Arduous Adulting: Act One

Have you ever gone to a new place or tried a new experience and thought to yourself, “I’m never doing that again!” Tell us about it. Thanks for the idea, emilyeggplant!

Source: Never Again

Please remain seated at all times as this is going to be the same old rant-and-rave all over again. In case of inconveniences and emergencies, please proceed to exit by clicking the x-button at the top right of your screen. Thank you.

And so the curtain falls open.

Enter the naive little protagonist as high-spirited as she can be, welcoming this new adventure despite her natural skittishness. She hopped on the plane, went off to learn and explore a foreign land, hoping that she might be able to acquire new skills, meet new people and most importantly to have her own privacy to think about what she wants and what life offers her. Despite her own flaws and limitations, she felt like she grew as a person, achieved the first two on the list just enough, but not the last one. At least not yet, she thinks, and I still have time. Little that she knows, time cannot always tell.

She continued her journey, holding firmly onto her principle of sensibility, because obviously that’s what everyone needs to do to surviveno? Off she goes to her first conscious, yet not necessarily unstructured, decision to pursue another level of higher education. She walked through the doors of graduate school with determination–she then believes it is the key to a flicker of security that is employment–only to find the process unbearable and the merrier prospect thin.

She has expected the minimum of the experience only to be disappointed even further. She came to learn that it might even help not to even expect anything at all, which is a difficult task to do in itself with the need to reason why before taking the first step into basically anything. Ironically, both what she did not expect results into two complete opposites. She met those she can confide in as friends, and thus she has never been more content in her experience of social encounters. Yet not once in her mind had she imagined her lifetime strategy of tolerance finally wavers down in none other than the critical juncture of the pavement to graduation. Our protagonist, in her own little story, is poisoned by her own medicine, attacked by her own immune system. It’s a mental lupus.

At that moment, she recalled the third and fourth line of the second stanza of a poem that left her a deep impression:

…Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed…

Hence she kept her head high, exerting the last of her willingness and rush of panic to finish her study. Albeit the brutality of fighting the constant enticement of the three vices (the Bed, the Internet and Pointless Philosophizing), she survived once more…

Oh, I wish that is what factually happened to our leading lady–with all humility to how small her contribution to the world she lives in, despite imaginary. She has not even lift her finger to touch the books she is supposed to be reading unless when due dates from the library approaches. I agree that she is rather pathetic than worth sympathizing: her bloodied head is practically touching the ground hard, under the bludgeonings of procrastination, laziness and quarter-life crisis.

And I cannot agree more, she should by now at least–putting it the way she has always preferred it–be “sensible” enough to say, “Never again!” if any opportunity of further schooling that enlist any forms of dissertation writing compulsory. That, if she at least to manage survive this one.

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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”?