There will be one more submission tomorrow before the semester draws to a close. I am glad to have made it. I remember talking to the Vice-rector at the start and have him ask me to take note of all the drop dates, when would it be okay to start dropping modules if the overload got too much. But as I was having that conversation I already knew that I probably wasn’t going to drop anything because what I chose for myself was very specific to my interests. I had enough faith that I could finish what I started, that once I put my heart to it that nothing whould stand in my way.
In such a tough semester, you have to use every setback to motivate yourself. You need to have that raw energy to look your difficulties in the eye and ask for more. This is how you power through, by challenging yourself to enjoy what pains you.
One good thing about first semesters is that it gets cooler as time goes by. From the 35 degree days in August to a rainy November, I saw less and less use for my aircon credits. The skies became greyer and greyer as my heart settled to the rhythm of the semester. As the frenzied heat abated so did my fears that the semester wouldn’t work out. It did work out after all. I developed a routine that flitted between trainings and schoolwork, meetings with my news organisation and sometimes time with friends. I made sure to have a slow run by myself on Tuesday, and wrote articles (I wrote 7 this semester!) when I had the time. In retrospect, these little pockets of time were necessary because firstly they were productive yet enjoyable. There are people out there who would hate these activities with a passion but I don’t happen to be one of them. Secondly, it allowed me alone time to sit with myself and think things through. Both acts were as routine as they were de-stressing, and allowed me time to enjoy myself while being productive.
Besides, every moment was plotted out, and I was phenomenally busy. I fell sick during one of the weeks, and I ended up still going for trainings and running with a runny nose. I crawled to classes and still tried to speak up. I had to do work before trainings, before meetings, after trainings, after meetings, after outings. I did everything to fill in the blank spaces so I couldn’t have any excuses, so that I wouldn’t end the semester feeling like I didn’t try hard enough at every juncture.
When it came to work, it was all about searching for meaning. I made links when I could, tried to use psychology to explain my life, applied my struggles into fiction writing, was as honest as could be when reading Woolf, writing Woolf, all the way to when I was creating content in her name. My Instagram captions featured her, my Facebook statuses had her quotes. When you’re able to find meaning in what you study you won’t ever burn out. The problem comes when we get lazy and start studying for the sake of a secondary objective like a grade or to fulfil a major criteria. That’s when your life plunges into misery. All you need is that extra effort to weave everything into a more meaningful scheme in your head. Everything can make sense to your life should you try.
And that constant weaving carried on to now, at the end of the semester. When I finally printed out my last assignment I laced up my shoes, held my phone in my hand and jogged home slowly. The semester had come to an end, and when I reached home to dinner I would have made it through.
The run was slow, albeit a little lengthy for a Tuesday workout. The weather, however, was a real treat. I enjoyed every moment of a flat route, past Holland Village, Orchard Road, Novena and then Boon Keng. The air was cool and there were shoppers, joggers, people who had just dropped off work that were spread out along the route. Life as I knew it still went on. The end of my semester did nothing to change that fact.
I ended my run near my house, and did some stretches at the neighbourhood playground. I had made it. My stomach growled and dinner simmered in a pot nearby.
I went home to a lascivious chicken stew that sat on the dining table. I took a swig of 100-plus before digging in. Life was splendid. Assignments no longer waited for me back in school. I had books to read, stories to write, places to travel, roads to run, friends to laugh with. All my efforts to uphold my passions had convened at this precise moment. Over the semester I had read, written and run my way to this point. Over the break I will do the same. I will continue to read, write and run. I will be exploring new possiblities, unlocking new potential. The only difference is that I will be doing it on my own terms.
And if that doesn’t scare me yet, it will soon enough.
Have a good holiday everyone!