i just feel like jumping off a cliff right now.
and no, i’m not suicidal. i just want the current beneath me to take me along with it, to a place where expectations do not matter, where views don’t exist.
i have a confession to make: i am actually, genuinely, not good enough for cambridge or imperial. i’m a human being of above average intelligence at best, but i’m nowhere near the level of genius cambridge or imperial wants. you might then ask: why did you get offers from both then? well firstly, i suppose my teachers had overestimated my actual abilities and gave me such good predicted grades that i cannot in a million years, envision myself achieving. and since i didn’t have any AS results to back my application up, universities will have to give me the benefit of the doubt and see what happens after. i cannot hold a candle to my schoolmates who got oxbridge offers, not in terms of academic ability most definitely. and secondly, i went to both the universities for my interviews, what if i hadn’t? would my chances have been slimmer? think about that.
call me superficial however you want, but i must admit: one of the main reasons why i’m working my arse off (if i had been a brilliant student i wouldn’t have to, not to my extent anyway) to get into said universities is their prestige. both are two of the best research institutions in the world, where maths and the sciences are concerned, that will stand me good stead. great, good to hear. however, i’m above all, more concerned about the social vanity bit of this. i want to do both my parents proud, especially my mum. she never really feels good about herself, heck, she cannot even accept the fact that my youngest brother is just not as academically inclined (but i’m telling you he’s so much smarter than me and my 2nd brother in so many ways, and so much more… human). i witnessed for myself the worst verbal abuse she’s gotten from a relative of mine (whose name i won’t speak of), she gets condescended by her colleagues sometimes. this arrogant colleague of her said to her when she was applying for her leave to accompany me to cambridge: “my daughter went to cambridge for the interview but didn’t get the offer”. my mum told her that she just wanted me to try, and thank goodness she hadn’t told me this before my interview, i would have felt even more stressed out to do better. (as it was i didn’t sleep a wink before the interview). when i got the offer, she was so happy, everyone was really. i’ve never seen them so happy and proud in a very long time, and i felt really happy too. yes i was really happy when i got the offer, but i was even happier that they now have a reason to give themselves and ego boost. the look on that colleague’s face when my mum told her about my offer must have been priceless. during cny, my relatives would talk about their children and their achievements, and i’m really glad that this time, my mum can do the honors too, i like how her face brightens up when she talks about the offer. but whenever my relatives ask me about it, i would politely thank them, but i would also tell them i still have to work hard for my final exams to meet the requirements and if i don’t i still won’t get a place.
this comes the stressful bit. since everyone already knows i’ve gotten the offer, they’d expect me to eventually get into the university and pursue my studies there. i mean if i don’t eventually get in, it’s equivalent to not having the offer too, in many people’s eyes anyway (since most of them thought the offer would have guaranteed me a place). and thank goodness, imperial gave me an offer too. and imperial is on par with oxbridge in terms of prestige, and since i still want my mum to have something to pride herself on, i’ve decided to put it as insurance. but then again, there is a drawback to this (see how you cannot be too happy about things, because the moment you feel happy about something, something bad will happen): i didn’t get the A* for maths last year, was 2 percentage points short. if i had gotten that A*, i would have without hesitation put it as my insurance offer. now there’s this nagging element of uncertainty that i cannot eliminate, so i’ll have to put my insurance decision on hold until june the 6th when i can finally judge whether i’ve done well enough in maths to merit an A*.
then this question arises: would i do well in a strongly-competitive academic environment? i can and will make myself do well, if i want to (i still came out from one of the most academically stressful environments unscathed after all, or maybe not) and if i’m motivated enough. as to whether i WANT to? not really. there are some situations when i can work under immense duress, but if there’s an opportunity presented to me in which i don’t have to subject myself to it, i’ll take it without hesitation, simply because it wears me out. competing with others wears me out. i’d rather compete with myself, and improve from my current state of academic ability, rather than putting myself in someone else’s position and improve from their current states. i want to go to a place where i can gain knowledge and learn as per my own pace, not as per others’. before this, when i’d assumed that i didn’t get the imperial offer, i was already quite hell bent on putting bath as my insurance. the city is such a beautiful place, and the ducks! whenever i feel stressed out i think about how seemingly stress-free those ducks are, just minding their own business and getting pieces of bread from passers-by. and bath is ranked really highly too for maths, as well as physics, considering it’s such a new university. but i mean, can you imagine the looks of judgmental people my mum has the misfortune to be acquainted to when they ask my mum “so how’s your daughter doing at cambridge?” to which my mum answers “ah, she couldn’t get into cambridge, she’s now studying at bath.”, to which they’ll respond “huh, bath? i haven’t heard of it one. haih, but cambridge is still more prestigious right?” see, i can envision this conversation taking place already. what would my mum feel? i think she’d feel even worse than if i hadn’t gotten the cambridge offer and simply said to them “she’s now studying at bath”. the whole “can’t get into cambridge even with the offer” makes a whole lot of difference, i’m telling you. she always tells me it doesn’t matter whether i get in or not, but i should still work hard for it even though the requirements are tough. but i know deep down, how demoralizing it’d feel. i know my mum very well, unlike my dad, she doesn’t feel good about herself as much. sometimes i suspect inferior complex is hereditary, i don’t know, just a thought.
and then, here comes the part when i’ll rant about how getting into cambridge will ‘change my life on so many levels and in so many ways’. c’mon, cambridge was where all the eminent scientists worked. watson and crick, james chadwick, david attenborough, stephen hawking and the list can go on, filled with names even non-science-y people know. of course i’d love to immerse myself in this whole scholarly environment. but then there’s immense competition, intense workload etc. i don’t mind subjecting myself to all of that really, if i’ve a higher goal that compels me to overlook all of that. allow me to briefly explain what this higher goal constitutes:
i want to compensate for my apparent awkwardness, clumsiness and anxiety that most of my female peers don’t possess. (heck, to this day, i still think my schoolmates find me weird, seriously, no joke.) i want to compensate for my lack of good-looks, lady-likeness and the like, all the physical attributes most of my female friends have that i don’t. and this offer, elusive to many, will help me in these goals. it’s ridiculous to note that all that i’ve mentioned has got absolutely NOTHING to do with my academic future or career prospects (but of course cambridge will stand you in great stead with all that!) again, feel free to call me shallow, but it doesn’t make what my ‘higher’ goal less true.
thinking about this makes me want to cry all the time. you know how when you sit on the bus and listen to music your thoughts come all at once like a deluge? this happened to me just the other day – i felt my eyes water, but i couldn’t bring myself to cry. not in front of other people, not in front of other people – my constant need to highly regard what others think of me is the one that stopped my tears short. heck, even when i cry at home i hide myself in the bathroom, i can’t even afford to let my FAMILY see me cry. mainly because i don’t want them to ask questions, to which i will have a hard time answering, or a hard time deciding whether or not i should just keep my mouth short or reveal everything.
there’s only one thing i agree with miss sharifah a.k.a miss listen, it is that everyone has got a problem. sometimes i can’t fathom why whenever you talk about your problems other people would tell me “you know there are other people out there who are worse off than you”. granted, objectively their problems may be worse than what you’re getting, but thinking about this doesn’t make you feel better. after all, you are not the other person, you can know his or her stories, but you will never be able to know how they actually feel. so what i tell myself all the time is to just put things in perspective. embracing what happens come what may will do it. it’s going to be difficult no doubt, acceptance is always tougher than rejection, but i see no way around this.
okay typing all that made me feel so much better now.