ good friend, Mohsin Hamid, is an avid reader and world-renowned author. I remember visiting his home when I was a young girl and seeing him sitting not in his study but outside in his garden, under a huge mango tree, as he scribbled away in his notebook. In that moment, this master of literature was able to feel absolutely content and fulfilled.
Unfortunately, my community also hosts an extremely rigid and contrasting social divide. The few people who think like the examples I have given above comprise a percentage that undoubtedly wouldn’t even be in double digits. Amongst the majority of people there is only one endpoint, one dream, and one physical manifestation of success: money. People do not work because of their passions and dreams any longer; for most to follow their dreams means to follow any lucrative industry. There is a very prominent culture of not working hard and adopting a laissez-faire attitude, yet expecting to be rewarded with cash. Many people have more than one business on the side from which they get paychecks every month without actually having invested in it the way the rest of the workforce does.
One of my family friends, who I was not too close with but was close enough that I was heavily invested in this struggle of hers, was naturally blessed with an ability to paint. She would often create such stunning pieces of work from which her originality and tremendous creativity would ooze out. She truly enjoyed the work she did on her canvas. Her parents, however, saw this as an extremely risky option for her future, and towards her last year of O Levels she was forced against her will by her parents, who also ignored the school’s recommendations, to drop art as a subject. In her A Levels she took up math, physics, economics, and accounting and she was preparing to become a chartered accountant. Why? Because it’s more lucrative with less risks attached to the work.
This, however, is an example of someone being forced to steer towards this direction and is not the case with the majority. There are people who don’t explore certain talents and skills and instead opt for studying subjects which ensure they can secure a job in a high paying company. And unfortunately, everywhere you look in my community this trend is becoming more and more common. When I was a young girl, I remember witnessing a woman begging on the streets expressing immense gratitude towards us for giving her something to eat or drink, but now beggars frown and turn down any food or drink offered. They ask for money and many times they say what you have given is not enough and ask for more. I don’t blame them entirely, they have to put food on the table for their family — with the average size of a family being six and a half members per household — which is not an easy or cheap task. But they’re not the only ones. People of power and influence, or even the average individual, would do anything to earn more money — especially with less work to do.
In a nutshell, there are a few who would define fulfillment as a warm feeling that surges through every inch of you, and leaves you feeling content, happy and satisfied with a sense of completion, whereas most people can define it for you using five letters: money.
Sehr Ali Dada, an O-Level student, is an avid reader and writer from Lahore, Pakistan. In her very little free time when she’s not at the pool, she enjoys pursuing public speaking, watching films, and listening to music.
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