The essence of life as I know it: you work hard, you get what you deserve.

All that is true, that is, until you realize that sometimes you just don’t get what you deserve no matter how hard you work. When that clear truth is hitting you straight in the face, pounding at the brain and disintegrating the mind, that is when you lose hope. When you lose hope, oh boy, that’s when things get interesting. And by interesting, I mean that’s when things start to fall apart and a series of unfortunate events occur.

Let’s first take it back to the days when grades meant everything to me, competition with other top students were a favourite past-time, and that inner fire burns furiously to power my endless ambitions. All that was gone when I first entered university. I wasn’t too sure if it was the lack of parental guidance, or the difference in the course load, or just the mere realization that some people will always be better than you, I began to lose that inner spark. That inner spark became a flicker when I reached second year when I tried really hard, I tried really, really hard but the results came nothing close to the perfection I was aiming for. Maybe I’m just not cut out for this. Maybe school isn’t my forte, maybe all this time, what I thought I was really good at, was only a trick for me to succumb to societal pressures and the endless misery of disappointment. Year after year, I get disappointed at myself, for not trying hard enough, for not trying nearly as much as others, and evidently, for not trying at all. Dispiritedness often ensued. It really heightens the onus. The onus that without the good marks, you won’t get a good job or get into graduate school. So what is of the use of this education then? I often try to motivate myself to try harder next time, start studying earlier, get the big picture. Does it really happen though? Of course not. At least I know I can be honest to myself. People often try to coach me or motivate me but in the end, it really depends on myself, the confidence I have in myself to succeed. But when you even lack that, what can you really do? Then the following questions come up: What am I really doing here? Should I even continue on? I don’t deserve to be here. What is my purpose in life. If the subject does not capture my whole attention, what is the purpose of me learning it? The list goes on.

My life goes on, hanging on a trickle of optimism.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Devon says:

    Your struggle is very familiar to me. In high school and before, it was easy to stay motivated and doing well in school came naturally. University changed all that. I spent two years in a major that I was only interested in on a surface level. I was afraid to change though because I thought I would disappoint my dad. But I did end up changing to another major that was similar, and even considered more difficult. I don’t know what I was thinking. I think I just wanted something different and hoped it would be. I ended up disliking it for the same reasons I disliked the previous major. So when I was 3 years into university I had no idea what I wanted to do. My dad didn’t really want me to leave this university for an easier (and much cheaper) one though, so I decided to change my major yet again. This time I chose a computer science-y major, with a focus in creating video games. Since I switched to something that I can immediately be interested in, I’ve been much happier. But having gone through all the self-doubt and all the fear of disappointing my parents, friends, and myself, has made me cynical. Now, I don’t aim to be the best. I don’t aim to make a ton of money. But I realized that trying to do something that I’m either not good at or don’t want to do was extremely depressing and I had to stop it, even if people think I have a lesser major or will have a lesser job; even if my parents or peers might be slightly disappointed. Their approval wasn’t worth how it all made me feel. All those questions you ask at the end of this post basically sum up my past three or so years. I’ve asked myself every one of them many times.

    Now I just try – sometimes force myself – not to worry and to stay positive yet realistic: Grades? I’ll do my best. I’m sure I can at least pass. Job? Someplace is bound to hire me.
    Sometimes I’ll have a ton of work to do, and I’ll feel really stressed about it. And in order to not worry, I’ll just go to sleep. I came to realize that all this school stuff does not spell the end of the world if I do poorly. Life will go on. And actually this mindset has, ironically, improved my performance at schoolwork.

    But yeah, if you feel out of place with what you’re doing or start having existential thoughts, then I’d recommend changing something. It’s probably worth it.

    1. Joy says:

      Hey Devon,

      I really enjoyed reading your input and it has given me some insights on what I could do. But unfortunately, I’m pretty much in my last year of Bachelor’s with one more semester to go. To let it go at this point just seems like such a horrendous thing to do. Yes, I do kind of regret going into this field and having doubted myself one year in to the degree but persevered just to see if I could make it. Now I realized that yah, I probably should have switched when I had the chance. I’m just worried about jobs in the future as the jobs I’m interested in don’t really see my potential because of my background, which can hinder my applications (as they are now). That’s my biggest concern at the moment.

      Also of course, leaving the safe boundary of university to venture out into the real world is extremely scary as well. I think at this point, I might as well just finish my degree instead of leaving it uncompleted and maybe pursue another degree or so sometime in the future.

      Thanks though. 🙂


  2. Sothivin says:

    Hey Joy, so I really wanted to reply to this one because I’ve been having a lot of similar thoughts lately also. I’ve been trudging week after week through consecutive all-nighters and sleep deprivation, and I too find myself wondering what my purpose is in trying to learn my studies and subjecting my body to all this harmful lifestyle. But I hold onto a small sliver of comfort that I now offer to you to hopefully help relieve some of your stress as well: just stick with it and do the best you can with the given circumstances. Where confidence, motivation, and inspiration have ran out on me, dedication and perseverance don’t deplete. In the end, most things in life (especially the hardest ones) aren’t bought with motivation or magical sparks of inspiration, but simply with the sweat and tears of persistence. And while some situations can seem insurmountable (weeks upon weeks of exams and report and projects and whatever else academia pulls up from hell to throw on us students), just do the best that you can do and don’t look back regretting that you could have done more.

    So what are you really doing there and should you continue? That’s completely up to you. Do what you think has the most optimal outcome. Instead of simply “following your heart” OR doing something that makes a lot of money, try to find something that you’re good at, that you enjoy doing at least somewhat, and that allows you to be able to give back to people. If what you’re doing now matches those criteria, I say that you should probably stick with it. If not, consider changing it! Life’s too damn short and there’s just too much fun to be had for you to be making yourself miserable with something that you know that you’re going to end up half-assing as a result. And once you have that (whether you’ve found that yet or not), THAT is where you deserve to be because your purpose in life (like anyone else’s) is to live fully according to your belief/morals/values and just be happy. And regarding the last question, if the subject doesn’t capture your whole attention yet is a necessary stepping stone in order for you to achieve your ultimate goal, then the purpose of it is simply just that: “to achieve your ultimate goal”.

    As a disclaimer, I just wanted to help encourage you if you happen to be going through a rough time, as I would wish others do for me when I’m feeling down and out. So if any of what I’ve said contradicts your own beliefs or values, then by all means, please disregard them. Anyway, I hope this helps, even a little! 🙂 Just remember that even a trickle of light can pierce through the darkness (yes.. corny.. okay).

    1. Joy says:

      HAHAHA the last sentence was great. I really enjoyed reading your comment and your input! And I do pretty much agree with what you’ve said. It has definitely been a hard semester with the bombarding assignments, quizzes, tests, reports, etc etc, definitely not like any other semester I’ve had so far. Some subjects I thought I would do well in, I end up doing poorly. Maybe its this post-exchange trauma where I’m still in the exchange mode and don’t feel like working at all.

      I admit that I also have slacked off quite a bit this semester as well, and frankly, I don’t know why. I find myself even harder in pursuing the studies I’m currently enrolled in, maybe because after my exchange, I feel like there’s something bigger out there for me or that I don’t feel like wasting my time on this anymore than I have before. So many feels and confusion, but I’m glad that you attempted at answering my questions! I really appreciate that 🙂

      On the other hand, I hope you find that light as well while you’re going through tough times. It certainly isn’t easy but at least we know that we’ve got each other’s backs!

      Joy 😀

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