The whole aimless loss feeling has always perpetuated since young, but the peak of this feeling was when I skipped poly around 17 until I finally got back. It just felt like I don’t dare to do anything. There were lecturers who came and talked to me. There were people who wanted to help me, but I just felt like if I did anything, I would screw up. The thought of having to go back to face everything was scary, so I don’t think about it. I just zoned out into something else. I played games, not that I was addicted to it. It was more like an avenue. I just do anything to pass time.
I have ADHD but growing up I just feel like I am me. So since young my relatives really don’t like me because I’m naughty. By 3 or 4 years old, I’m pretty sure my relatives already could not handle me. The message I got is people don’t like me because I’m naughty. By the time I got into primary school, friends wise, at first it was okay. I think kids didn’t care so much but after a while I got into a lot of fights. I got caned as early as P2 in school. I knew people didn’t like me, but I couldn’t care so much. But at some point, you just become so conscious of it.
During secondary school, around sec 1 sec 2, my class started to discriminate against me. I get that my family don’t like me, my relatives don’t like me. There was already not much motivation to go school then when I detected my class didn’t like me, I got really scared that everything in secondary school would repeat itself. I didn’t think I was worthy because people didn’t like me and this thing propagated to because I was not worthy, i couldn’t do anything. I didn’t want to try. I didn’t want to face up to anything.
The way my relatives looked down on me was also quite evident. There was this uncle, he came and made a bet with me. He said that I won’t score as high as my sister for PSLE. I spent pretty much of my entire P5 and P6 out of classroom. My teacher hated me that much. So, it’s pretty much he entered, and I went out. It was so bad that after I graduated, he left the primary school. So, there is a lot of apologetic feeling. Because in my heart, he is a good teacher. I know if he hates me, it’s like you know it is not wrong. And if they hate you, you know it’s right.
The biggest part that affected me deep down was that I could tell my parents were ashamed. At that point in time when I dropped out of poly, I was still a Christian. Some of my father’s side Christian relatives had this Bible study at their house, and they invited me. When I wanted to go, I remembered my mom questioned me why I wanted to go. “If you go, they will ask you (ask about what are you going to do since you got expelled).” I knew that my relatives were somewhat like that but when she said that I felt like it was she who was very ashamed.
I have this impression of myself which is I know that I can achieve a bit more. I know what I’m capable of to a certain extent. There’s also this lingering regret that I never tried for something. All these thoughts came back to I want to go back to poly for one last time to finish up not because I want to continue with my life, but as a memento for my parents.
When I went back to poly, incidentally, this time round all my classes were with the same bunch of people. Initially, I was not that sociable, but it was a constant that I enjoyed. Most of my lecturers were very caring. I had a group of people that I could kind of get to know. So, then I started to enjoy my lessons a bit more. By the time I reached the mid semester, there were some tests and then I did quite well. All these things were reinforcements. All these things showed me if I try to put in effort, things can change. Suddenly, I felt like going to university, things working out might be a possibility. The momentum carried me enough that even when the mistake with my cgpa was discovered, I started thinking to find lecturer to help me write appeal letters, write testimonials whereas in the past, if this thing happened, I would have thought sc*ew this, all these is a waste of time.
I spoke to a lot of lecturers about working towards discretionary emission. I went down to universities to talk to their admission. It wasn’t hopeful. I realised that while I was in despair, I could make myself do some stuff. The two years I had in poly was a big help because it kind of trained me into a reflex mode.
When I started volunteering at a youth program, it was also a very big thing that told me that I can do something to help people. Most of the programs I was involved in were academic base. There was a part that felt like since I was helping them with academics, my academics also needed to be steady. I felt better about myself because I could work with kids and at the same time there was a need to take care of other aspects of my life.
My commitment to these kids had this effect of distracting me from things that made me upset. I would share the experience where I sc*ewed up with the kids, to hopefully let them understand that I know what it’s like to be in the pits, to have people looking down on you. The understanding of what it’s like to be down and out gives me the motivation to help people. And when I help people, it gives me a little bit of dignity and reinforcement to carry on.