Despite having a complete family, my childhood was a little less fortunate than I would have liked it to be.
Do you ever feel like… damn, I don’t know if I can get over this when you face setbacks in your teenage years? I’ve lost count of the number of times I felt this way – being able to solve all the A. Maths problem in class work but failing with a single digit in common tests; feeling what we thought was love when it’s just a bestie for emotional support; having argument with someone who seems important at that point in your life, etc. Looking back now, especially when I read my private blogs during those days, those were nothing more than part of growing up.
So… here are 10 things I wish I could tell the teenage Hui Ying back then.
1) Ditch the friends who never looked back.
The way I see it, I was a Chinese cultured girl stuck in an English school. I didn’t have many friends because we were culturally different and have different priorities in life.
After driving everyone away and realizing that I can’t live in a world by myself, I started to go the other extreme, and tried very hard to please and help many friends in hope for friendship. A good friend broke my heart exceptionally bad – back in primary school, we didn’t have the luxury/knowledge of photocopy machines, so being in the A class, I actually took the time every week to copy mock PSLE papers for my friend in the H class, so that she could get as much practice as possible. (Let’s put it this way – her teacher wasn’t very diligent.)
Despite that, she turned her back against me after graduation and pretended that we were strangers when we met in the mall. I should have realized that those people were never worth the help nor the begging.
2) Speak up and be direct
I had been through a short period of time when I got so depressed that I practically gave up talking. It was just a lot of upsetting incidents that I never told anyone causing an emotional buildup to a point where I just broke.
Looking back, many of the problems could have been solved simply, if I had just expressed my feelings. Sometimes it wasn’t even about resolving an issue, but simply speaking up and getting over it. “I wish you wouldn’t call me stupid” “I was ashamed of my results” “I don’t know how to improve or move on” “I was afraid that people wouldn’t accept the real me” “Stop comparing me to my brothers”
3) 10 years down the road, no one cares about your PSLE score
Both fortunately and unfortunately, my elder brothers are elites compared to me, academically that is.
Throughout my primary and secondary years, I was constantly haunted with comparisons – Your brother is in NCC so I thought you would be in UG too! Your brother did very well in History and Bio, I’m surprised you failed. At the point when PSLE results were released, a few of my friends did unexpectedly bad.
When they knew that I got 245, they were a little envious. But to me, all I heard in my mind was that “your brother scored well enough to be invited back next year but you didn’t.” Seriously. Now that I’m all grown up, I’m more worried about my health and people are more concerned with my relationship status and no one, absolutely NO ONE, gave a damn about my PSLE score.
4) Fight for yourself
I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only teen who felt that I had to fight for the approval of others, be it my teachers, my parents or simply “other people” in general. When I was considering which secondary school to enrol in, I thought about my brothers. When I was worrying that I had to drop Chemistry, I worried about what my classmates would think of me. I never really realized that it was myself that I should be fighting for.
I am only a strong fighter if I’m fighting for what I want, not what people would want me to be.
5) Granddad would be proud of you.
One evening after school dismissal, I saw my classmate with his grandmother. “Have you eaten?” “YEAH LA, YEAH LA, STOP ASKING SO MUCH.” During my polytechnic graduation, I was extremely thankful that my parents were there but when I saw a fellow classmate whose grandma came, somehow I felt emotional.
Not a single day has passed where I did not wonder how it would feel to walk home from school with my granny. Or wished time and time again that I had the chance to send off my granddad… or that he had the chance to attend my graduation. Would he approve of my decisions? Is he proud of me? Most importantly, how is he?
But the reality show Long Island Medium changed my mindset a little – that they would be proud of us and looking out for us, guiding us in whatever ways they can.
So yes, every now and then, I would remind myself that he would be proud and that gives me the strength to go on. So yup, that’s what I would have told my teenage self. What about you?