(image credits to Strike Iron)
I have spent the better part of the past two weeks shaking in absolute fear, experiencing sleepless nights in a living nightmare, and crying my heart out over the littlest, most insignificant things, all because of the one thing that could spell out the end of my immediate future as I can see it…
…okay, that was just me being dramatic. obviously it won’t really be the end of the world, but I’m not one against the use of hyperbole every now and then.
we’ve spent the last three months waiting for the slightest hint of the official release date, and two weeks ago, rumours regarding this very ‘special’ day began floating, thanks to our folks over at the armed forces. (un)coincidentally, that’s when my extremely sickly feelings began. weird, huh? nah, not really.
but anyway, everything at that point was just hearsay (read: uncertainty). at least until four days ago, until THIS happened:
(announcements from the examinations board could not be any more official than this, but I digress)
the date and time was officially set in stone. I am now officially shitting bricks. (again, figurative language)
I began thinking back on every single wrongdoing I committed in ACJC— my phase of rebellion that never seemed to pass, the times I left my tutorials blank (like 90% of the time, save for math), the days (and some nights) of desperate studying, the times I talked back to my teachers… indeed, the announcement of the date of release made me quiver in trepidation and I began to regret all the times I was basically acting like an extremely spoilt child instead of doing the things a model student should be doing. I was afraid that my two years in ACJC would end up being a complete waste of time if the grades I’d achieved for the ‘A’ Levels were less than the satisfactory straight ‘A’s. I only thought of all the negatives things that I’d done/happened to me.
now don’t get me wrong, I already knew how tough this uphill battle would’ve been for me the moment I queued to select my subject combination— I realised that I might not be able to repeat the feat of achieving six ‘A’s like I did at the ‘O’ Levels (especially with the increased workload and my decision to take 4 Higher 2s). knowing myself, I’d be lucky to achieve even three or four As, but everyone else had different expectations of me; “ACJC… one of the ACS schools right? wah elite school leh! must get straight ‘A’s hor! you’re not in a neighbourhood JC like (insert JC here because I’m not going to openly bash other schools on a public domain)”
all I could think of at this point was the grades that I was going to achieve and everything else leading up to it, and nothing more. not the enriching activities that ACJC has had me partake in, not the once-in-a-lifetime trip and experiences I had with the choir, not the shared artistry within the photographic society, not the late nights and Saturdays spent with various friends laughing without a care in the world— nothing, only my lectures/tutorials, tests, and the report slips I’d received.
simply put: I forgot the bigger picture of things.
then, perhaps in the spirit of the Anglo-Chinese School (ACS) Founder’s Day, a sudden thought (memory, really) came to my mind— it was during one of the Principal’s addresses, and Mrs Chan brought up (what, in my opinion, was) an extremely valid point:
You came to ACJC not to get a certificate, but to receive an education.
these simple few words made me reevaluate the position I’d taken on anticipating tomorrow:
have I really gotten so caught up in the rat race that I’ve lost touch with what’s really important to me? since when did six letter grades become more important than things like family, friendship, trust, and camaraderie? how did I lose myself this far? is this the way to go? the whole point of an education isn’t just about achieving results (although it’s quite important), it’s also about holistic development and not all answers can be found in a textbook.
and then I began to remember everything that really mattered to me— and it wasn’t the nights spent doing last-minute studying— the lunches spent making merry with my choir pals, the dinners spent taking crappy photos with my photographic society peers, the afternoons and evenings spent mugging with all sorts of friends at the void deck/candeck, the breaks spent at the candeck watching the music students with their frazzled nerves going “HARMONY” here and “FREE COMPO” there with an occasional “H3!!!!!” in between. I realised, then, that these were the things I would be looking back upon with fondness and smiles when thinking about the days spent in ACJC, not the days I spent crying my heart out over things that would eventually fail to hold weight in the longer run. I remembered to take a more macro view on my life instead of an extremely narrowed and micro view.
whatever tomorrow may bring will be something that’ll probably stick with me for a while, no doubt, but regardless of the results I receive tomorrow, I know that I do not and will not regret the time spent in ACJC; if asked to choose between the countless shared experiences with friends and getting the best damn grades anyone has ever seen, I’d choose the former, because these moments are unique and cannot be recreated whereas a grade profile can probably be manufactured by constant practice and repetition of what is perceived as ‘the sure-fire way of achieving perfect grades’.
happy (belated) 128th Founder’s Day to ACS and ACJC. thank you for all the love and kindness you shared with us lost sheep and allowing us to dare to dream greater things, for instilling in us the values of integrity, tenacity, and passion in all that we do, and for showing us that nothing is impossible if we want it hard enough to do something about it. let there be many more years of ACS to come— I am ready for what tomorrow may bring, because the best is yet to be.
“I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday and I love today.”
— William Allen White