I remember this classmate of mine during O level year. She claimed that by reading a dictionary and learning “difficult” words, she can score an A1. I can’t quite remember if she was successful for English, but I do know that she was successful in Chinese by using this method.
There is someone whom I follow on Instagram. Her background is definitely impressive, being educated in a local university and graduating with stellar grades. Her enthusiasm for teaching inspires her followers, with many praising her as a dedicated teacher. Yes, I can’t deny that her grasp of the English language is better than most, but what really really irks me is her use of the word “stationary”. When she is clearly referring to this kind of stationery. I do know for a fact that it is not a spell-check failure as she has been repeating the same mistake for over a year. And no one seems to call her out on it.
I have read her blog a few times, and it does seem that she is a good writer, with questionable minor grammar errors. The range of vocabulary that you can read from her posts surpasses that of an average blogger. (Do bloggers even have a wide range of vocabulary? If I can get an acquaintance to stop referring to everything as “lovely”, I will be happy enough) Is it because of her vocabulary, coupled with the fact that she teaches English tuition for a living, that others do not let her know about her grammar errors or her misuse of words? Or is it simply because by being verbose, one can simply pull wool over others’ eyes easily regarding their own language ability?
My style of writing isn’t easy to read. My syntax is horrible, coupled with a lack of diligence in learning spelling from a young age. (you know, there is always spell check) I have heard so many accounts of people scoring well for English writing by simply regurgitating templates previously read and chucking in a good number of “difficult” words. To many students, the usage of difficult words seems like a fail-proof plan to score high grades. I am not saying that I am perfect, but has our English standard deteriorated to such an extent that only by being verbose, you seemed to know more about the subject matter? I rest my case.
Shifting the focus to personal matters, I am happy to say that the craziest two days at the office are finally over. Rushing out a proposal is not joke when your only idea of a proposal was the kind you saw on YouTube. I jest. I get sleepy easily lately as well, but I think it could be due to my plan to be less reliant on caffeine than the fact that I am stressed and not getting quality sleep. I will be bidding for next semester’s modules and no hard decisions to be made, because I only have 3 to choose from for my major! Let us hope that the newly installed optic fibre broadband by a certain green star doesn’t die out on me tomorrow, because I really need to get one of the core modules.
I will readily admit that I love planning. I love coming up with lists, planning each situation down to the most minute of details, wishing to avoid the unexpected, or worse, the possibility that I am unprepared.
I wish that I can say that I carry out my plans faithfully. But
life the lazy mentality kicks in and suddenly, I don’t get quite bothered to care. Or rather, I just leave it to “Fate”. It is not that I don’t believe in Fate or that I am a proponent of making your own fate, but sometimes, you just can’t run from bad luck. I do believe that it is possible to change your circumstances, but the issue of timing/place/your environment plays such a huge role, we are really just like small ants struggling to find our way back to the nest.
I have always thought that teaching was THE path for me. Actually, I went into teaching knowing that I wanted to be a principal, like my primary school principal. But sometimes, the people whom power is entrusted to aren’t necessarily the right people. Also, it is already an uphill task of trying to survive in the very same institution where we impart skills and knowledge to people in order for them to survive in the real world. In the real world, people can get devoured like a tasty red velvet cupcake. I have strayed from the ideal path that I had set out since I was 16. In more ways than one, I have failed myself, but at the same time, gained so much more than the joy that I would have got when I achieved my goal.
What horrifies me most is the idea of being useless: well-educated, brilliantly promising, and fading out into an indifferent middle age.
I was thinking about this when a friend of mine expressed her regrets that she didn’t do well enough to be accepted into all these prestigious universities that made her provisional offers prior to the release of the A level results. I have so many friends, classmates who managed to get to where I can never follow, a local university. Yet, most of them might end up just like me, sitting under the glare of fluorescent light bulbs in an office, typing away for days on end. The corporate ladder is difficult to scale when you are trying to juggle caring for your parents, attention and dates with the significant other and possibly screaming children in five years’ time. When do we stop settling? Or are we content with our personal achievements in life, with a job that provides income and just going through the motions day to day.
When we have strayed from our path, is it ever possible to go back again? Things will never be the same. You are not the person that you used to be a minute ago. For many, the idea of youth meant boundless energy to chase after your dreams. Without dreams, one cannot be said to be living. But why is it that for most, their dreams involve grades/jobs/money? It will be very romantic to say that your dream doesn’t involve any of the above, but what else? Some people have dreams larger than Life and spend their entire lives chasing after said dreams. When do we know when to give up? When Life’s obligations turn up at our doorstep?
I have planned my path for the next 5 years of my life (up till January 2018 that is). But what if something else turns up? Or if I cannot stay on this path? I won’t be quite so melodramatic to say that my whole life would come crashing down upon me, but it will be an inconvenience. Yep.
It just struck me, although fairly recently, that I can’t write.
Writing have always seemed easy to me. I would just ramble on, pages and pages filled with my handwriting. For schoolwork mostly, my grades will usually be above average. Thus, I was always convinced that my grasp of the English language, and certainly my writing ability, was above average. It wasn’t until we learnt about the theory of distribution, and the ever so fickle bell-curve, that I realised that every above average grade was unique in each scenario.
The thought of writing seems simple, a continuous torrent of words onto the blank pages until the examiners announced that time’s up and we should stop writing (or put your
pants pens down). Until I took the SAT, I never knew about the importance of syntax and didn’t realise that my standard of grammar is actually deplorable. Perhaps that was why a good friend of mine in the past used to laugh when I told her that I wanted to be an English teacher.
Up until very recently, I used to obsess over my writing style. Under our education system, narrative writing stopped at the end of O levels and even now, it is eliminated from the syllabus. We are trained purely for academic essays, business and incident reports. I cannot deny the fact that my style of writing is rather inconsistent and dry.
I do wonder when people consider themselves as writers.
I remember a quote about globalisation shared in a passage I did in JC a long time ago.
Globalisation is like a strawberry milkshake, oozing over the planet.
Before anyone starts making milkshake and my lack of a yard jokes, I have to clarify that this is not a post about globalisation. (now would be a great time to stop stifling that yawn!) No, this is actually a post about the fuzzy-wuzzy things we call emotions.
I think everyone had fleeting ambitions when they were younger. Then, when you went to JC, it’s almost always business/law/medicine. My “ambitions” ranged from *cough* florist/ *splutter* air stewardess/journalist/lawyer/dentist/teacher. The last one stuck around for the longest, like the smell of body odour in the boys’ locker room. And just like a strawberry milkshake, my emotions towards this said profession has been sticky, saccharine and in the end, destined for the trash can.
I have to be brutally honest, the idea of being a teacher has never occurred to me. It only occurred to me because a teacher said I seemed suited for the job. Fast forward to my teenage years and I have my fair share of really unconventional teachers, to say the least. You know how they say reverse psychology works on certain individuals? I am definitely not one of those individuals.
Reactions to my proud proclamation, “I WANT TO BE A TEACHER,” was met with laughter, incredulous expressions, looks of disbelief (“She is so quiet, how to be a teacher?!” was what my Mathematics tutor told my mother when I was in JC), condescending encouragement and genuine support. I did doubt myself though. On this small island, being a teacher would most probably mean being under the watchful eye of the Big Brother. Almost every individual that has undergone the government’s schooling system know about how brutal it can be. And yet, after graduating with abysmal results, I was lucky enough to be selected for a position as a teacher. I fervently prayed that I would get in. I got in. I got out in less than a year. Till today, I still think that I was lucky to be selected.
I loved seeing how the students improved. I loved the way I could teach. I didn’t like a lot of things. I think those who had also gotten out would agree with my list. But the worst part was how that stint utterly destroyed my belief that there are good people in our industry. Or rather, it made me realise that every human being can be just as self-centred and hypocritical as the ones I had the misfortune to meet during my short temporary job before I entered teaching.
I just have very bad people luck, getting co-workers who were more than happy to audition for BEST EMPLOYEE OF THE OFFICE daily in front of our superiors, while I quietly plodded along. Alarms rang whenever my mistakes were brought to said superior’s attention. After some time, it just seemed healthier to quit and pursue my degree in English. The only condition was that I needed to look for a full-time job. I found one…in education again no less. Private education companies should be more well-run, with the added benefit of better staff welfare! (mini Economics lesson available here) *pops this bubble*
Now, I am drafting my resignation letter next to my offer of a trip to Japan to undergo training. Some might deem me foolish, while one person I know applauded my decision to not go (notice I didn’t say if said individual supported my resignation?) I just have this scarily accurate intuition if a person is going to make me pick up the slack at work, and sad to say, the built-in alarm goes off quite often. Especially since yesterday.
I am thankful to my mother for allowing me to do so though. She is a Tiger Mom and my leaving the cushy civil service was a blow to her, bigger than my less than stellar A level results I suppose. Still, though she does bring it up every now and then, she understood (then, I am not sure if she would if I was still living at home when I am a 40-year-old spinster) my need to leave. Now, she isn’t exactly supportive, but she has nodded her head in the tiniest of nods. Not bad for a woman whose personal motto should be, “Monotony is the spice of life.”
I do wonder how long I can stay at a specific place…
Not just for writing or blogging, but in the area of my career as well.