Reflections as a freshman; AY2015/16

Typing this seems so surreal. Year 1 is about over.

I remember dreamt of getting into this school, little did I know what was in store for me. From the Sem 1 camps, intro mods and getting accustomed to things to stepping up more in Sem 2, not just taking on leadership roles but also growing very much intellectually and maturing, it’s been such a wonderful academic year.

I did things I never imagined I’d ever do, most people ask me if I’m crazy. I think I am. Writing this, I don’t know how to put into words the many things that I gained from all my experiences. I gotta say I’m also very blessed to be in FASS. It’s a faculty where I get to study everything I want, it’s so enlightening to learn things, to appreciate perspectives, to have ideas to discuss, to understand my world, my surroundings, to know cultures, history, and so much more. It’s a wonderful place, really, one that I could never have dreamed of, in terms of allowing me to pursue what I love and that in depth and breadth. I am very grateful indeed.

I think firstly I learnt to just jump and try, even when you don’t know everything. I guess I would qualify and say take calculated risks, but here I want to emphasise on taking the risks. There were many things I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, when someone asked me if I wanted to join Project Scribe and I said yes. I remember SLF 2015 when a now really close bro and good friend told me to try ODAC and I did. Many choices I trusted my gut and I just jumped. This applied to module selection – I took things because they really looked interesting, well of course the workload later was like a tidal wave to ride on but oh boy, the tidal wave carried me high (also sent me crashing a few times), and in the end, I learnt to surf it and smile through everything. I guess if I really did keep considering and waiting, I would never have taken my chances and never have learnt as I did. So yes, no regrets. (A postscript on this would also be not to give up on things that you don’t know/don’t understand because it took me half a sem to understand a mod and I didn’t die. You can read more about it here)

Secondly, it never hurts to clear work ahead of time. I’m someone who needs to see tangible work done and because of that, I do move fast. I cannot stress enough on how important it is to not procrastinate. There are a thousand and one things to do, people to meet up with, places to be at, etc. So if you can get work out of the way, why not get it out of the way first? It’s weird I suppose but for me it works so I believe it can work for anyone, really.

This year I also learnt where to draw the line on boundaries. I learnt how to say no and stand up for myself. I’m someone who is willing to give time, energy, effort, anything else if it means someone else gets to benefit. I learnt how to find time for myself, to spend quiet time with God, with myself, with my close friends. I began to understand why certain people are more worth the time than others, I began to be able to appreciate the different vibes that different groups gave out and not be so naive. Understanding where to draw the line for myself in varied situations was very important because it meant I redrew my priority list (whether mentally or literally) and I phased out the things that needed to go, things that were a waste of time and effort, things that sapped my energy beyond measure and what were not worth it. There were many things that pained me as I realised that I’d been wasting time on and once time is gone, I can’t get it back. It was good to learn these things and apportion time where it was most worth it because as I often say to people who ask me if I’m tired, ‘everything in uni tires you out, you gotta know what is (or which groups of people are) worth being tired out for’.

Friends. Well, I could go on and on about that, but here are some thoughts. There are those who will be worth the time, as mentioned earlier, and those who won’t be, as much. I’m someone who can possibly make an average of one new friend a day, and that in a way is fun because you can say hi to people at CLB walkway and stuff, but then, it gets tiring sometimes. There are just some people who you realise that being with them brings out the best in you, they support and share similar views and ideas, and especially when they bring differing perspectives, it is interesting to see their take on things. I think this year I was forced to be open to ideas and not stay in my little bubble. I had to appreciate why people studied things other than arts, why certain people had not and would not hop onto the ‘kiasu’ bandwagon to search for jobs, internships etc, why some people did things they liked/didn’t like. I learn to not just appreciate things from my perspective, but be open-minded and take in the world and how it works.

Apart from all these technical and dry stuff, I learnt to feel again. Emotions, raw in all forms, in different shapes, sizes and colours. I opened my soul and many of them poured in, beautifully bestowed on me by those around me. Some people/events left bittersweet tangy tastes and some left honey-sweet aftertastes in my heart. There were some, many who left rose petals of love at the door of my heart when I was tired, worn out and exhausted, there were the coach-like ones who shouted at me to go on, push harder, not give up, to be the heroine I wanted to be. But there were those who knew I’d give my all for them but they trampled everything I had underfoot. I suppose I was naive to always believe that what you give is what you get. Mostly it is true, but the rare occasions when it wasn’t, the disaster felt like I was shoved between two brick walls and crushed. The heartbreaks from people and things that went wrong, times I lost my vision and got disappointed with my surroundings, those hurt bad, those felt like the bottom of the pit for me. There were times I struggled with my fears and I didn’t know where I was going with my decisions and my life. To those who picked me up, held my hand and guided me when I cried and screamed because I thought I was so done, thank you. Thank you to those who dropped me texts and asked me if I was okay, to tell me to get home safe, to place their hopes on me even when I had no hope in myself. Thank you for trusting me enough to give me responsibilities even when I didn’t believe and didn’t know I was someone who could do anything near those expectations.

To my graduating seniors, you’ve been so much to me and more. The times that you guys talked to me and taught me life lessons above all the small academic tips and little anecdotes, all these will not be forgotten. Thank you for the rooftop walks, the HTHTs, the laughter and inspiration you have brought to me. For all the prayers and hopes you have for us kids, we’ll remember them. From the seniors at Corner, to Comm Comm and the people I see at Impact every Wednesday, and the Literature peeps, man, it’s been a ride. I know we’re not supposed to be freshmen anymore, we’re supposed to not be young padawans anymore, but oh well…what can I say? I’ll really miss you all and it won’t be the same without you guys but that is life and I hope you guys get jobs and nice ones at that and that you’ll be happy where you go :’)

It wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies however and there were many downs this sem. I learnt how to know when people were using you and taking advantage of you for what they needed. I also felt really sad when I realized that some of my friends did not understand the reason for the things I did and many other small petty things that came up because of that. Then I figured that there are and will always be those people  who would find your ventures, campaigns and successes unappealing and they’d make you feel bad that you did and accomplished things. I’ve had my fair share this Sem and I guess I learnt it the hard way. No matter what, at least I got a good taste of the real world and that is good.

To end it off, thank you THEP E White Ninjas, ODAC bros (and chicks), LitSoc community (special mentions to Mich, Rennes, and Wenting), CRU comm comm, Thursday Group (despite all the failed meet ups hahaha) and the larger community  especially the seniors, that make my every Wednesday special). My beloved DG, you’ve been one of the greatest gifts from God. There’s also my German class friends from German 1 (yes Aunty Gladwin, Vignesh and Robin) & 2 (Sweda Lyn Kimberley Wenyu Siti and Mancini), who I am really very sad to be unable to continue the journey with, the Hissoc gang (and Scribe comm woohoo! Nat Tim Clarissa Yengsofly and the rest), EU1101E guillotine gang (Geoff Gladys Jiaen), my football peeps, my dear Oli Tan, the other random but very close friends I made independent of these groups from halls, RCs, tutorials and events (Aliah, Ashraf, TS peeps Joseph and Sarah, RuoNing, Abi, Naff, etc), the random kind souls in the gym that have given me spot or two. You guys have made my year 1 extremely colorful and I’m so blessed to have you all in my life.

All in all, it’s been a wonderful year and I wouldn’t have asked for anything else. Thank God for everything, I attribute all these that I learnt and grew in to Him. May the summer be filled with joy, lessons and satisfaction in mission trips, church camps, school camps, events and many more, and may the next academic year be as great a learning experience as this one.

(pic credits: Max)

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