(First published in September)
I wish to share something that really struck a chord with me awhile ago.
A little more than a month ago, I attended a Brown-Bag session (Informal tea session with guest speakers held@EunoiaJC) with Ms Chan Chi Ling as the guest speaker. Prior to the tea session, Ms Chan had given a talk centering around world-readiness, exploring topics ranging from the future economic outlook, to building one’s personal toolbox of life skills.
Nestled around Ms Chan, sitting on the pillowy cushions, munching on delicious cafe food, fellow Eunoians began to ask Ms Chan questions about life in general. The conversation soon progressed to that of finding one’s passion through the process of “dappling”. Dappling refers to one giving a go at multiple areas of potential interest in hopes of finding one thing that truly resonates with your inner self. One could choose to further pursue that new-found interest at a deeper level, developing a passion for it in the process.
Ms Chan emphasised the importance of dappling in our teenage years, encouraging us to participate actively in all the outside curricular activities available at our doorstep. E.g. Unconference Day, Deep Dive Days (Well, no more hiding in the toilets to do homework). These outside-class experiences not only bring more joy into our lives, but play a role in teaching us life skills that cannot be picked up in class. For example, you might be attending a course on Bollywood dancing during Unconference Day. Although most of us do not aspire to be professional dancers in the future, one could take away the important life skill of not caring too much about what others think of you, instead, just have fun grooving around to the music!
Too often, I find peers pigeon-holing themselves onto following a fixed path in life. E.g. “When I grow up, I’m definitely going to be a doctor/lawyer/banker/Social worker”. My question is, what makes you so sure? You don’t know the nuances of each job to make an informed decision yet. Our mind at this age has yet to be fully developed to make long term decisions. Instead of pigeon-holing oneself into one specific field, which might add unnecessary stress, I find that following Ms Chan’s advice on dappling around multiple fields to be far more of a better option.
You see, the problem lies in how students think of these outside curricular activities as a means to an end, rather than a means itself. Hold on what does that mean? Simply put it, I feel that many students focus on the end goal – Getting good grades and securing a financially stable job, as opposed to the process – Dappling around, getting a go at different outside-curricular things.
Why then do I feel that dappling is so important?
Dappling sets the foundation for a happy, meaningful life that isn’t always centered on scoring good grades. I personally detest and pity people who literally live their lives just for a mark. Dappling allows one to discover one’s identity. For example, what makes you intrinsically happy? Perhaps you were doing a flower arrangement course and it gave you a sense of peace? Perhaps you were helping out in an old folk’s home and seeing the smiling faces of the elderly made your heart flutter. The happiness you get from dappling is (for the lack of a better expression) “pure and true” as it is not influenced by external factors like rewards and scholarships.
Furthermore, dappling has the potential to directly influence your grades. The life skills gleaned from dappling such as – determination, willingness to venture in the unknown etc can translate into your work ethic. E.g. More willing to tackle difficult maths questions you have never come across.
So let’s stop hiding in the toilets, MEP room, backstage, wherever in the school during Deep Dive Days and start actively participating and enjoying the activities planned for us! Mostly likely, you won’t be able to get these kind of things anymore after you graduate.
(Identity will be revealed next year)