Deborah Tan, Opinions

The Fear Of Letting People Down – Deborah Tan

A while back, the boyfriend brought this observation up in a conversation, “Singaporeans seem to be very afraid of playing up their qualities. And when you compliment them, they tend to just shrug it off. Why?”

He reasoned it’s due to a lack of confidence that leads us to not want to play up our strengths.

I told him he was wrong.

I think Singaporeans have the fear of letting people down. Whenever we are asked what we’re good at, we tend to be unwilling to give an answer, as if we are afraid that if we were to say we are good at something, people would come to expect more of us. With the expectations come the burden of performance. And we are afraid of giving them a disappointing performance.

No expectation, no pressure. If we do well, it’s a surprise. If we don’t do well, it’s okay.

And this attitude – I feel – has infiltrated into the way we interact with other people as well.

"Maybe" means "Yes" or "No"? I don't know who to trust anymore

“Maybe” means “Yes” or “No”? I don’t know who to trust anymore

What do I mean?

For about two weeks, we’ve been posting up shout-outs about a party we are throwing. Despite the constant reminders, ticket sales were slow. Yes, we sold tickets but we were expecting a more enthusiastic response – particularly from those who have already RSVPed. This weekend, we were hoping that our event partner would be able to churn out a more encouraging result but unfortunately, internal issues led to them not being able to sell any tickets.

We don’t want to risk throwing a party that is poorly attended – being people who love good parties, we would hate for you to show up at a place with a crowd thinner than Kate Moss. So, it is with much regret that we have decided to call it off.

I think what happened after the event was cancelled on Facebook made me even more frustrated. No sooner had Denise taken it off, messages from friends and associates about how they were actually looking forward to the party started coming in. I don’t know if we were wrong to not place any confidence in our contacts but, I’m sorry … we needed to see good ol’ solid proof and at the point when we decided to cancel the party, we simply didn’t have enough to stand on.

I can understand why my friends had not bought the tickets. I don’t blame them for not buying the tickets yet. But I couldn’t help but wonder why the show of support from everyone came in only after we called things off.

I read a story two years ago about how Facebook has made “Maybe Going” an acceptable RSVP.

It’s not. You are either a “Yes” or a “No”. And, I miss the good ol’ days when “Yes” means “Come rain or shine, I’ll be there.” These days, the number of friends I can count on to honour their promises … I can count on one hand.

I think people are afraid to commit because they are afraid they’d let you down. I understand this line of logic but it doesn’t mean I can’t be frustrated by it.

Our business is at a stage where every decision we make is a gamble. We can’t afford to do things badly. We can’t afford to “Let’s hope a miracle will happen on the day itself”. You don’t want to let us down by committing yourself to this event, same here; we don’t want to let you down by going ahead with a half-ass event.

And … on hindsight, if all the people who said they were coming for the party really showed up next Wednesday, it would have been a great party. I just wished I could be as certain of the attendance as I am with death and taxes.

Let’s hope we can really make a party happen real soon.