Saturday, January 20, 2007

Life starts anew AFTER leaving Singapore; Oh, and jury duty too

I speak from a male Singaporean perspective of course. And no, I am not going to to rant again about how much of a time-and-mind wasting activity National Service is was to most of us. I am just glad that I have the option of not returning and be subjected to wearing that fugly No. 4 (plus whatever push/flavor of the day the gahmen wants the herd to go into).

Oikono (Wharton/Penn), quitacet (Columbia) and 7366 (WashU)'s experiences were very similar to how I felt in my first year away from home. We may all have different dreams, but we chose to come to the US to pursue them (and going beyond grades).

But many Singaporeans do not have this luxury. That nation has done itself in somewhat with the Pygmalion Effect. I am not even referring to some generic compatriot; I looked at the sad eyes of several of my (distant) cousins and neighbors' kids who are not doing well in school, of how their parents (and I am guessing their teachers too) had given up and branded them as 'gone case'.

I do have my teachers to thank for believing in me. Not for some though. And they still leave an imprint on me, albeit in the non-academic sense. I am, in a nutshell, the most confident insecure person you will ever meet. I am still a work in progress. When I was young, I longed to fit in and finally at 21, I stopped trying. I simply went to a new environment overseas. I have not looked back since. Hopefully never ever.



Many of them come brimming with hope and passion. Yet beneath it all, I can’t help but also noticed a lack of self confidence, a lack of belief in their own abilities. Its almost as if deep down they doubt they will ever be able to produce something good. I look into their eyes, I see self-doubts and a fear of failure. Its ridiculous to see some of the students sit infront of their workstation and they’re almost afraid if they do something wrong, the computer will explode or something.

I don’t know why, perhaps its our education system but I don’t for one second believe we don’t have what it takes. Yes, our enviroment may not be condusive for creativity but hell, if flowers can bloom in the desert I don’t see how even an adverse enviroment can stop one from exercising his own creativity. You have to work harder, that’s all. And above everything, you have to believe in yourself. And that’s all it boils down to, if you don’t believe in yourself, that in and of itself is already a major obstacle and perhaps that’s why many people stop improving as an artist. Perhaps its because subconsciously they don’t believe they will be any good, so why bother to practice, why bother to improve. They let the opinions of others beat them down, they let their lack of self confidence bear them down, and that’s sad.


In my snail mailbox today, there was a letter from the county's "Office of Jury Clerk" addressed to me. First thought that came to my mind - Shit.

Trial by jury is a fundamental principle of our system of justice. Jury service is therefore both an opportunity and an obligation of every American citizen. Your name has been electronically drawn by random selection from a list of residents in this county as a potential juror pursuant to state law. You are being considered for jury service in this county. Your cooperation and willingness to return this form is greatly appreciated.


That was not all. On the envelope enclosed, the top-right hand box has the wording: "Place stamp here. Post Office will not deliver mail without proper postage."

WTF?! 1. I am not a US citizen. 2. You are asking me a favor, and I have to cough up money to send you the stupid form?!

Now, if only I am that lucky in winning the green card lottery...


aglassofwine said...

just ignore the form lor. but that's hilarious - maybe you should return the form, and ask for your greencard at the same time.

L'oiseau rebelle said...

I can't remember who I'm quoting, but one of the signs of maturity is when we give up trying to fit in and are comfortable with who we are. I think at the adolescent ages, we are trying to find our place in the world, and hence have a need to be accepted. I felt the same way too... now I continually remind myself that the good friends I have, my work and my hobbies are what give me satisfaction, not a popularity poll.

That lack of self-esteem? It's also highly prevalent in the so-called elite. I think that many elites follow the life prescription because they don't feel they have the abilities to strike it out on their own, so to speak. Well, I used to be a risk-averse, what-if-I'm-not-good-enough-and-I-fail Singaporean, until I realized that by not doing things because I'm afraid of the consequences, I end up doing nothing. And so I moved out to Colorado, pretty much on an impulse, and hey, the sky didn't come crashing down on me. I'm still legally in the country, and am not about to be deported in the near future. Plus, I get to ski on real mountains. (Although, I must confess, I put in a lot of effort, especially in my college days, to make it fairly certain that whatever I might decide to do, the sky isn't likely to fall on me.)

And all of us will always be works-in-progress... I guess the question is how far the progress is.

And you're called up for jury duty? This is my chance to mock you...