Gavin Seah’s novel, True Humility, taught me how to let go of my ego

The 28-year-old’s debut novel aims to teach a self-centered society how to properly assess oneself.

Celeste Lim
Celeste Lim

Yogurt lover with a Spotify playlist for every mood.

Published: 7 December 2020, 9:59 AM

When I first picked up True Humility: Finding Peace and Balance in Today’s Modern Society, I was cynical. Truly humble people don’t usually acknowledge that they are humble, much less write a whole book about it. 

But as I continued reading, my doubt slowly faded. 

Instead of boasting about how modest he was, the author, Gavin Seah, shared his own experiences of being bullied and ostracised when he attended seven schools in seven years. When he came across the value of true humility, it resonated so well with him that he decided to write a book about it.


I was delighted to receive a preview copy of the book via courier delivery. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/CELESTE LIM


I particularly enjoyed the third chapter of the book, which focused on the moral value of false humility, as it described me exactly: I festered in my flaws, constantly experienced FOMO (fear of missing out), was prone to moodiness and romanticised my own sadness.

If that chapter was a wake-up call to my ego, then the next chapter about true humility was a call to action for a mindset change. As a competitive person, I also appreciated chapter six, which discouraged having a comparative mindset and reminded readers that “life is not a KPI”.


The book was a timely read, as being cooped up at home during the circuit breaker had made me accustomed to concentrating on myself. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/CELESTE LIM


I found that the book would be relatable to locals, who have a tendency to be kiasu due to Singapore’s hyper-competitive culture. During a time when more people are alone and focusing on themselves, it also reminds us that we should reach out and connect with others. 

Aware that modern readers typically have a short attention span, the author kept the book short and sweet with layman explanations and illustrations. Unlike many self-help books which spend a good hundred pages patronising you, this one got straight to the point and provided many examples and anecdotes, which I appreciated.


Although illustrations helped to support the points in the book, I felt that they were unnecessary and did not add much. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/CELESTE LIM


However, the simple tone of the book made me feel like it was lacking some depth. While self-help books usually leave me with some profound insights, this one seemed to be missing something. 

Perhaps it was because everything was only brought up on a surface level. Though the book had been useful, I felt I needed more elaboration to supplement my new findings. 

I suppose it’s a good thing that the author is planning to publish more books about the topic of true humility, which will help create more insights and knowledge. Hopefully, those books will be more perceptive than their predecessor. 

While the book wasn’t as life-changing as I had hoped, it did help me to discover some new things about myself. Now, I am determined to begin my own journey to true humility and I am sure that I will be referring to this book – and its subsequent titles – along the way.  


Gavin was inspired by the phases of his life – the prideful child, the jaded teenager and the humbled adult – while writing the book. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/CELESTE LIM


I had the opportunity of interviewing Gavin via email too. When asked what he wanted readers to do after finishing this book, Gavin said: “In the short term, I would like to encourage readers to understand the definition of True Humility, understand how to practise True Humility in their daily lives and make mistakes along the way.”

He acknowledged that he still finds it challenging to exercise True Humility in every situation that life throws at him, even though he has been practising it for seven years. He has come to realise that it is good to recharge by listening to music or watching a game of football, which enables him to “walk towards a path of True Humility in the long run”.

“I am confident that my readers will be able to experience True Humility in a beautiful manner both in the short-term and long-term,” Gavin said in a written interview with Youthopia. 

“It may take you months and years for this practice to fully embody in your life, but I can assure you that it will be a wonderful journey, as I have experienced it.”

The book is available for $25.90 at all major local bookstores, Amazon and other leading eBook platforms from Dec 7.


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