The guest writer of this article has requested to remain anonymous.
Cover Photo by Georges Ip of the Photographic Society
Let’s face it: Rafflesians have tics. Getting rid of some of them will probably go some way to making you a better person. Unfortunately, that also involves a measure of sacrifice in your social life while you’re still 17 or 18 and think the world is your oyster (even if your conception of the world is in a walled up compound planted on Marymount).
1. Don’t lie about how much you don’t care.
Social media tends to be filled up with “confessions” from students striving to outdo each other in apathy. In scenes reminiscent of the famous “Four Yorkshiremen” originally performed in the satirical At Last the 1948 Show, RJ students tell each other about the extents to which they have not studied. People who have been working on their math tutorials immediately after distribution of our favorite colored booklets tell the word vis-à-vis twitter that they have “given up” on the night before promos.
You don’t need to tell the world how much you actually studied – God forbid people think your results are achieved by elbow grease! – But there is nothing shameful in admitting that while you might not have had adequate preparation, the amount of work you put in is not likely to yield any less than a C grade.
Admittedly, there is a significant demographic who, due to numerous commitments school-based and out, are genuinely lagging behind in their coursework, and in fact not trying to convince the world that their results for their exams are nothing short of their high IQ and a measure of luck. To these people, good luck and keep on working. To everyone else, shame on you. Society doesn’t want people who brag about being lazy, in fact, society doesn’t care for people who brag about anything without substantiating their claims with real results. So buckle down, admit to the world that you worked hard (or didn’t), and put in the amount of work to get the grade you want.
2. Acknowledge to yourself that being good at one thing is not enough.
Okay, so you spend hours poring over books and can dismantle Wittgenstein’s main theses, but you probably also stare forlornly at your PE teacher whilst dangling dismally from a pull-up bar, failing to muster enough strength to do enough to pass. Or, you’re one of those people who spend forever in the gym groaning as you do your 20th bicep curl, but groan even louder when tasked with writing a simple essay.
These are extreme examples (though no doubt some of you empathize), but faulting them detracts from the point. Being particularly good at one thing is no adequate substitute for being all-rounded. You have no right to mock the jock or wimp in your class unless you can match them where they have merit. Even if you do, remember that someone out there is better than you. Resting on your intelligence or brawn alone will not take you very far, so stop blowing your own trumpet and start improving yourself. No one will take you seriously if, despite looking like an Abercrombie model, you can’t hold a decent conversation about anything meaningful.
3. Tell yourself you don’t need to be always be busy to have a meaningful school life
That is not to say that being busy is not good. Busy means you’re occupied and doing good things with your time in school, but being always busy doesn’t reflect well on you at all. The first kind of people who are always busy are people who genuinely have got matters to resolve that fill up the whole of their timetables. Examples include councilors and EXCO members of large active CCAs. The writer would personally avoid adopting such a heavy portfolio, but recognizes that some people find meaning in occupying close to every living minute doing school things. Fair enough.
The second kind of people are, well, simply the opposite. They don’t actually have a lot of things to do, but create the impression in their heads that having to plan for a farewell for the preceding EXCO and having to do a math assignment too difficult a duo to handle, and so tell themselves that they’re too busy. This can be resolved easily with better time management, then you’ll find that you’ll have more free time as well as being able to complete your workload effectively. You can use the free time to pursue things you enjoy doing, and you’ll find the process rather rewarding.
4. Be more sensitive
It doesn’t emasculate you to recognize that when girls get mad, it’s not always because of their periods (it usually rarely is, and attributing their anger to PMS just delegitimizes real gripes they can have with how you’re behaving). Similarly, you’re not weird if you realize that sometimes people don’t put on much weight even if they eat a lot – skinny boys are not less male than fat boys and fat boys are not less male than muscular ones by virtue of size.
If you paid more attention to how people around you react to the compliments or insults you throw their way and decided to tailor them, you’d be surprised at how much your mind expands because of this attitude. Maybe you’d be less “cool” to your teammates – we all know athletes must be tough and unforgiving, sensitivity be damned! – but nobody needs your misplaced chauvinism or hoary conceptions of what boys and girls should be like. Grow up and realize that society is bigger than you. Getting over yourself and trying to be nicer to people usually does you (and those around you) more good than bad.
There are many roads you can take to becoming a better human being, and these are just some suggestions of varying applicability. The writer would appreciate if you tried some of these out, and maybe we’ll get a school community that more people enjoy being a part of.