Here’s a report on what I’ve learnt in school this year (school 2021)
I think this has been at the back of my mind even before the academic year ended, because between formulas, prints of Chinese news and 38 pages of Biology notes during EYA (Short for End Year Assessment) season, I had thought, “huh, I’ve really learnt a lot this year. Maybe I should make use of my Medium again.” So here we are, a bit more than a month into the holidays, everything I’ve learnt in the 9 subjects I took forgotten, and I’ve made no effort to revise them at all (this will be detrimental later on) because I am apparently a master at procrastination. And if that doesn’t point you in the direction this post is headed in, then I’ll state it here: I’m not going to write about my academics, pffft that’s boring. Instead I’ll overshare about my schooling life this year, because I am a student and without school I feel really empty. This is so sad.
After the devastating news that I was going to be in a class without any close friends I made over the past 2 years, I thought that I could still make friends and sOciAliSe despite my introverted nature. And I’m not going to sugarcoat anything, thus here’s the truth: it didn’t happen. I made the foolish decision to just shut myself out more than I should, believing that people would talk to me first (read an extrovert would adopt me) and boom suddenly I would have friends!! While it’s true that I’ve met some amazing people this year, people I never thought I would have ever talked to, I often went to recess alone for the first half of the year. (As Shannen would ask during our Sem 1 lunch dates, “do you have any friends yet?” I would laugh in response and tell her that sounds like what a parent would say) It’s really not that sad as it sounds because after all I don’t mind being alone, but having to ask if a seat is empty isn’t the same as sitting down together with someone. I think the realisation for this one hit a little too late, but better late than never right?
In retrospect, maybe it wasn’t the worst thing after all. I sat with different classmates, people I wanted to know better, across recess/lunch sessions, and everyone’s nice enough for us to talk to each other about the most random of things, spanning from exams to languages etc. While we might not be the closest, quality time was definitely spent, and I enjoyed that.
2) Overcommitment is real, but don’t be scared of it
As a student, life is always busy, days often ending at 5–6pm (if not later, which will be talked about in a short while), and we often find ourselves overcommitting, burnt out due to the number of responsibilities we have to shoulder. I’m no exception to this, seeing as to how I had to juggle leadership roles, extracurriculars and my studies all at once during the year. But with this, came the fear of overcommitment. I was scared that I couldn’t do things well, that if I ended up trying it would just end up in failure and I wouldn’t see the point in doing it anymore. I was once told that I’m someone who knows how to take care of myself well, and that’s true, seeing as to how I tried my best to make sure I didn’t take up too many responsibilities at once, but in doing so I also deterred myself from doing things I wanted to do. (I’m better than who I was last year following The Great Disappointment, which if you want to know more of you can dm me to find out more but in short I was scared of overcommitting and instead let myself lose out on a great opportunity)
An example is Bio olympiad. I knew that if I signed up and passed the aptitude test, I would have weekly training sessions on Monday, my only free day in the week at that point in the school year, so I didn’t sign up. But looking back I really regret this a lot, because these opportunities come and go, and some doors never open again. So instead of thinking that overcommitment is a bad thing, it isn’t if you can handle it and you’re mentally prepared for it. Like a classmate once said after she complained about her tired state, “things will pass. If it’s busy now, it’ll be over eventually.” As long as what you eat can fit into your mouth, maybe biting off a little more than you can chew is alright.
Lack of better heading, but yes this one is about OM. Odyssey of the Mind is a competition where teams have to come up with creative solutions to the problems given every year, and it is also an extracurricular of mine. Oh yeah the mascot is also a raccoon. It used to be a bigger thing, and teams from my school would usually do well enough to qualify for worlds held in the US every year, but due to COVID 19, it never happened for me. Nonetheless it’s one of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve had from school, and I’ve really learnt so much from it that it could be a separate article on its own if I had the motivation to write it, but I don’t so I’m going to condense everything here. This is the “what I learnt from OM” speed fire round.
A) Don’t think just do. Ok maybe think a little, but don’t overanalyse the dimensions of a rectangle or how to glue a piece of fabric, because if you do, you’ll be scared to even start on it. And failure is ok! Really. You’ll just have to work OT to fix it (you’ll get paid with good results I swear).
B) TAKE INITIATIVE!! This doesn’t apply just for OM to be honest, but in this case, there’s only so few of you in a team, with too much to do, so just offer to help work on something, even if you’re not confident in doing it. Your teammates and coaches are there to help you too!
C) Talking about the environment, you’ll find the most amazing people ever here in OM. The Makerspace has it’s own charm to it, and as you sit on the tarps spread out on the floor to paint, drill, create, it’s tiring but as High School Musical would put it, we’re all in this together. So scream all you want to your hearts’ content as you walk down the corridor, karaoke-ing to I Want it That Way. You do want it this way.
D) No sleep is real. I messed up my sleep schedule so bad, that there were nights where I would accidentally sleep through my supposed “10 min nap” (and that even caused me a day with blurry vision in school cause I didn’t put in my contacts before) To be fair we ended really late daily, past the “it is now 6:15 pm. All students are to leave the school now” announcements (laughs), at around 7 pm, even 8:30 pm in the case of my team. So treasure your sleep, you’ll need it.
E) Jopping by SuperM has OM energy. (ok this is here for the shits and giggles but does it not.)
(While you’re here, check out our portfolio from this year here!)
4) When your confidence hits rock bottom…
They say the only way you can go is up, and maybe that’s true. I really do lack self confidence A LOT, even though it doesn’t seem like so sometimes. I guess it shows though, given as to how a friend once told me that she could see that in me. I won’t delve into too many details, but tl;dr, I never think I’m good enough, and constantly think I don’t do enough (which is true) and also I have (not-so) minor stage fright. So yeah, given the fact that this year I had the role of class chairperson, and welfare head in CCA exco, and as a teammate in OM and a friend, a classmate, there were instances where I would just sit down and go, “maybe I’m not deserving of this.” Haha.
The solution? It’s not very concrete and it’s still very much a work in progress, but I’ve learnt that as long as I don’t overthink, progress will show — I still remember the first time I had to speak in front of the entire class this year, where my hands started to shake so much even though I thought (more like gaslighted myself into thinking that) I was fine. My inner anxiety really had to betray me like that huh. Nonetheless, as standing in front of the class to present became something a bit more regular, I’ve found my hands shaking less. Nice.
5) You’re not a good person
My villain origin story started when I felt tired of being the good person some time this year. I can’t remember an exact moment, but in between trying to gently nudge for responses when you’re running out of time and having people be annoyed at you when you’re already trying your best, I decided that from then on, I’ll be firm and do whatever it takes to stand up for myself. Then the scene cuts to me sobbing on the bathroom floor like a loser because I accidentally caused a small misunderstanding and I felt really bad even though it was an accident and technically not my fault, but it’s my fault. It’s always my fault.
Everyone wants to be seen as a “good person”, but I learnt that what truly defines it is always fluid, and there’s never actual boundaries for it. I’m going to prevent this from sounding like an I&A (Inquiry and Advocacy, basically a subject I have which is a mix of philosophy and social studies) lecture by simply saying that maybe no one is ever “good”, or “bad” for that matter. It’s alright to feel like you want to punch someone you love, it’s alright to want to scream at someone because you’re doing all their work for them, and you shouldn’t feel bad for it if it’s reasonable (don’t do it though, I really don’t encourage violence). As a singer I really like sings in one of her songs (which I adore too), “we all pretend to be the heroes on the good side, but what if we’re the villains on the other?” so face it. No one can ever be seen as good or bad — we make mistakes, we try to make amends, maybe fail at that too, but it’ll be fine. There are too many shades of grey anyways.
This year, I figured that my favourite quote was “the show must go on,” not only because of this amazing performance (here’s a link to another video without the reactions so you can watch it in its full glory if you want to) to the song Heroine by Sunmi (which has that quote as a key lyric), which has made me cry every time I’ve watched it, but also because of something a teacher has said.
During the full dress rehersal (or what was supposed to be FDR) for OM this year, almost half the team fell sick, and much to our horror, we had nothing done, no sets, barely any costumes and props, everything was a mess. But we still had to put up a performance, make it seem that we had everything together, even though it was clear we didn’t. And so, dejected and ready to face the backlash we thought we would get, we sat down on the floor of the Black Box (@ my fellow omers reading this you know this feeling don’t you), but the first thing that one of the teachers said was something like, “firstly, it’s commendable that this team is not complete and there’s people missing, but they were still able to finish the performance. The show must go on; that’s truly what OM is about, and I think the team showed that.”
And so that brings me here. We all have bad days, situations where we feel helpless in, places and people we can’t bring ourselves to move on from. But even though we might feel stuck, the hands of a clock will still move— the show still goes on. I’m still trying to accept that nothing in life is very much permenant and the scenes change as quickly as dialogue is spoken, which is scary, but it happens. So I can only welcome it with tear-stained eyes and a bitter smile, as the last notes of an instrumental play and this ephemeral act of life comes to a close. As cheesy as this entire paragraph sounds, it’s true. I’ll go to sleep, wake up and a new day begins. However, I always believe in encores and see-you-agains, that holding on is alright, but letting go is equally important too.
So as this post, and the year comes to a close, I’m naturally worried about what’s to come, but I think I’ll be able to get through it. Whether it be in the classroom, or the corridors outside of it, I’ve definitely learnt a lot, so here’s to even more. Bring it on 2022, I’ll go on.