Broke, but not broken?

Truth be told, I am pretty bloody terrified about the future. All I’m faced with is this perpetual uncertainty of what lies ahead… And is that what adulthood’s all about? Am I just going to go through the rest of my life with a massive question mark across my face, feeling like a kid who’s lost their parents in a shopping mall during their pre-mobile phone days. Because, if that’s what adulthood is, I must kindly decline this offer. I refuse to take part in such atrocity.

Part of the problem is the ambiguity of that awaits me on the other side. I don’t know what I want to do or be in life. Do I want to be somebody who makes heaps of money? Or do I want to leave a massive smudge of Kylie on the surface of the Earth? And no, I don’t mean smearing my defecations across the borders of several countries… because that is, quite frankly, really disgusting. I mean, do I want to work to make something awesome happen in the world? A prolific act of altruism – helping those who struggle, and trying to give them hope and opportunity? Then I could die knowing that I might’ve potentially created a chance for at least one person to live and make something of themselves, which may inadvertently sprout the beginnings of a long line of ancestry. Mm, yes. That sounds delicious.

The reason I’m writing this post is because I suddenly feel so restricted and trapped at university. Don’t get me wrong, I love learning. I am interested in what I’m studying… But then again, I’m also interested in a lot of things. I like to dance, but I don’t want to be a professional dancer. I like to eat… But I don’t fancy being a culinary professional. So, what makes interest in my course any different from any of my other interests? How do I know that I’m doing what I want to be doing? That I’m becoming a person of value, not a person who craves success?

One of the things I’ve uncovered and have been reflecting on for the longest time these past couple of months is how as we grow older, we are systematically stripped of our dynamism, creativity, and our expressiveness as the competition for success in our lives grow. We’re battered with theories of political, social and economical constructs, then tossed in to an arena to see who knows these theories best. We’re deprived of our individuality, then fed standardised knowledge discovered by some genius in the past. We’re encouraged to grow, but not in a way that I would’ve imagined. Instead of being encouraged to challenge theories, or create something as revolutionary as the things we learn about, we’re told to absorb what is already widely known and accepted by everybody.

In primary school, we didn’t have that. At the time, we wouldn’t begin to comprehend how beautiful and badass this time in our lives would be, but it was the greatest. We were gently encouraged to try and learn about things in various arts, cultures and subjects in life… But then we reached high school. Again, for the first few years we were goaded into trying different things to make us more cultured and educated, and this started to shape us as individuals… to show us what we liked and what we didn’t like.

Then it started to get competitive… We were graded, praised and punished by the mark of a letter in red. In some ways, that pushed us to become better, to try harder… But, it was no longer subjects that we were allowed to maintain a quiet adoration for. It became this intense mental battle to get better grades, because for all we cared, 95% didn’t mean A+… It meant you were almost good enough, but not quite. Not until we beat whoever was at the top. Not until we became the best. Instead of loving a subject, it was just a test. A representation of our success and of our failures. We weren’t heralded not for our passion and creativity, but for our ability to grade ourselves, and our rank among others.

I wish we could’ve been celebrated for our dreams, because somewhere along the line, I forgot the expression of creativity and how awesome it all was. I’d rather be broke and to be able to live knowing I could express myself, rather than have my knowledge dictated by all these theoretical constructs what I couldn’t give a flying f*** about. Constructs that someone who had challenged the system had made once. I don’t want my mark on the world to be amounted to my monetary contributions at some major corporation. I don’t want my working there to be some validation of success. I want to do something brilliant… Except I’m not quite sure what that is yet.

I don’t know why I choose to broadcast my ongoing quarter life existential crisis… But, hopefully I’m not alone? My outlook in life is bleak as hell at the moment, but hopefully it’s just a phase, because god this sucks. Hopefully I can look back at this in 10 years and chuckle at how stupid this all is. Ha.

Here’s a picture of a smiling goat, just to make this post a little happier. :’)

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Happiness: Restricted

Okay, so there are a few things that I have learnt about myself and the universe as this arduous job hunt continues.

1. I’m the epitome of impatience. In fact, I would legally change my name to ‘impatience’ if the process didn’t take so damned long. I honestly didn’t comprehend how impatient I was until I experienced the whole ‘waiting period’ between sending out a resume and getting an interview etc, etc.

2. I’ve become surprisingly good at rejections. Yes, this will most definitely come back to bite me in the ass when the pile of rejections become too tall and high. However, at this stage I get over the rejection quite fast. By fast, I mean I go through that stage of a relationship turned sour (except in job terms) where I grab a friend by the collar, and with snot dribbling down my face yell, “WHY WON’T THEY JUST LOVE ME FOR MEEE?! WAHHHH!” Then I proceed to go home and lay in bed thinking about all the things I could’ve and should’ve said and did that might’ve made them love me a little more. However, give or take a day or two, I’m back on the prowl.

The shit thing is, I’m probably becoming so good at being rejected that it’ll bleed into other aspects of my life and I’ll be approaching men in the bar just like Carrie-May from House Bunny.

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3. This final one is the actual reason I wrote this post. These past couple of months has made me question why I feel so strangely unfulfilled and why my life seems to lack purpose because of the mere fact I don’t have a job at the moment. Then I realised it’s because the majority of people raised in a Western culture place a sick amount of importance and value on careers and success. Their life is their career, and money is this twisted motivator that consumes their lives.

The reason why I think this is twisted is because I realised how much importance we put on money, and it’s become this thing where we can’t actually live a good life without it. Everything we want to do in the future needs money to be done. Such as travelling, going out, buying a house, going to visit relatives overseas, fine-dining etc.

We’ll need a job that will predominantly take up half our lives to get the money, which then goes towards fun things that might only satisfy us for the smallest portion of our lives. On top of this, because we know that we’ll be spending a great portion of our lives in these jobs, we’re forever looking for a job that will satisfy us both financially and mentally. Which is sad, because in my opinion, your life and your career shouldn’t be in the same league, but apparently it is now. I feel that we go through life being told we should improve ourselves, we should do something that will give us an edge in life. To make us more employable – but not necessarily to make us better or happier people.

This is the reason why I find it shameful. I feel restricted from doing things that I used to be able to do when I was still working – but, it shouldn’t be that way. I shouldn’t feel that only money will let me be a happier person who can do more things in life. I don’t want to be the type of person who spends their whole life in a job just to be able to snatch a few moments of fun at the end. I want to be able to enjoy the greater things in life everyday of my life without having to worry about that stuff.

After a conversation with one of my best buds, I was alerted that people in other parts of the world don’t have this same mindset. It isn’t the cultural norm to spend their whole lives planning and planning for the moment they get to do stuff. They just do it. In life, you’ll either have no money and heaps of time, or money and no time. This is the way that we’ve been raised. Time ticks away quickly as you work, it ticks and ticks so you can pocket some cash to use later on. But when it’s later on, you’re already too old. You’re not as agile, and you’re bordering on senility. It’s a crappy way to live, but it’s the only way we know how to live.

So, I’m not going all anti-capitalist and all that on yo’ asses, but don’t let money consume you. Know what the important things are in life, because there are so many other things in life other than jobs and money. There are so many smaller things that can fulfil you rather than a job. I guess what I want to say is; I want a life that will satisfy me. Not a job.

We’re only human.

I’ve struggled this week trying to come to terms with my self-professed failure… When I had this sudden epiphany where my perceived expectations of myself, and what I believed others expected of me would actually render me to be superhuman. So, today I’m going to talk to y’all about the most mundane topic of all. We’re human.

We’re human because we’re going to get heaps of awesome opportunities in life, and we’re going to proceed to mess up these opportunities in the most ungraceful way possible. We’re going to let opportunities slip through our fingers because we’re too busy thinking about things that don’t matter in life, or things that shouldn’t take so much dominance over us. We’re going to struggle to stay in the present and look towards the future because we dwell on things in the past.

This is basically the workings of my inner-mind in the past week. I’ve basically been living in my sea of perceived failures due to my ‘screwed up opportunities’, and I’ve gotta tell you all that that stuff really messes with your idea of yourself.

There are many factors why I felt this way.
1. I was at the pinnacle of my mind’s mountain of stress. My mind’s been severely struggling to cope with the fact that the holidays are well and truly over. Whilst university undoubtedly inspires growth… At the same time, it has the ability to null any and all brain activity. I would blame the 4 month summer holiday, but hey, you can never blame the holy-grail which are the holidays. Throughout the month, I’ve felt brain dead. I forgot how to university.

2. My unrealistic expectations of myself. I feel that any opportunity that I’m blessed with, I should and will take advantage of it. The truth is, as I mentioned before, is that chances are we’re all going to miss or screw up opportunities… And it’s normal. If we never made mistakes, then we would all be at this godly level of awesomeness right now, so much so that I don’t think the world could actually handle it. However, unrealistic expectations of oneself will lead to disappointment. It’ll lead to self-doubt and all the ugly stuff.

So, I’m not sure if this will help anyone, but it makes me feel a bit better at least.

Don’t expect more from yourself than what you know is actually possible. Don’t believe that you’re blessed with this ability to never make mistakes or that you’ll never stumble on the odd problem. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. Be inspired to be the better version of yourself, but make sure that it’s actually achievable. Just remember, there are things you’re going to screw up in life, but there are also going to be things that you do so awesomely that it’s incomprehensible. Just don’t be too hard on yourself like I’ve been this past week, because the feelings are not nice with this one. Not everything’s gonna go right, but not everything’s going to wrong. If you get knocked down, there’s only one way to go, and that’s up.

Until next time, my friends.

Kylie out.

Talking about our generation

Another week, another very late post. So, I started a second section on the same post to compensate… Which is a lie of course, this was actually written and revised at two different points, so I went a little off topic and had to cover it up some how.

I’m sure the older crowd can agree that there are more problems with our generation than what I’m going to be talking about in this post. Such as our undeniably good looks (insert sarcasm), the deafening manner in which we blast our music from the back of the bus, the cavalier way in which we quote our ‘first world problems’, and the general indifference we show to and for the public etcetera, etcetera. The list basically goes on, so I won’t bore you all with ‘101 reasons’ why douche-bags have conjured up this unfavourable stereotype for the younger crowd.

What I will be talking about, however, may not relate to the whole of our generation, but it sure as hell comprises the majority of us. This problem is that we expect things to come to us without us having to work for it. We give up before we’ve genuinely tried. We’re basically a bunch of pussies. It’s not even just deadshits that face this problem, it’s the intelligent ones that face it just as hard. We’ve grown up believing that the greater the education we have, the more chance we have at leading a greater life. But from there, we might come out of uni thinking, “Well, I’m educated. Why aren’t people queuing up outside my door?”

It’s kind of my problem when it comes to job-searching. I’m not sure at which point along the line I caught the temperament of a little bitch, but I started to take it extremely personally when I didn’t get a fancy personalised email encouraging me to reapply for the job again. I started to doubt any and all skills/experience I’ve had in the past, and just decided to crawl into a little ball to revel in the feelings of being unwanted.

So, here’s the problem. We, Gen Y, expect things to magically fall from the sky and into our hands. The thing that some of us struggle to understand is that these magical fallings are based on pure luck. If we don’t communicate what we want, we aren’t going to get what we want. If we don’t go-get and we just sit back and expect things to happen for us, things aren’t going to happen. If we don’t try hard enough, we obviously didn’t exhaust our potentials to the point where we deserve these magical fallings. A good example would be grades. It’s not the teacher’s fault for marking you badly, and you shouldn’t hate the teacher for doing so. There’s a highly likely chance you got the grade you deserved from the amount of effort you put in.

I feel an obligation to insert a cheesy quote here, so, “When life knocks you down, you grab life by the collar and do unspeakably awesome things with it… Like go-karting… And pub-crawling.”

Another problem that isn’t actually our fault:
We’ve always been told to ‘dream big’. We shun people who settle for a mediocre life, and we’re constantly told we need ambitions. Ambitions aren’t a bad thing, but when we’re given a whole bloody library full of words we should aspire to be, and an encyclopaedia of all jobs available, it’s pretty damned hard to choose. There are so many options that some of us fear that we’ll pick the wrong combination. A combination that we won’t be able to live up to, or something that people will find completely useless.

We’ve been taught by our parents that we can do whatever we want… As long as we believe’. Except a problem that has constituted countless conversation I’ve had with a lot of people my age is that we really don’t know what we want. At 5, I wanted to be a firefighter. At 12, I wanted to be a teacher. At 15, a psychologist. At 18, someone in the media industry. Now, I’m studying business. A degree that is a stepping stone into the unknown.

The potential cause of this is because of every year leading up to before we’re kicked out into university or colleges… Every single damned year before that, we’ve had our hands held. We’re given a set of rules we need to follow, and a list of things that we need to do. Then from the moment we’re out of high school, they ask us to think about what to do with the rest of our lives. It’s like this quote that I keep seeing around, “We ask 18-year-olds to make huge decisions about their career and financial future, when a month ago they had to ask to go to the bathroom.” How are we supposed to suddenly know what we want when we’ve had to primarily rely on others for the majority of our lives? When we’ve had the fate of us peeing ourselves rest in somebody else’s hands?!

We’re told we shouldn’t settle for mediocrity. That we should aim for that ‘ideal lifestyle’ that movies, cartoons, magazines and adults constantly promote. Except my question in the end is: What’s my idea of a perfect life? And where can I buy one of those?

It’s definitely not incompetency.

Okay. So, I’ve spent an unhealthy portion of the day sitting in front of the television watching the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics (12 hours, to be exact). As time progressively passes by, I can’t help but feel more and more incompetent. As a person my age breaks world records and totally kicks ass at figure skating, I’m just sitting on my ass watching… And it starts to make me reevaluate myself and what I’m good at.

I’m not gonna say, “Well, shit. This is why I never get invested in watching the games.” Because I think it’s great watching sportsmen and women get recognition for being good at what they do. However, in doing that, it makes me think about what I could’ve achieved if I had really stuck to the sports I loved as a kid… Then I remember, my parents are Asian… And whilst they do appreciate sports and stuff, they would prefer me in a low risk, high reward environment… Like being a doctor or something.

I think the two reasons I think it’d be awesome to be a sportsperson is because 1. You get recognition for doing what you do best and 2. These days it’s extremely hard to be widely recognised for being good at what you do.

In no way, shape or form am I saying that we need recognition for being good at what we do, but it gives us reassurance that we aren’t just another leaf on a tree… Or another fish in the corporate sea etcetera, etcetera. And that would be nice. It’s kind of like the ultimate, “You are brilliant. Keep doing what you’re doing.” Or a massive, “we’re proud of you!” From the world.

Well, I know that I’m glamourising this whole situation, because people do cop a lot of shit whether they’re good at what they do or not. They give up so much to master their abilities, such as their childhood, the chance of having a legitimate friendship or even a normal upbringing. Then they might never even get that recognition they seek because they simply aren’t ‘good enough’ as a result of a number or simply because they’ll never feel content with their abilities… Which sucks because this thing they do is their life, and once it’s over they might have nothing. But, it’s just that I see these sportspeople do what they do, and it makes me smile in awe… And it would be the best feeling ever knowing that you are the reason people are smiling in awe.

I think another reason jealousy oozes from my pores is because these people have ultimately found their calling. They’ve found that one thing they kick ass at, and they continue to kick ass at it. For me, I have several things I’m competent at, nothing I’ve mastered… But definitely a bunch of things I enjoy and am pretty alright at… Like dancing, writing… Rambling, movie marathons etc.

So, shouldn’t the summation of these bunch of things make up for it? I wish. I want to be legitimately good at something and know that I’m good at it… Not that I’m just okay at it. Maybe it’s… No, it’s definitely the perfectionist within me. I need to know what I’m good at, but the complicated thing is, apparently my self-evaluation isn’t quite enough. Which is really stupid of me. I’m never going to know what I’m good at if I need to depend on other people to reassure me.

Another thing is the immediacy part. These people have found their calling. I’m obviously still looking… Forever looking. I know that these sportspeople might have these feelings of never feeling good enough until they get first place, and even then it’s not definite. I don’t need that. I just need one person… Well, one prominent person in my life to tell me that my shit’s brilliant (not literally, because that’s disgusting, and frankly, a little messed up).

It might be a self confidence problem, it might be a life reassurance thing, but it’s most definitely partially to do with my inner perfectionist… But, I’m still awaiting the day I wake up, happy with everything I’ve accomplished in life. From what I understand of myself so far, that day will come when I don’t need the reassurance of others. I need to completely comprehend that being happy at what I do is always enough.

Time to grow up?

If ‘growing up’ has made me realise anything… It’s that I’m not ready to grow up. After talking to a couple of people about how quickly 2013 has passed, we realised that after next year we’ll be done with university and out to find a ‘real’ job. We realised that in 5 years, we might have a couple of friends getting hitched, and in 10 years, we’re going to be 30. In the scope of things, that’s probably a long time away… but after seeing how quickly every year is passing, it feels like we’re just a hop, step and a skip away from all these things occurring.

The thing that scares me most about growing up is the whole ‘responsibility’ part that comes with it. I have undoubtedly lived a privileged life where my parents are just a bird call away from swooping in to clean up any mess I’ve created. They’re here to support me when I have no idea what I’m supposed to do and I can turn to them when I’m not sure how to do something. I mean, it’s not that I have an inability to do taxes, cook, clean, look after myself and all that stuff, it’s just that I’m lazy as shit. I’m not ready to take initiative of my life and make things happen. If I had it my way, I would probably just sleep for one half of the day, then eat and watch reruns of Sherlock, HIMYM and Shameless for the other half.

Okay, so maybe in some ways I feel like I’m ready to take full responsibility of my life. I’ve thought about what investments I’m ready to make, what I’m going to do when I get my first legitimate job and all that stuff, but this is me being all talk and no action, as I’m not sure what steps are required for me to actually get there in the first place. That, and I’m supposed to be basking in my young naiveté, adapting to the manner and lifestyle of a mindless youth in her glory days.

Sometimes I’m not sure if I’m the only person my age who’s freaking out about this growing up thing. I feel like this is the time to be ‘living it up’, but I can’t help but acknowledge the fact that maybe if I don’t start worrying about these things now, I’ll spend and live in a way that’s reckless beyond repair. I’ll be something of a knocked-up 20-year old university drop out who has a substance abuse problem, and missing limbs/organs that have resulted from funding that addiction.

So, when is it time to grow up? More importantly, when are you supposed to recognise when it’s time to grow up and plan for the future? Is it supposed to be this one moment where everything in the world comes to a sudden standstill, and you’re just looking around thinking, ‘What am I doing with my life?‘. Do we then get some dramatic slow-motion montage of our past experiences in Sepia with Radiohead’s ‘No Surprises’ playing in the background? Like, shit. Do we get an intervention telling us that we’re officially at the end of the ‘living it up’ phase and that it’s time to find a real purpose in life? DO WE GET A DAMNED LETTER AT LEAST?!

I’m not sure if anybody else is in the same boat as me, but one of the things I fear most is that I’m not doing enough. Whether it’s not enough of ‘living it up’ now, or in the future when I’m looking back thinking about what I should’ve done in the past to make my life easier. But, if there’s anything that I can recommend we do in the present, it’d be to do what we want. Life’s too long to be stuck doing anything we hate… And, it’s also too short to waste our time regretting decisions of things we did or wished we had done. So, my lame proposition is that we do what we want and don’t spend too much time worrying about things that don’t need worrying about. Things that have constituted this mindless babble you’ve just read… The lovechild which is this massive word-vomit post.

If you’re older and you’re just having a good ol’ chuckle at my quarter-life existential crisis and have any words of wisdom… Let me know.

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My take on bullying

Recently I watched a video on the vlogbrother’s channel where John Green talked about bullying and how to get through it. I can’t say that I have had a great load of experience with being a direct target of bullying, but I have had the odd one or two people early on in high school who have been passively aggressive to me for a short period of time… With no apparent purpose. Even though it didn’t affect me too dramatically, I do know how shit it feels, and I can only imagine how hard it would be for those people who have been excluded or victimised for a large portion of their lives.

One of the things that John mentioned in this vlog was how there was this one thing that made him understand why bullies acted the way they did. Of course, it was no excuse to be doing that type of shit, but when you think about reasons a bully might… Bully… Well, it puts things into a bit more perspective.

A lot of the times people do the things they do, it’s always due to some past experience, trauma or something bloody awesome happening in their lives. People’s behaviours are always catalysed by something that’s influenced them in some way – and this behaviour they exhibit is a physical hallmark of their experiences. This doesn’t just relate to ‘why a person bullies’, but also why a person might be extra careful. Why a person might incessantly bug you for attention. Why a person is so caught up with how they look. All these things that make up a person is due to something that’s happened in their past.

Now, let’s get back on topic. Bullies may have several reasons for why they do what they do. The one that I’m sure all of us have heard at some point is, “They’re jealous of you”. Another one that also commonly pops up is, “They’re insecure of themselves, so they put you down to make themselves feel better”. Then the really deep and disturbing ones like, “They’ve been verbally/physically/sexually assaulted” or “They have a really tough family life”.

But the one thing that I took away from John’s video is that these people who bully you aren’t necessarily evil. They, too – as hard as it is to believe – are people who are living with their own fears, pains and problems. The fact that they target you in particular is definitely unfortunate, but it doesn’t mean that they have anything against you as a person. Many times, the act of bullying isn’t because the problem lies with you, it’s usually a problem that lies with the other person. Although this may not be 100% accurate and may vary in different cases and situations, bullying can often be a sign of weakness from the perpetrator. They may use this tool as an instrument to gain control and strength in an area that they don’t usually have within their lives.

For all my younger readers out there, if you’re in high school and dealing with a shit load of bullying, know that it’ll stop. High school, although it may be the ‘best years’ for one bunch of people, for others it’s just another thing they have to survive… and depending on how you deal with it, it’ll just be another chapter in your life. This is going to sound like a typical guidance counsellor moment, but if you are being targeted, know that there is somebody out there who will listen and care… Even if they are just people on the internet.

The Appropriate Amount of F***s to Give: Life Edition

Sorry everybody for being a little M.I.A. these past few weeks. I didn’t really want to post a string of things that either didn’t make sense or were so monstrously insubstantial that they were a waste of space… So, I’ve obviously decided that this one was worthy in some way, shape or form. That being said, I’m going to try my hardest to post more frequently! 

As the new year commences, I only find it appropriate to give out a potentially beneficial life tip for my people of the interwebs. So, as I’ve been scrolling through numerous social networking sites, I’ve come to notice a recurring new year resolution; to stop pleasing others. ‘How is this an appropriate amount of f***s to give column?!’ you may ponder. Ah, my friends, this is in fact a ‘don’t give that many f***s about other people’ column… And I mean this in the nicest way possible.

Many a times we have been confronted with things that we don’t particularly want to do but we do it anyway. Our happiness is leached for the sake of other people… Not even for the sake of their happiness, it’s just for the sake of them. My mantra in life has always been to do what I want… This is of course within the bounds of what’s socially acceptable. I do what I want as long as it won’t have any negative consequences on me or the people around me… And so far it’s worked out pretty alright.

I mean, when has it become ‘bad manners’ to say no? When has it become so taboo to do what you want? In the end, all you’re really doing is living for yourself, not for others. If you don’t do what you want and it’s all for somebody else, then aren’t you really just living out their plans and their expectations for and of you?

This relates to turning down your friends’ ‘hectic nights out’ so that you can stay at home and watch those embarrassingly awesome chick flicks and binge on things that will probably give you a high cholesterol and diabetes. This relates to challenging your friends for that restaurant you want to go to because it obviously makes better parmas. This especially relates to being able to voice your disapproval or if you disagree with something somebody said. No, it’s not cool to get into fights, but if there’s anything that I’ve learnt from the people I choose to hang out with, I like people who aren’t submissive and don’t feel inclined to agree with everything I say. I mean, who doesn’t like a good challenge?

This doesn’t even just relate to friends. For all my Asians out there… and especially for all my people who have relatives/partners/girlfriends/boyfriends/teachers with high expectations for you and for your life, remember to not fall into the trap of living for them. I can’t stress this enough, because I legitimately felt like I was undergoing a metamorphosis or something dramatic when I realised this… But don’t live in fear of disappointing others. I always feared that I would do something that would disappoint my family, and sometimes I still do… However, luckily it’s on nothing that is a complete conflict of interest.

It’s a scary feeling knowing that you haven’t been doing what you want for the most part of your life… Knowing that you have been living to please others… Living to make them proud of you. But I’d bet on anything that it would be even scarier if you went so far down that path that it was only when you were 35 and in a career you hate that you finally realise that you’re being somebody you aren’t because of other people’s expectations of you.

I’m going to leave you with this parting note… A challenge, if you will. Be selfish for a change. Put yourself ahead of others. Live for yourself and not for other people, no matter how much they matter… Because as the wise Jim Rohn said, “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”

The appropriate amount of f***s to give: ATAR Edition

Just about a year ago, thousands upon thousands of Year 12 students received their ATAR scores, and I was one of them. It was probably one of the most nerve-wracking things that I’ve experienced in my life… It was also one of those things that was more blown out of proportion than it should’ve been. I’m not sure if this will help anybody, but maybe it’ll make somebody feel better for a second.

The thing is, when I received my ATAR, it wasn’t a bad score. It was actually a good score. Except having been blessed with Asian genetics, I had these unrealistic expectations of myself and legitimately thought that this number determined the outcome of my life. It made me think that if I had tried that little bit harder, maybe in the future I would become some genius mad scientist who would find a cure for Cancer and make a zillion dollars that I would give away to charity.

So, isn’t it a little stupid? Thinking that one number can change the outcome of your future? In reality, it’s what you do with this number that counts. I know I sound like a typical teacher or careers advisor… but the score doesn’t and will never determine your success. Perhaps you might’ve gotten a 99.95 ATAR, this doesn’t mean that you’ll score well throughout university. Maybe you have a certain dedication and prowess when it comes to academics, but it doesn’t guarantee shit. Even if you get a 65 ATAR, perhaps you took a different approach to your studies during year 12, but it doesn’t mean you’ll do badly in life, maybe you’ll even score better throughout uni than that 99.95 kid.

This is where I get to my point. In the grand scheme of things, this number means nothing. Yes, it might make getting into university next year easier. Maybe it’ll save you a couple of steps in getting into your course. However, I can’t stress this enough. The score doesn’t determine your success, your career or whether you’ll be happy in the future. This is all in your hands. If you really wanted to become a lawyer, but only got a 65, you will find a way to be one. You did not work (or play) for these 13 years of your life to give up because of a stupid number. Numbers are stupid, anyway. The important thing to do is to not let this bring you down. If you want to do something, but didn’t get the score you wanted to do it, then f%^* the system. You’ll go through pathways and all that serious stuff.

Having experienced the whole ups and downs of VCE and all those scary results just a year ago, I can promise you this one thing. Nobody gives a flying f%#*. The number of people who have asked me what my ATAR was during the uni year? Zero. The number of people who I have asked? Zero. If anything, we were all holding each other for moral support as we experienced the stress of first year uni. Now, that my friends, was not fun.

Seriously though, with your results, it’s done and there’s nothing you can do about it. The only thing you can do now is to plan for what you’ll do next… Unless you’re one of those crazies that decide to repeat Year 12 to get an ideal score. The truth is, give or take a month, your ATAR means nothing. It never existed… Neither did VCE… Or high school for that matter. It was all just a tediously long and hazy dream…

Caught up

Living in quite a fast paced society, it’s often so easy to get caught up in the things that don’t really matter. We cringe about the stupid mistakes we’ve made in the past, we worry about the potential outcomes in the future… and all in all, we just struggle to live in the present. I know for the majority of my life, I’ve always thought and stressed out about the future. I think, ‘will I get ever get a job?’, ‘will I have enough money in the future?’, ‘will I get fined?’ or even ‘am I going to fail any subjects this semester?’ Although these thoughts aren’t outrageously trivial, they’re minor things that consume my life.

One thing I realised these past few days is how futile it is worrying about the things that we can’t change. Every day we worry is another less day we get to be happy. This isn’t some philosophical bullshit, it’s just the truth. When we’re so caught up in negative emotions of the past and in the future, aren’t we just depriving ourselves of the moment? When I take a step back and look at how much I stress out on a daily basis, I realise how unnecessary it is. I mean, our lives are made up of moments. I don’t want to look back at my life one day wondering where it all went just because I was too preoccupied thinking about things I couldn’t control or change.

The problem with worrying is that it does nothing except make you feel really crappy. By worrying about whether you’ve failed a subject, is it going to make you pass? By worrying about whether you’ve gotten a fine, will it stop you from getting a fine? No. It just gives you another reason to feel like shit without actually achieving anything. I mean, if worrying actually had these supernatural capabilities of changing the course of the future, then that’d be excellent – but most of the time we worry, it doesn’t exactly stimulate us into proactivity. Hell, more often than not, there’s nothing you can even do to change the outcomes.

So how do we stop this perpetuating cycle of worrying for all you little stress bugs out there?
Firstly, accept what you’ve done. Once we do things, we can’t go back and undo them. By thinking about what we should’ve done instead or by thinking about how it shouldn’t have even happened does nothing. It may take a few days, it may take a few weeks or even a few months… But, you’ll need to come to terms with the fact that you did what you did, and you can’t change that anymore.

Secondly, think about the worst that could happen and how you could act on that, rather than thinking about how it’ll destroy your life. Not saying that the worst will occur, but as I said before, you need to accept what you did and the fact that you can’t change that anymore. The only thing you can actually do is think about how you’ll cope with any and all of the potential consequences. Although you can’t change what you did in the past, the best you can do is to think about how you would react and cope in any given situation.

Thirdly, live in the moment. There’s a high possibility that there’s nothing you can do right now that will change the outcome. So, after thinking about it, or even writing down how you could cope in certain situations, move past it. For me, I recently came to the sad realisation of how out of tune I was with my emotions because of all this worrying. At times I actually need to sit back for a moment and think, “am I feeling happy right now?” or “am I excited for this?” Which is just crazy since I should know without having to think about it… And I think a lot of this comes down to living in the present instead of ‘re-living’ the past or thinking too much about the future.

Finally, be grateful that the worst didn’t happen. A lot of the times we think so much about the negative things in life that we don’t even pay any attention to the positive things in life. I mean, let’s say I did fail a subject, would that destroy my parents’ unconditional love for me? Would it make my friends hate me? Well, I hope not… Because, then it’s probably time to find a new group of friends. What I’m trying to say though is, instead of focusing on what you might lose, think about the good things that will still be in your life. Things might not always turn out the way you want them to, but some things are there to stay.

If you’re a person who worries about the future like me, it’s bloody hard to stop… But the main point I’m trying to make is that you can’t alter the outcome, but you can alter your attitude and actions in reacting to it. So; appreciate the good things, accept the bad things, plan for the worst, but be grateful for all that you have, especially this moment.