Sunday, July 26, 2009


"Improvements are always available no matter what, but that that does not mean you should subject yourself 100% performance benchmark. I mean, do you really NEED to perform 100% ? Does performing 100% make you feel MUCH happier then your current state? Performing 100% may just mean you burn out or make you become obsessive, and probably even make you feel less happy than present. So really, I think performing 100% shouldn't be your barometer. I thinks performing efficiently is a better benchmark."

I have always been on an upward trajectory. Even when the world and life conspired against me, by luck or by blind determination, I made it past all that. I don't have an Ivy League or Oxbridge scroll. Since young I knew all we could afford was a local public university, not even private colleges. If only I knew these top schools were need-blind.

I never had the privilege of structured middle class activities to engage my then young mind - no music lessons, no theatre, no tuition (save for an aborted attempt in Mandarin). Books were mainly hand-me-downs and some we bought. So don't ask me about Enid Blyton, Famous Five, Dr Seuss et al. It's almost alien to me, only read a couple. But somehow I had my headstart - the Singaporean English books bought by my father, working on junior high algebra when in primary school because the book was on discount, poring over what few books I had and understanding things deeply, secondary school history and geography books as leisure reading for a child (I didn't need to study much in secondary school!), badminton training in school, volunteering to do weekly subject summaries for this hybrid subject called Alam & Manusia, weekly or fortnightly visits to the National Library (public bus route worked for me), borrowing books from cousins, the school library. English or Malay books, it didn't matter (haha I read Ivory Towers and Nancy Drew in Malay!).

Holidays which I lost to aimless play versus the privileged children's mind-nurturing activities, I must have made up for it through all this. The VCR so common to other children, and the DOS computers and video games were all needless luxuries. Summer camps and holidays - I could only dream. My parents worked hard, and I knew not to expect. It was all my imagination as I play alone or with the other children from the neighbourhood - I had toys which were mainly toy soldiers and Lego sets. I made imaginary fortresses and spacecrafts by moving furniture around. I played board games with the cousins and also their computers. I would memorise flags and countries and countries on the map. I even knew the 50 states of the US. I would cycle and get lost and make my way back. I always wanted to know what was beyond.

I opened up a world of wonder through all this. Knowledge of things beyond that small life of mine made me wonder if there's more. I was a fairly popular kid and did well in school. I was not a confident child though. My insecurities were deep-rooted and I am ashamed today to say, it was all related to our lack of material wealth. I am sorry Ma and Pa....I know you tried your best.

So there. That's why I am obsessed with perfection. With 100%. Yes, now I can wing it. But that's not because it's not perfect. It's because I know I can. Often, I do enough and sometimes I push the envelope further. But it doesn't mean I feel good about it. Yes, good to know that I am able. But I know there's much much more within. And I still have much to learn, and much to do.


At July 27, 2009 1:12 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you honestly think that things would be alot different had you a childhood full of material wealth? I think not. My guess is that you would still walk around as tho' it's a big chip on your shoulder.

Frankly, sweetie, the fact that you have got so far with what you have is testimony that perhaps it's high time you be kinder to yourself. To count your blessings and hold your head high.

Education, tenacity, hardwork and intelligence -- these are things money can't buy. You have to learn to work smart and work on increasing your EQ.

At January 09, 2010 10:48 pm, Blogger Carneyz said...

Hi WS! Long time no see u. Why does this posting strike a chord in me? Probably bcoz I come from a humble beginning as well, and still working towards that dream?

u know what, i've always admired the fact that ur not just book-smart, but street smart as well? So u should be proud :)

At January 23, 2010 3:33 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow, you had lego's and toy soldiers? We had to play with sticks.


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