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I’m the eldest in my family but I’m also the least successful. My other siblings have accomplished a lot more in life; they are degree holders and hold high-paying jobs in MNCs. I have always been an unambitious person since young and I am contented with the simpler things in life. I never went to university and ended up working as a clerk in a local company. It does not pay much, but I get by.

Even though I do not have a high-flying job, I am neither ashamed or unhappy… well, except for one thing. Like all human beings, I crave for love and affection. But unfortunately in my case, I did not get them much from my family members because of my lack of ambition in life.

My parents have always belittled me since young; they always compared me to my other siblings, telling me I should follow in their footsteps and be more hardworking. My siblings would also receive more gifts and rewards because they aced their examinations, while I would fade into the background while they were praised.

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After I grew up, got a job and moved out, I thought things would improve. But they did not. My parents still thought of me as an underachiever and said I should work harder to earn more money. And even though my siblings seldom commented on my career choice, I could tell they were a little ashamed of me; they sometimes organised outings or parties together with mutual friends but excluded me.

During family dinners, birthdays or festive celebrations, my mum would give me a pitiful pat on my back and say, “I know you will try to be more like them.” This really annoyed me, making me feel unwanted. I kept asking myself, “Why can’t she just love me and allow me to be happy with whatever I have?” Like always, my siblings were the centre of attention, sharing stories about the thousands of dollars they clinched in their business deals and about their perfect lifestyles. I would sit in the corner, shoved aside and forgotten.

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I felt so unwanted and unloved. I decided I’d had enough of being ignored. One day, about four years ago, I visited my mum and pretended to look torn and sad. She asked why and I told her I had cancer and started to sob with fake tears. I saw the look in my mum’s eyes; she seemed devastated. She comforted me and hugged me. It was the first time in my life she had ever done that for me.

After a few weeks, I shaved my head bald, hoping to get more attention from my family. When they asked where my hair had gone, I revealed to them about my illness. Suddenly, I could feel their love, warmth and caring… finally. My parents and siblings started calling me daily to ask about my well-being and they began showing me more attention and care. Best of all, the criticisms about my life and career stopped.

My family members would also visit me regularly with small gifts and ask me out to catch a movie or go shopping. They had never done that before. My parents were constantly there for me and made sure that I was their first priority. They’ve even cancelled their year-end vacations just so they could spend more time with me.

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I know I crossed the line and used desperate measures to get what I wanted, but, finally, I felt happy. Nothing is greater than your own parents’ love.

Getting my family’s care and attention also pushed me to work harder. Last year, I finally received my degree after three years of part-time studies. I have also let my hair grow back; I now tell everyone my medical condition is responding well to the treatments. I know I will have to tell my family the truth someday, and I will, definitely. But right now, I will bask in their love.

*Names changed to protect privacy.

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