Name-dropping the University I would be attending by the end of this year would somehow attract attention from a lot of people. Further adding the fact that I would be sponsored under a prestigious scholarship programme adds to the excessive attention. I would deny that I dislike attention because ego stroking by others do give me a sense of self-affirmation. However, I must stress the point that the general public’s approval or disapproval should not be the sole determinant of your self worth. After all, the superficial claim that I am a perfectionist is far beyond the truth, as the saying goes:
“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else's highlight reel.” —Steve Furtick.Speaking of attention, popularity, perfection, education, name branding and whatnot, I would like to divert the attention of this blog entry towards this question first:
Why do we educate?
Some would say it is to improve the standard of living in our society. Some would also say it is a form of embracing our human intelligence, while others would say to create a meaningful impact in humankind, no matter how small the value of contribution.
My initial motivation for education—or, rather, academy— was a very hypocritical one—respect.
“Hey, I think we shouldn’t hang out as often anymore. Sometimes, sticking with you is just a social embarrassment.”
“You’re not like her, you’re uglier, dumber, and sometimes too awkward to be around with.”
“Is she retarded? Why doesn’t she speak?”
I’m sure most of you have been victims of bully, comparison, and discrimination too. No matter how frivolous it was for the speaker to straightforwardly mention this to me, those cutthroat words were incisively hurtful nevertheless. Maybe it’s because I’m naturally sensitive so those words carried on in my mind up till today. In hindsight it definitely shaped me to be a person I have become at present.
Growing up from a harsh learning environment, I have somehow rebelled academics. At the mere age of 4, I was punished for not completing my homework. The various ways of punishment in kindergarten would appal many so I would not disclose the vivid details. Besides, that hell of a school no longer exists.
My constant rebel for being a responsible student led me to attend “special attention classes” for people who can’t read nor write in primary school. That was all right to me, since my nonchalant attitude carried on till lower to mid secondary school.
People during their teenage years do become more self-conscious of their public image. For my own reputation, I found an avenue to be “respected” through studies. The bullying and dismissal attitude towards me do eventually stop, not so because we have grown out of the teasing phase, but rather because I perceive that I’m an “asset” to be “friends with,” or that I finally have “added value in the student community.” As cynical as I was, I studied for the sake of my social worth, be it for the typical family honour reasoning or recognition by my own right.
Through time, however, with countless of failures while experiencing the nadirs of life (as of now anyway, I’m pretty young), I was open to the greatest change. There was a paradigm shift in my approach of learning, and how ashamed I was to create a limitation for myself in knowledge. My gap years have definitely opened my eyes beyond such self-imposed, hypothetical boundaries (if they were already opened, then my eyes are much wider now haha) and the greatest lesson learnt was:
The act of acquiring knowledge is usually behind closed doors. If you’re genuinely interested in learning for the sake of learning, then it’s quite likely that you wouldn’t be bothered to be aware if people do acknowledge that you know what you know, or recognise that you’re good in what you’re good at. As they say, still waters run deep.
The joy of experiencing such enlightenment in various fields such as history, politics, philosophy, religion, economics, sciences, etc or even other types of skills such as IT knowledge, or even art, knows no bounds. Through time I have also discovered the side perks of being distinct from the next “nerd-next-door.” Maybe that has gotten me to where I am, though I do acknowledge that I wouldn’t have gone past such phase without the very selfish intention to start with, with humbling lessons to learn later on. Now that happiness, contentment, confidence, and even what I initially seek for (admiration and respect) do eventually follow, well, I’m surprised that they’re now all secondary to me.
Thought of the day: "Happiness Is like a Butterfly; the More You Chase It, the More It Will Elude You, but If You Turn Your Attention to other Things, It Will Come and Sit Softly on Your Shoulder..."
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