I have never been an A student. My brightest years, academic-wise, was during Primary 2 and 3, where I topped the class and eventually was the First place in class at the end of P3. Then I was “promoted” to another class in P4, which had many more “good” students. In my primary school, P1-4 classes were named in alphabetical order, ending with J and K which were the best classes of the year. At the end of P4, there was this “Streaming” exam which further divided students into different levels. The best class was R, followed by U, L etc., in the order of my primary school’s name, RULANG. I was sorted to R, the best in the whole level. There were 44 students, and to be honest, I probably ranked between 43 and 44, now that I recalled. I scored a fairly average PSLE score (for me) and went on to one of the best secondary schools in Singapore. Then 4 years later, I went to one of the best JCs.

All this personal history is just to show that I was in the better schools through out my 12 years of compulsory education. That’s just the pretty surface that others see. What they don’t see, however, is that under that grand academic cover lies a battered and torn person whose ego has long been defeated to smithereens. As I said, I have never been an A student. Far from it, actually. And further and further it goes as I progress to JC. My average grade dropped from A in primary school to B in secondary school to a historical U in JC. Btw, U means Underpass which is just another way of saying you FAILED.

I am not a particularly hardworking person, that I admit. But for the amount of work I put in, the grades just didn’t reflect it. I also discovered that I was STRUGGLING with the contents. Now that ‘s a first. I have never struggled with my studies. I did badly because I did not put enough time into revision, not because I did not understand them. It freaked me out and no matter what I tried, my average grade remained a U and I was probably the last few of the total 1000 cohort for my year. To even talk about that now makes my heart heavy with stress (that’s something, especially when I’ve just finished my final exam and will be going to London in 2 days). I ‘m not giving any excuses though. I did not do well in my exams and my final A levels, because I gave way to the stress and fear and I also did not work hard enough.

I just wondered, 3 semesters into my University life, that all I have done for the past decade (and more) was to let grades and mark define me. I let a letter grade define my daily mood and how I feel about myself that day. If I get an A for a paper, it would make my day. If I get a C, it would ruin my whole week. I have looked back at my JC life and decided I’m a failure I totally sucked at studying. I was out of breath everyday, under the weigh of the grades. Coming to the Uni, I am more laid back. My average grades are B+. I guess that’s still not a good grade, and I worry about my GPA a lot too. I mean, worrying about my GPA is essential and not a bad thing either. But to let it define how I feel, who I am is just unhealthy.

I am trying to understand myself, and search for a reason/cause as to why I lack so much confidence and self-assurance compared to others. It is because I have stepped out of the vigorous vicious cycle in JC, I have come to realize what a toll it had on me. I now have the courage to brace the bad grades and refuse to let it define who I am. I had reached a conclusion that bad grades means everything, and this have caused me to conclude that I was not good at everything. Maths, Biology, Chinese Lit, GP, Chemistry etc. Even photography. There was simply nothing that I did well in, and hence, no way for me to realize that that’s not all to a person. Grades are not all that a person has. I guess if I saw this quote in JC, I might be more motivated to face my grades.


Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it’ll spend its whole life believing that it’s stupid.

Albert Einstein


My mom has told me something along that line before. But I believe that she’s more like trying to console me than her actually believing it. Both of my parents, especially my father, come from an era where grades and eventually universities meant everything. It’s hard for them to believe that their daughter, who has always been in the best schools, could fail so badly during A levels. I do believe that I gave them a really hard time when my results were released. This is part of the reason why my self-esteem is so low. I don’t get any recognition of any sorts from anywhere. I don’t mean that my parents give me hell lot of pressure or anything like that. Their pressure on me was mild. But they themselves recognize grades more than other achievements and I believe that has partly contributed to my problem.

Einstein’s quote inspires me. It pulls me out of that swirl of self-hatred and remorse and sadness. But I’m still clueless as to what I am good at. I know for sure that climbing the tree is not my thing. However, the problem is, I don’t even know if I am a fish. You see, if you are a fish then you’d know you are good at swimming, if you are frog then you’d know you are good at jumping. But I don’t even know who I am and what I am good at. I guess it will take some good figuring out to find out who I am. But at least I’ve come to terms that I am not good at studying and I will not be struck down by it.


P.S. I really find it weird that I am writing this during my ITS work shift. All because of this random Einstein quote I saw in this random link a random friend shared on Facebook.