Written by: Anonymous
Designed by: Jo Yeoul (19-A2)
The ‘A’ Level results were released almost four months ago. All the chatter, screams, and cries have long died down. For me, I have finally sorted out my emotions and pieced my life together. Before the ‘A’ Level results become a thing of the distant past, I am finally convinced to share my story.
My academic journey was undoubtedly a test of willpower. My J2 year started off rough, when I scored a 0 for my chemistry lecture test which I studied hard for. I remember so distinctly the ‘0’ written in the last box of the cover page and a ‘U’ written beside it. I do not conform to that success story of a student who started off with nothing and ended the journey with an ‘A’. In fact, I was nowhere near an A. I got an E. ‘E’ is an alphabet no one would want to see on their certificate, but for me, it meant a lot. I had passed. I had finally passed after failing chemistry for 2 years straight. You might think that it is unimpressive, but the point I would like to make is that we all experience ‘success’ in different ways.
That very day when I received my March Common Test results, and where everything started to spiral is still fresh in my mind. It rained heavily that day. I went to a far corner of the school, looked at my DESU/D grades, watched the rain, and cried till the school gates closed.
Did you think that was bad? That was only the start of a tumultuous ride. I continued to study very hard, but my grades did not improved. In fact, they dropped from the March Common Test to the Mid-Year Examinations. The drop was so drastic that I attained single-digit percentiles for the first time. After this, my health deteriorated and I was often unwell. The academic struggle is tough, but the battle against health problems, many lasting for more than a month, was arguably tougher.
You must be wondering, how bad can one’s health get? I started the year with a multitude of stomach problems. Following those, I was often down with flu and never quite recovered. Throughout the year, my health condition deteriorated so much that I was very thankful for each day I was well. I had a hand injury which worsened, and I had to go for my first operation during the Preliminary Examinations period. For one month, I could not do any papers, and had to vocalise my practices. However, that was not the hardest struggle. I was a music student whose performance instrument was the piano . . .
The rest does not need to be explained.
During the A Level Music Performance and Portfolio submission week, which also happened to be the SAT week, I was also down with severe abdominal pain, which were so bad I was given 2 painkiller injections at once. I also struggled to type my music write-ups while being at the hospital, awaiting treatment. Eventually, I pulled through by the skin of my teeth.
It is hard to articulate the strain it had placed on my life. However I learnt that when we are battling against things in life that are more important than grades, such as our physical health, telling yourself to “press on” might just be the hardest thing. It was so exhausting, and many a time I wished life had been easier. I often ruminate on the need to pursue our dreams, when life seemed bleak. I was so sick throughout the year that even the simplest of tasks such as eating was laborious. Yet, I constantly reminded myself that life would never be complete, should we not live with purpose.
Next, mental health – a topic our society shuns. It might come as a surprise to many that my life had been plagued by the aforementioned. I had to deal with the ridiculously high expectations of others while having to keep up with being a DSTA JC Scholar in my first year. I started off struggling alone, and almost lost myself in that war. My pride was so important that even when I could no longer find the strength to live another day I preferred to fight alone. Eventually, things took a turn for the worst, and I confided in my friends. I really must say that friendship is what that pulled me through the hardest times. There were times I felt as though I was going to lose my sanity, but my friends were always there to help me stitch the broken pieces of my life back.
What I would like to say, is that we all wear a mask – some more translucent than others. But behind each opaque mask, painted glamorously with flamboyant colours, might be a frown no one can and would see. It is something no being in this world wants to go through, but some do, because of how they are, or were, made. Nonetheless, if you ever feel that your life is not in place, it is alright – there are people willing to hear you out and bring your through difficult times. ‘People’ is one of the most beautiful things I have found in Eunoia, and one of the many things that made my life a tad bit brighter. I never realized this, till trials came at me.
I also hope to tell you that no battle is ever too tough to fight, and no road is ever too rough to walk on. It is about waking up each day and telling yourself, “I really hate this life of mine, but the only way to not hate it anymore is to get up and live my life.” The hardest part of leading such a life is knowing how to segregate school and emotions, because our society hardly accepts people who are different in this aspect. Suffering alone is draining and tiring. At the same time, we are not born to be conquered by challenges, but born to overcome them with the strength we create within us. Strength does not appear with the snap of our fingers – it comes from the heart. This is a message I thought was easy to comprehend, but hard to truly accept.
IN A NUTSHELL…
The ‘A’ Levels, for me, was a battle. A battle where I went to the field powerless. I thought I would have lost myself in it, but I walked out alive. I tell myself, I have conquered. To everyone that might be struggling, please do not give up. Take heart, and fight on. Resilience and courage comes from within. When you wake up, tell yourself that you are not going to give up, that you are going to pull through this tough period of time, and you will, for it is all in the mind.
We are one Eunoia after all. When I thought I was not going to make it, my teachers and friends were always there for me. They helped me through tough times, and encouraged me to achieve more. When I could not write, my friends took notes for me; when I was absent from school, they helped me with my academics during my breaks; when I almost could not find the strength to press on, they gave me food. My teachers were always there to help me. They never rejected a consultation request and were often using different pedagogical methods to help me with my academics. They encouraged and guided me with love and care.
At the end of the day, when the aftermath of results day cleared, I know for one that those letters I see on that certificate are nothing more than alphabets. The journey taught me a whole lot more lessons textbooks cannot.
And finally, what everyone might have been waiting for… So, what did I get? Nothing impressive. A UAS score of 75.325, and the grades which spell ACCE/BAA. Did my life reach a complete stop? No. With the skills and knowledge I have gained beyond the academic realm, I have earned myself a place in 7 reputable universities abroad, places in prestigious courses from 2 local universities and an esteemed scholarship.
The word ‘resilience’ does not have an ‘A’, but that does not mean that we should live life without resilience. Resilience is a very beautiful entity. When life gets rough, resilience gives us the strength to trudge on. I write this not to ask for your sympathy or empathy, but with the hope that this story of an anonymous Eunoian, who might just be your senior or friend, will empower you to fight on with grit, leaving no regrets behind.
The word ‘resilience’ does not have an ‘A’, because there is so much more to life than straight As. Every individual has their path to take, and their unique story to tell. Adversity is part and parcel of life – unavoidable, but it is only through adversity that people yield the best of themselves. Setbacks are difficult to accept, and the emotions that emerge with each downfall might continue to linger with you, but never allow them to cloud your direction in life. Allow them to be a source of motivation, to encourage you to journey further. Nothing in life comes easy. Love one another, show compassion, display courage!
The word ‘resilience’ does not have an ‘A’ for resilience is something harder to practice than the pursuit of an A. At the end of the day, know that you cannot avoid the storm, but you can draw every strength within you to walk the most demanding of paths.
P.S. If you know who I am and would like to message me about any part of this article, please feel free to do so, but I would really appreciate it if you could help me to keep my identity concealed. If you do not know me personally, I would be very grateful if you would respect my privacy and anonymity.