In this book we will read of achievers, prodigies, hard workers and the average person. I am that average one! The question of questions within this book: What happened to him or her? The people who remember me from high school would ask: what happened to that girl who always slept in class? The girl who dreamt a lot and read storybooks under her desk? The girl who used to hang out with so and so? Was she not in the choir? The simplest answer would be: Nothing much. During my teenage years, like any typical city girl, I wanted to be more. I wanted to study at Yale or Oxford.
I was going to be someone brilliant. But at the time, SPM was miles away and I was content with just being the quiet girl who read books. Idleness became a habit as I thought the future could always be determined later. It did not help that I liked a lot of things. At that time, nothing seemed disagreeable. Above all, I wanted to be able to read all day, for I thought (and still think) that books were beautiful.
Thus, I knew that my heart’s deepest desire was to do English. However, I had to consider parental advice. They wanted the best for me and desired that I become a doctor or something that would pay well.
Since I liked physics and science, I thought I would at least make an effort for their sake. Time flew by and when SPM arrived, I became frantic. I had not pushed myself hard enough and was not ready for the challenge ahead. Hence, I received mediocre results and before I realised it, the time had come to apply to colleges. Life at that time was depressing. My family earned a moderate income and there was no possible way I could go overseas without a scholarship.
Since I was under-qualified, it seemed that every scholarship was out of reach by default. I also did not have co-curricular achievements like ‘Head Prefect’, ‘National Athlete’, or the ‘Smartest Kid in the World’ to add to my name. I only had my dreams, and even those seemed to be crumbling before my very eyes. I did try my best, but by then it was already too late. Perhaps I had not tried hard enough. The best option I had then was to get into the Foundation programme in University Malaya.
And so I did – after all, you reap what you sow. I slowly began to accept where I was and the path I had taken, although I still watched enviously as my friends flew off, one by one, to other countries and other adventures that I could only dream of. Nevertheless, there is still hope within me. I know that if I just work hard enough, I will be able to succeed as well. The lesson here is to know what you want at an early stage and work at it. On a side note, the experience garnered from studying locally is definitely different from what you would get overseas.
There are some wonderful things here that you will never get elsewhere, like good Malaysian food, a trip back home every weekend, or even the warm sunshine. Ultimately, it does not matter where you are. Your potential to be great is and always will be there. Success does not come easy and there is no use waiting until the last moment only to end up with regrets. For my short tale does not end here – indeed, it has only just begun.
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Note: The above entry was written in 2010 for What’s After SPM?, published in 2011. This non-for-profit book project is a collaboration between Leaderonomics and a team of young Malaysians. Click here for details on the project and authors.