2. Realities

by Jolyn Low

I have reached a stage which seems absolutely absurd to me. I just spent the past hour medicating a sickly old dog, and preparing and hand feeding it roast chicken and sausages. All of it from 6-7am in the morning. I swear that some dogs live better lives than I do (especially those that get hand fed by yours truly), which is quite a wonderful thing. The chicken smelled delicious – I might buy myself one one of these days at Coles or Woolies. 

I couldn’t sleep till 2am last night, which is normal for I have spent the previous nights watching chinese shows till the wee hours of the morning. It is funny how we choose to entertain ourselves in certain conditions. I have never been one to appreciate my mother tongue, let alone the shows in the language. Whilst I find some things logically ridiculous and unrealistic, with entertainment comes this ‘suspension of belief’, where we put aside our realities and believe in the narratives presented to us despite the warped reflection of society and life around us. 

Then again, our perception can be vastly different from reality. For example, I had once believed that if I had failed my A levels, I would be screwed for life, for that was the environment that I was raised in. I recall being sat in a lecture theatre and being given a ‘wake up call’ by the principal herself alongside about 100+ of my peers, for we had fared poorly in the first tests of the year in 2014. It was the most irritating and anger inducing thing being told that we should buck up when I literally couldn’t for I was too far behind, and the system (at that point) was not working for me. 

When A levels were near, the teachers were all pushing the ‘your grades do not define you’ mentality. I strongly disagreed for I thought that good grades would get you somewhere, at least. That was what I had thought until I found out how many people make it into university via alternate pathways, other than the typical high school exam or a polytechnic diploma, and some who are my age have already gotten their degrees whilst I am barely into mine! I do not agree that a 3 month bridging programme is equivalent to 2-3 years of struggling with university level content and being pit against thousands of your peers on a bell curve to obtain certain grades. But then again, I believe that education should be accessible to anyone who desires it and wants to learn. 

I suppose that is one of problems of being brought up in a place such as Singapore. There are no other accepted, or respected, options. Not going to university was never presented as an option, not to me at least. We constantly judge and scrutinise, one’s educational qualifications, one’s family background, one’s ability to generate income, and one’s choice of partner when it should not make any difference in the way we treat and connect to them – as another human being. I dread the day that I find the need to conform, or feel the need to impress. I want to be unforgivingly, unadulteratedly me: rash, quick to anger, vexing, immature, and the whole ball of bad and good and in-betweens. 

I am quite grateful that I am surrounded by people who love and care for me. I have friends who see the good in me when I was at my most self destructive; who tell me that I am precious and someone to be treasured, fuck those who do not appreciate it. I have people whom I’ve never thought that I’d keep in contact or grow close with going above and beyond when helping, and providing encouragement in the darkest of times. 

List of wonderful things I’ve done this week:

  • gone swimming on a 38 degree day and had $2 oreo ice cream from HJ’s (simple pleasures!)
  • picked up good quality posture mattresses left on the kerb late at night, tying it to the top of a tiny hatchback with dog leads and making it home without being caught 
  • had bubble tea and those wonderful sausage breads from a bakery that I think is a Breadtalk knockoff
  • played with a baby kangaroo, and tried to feed it
  • played with a big fluffy puppy!
  • finished Spirited Away and Hana Kimi (silly high school drama, but hey) 
  • had a good chat with my Mom

All my farm pracs have been pushed back to Feb, so I will have 3 crazy weeks back to back before school begins. I predict that it will be quite challenging finishing up the activity logs on time before university begins, but I am so very excited for school to restart and to see all my friends (old and new) again. 

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