Unpopularly Popular

Tell us about a time when you had to choose between two options, and you picked the unpopular choice. Thanks for the great idea, Diamond Mike Watson!

Source: Unpopular

I am sucker for unpopular choices, especially in my teenage years… Or perhaps a better way to comprehend the statement is that I tried to appear anti-mainstream too much by the angstiest time of my life, that now I actually become one or at least remember only to function as one. This is why I do not like my old self.

But they say, “What is it that is not disgustingly pretentious or cringe-worthy in those prepubescent years?” Right. Just the proper amount of justification I need to enable me to merely exist today.

But I guess among the compact list of unpopular choices that I genuinely made by then was my decision to attempt my enrollment to a state university without any backup plans or rigorous preparation, instead of the commonly held belief that it is hard to be accepted, and the general ritual of going to cram schools to get ready for the entrance tests. Also, most people were concerned my ethnic identity will be an issue, which honestly speaking was not the main case then, at least relatively compared to the 1970s to 90s; despite the fact that in the application form they do still ask from which ethnic origin you are.

Against all odds, I did get accepted. Not to my prioritized choice, but the truth is, at that point I didn’t care anymore because I was overjoyed with the fact that I was admitted to university. It was the last entrance examination and even by the time I was taking it, it was impossible to register for other universities already. In some other case, the gate wasn’t closed yet, but it was unbelievably not friendly for our families’ finances. Add the lack of formal preparation and backup plans to the equation, I guess it is safe to say that it was a miracle indeed… and my Dad’s enormous effort and patience to actually line up for the application form underneath the blazing sun because I still have school stuff to do. Thanks Dad.

What was weird with that experience is that for someone with a different ethnic identity I was born with, the choice was rather very common; highly desirable, in fact. With their reputation of the strict examination process as well as the highly respected and capable individuals being alumni and academic community of the schools, naturally students gravitate towards them. It is indeed very sad that the previously rather discriminatory system was still manifestly embedded in the contemporary society, most evidently in this case.

Looking back, I am pleased with this unpopular choice I made. Or, alternately, should I say “opportunity”?

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