The Curious Case of Commitment – Life in JC

By Bay Jia Wei (17S06R) and Noor Adilah (17S06B)

Maybe you have finally made it after long nights with your Ten Year Series. Maybe you wonder if you have done enough in your 4 through-train years. Regardless of our backgrounds, most, if not all of us, want to make the best of our last 2 years in uniform. In this sense, JC presents to us endless possibilities and opportunities.

Opportunity Costs

In RI, there is plenty to tempt aspiring high achievers. Some options include: taking up two CCAs, enrolling in a Raffles Academy subject (or two), participating in Monday Enrichment Programmes, entering leadership positions, and signing up for H3 classes. It often comes as a package, with many choosing to commit to a combination of the mentioned activities.

Except for the rare few, opportunity costs accompany our choices. Most of us can’t have it all, and heavy commitment comes with its fair share of trade-offs. When all your commitments seem to want a piece of you, health and sleep often take a backseat. It is difficult to give equal attention to all of your involvements. Upon realising that, you tend to feel guilty and demoralised. This may not put you in a terribly positive position, unlike what you had set out to achieve.

For your very own well-being, it would be wise to give careful consideration when deciding to enter commitments – a capable student is aware of his/her limits.

What about those of us who have taken on too much, and are starting to feel its side-effects?

The decision to leave a commitment requires equal, if not more, consideration for the very reason that many activities are selective in nature, and your place in the programme has deprived another individual of this opportunity.

The Internal Struggle

Overtaxed, high-strung, and operating on a few pathetic hours of sleep, perhaps you are starting to regret the choices you had made, and thinking that you had probably overestimated your ability to cope. What was once passion became obligation at the onset of high stress levels. You are calculating your priorities, and wondering what to forgo, or if you should just press on for the rest of the months left.

On one hand, the choice to leave means having to lose all the opportunities that the activity had to offer in the first place. This was something you sat through an interview or took tests for, and that you were once excited about. These lingering feelings make it hard to relinquish your involvement, and the emotional attachment to the activity and its members convince you to pull yourself through.

Upon careful evaluation, you may realise that something has to go eventually. After all, life in JC is fundamentally geared towards the A Levels, no matter what the idealists say. As much as you enjoy juggling your after-school activities, it is important to prioritise, and commitments at the bottom of the list have to go in favour of the bigger, and more realistic, picture.

Once you are faced with the looming threat of stretching yourself too thin, reasons for staying may seem to pale in comparison. However, hypothetical possibilities can lead to a skewed state of mind.

For all you know, staying in that CCA could offer you more than leaving it ever would. Maybe this Monday Enrichment Programme will leave an indelible mark in your character. Maybe taking that H3 will convince you of your passion for a subject and set your career prospects for the rest of your life. And here’s the deal: if you put enough effort and time into these commitments, they will change you. The programmes that RI offers can be impactful and unforgettable — if you commit accordingly.

While the prospect of staying may seem daunting, especially if you doubt your ability to juggle your studies and the commitment(s) you have chosen, you should still remember that JC is also the place for people to stretch themselves. The time you take to figure out this great balancing act of student life can be beneficial in handling the even larger balancing act of life outside of JC. While the horror stories of all-nighters, and vowels other than A appearing on report cards can sober any Rafflesian to the realities of commitment, we can often take comfort in the fact that more often than not, the victims of these stories have come out on the other side with good grades and experiences they wouldn’t have traded for the world.

It’s important to realise that we are all made of the same stuff. The successful Rafflesians you see today were once sleep-deprived, self-doubting teenagers just like us. An experienced senior once said “If there is one thing that all past Rafflesians can agree on to say to you, it would be this: I’ve been there before. Here I am on the other side. And I don’t regret time spent on my studies or my other commitments, because they have changed me for the better. You can do it, even though you may not think so now.”

To Commit or Not To Commit? That is the Conclusion

Of course, the personal dilemma of commitment is exactly what you would expect it to be. It is confusing, and sometimes painful. Often these choices are so complicated and emotional because they seem much bigger than yourself. They involve your future, your relationships with the people around you, and will shape the days and nights of the two years you have in JC.

In the end, everyone has to make a decision. What now? Either way, you may find yourself asking yourself the dreaded “What if?” – king of all miserable, mopey questions. What’s important is to stick with that decision and to make the best out of it. Maybe now with that freed up Protected Time slot you can fit in two extra hours of study every week. Maybe by sticking with your second CCA, you can fill your free time with work that means something important to you.

Any choice made is a choice to gain something. Any choice you make is a choice to make yourself a better person, if you find ways to improve yourself. In the end, what matters is not the choice you make, but the actions you take in ensuring that the choice benefits you and the people around you.

Featured image adapted from https://www.instagram.com/p/BEEBxLqmUCk/

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