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Of grades and warts April 15, 2016

Posted by blith3 in Uncategorized.
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Since Day One of graduate school, “Grades don’t matter”  has been the mantra drilled into us by the professors, faculty members and alumni. In addition, there’s also been some variation of…”The worse you will ever get is a B+” or “All that is important is the capital accumulation.”

Of course, as any student from Asia will tell you…that’s impossible. How can you confidently accumulate knowledge, but fare horribly on tests? It just doesn’t make sense. To know something, is to explain and apply the concepts or theory when asked.

Only…I am 33-years-old, unused to having to explain academic concepts after so long and totally flabbergasted by the American situational-style of questioning. And let’s not factor in that there is always that one professor each semester that expects you to churn out answers just like him that reading his answer keys makes your head spin.

Suffice it to say that I have been consistently disappointed with my test scores. For two semesters, I have turned in quality papers and problem sets – but have been completely tanking my tests. And I mean completely. My primary, secondary and undergraduate selves would be horrified to know that they turned out this way.

And here is now where – to borrow a hot phrase among my American friends – I check my privilege. I suppose this inability to push myself that much more – and for the record, I already spend most of my time working on just keeping up with the workload and these crazy 20-something youngsters who are nearly a decade younger than me – is likely influenced by the fact that I have a secure job waiting for me back home. Yes, I want to do well in class. Yes, I’d like to be technically sound. And yes, the things I have learned over the past year are useful and have definitely changed my views about how I approach my work.

It’s just that…I also know that balance is key. Although I am back in school, I know that there are other lessons in life that I am suppose to learn, beyond what is in the classroom. Also, I am no longer the same youngster who prioritises studies above all else. Being half a globe away from family and close friends, I have learned to take the time out to take care of – both physically and emotionally – myself and the people close to my heart. And I can do this because my career prospects are not purely dependent on my academic grades. For the past 10 years, I have worked my butt off and sacrificed parts of myself (some of which I am unable to retrieve) to the rat race. It is my privilege and it is also my flaw – and I own that.

So truly, “grades don’t matter”. What does matter is putting your best foot forward everyday and making peace with what is right for you, warts and all.


Romanticism and reality April 3, 2016

Posted by blith3 in Ramblings.
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Life is strange. You can spend a significant time working towards something, and just when you least expect it, life reveals the secret that you have longed to hear an answer for. And when it does, it is without much ceremony, and almost always when you least expect it.

While I have long suspected this – I call it my “But Story” – there’s nothing quite like suddenly being hit with the epiphany and the utter clarity that comes with it. And the epiphany is…I am never going to fall in love. Well, at least not in the traditional way – i.e. finding a romantic partner.

Now, I know it might seem presumptuous of me to say this. And trust me, I appreciate that because I have had my share of experiences where I end up putting a foot into my mouth after declaring something so confidently. But there was something so final, so…resolute…in the realization that washed over me yesterday.

Again, I know it might sound “out there”, but to be honest, it is not an entirely surprising outcome. Ask anyone who knows me well enough – including my parents – about my romantic prospects, and they will tell you that I have never been one to put much value on finding a romantic partner. So realistically speaking, I was unlikely to fall in love anyway.

Having said that, I do still get giddy around a guy I fancy as much as the next heterosexual woman and I’d as soon splash (a reasonable) amount of money on flattering clothes to look good. In other words, while I didn’t have much faith in finding a romantic partner, the slim possibility of it happening was what made it exciting for me in the instances when I did find someone attractive.

So, when the epiphany dawned on me – as I read my monthly horoscope – I can honestly say that a part of me actually mourned. It was surreal to read about the promised eventful outcomes in my love life this month only because – irrespective of one’s degree of belief in astrology and serendipitous occasions – it felt like a bunch of missed opportunities.

So while I mourn the fact that I am unlikely to fall into a whirlwind romance and be swept off my feet, the other part of me knows that I am great just the way I am. I have always been fine and will grow to be fabulous in the future. Until then…it’s nose back to the grind – tests to take and papers to write!