Have you ever wondered who was it who decided that being fat is unattractive and that we should all have six-pack abs instead? I did. Although I haven\u2019t found the answer yet, the thought made me question the messages which bombard us every day. Messages with hidden meanings, creeping up on us from various channels. These influences are not confined to just the media or advertising. I grew up believing most of the things my parents and older ones told me, whether spoken or unspoken. I hope to share how we\u2019ve unconsciously believed in subtle messages which influence the choices we make every day - without realising that some of them are just lies. Here goes: 1. \u201cSPM (or academic education) is everything\u201d Again, I\u2019m not advocating against education, but there\u2019s more to life than just academia. If we look around us, we see so many tuition centres promising the moon. We see students who commit suicide when they miss their straight A\u2019s. Perhaps it\u2019s time we asked ourselves - have we misplaced our priorities? I, for one, did not even get half the A\u2019s in my 10 SPM subjects. But that didn\u2019t mean that I couldn\u2019t make it in life, nor did it mean that success would be out of reach. Personally, I never really enjoyed the subjects in school, except for Mathematics and the languages. After completing my SPM, I had the best five years of my life, studying journalism and linguistics. I thrived at them because the subjects were what I loved. I was motivated because I loved learning, instead of just chasing the A\u2019s. I think this is extremely important because it\u2019s easy to forget why you\u2019re studying in the first place. If you study just to chase the grade, you\u2019ll never truly enjoy learning. There\u2019ll always be others smarter than you. Education, after all, is not confined to just the academics. A truly holistic education is a balance of the physical, social, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being. Staying physically healthy, eating well, meeting and communicating with real friends (not Facebook friends), having meaningful relationships, and learning spiritual lessons are all equally important.\u00a0 2.\u00a0\u201cMoney makes the world go round\u201d Although money is a necessity, again, it\u2019s not everything. But sometimes, we unconsciously live as if money is all that matters. We overwork ourselves, chasing that bonus at the expense of family time, or we become unreasonable and yell at the poor cashier who mistakenly forgot to return our 10 cents change. I grew up believing that money could change my life if I worked really hard. This was unconsciously propagated through influences from different people. However, now, as a 30-year-old, I've tasted both extremes. I've had times where I enjoyed a little bit of luxury, but also times when my bank account balance dropped down to two digits. I realised it didn\u2019t matter how much money I had. The key is to be content with what you have, rather than simply being rich. I didn\u2019t need a lavish home or an expensive car. One of the happiest families I know live in a plain, minimally-furnished home. The children are the most polite I\u2019ve known, and thankful for even a simple nasi lemak. What I especially love about them is that even from a young age, they already care deeply for other people. They\u2019re not hooked on to devices or material things, but relationships. They\u2019re an inspiration to me with regard to how to view money. I realised that I could just be as happy regardless of how much money I made. 3. \u201cYou need a boyfriend\/girlfriend\u201d From peer pressure to the movies, everyone was giving relationship advice\/suggestions. It started from when I was as young as 13. The advice started rolling in since my high school friends were dating at Form 1, right up to my well-meaning college housemate as a young adult. She thought I needed a boyfriend so that I wouldn\u2019t have to take the bus to college (free driver, geddit?). Even later in life, my 42-year-old colleague assumed that I didn\u2019t know the challenges of parenthood at an older age. He rebuked me for not getting married earlier (dear me, I was only 22!). These are all good intentions, but I believe that fulfilment is not found through a partner. I mean, they\u2019re just human, and they too can fail us. In fact, I shudder to think of a man who thinks his fulfilment is found in me - he\u2019ll probably be the most clingy future husband! Before I risk sounding like I\u2019m anti-relationship, I better explain. I was single for some years before getting attached at 28 to my best friend. It was a natural progression of our friendship since we were young. But I think the most important part of our relationship was that we both understood that our fulfilment is found in God alone, and not in each other. When you\u2019re in a relationship because you genuinely love your partner and not just as a response to peer pressure, your perspective changes for the better. 4. \u201cYour social media likes and shares reflect your likeability\u201d Social media addiction is no longer a secret, and we see it every day - sometimes, even in our own hands. The Star newspaper reported Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Jailani Johari as saying that \u201c80% of people use the Internet for social media access with average usage of over four hours a day\u201d. It\u2019s scary, but everyone knows a friend who spends hours crafting their photos and messages on social media for acceptance. Then we realise that we too, are trapped by FOMO (fear of missing out) on our friends\u2019 activities. We habitually check and fiddle with our phones, even when there are no notifications. Social media isn\u2019t necessarily a true reflection of what someone is going through. I know people who are depressed and deeply hurting, but would only post happy pictures on social media. I think this makes their condition worse - research shows that social media addiction causes depression and anxiety problems. I refused to let social media determine my self-worth. I constantly reflect and ask myself, \u201cWhy am I posting this?\u201d If it\u2019s just to gain likes, I stop myself from posting, even if I really wanted to. I know it\u2019s unhealthy when I constantly keep tabs on my social media posts (I currently have push notifications off). Life is a lot more than just digital gratification. Go out - talk to real people, listen to their problems, share yours, and appreciate the human touch. 5. \u201cFollow your heart\u201d This is perhaps one of the most repeated advice I\u2019ve ever heard. I think it\u2019s a lie, even though some may beg to differ. Here\u2019s why I think so - I believe that we\u2019re not perfect, no matter how old we get. There\u2019s always going to be someone wiser than we are. In following only our heart, we lose the benefit of advice and counsel from older ones, who may have gone through similar experiences. Now I know that as young adults we don\u2019t like the word \u201ccounselling\u201d very much, since it makes it sound like we need help. But don\u2019t we? We have to admit, we don\u2019t know everything - that\u2019s why we have Google. But Google can\u2019t help you with deciding whether this job is right for you, or if your partner is promising more than he or she can really do for you, yada yada. :) I lost count of how many bad decisions I\u2019ve avoided thanks to the counsel of older ones\u00a0 - from my older sisters, to aunts, and uncles. As the younger generation, we sometimes make impulsive decisions. We should consider another person\u2019s perspective, to avoid making bad calls. I don\u2019t mean to say that mistakes can\u2019t teach us anything, but some mistakes can be costly, and its best to skip them if we can. The views here are entirely my own, and I hope that it\u2019s helped you in some way. Feel free to disagree, and perhaps share other lies you\u2019ve stopped believing too!