Today's post is one of those thoughts that have been swirling around in my head for a while, at an awkward length, but I would be breaking my insta-ban by posting anything there.
After much mulling over, this is my conclusion: that there is no such thing as "trying your best" while still "taking care of yourself first". Because this is what a lot of teachers have been telling us. I know they mean well, when Ms. Ho says "try to sleep before 12am" and all sorts of nice things to the tune of, 'put your mental and physical health first.' And they always, always say, as long as you try your best, nothing else matters.
But really, is there any possibility where those things are possible together?
Would you say you tried your best if you had gone to bed before 12am, exhausted, like she said, and gotten a good rest?
Would you affirm that, yes, you put in your fullest effort by abandoning your TYS because it had driven you to tears?
Is there even such a thing as trying your best without sacrificing something, anything? Otherwise why on earth would you have done your best? Can you have that kind of confidence in yourself? Even students who kill themselves burning the midnight oil don't have the confidence to say that they've tried their best. What more can the student who has taken all the well meaning, but effectively useless advice of the teachers?
This is the thing that I can't reconcile. It is just a paradox. It cannot exist.
It's the reason why, at 11pm, I am tried to the bone, and I crash on the sofa to wake up at 4am just to struggle with a little bit more before school starts. It's why I drink coffee to slap some life back into myself and am following a schedule, that, frankly, is nearly impossible. And I'm sure many are driving themselves mad doing one paper after the other, or having breakdowns from stress. That is the truth of the matter. We rise and we fall and we break.
Only the students who find school a bed of roses can straddle both worlds of 'trying your best' and 'putting health / sleep / energy / family / etc.' first. Faith Wong could be in my position and probably do everything in a pinch- finish 3 whole exam papers plus still get to bed at 10.30, no sweat.
But for the rest of us mere mortals, there is nothing except for sheer hard work. I don't mean we're all soulless zombies who eat dictionaries for breakfast. I just think we should admit that this whole business of taking care of yourself per se, is a lot of the time, simply farce. It is not easy. Not if you want to take pride in the effort you put in for the O's.
So far, the only teacher who has admitted this is lao shi. She always said how her older daughter really drove herself to study for O's, forgoing sleep, locking herself in the room- and she said it's true this is how we must work. At least she has the guts to face up to the truth.
To my friends reading this: you know how hard it is, this journey we're going through. It'll be very hypocritical to encourage the way we are hearing: go to sleep early, don't push yourself too hard, life is great. But I guess, take comfort in God. There is this song I discovered recently, and I LOVE IT SO MUCH. Maybe you will feel better after listening to it too.
As Mel would say, He fills us up to empty us out again. That's life.
L / 18 / SG / ACJC
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last updated: 5 september