A few days ago, I decided to clear out some old/unwanted clothes from my wardrobe since it was literally bursting; the doors couldn't even close properly haha. While I was sorting out some stuff, I saw a stack of folders hidden in the corner of the lowest compartment. I had forgotten I put those folders there, so I pulled them out to take a look.
I accidentally found my old report books and result slips!
Now I don't think most of you know, but I was a horrible student in secondary school. And I do mean really, really horrible. I actually did pretty well for PSLE, scored three A* and one A. I think my aggregate was 261/300. I did my parents proud, went to a pretty okay school, but halfway through secondary education, I realised the super strict environment wasn't for me and I found myself struggling to meet the high academic standards set by my teachers.
I only remember truly enjoying myself when I went for CCA every Tuesday and Saturday. I was in the Chinese Orchestra. I played the double bass.
BECAUSE YOU KNOW I'M ALL ABOUT THAT BASS.
Okay bad joke.
Anyway, it was a very competitive environment in school. Everyone came from prestigious primary schools, everyone wanted good grades, or in Singaporean terms, everyone was kiasu. It wasn't enough if you scored an A, it must be an A1. I remember seeing scholars scoring an A2, and they cried. It was that crazy. Over time, I just didn't see a point in what I was doing. It was an endless race; once you lag behind, it's over. I was simply tired of competing, so I gave up. I became defiant.
I started to disregard my teachers. I walked into class 15 minutes late, totally unapologetic. I slept through lessons, cursed at my teachers.. I had a really foul mouth haha. I spewed vulgarities like nobody's business. I was THAT bad.
I was lagging behind in no time. Every night I would stare at my books, having completely no idea at what I was looking at. I didn't know how to complete my work, but I was lazy to find out how, or even ask for help. Every morning, I would copy my friend's homework in 15 minutes and intentionally plant some wrong answers here and there to make my work seem more realistic, and then hand it up as my own. I have no idea why anyone would let me copy their work, but my friends did. I was totally taking their friendship for granted. Sigh.
During lessons, I put my head down on my arms and slept through everything. I didn't even care if my teachers saw because they would say nothing anyway. I think at some point they gave up on me too. Well I really don't blame them. No one can help me if I don't want to help myself.
And I didn't. Everything went downhill for me. I fell so far behind to a point where I didn't feel scared on the day before exams. I knew I was going to fail anyway and I just couldn't be bothered. I remember sitting for an A Maths paper and I couldn't even answer a full question. I only solved part (a) of question 1, which was about 'Sets'. I scored 6/100 for that paper. A week later, my maths teacher came to me with a form in his hands, and he said to me, without any expression:
"I think you should drop A Maths."
That was when I knew, he is giving up on me. He doesn't want me anymore.
I went on to fail the rest of my subjects, except English and Chinese. I am so not exaggerating guys, I really failed everything. At the end of my Sec 3 year, I almost couldn't advance to Sec 4 because the criteria was for us to pass both our languages and at least one other subject, which I didn't. I know this sounds very crazy.
Confirm tell drama story only, missgoob failed all her subjects in school? Real or not..
Here's my result slip from Sec 3:
Looking back at my results, I cannot believe I let myself get there. L1R5 was 39!! I have a really strong urge to insert ten shocking face emojis here right now.
See the 6.0 for A Maths? #TrueStory
I must've broke my parents' hearts real bad when I made them sign on this :(
So by right I wasn't able to advance to Sec 4. I thought that was the end of me. I thought I would end my studies at Sec 3, drop out of school, go serve french fries at McDonalds for the rest of my sad life. For the first time, I got scared. I was pretty sure nothing would change my results and my fate was sealed. But my English Literature teacher, Mrs Tan, she very very kindly rounded up my marks for Combined Humanities from 49.3 to 50, so I could 'pass' one more subject and go to Sec 4.
I didn't beg her to do it, but she did it for me anyway. I was a goner, but she helped me. To think my E.Lit book was filled with doodles of her with sharp fangs and hairy legs. I was so horrible :(
Thanks to Mrs Tan, I successfully got promoted to Sec 4. It was that one chance, that 0.7 point - it changed my life. I worked very hard to catch up the next year, but of course it was nearly impossible for me to achieve good grades in such a short amount of time. I continued to fail some subjects, but managed to graduate with an L1R5 of 16 (which was still horrible for my school's standards haha) in the end. The happiest moment for me was scoring an A for maths in my O Levels. I disappointed my maths teacher once, I didn't want to do it again so I worked extra hard to make up for it. On the day where we got our final results back, he came to me and gave me a pat on my back. He didn't say anything, only gave me a knowing nod, and I knew he was proud of me. I cried so hard.
This whole secondary school episode made me realise I wasn't an academic person, so I gave up the thought of enrolling in a JC, which was what most people from my school would do. It was the only natural decision to make. National JC, Hwa Chong JC, Raffles JC - these were the top few choices my friends had. Mine? I was one of the only few people in my whole cohort to enrol in a polytechnic instead. Nothing wrong with that. I was suited for a more hands-on environment, and I knew that. I enrolled in TP to pursue hospitality and tourism, and that was one of the best decisions I ever made. I got to know so many nice people during my three years there, including my best friends :)
Initially I went to school knowing totally no one. I was determined to start anew, like a blank sheet of paper. I completely stopped vulgarities, paid attention in class, did my homework, went home after school and didn't mix around much. All my friends think I'm the 'good girl' hahaha they are so wrong. They are probably reading this with their mouths wide open right now, thinking "what the hell Jie Hui?!" Not a lot of my friends actually know this part of my past, because it was nothing to be proud of. I didn't tell anyone except my best friend and maybe some closer friends.
Just thought I'd share this here since it has been more than 10 years and this might serve as motivation to anyone of you going through a hard time right now. It was nice writing all these, revisiting those memories; it made me look back and reflect. If you happen to be struggling with school (or in fact anything else in your life), please do not be afraid to ask for help. There is nothing sadder than giving up on yourself. I learnt it the hard way.
Now whenever times get tough and the temptation to give up gets really strong, I don't. That is not an option for me. I am living the 'second chance', and I will not screw up again. I told myself the same thing in university and when I was starting the baking business. But that's a story for another day :)
Hope you enjoyed this post.
Hello! I am missgoob.
@missgoob on Instagram