27 Nov 2014

Graduate

Self reminder to the things I said on the day of my graduation (not commencement, just end of last paper of my undergraduate life). This was first posted on my private Facebook but I just want it to become an official diary entry of my life. This is the end of something past, the start of something new.

As I handed in my paper and walked out of the last exam of my University life, I couldn't help but feel a silly sense of achievement. Walking away with relieve and glee, I spotted two students sleeping head to head on the bench outside a classroom (clearly battling the exam week surviving on 2 hours' sleep daily and 2 showers a week), my sense of empathy was reduced to pity and maybe a little reproach. Perhaps one may be too busy to notice, but University was never intended for advancement of compulsive and stubborn commitment to maintain status as a mugger/ compete senselessly in grades/ sleep as little as possible/ neglect health and family/ treat peers as foes. None of which is anything to be proud of as an achievement in tertiary education.
Being someone whose childhood and life till Junior College revolved around studying and doing assessment 7 days a week, I know how it must feel like when one thinks that grades are the best marks of success. I was fortunate enough to have overcome that disillusion and derived a groundbreaking (to my parents) and life-changing goal before the start of university. My life priorities have changed to focus strictly on three things: my passion, skills and happiness. I set a few general rules to guide me through university:
1. If you're not happy, nothing is worth it. If something's worth doing, you shouldn't be unhappy.
2. Time wasted is time you'll never get back. University is the 4-year window I give myself to discover myself - try new thing, fail, unlearn and relearn. Never waste time, never be complacent. Spending quality time with family and friends, getting enough sleep and engage in hobbies are not time wasted. There IS a time for everything.
3. My priority in enrolling in an university education is to build a career, NOT find a job. I will not go for the 'safe' or popular choices (because who said so anyway?), but be focused and motivated only towards the right things that should be important to me - components that fuel my passion into a successful career.
4. University should not make anyone less of a good person. You can work hard, compete and achieve without being less of a nice person. You can be strong, opinionated and different and still polite. Ethics and attitude are important as a good human being - exercise that in every and any situation. Seek self-approval before others.
Too many people enter and graduate from university each year, only to come to the conclusion that they don't know what they want, or 'cannot' do what they want. Less than 2% of SMU Business students graduate to work in their own business. The number is shocking. (Why are you in Business school?) When revealing my career plan, most people encouraged me to find a job first, work for a few years, then do what I like. Some people expressed their general approval. Few people told me I am doing the right thing. My question is - why should I do that if I can already do what I like from the start?
If anyone asks me what I got out of university, my answer would be that I found and defined myself. My grades are not brilliant to have fancy latin award names, but that doesn't mean I'm any less intelligent or smart - I just don't allow that to define me. As a person I'm made up of my character, aptitude and motivations among other important things. I found what I wanted and knew what I was working hard for, and that's my biggest personal achievement.
So, happy graduation to those who are coming to the end of this adventure as the same odd time as me, and I pray for you that you are now ready to take on the world with fiery passion and positivity. Happy graduation to myself, someone still far from ideal but proud to have made progress over the years. 毕业咯!
A new and even more exciting life begins now. To a bigger heart and brighter days.

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