classic mini ugg the next stop
I was speaking to Vic a few days ago, one of my favourite people from school whom I’ve taken countless modules with and had many great HTHTs with. (She also introduced me to the best pho in Singapore at the Vietnamese restaurant in Joo Chiat for which I am eternally grateful for.)
“What if this is me just thinking I can do things I can’t? . It’s like when you listen to people whom you don’t think will accomplish what they want talk about what they want.”
It’s less than 2 weeks to the end of the semester, our final semester in SMU. I have had many conversations with my friends about ‘the next step’. What are your plans? Have you found a job? Are you thinking about post grad?
Four years of cramming for exams and prepping for presentations culminated in this one question: What now?
Vic and I are psychology majors, and like every other psychology major, we face two big challenges when looking for jobs: one, we aren’t specialised enough to practice, and two, we aren’t scarce enough for employers to be willing to invest in training us.
It isn’t as if we didn’t know this is what we were signing up for. That’s the problem when you’re someone who is driven by interest and curiosity struggling to make it in a world that rewards practicality. The initial idea was to study something that we wanted to learn more about, and figure out the rest along the way. Neither of us had some big elaborate game plan pinned up on our bedroom walls, we just knew we wanted to change someone’s life in some small way in the work that we did.
Turns out that having vaguely outlined (pencilled and smudgy, no less) life trajectories can be highly problematic. Saying “I’ll cross that bridge when I get there” through the course of our college lives has led us to this point where we have to ask ourselves if we can really make it across. That bridge being post graduate education, of course.
Powering through on the borrowed mantra from The Little Engine That Could will no longer suffice. “I think I can” must now translate to “you bet I made it”. And even then, to channel confidence and passion in an application essay is only one variable in the complicated equation that is acceptance to a Masters or PhD programme of your choice. What about GPA, what about research or clinical experience, publications, paper presentations? What have you got to prove you made it?
The questions that loom over us now are “at what cost?” and “for how long?” and “is it all going to be worth it?” taking gamble after gamble in hopes of just getting to the very starting point of that very simple life goal of enacting change.
It’s funny how people always say, “In the end, you’ve got to be pragmatic.” Like clinical psychology, or educational research exist on some idealistic plane entirely removed from reality. The fact is, these fields are essential for a fast paced, competitive nation like Singapore, and they can offer so much. They lend support to disadvantaged segments of society, they help to make life better for those who are in need. They serve the interests of the next generation, they seek solutions, answers to very real and prevalent problems. Why do people act like we’re idealistic in wanting to pursue our interests within these fields, and then complain of all the social ills that plague our society today?
Some days, I find myself adopting that view, that this is someone else’s problem to fix. That I can’t afford to have these lofty goals when my immediate needs aren’t going to be satisfied. But maybe my fear really stems from the belief that I will be happier with the “pragmatic” choice that isolates me from all the troubling issues that piqued my interest in education and developmental psychology in the first place, than going down a research path that I end up dedicating my entire life to with the risk of achieving nothing of substance.
It’s scary to stare at the long road ahead of you and wonder what is waiting for you at the end. And I guess in that sense, every person goes through this stage of life, psychology major, Singaporean, or otherwise. At the end of the day, will my life be meaningful?
But if you could know what was at the end of that road, there wouldn’t be much point in taking that journey, especially if you don’t like what you see. I think maybe what makes the human experience so wonderful is the ability to embrace uncertainty and imagine all the endless possibilities, to remain hopeful against all odds.
So, the only answer I have to the question, “What now?” is, “Who knows?” And I’m okay with that. I say, I’ll take one step at a time and play it by ear. I’m sure all of us will invent a tune we can jive to.
Hi friends, so some of you know that I was working on a 100 Days of Creation project last semester, and did most of my writing offline. I decided I would post some of the stuff that I wrote during that time up here, according to the dates that they were written. You’ve probably already read some of them. I’ll post them anyway just in case. Hahahaha xoxoxoxo okay buhbye love and peace!
And God created all the beasts of the earth and the creatures of the sea and sky and saw that it was good.
But then He had a bunch of bones and a wad of flesh leftover so He decided to see what He could come up with under those constraints (they say limitations are what turn creativity into innovation,
after all). He had used up all of the iridescent scales coated on the backs of fish and run out of the magnificent plumage. He’d endowed on the peacocks and parrots. Every last quality thread that He’d spun had gone into the regal, soft coats of rabbits and zebras and alpacas. Powerful muscle tissue had gone to horses and cheetahs, fearsome jaws to the sharks and crocodiles, agility to hummingbirds and rodents, acrobatic skill to lemurs and flying foxes.
So the best He could come up with was a scrappy, pasty looking thing, looking naked and completely useless and wobbly balancing on those two stick like, sorry excuses for legs, with that pathetic tuft of fur on its head (God negotiated with the baboon and managed to borrow a small patch of fuzz from off his bum).
He felt kind of sorry for the poor defenceless being, and decided He would tell it that it was made in the image of God Himself, just so he wouldn’t be made fun of by all the beasts of the earth and the creatures of the sea and sky.
Then He decided that it probably needed a companion with whom it could feel some sense of affiliation (in case the upward social comparison between itself and all the other animals became too much to take). But of course this version was a great improvement because you should always strive to be better and God made another scrappy hairless creature that was still pretty useless but far superior to the first model.
And God saw everything He had made, and knew He would soon regret boosting the egos of these two idiots who now thought they were super special just because they thought they were made in His image (pfft yeah talk about self deceptive optimism); for He also saw that they would eventually go on to perpetuate this form of anthropocentrism by destroying the environment (probably should have left the sloths in charge of Eden) and exploiting all His other creations and generally being assholes to everything else on the planet, and it was not too good.
Then God said, sigh I need a sabbatical.
(Day 11 of the 100 Days of Creation Project)
If you’ve got a sore throat it also means that you have an excuse to go for your morning run. It serves as a form of distraction from your killer haze induced headache, as well as the giant pile of work you are supposed to finish by the end of the day. Everything you put in your mouth tastes like plastic, which means that even if you eat terrible tasting food, it’ll taste only as bad as plastic. In fact, why bother to eat at all? What a perfect way to lose weight!
Made plans? You finally have a great excuse to stay at home in front of the television and feel sorry for yourself. How often is that behaviour even remotely socially acceptable!! Don’t worry about being bored; you’ll be in too much discomfort to feel idle. And you can toss productivity right out the window. Deadlines are so much foggier after half a dozen paracetamols. (Also, there is no better occasion to experiment with over the counter anti inflammation pills and painkillers!) Today, get your Monopoly Deal “JUST SAY NO” card in hand ready for real life application!
While you’re languishing at home, take a minute to smell the roses! It may hurt to sneeze, but sniff away anyway because at least your nose isn’t clogged up yet (and if it is, congratulations! You can finally walk past the dog without cringing). Forget about picking up the phone today, you sound like an ageing horse with throat cancer. This also means you won’t have to speak to anybody, no matter how many times they say “Huh?” when you make wild gestures in an attempt to communicate without language. Waving your arms and shaking your head vigorously in frustration is a good form of exercise, too.
Don’t fret if swallowing hurts, haven’t you always wanted to try using a spittoon? As a thought experiment, try to come up with as many creative ways to rip your tonsils out as you can. If you’re a little braver, try them out! Learn self restrain by putting on your favourite earworms that you’re dying to sing along to. You’ll find that BF Skinner was spot on with his theory on operant conditioning and negative reinforcement, because the croak that escapes from your lips will be enough to give a child nightmares for days. By the end of it, you’ll never want to hear your own voice again!
When you go to bed, remember that when you wake up, you’ll probably feel the same dry soreness in your oesophagus. Try to relish that tiny glimmer of hope that you’ll miraculously heal overnight before your eyes shut. It’s always good to hope, even if you know it ultimately amounts to nothing and you will continue to suffer in the same way you did today. On the bright side,
you’d have plenty of time to come up with things to add to the great list of benefits to having this strep throat.
Some times I think I might secretly have superpowers and just not know it and then I think about what kind of superpowers I might want to have and I know I definitely want to be able to flip the pages of books using the power of my brain waves because then I don’t have to look like an idiot on the train trying to maintain my balance while turning to the next chapter and dropping my concession card in the process and then elbowing a toddler in the face while trying to pick it up but maybe it would be easier if I just invested in a Kindle instead so maybe I’d want the super ability to purchase things that are not available in local stores but then I’d probably end up buying a munchkin cat because munchkin cats are much more desirable than Kindles but then I might get bored of the cat so I think that maybe I’d want to be able to talk to cats because that’d make owning the munchkin cat slightly more entertaining and also that seems like a very cultured sort of superpower a la Haruki Murakami that might help me attain a level of sophisticated higher pleasure that Mill might approve of but then I remember that I am not particularly fond of cats because they have suspicious eyes and destroy furniture so maybe I think I might want to have the ability to fix scratched up fabrics instead because then I’d probably never have to buy new Converse sneakers ever again which would be great but if I wasn’t wrecking my shoes in the first place then I wouldn’t have to get new shoes ever either so maybe it would be a good idea to just to wish to be able to fly you know like ordinary people.