Of Anxiety: Exam Horrors

Hi everyone, so I just want to talk about something that I rarely tell people, which is my anxiety.

I suppose in my society where there is a huge emphasis on exams and either-ace-it-or-flunk-it mentality, people nowadays get a tad highly-strung up when they start making the dash for practice drills, graded assignment deadlines and whatnot.

As for me, my first taste of test-related anxiety was when I was taking an English essay diagnostic test in the my third year in middle school. I got that damned writer’s block, and I couldn’t write more than a few pathetic sentences before my engine went totally dead. So I panicked. I thought of myself not being able to finish my essays during the O Levels, and flunking it, and that would be a great pity as I had been consistent in my work, and I love writing, have many ideas about writing and I had put in so much effort in writing… All these thoughts came whamming in my brain.

So somehow after that episode I started to have that streak of paranoia when it comes to essay tests, like I was the most jittery the night before English essay tests. Since English is always the first subject to be tested in the whole list of examinations, to me it’s a sort of terrible, palpitating, pent up maelstrom within me that gets just the cathartic flood of garbled ideas and uncontrolled gush of emotions during the actual performance. And after that the others are quite a breeze, relatively speaking.

Actually I am more of the panicky type by nature. Like I often worry about getting up late for school, forgetting to do homework, though I did every single piece of homework first thing after school and am never late for school. These little bit of everyday issues didn’t really drive me berserk, but it hit the limit during my graduating year in middle school. It was in October, the O levels were looming menacingly round the corner, and I thought I had so many revision undone that I just freaked out totally. For the entire week, my heartbeat was fluctuating crazily, my mind was a total blank and I would lock myself up in the bedroom and cry. It was one of the worst periods of my schooling life, and I felt so desperately alone and there’s nobody to turn to for help, as so coincidentally it was study break and there’s nobody that I knew from my cohort who was in school. One unforgettable memory I had was when during a weekend, suddenly I just felt I couldn’t take it anymore. My moods was like a roller coaster, going highs and lows in a dizzying rush, one moment I felt like a superstar ready to take on all the drill practices, and the next moment I felt like a total loser in the eve of an apocalypse. The mountains were crumbling down on me and I’ve got nowhere to hide. I ended up frantically punching the numbers down the list of hotlines in the student handbook: Tinkle Friend, Care Corner, even Pregnancy Crisis Hotline. But nobody answered (damn it was a Sunday) So when I finally dialled the SOS hotline, after ringing like a zillionth time, finally somebody picked up the call. I was crying so hard that the person on the other end seemed pretty shocked. After talking (or rather sobbing) my woes to him I felt so much better. But still I ended up having an emotional breakdown in front of a teacher a couple of days later, which landed me in the clinic (though the doctor refused to give me drugs), and I almost got referred to the Institute of Mental Health, but in the end the suggestion was dropped.

But eventually I still went through the exams without much hiccups, although I didn’t really do very well in them.

Well I guess besides my usual panicky personality, there were some other factors that contributed to this huge major anxiety attack. Actually I had chosen the course that didn’t suit me, and I had to endure and loathe it for two years. Next my school had this unstated branding of classes according to their academic capabilities and subject combinations and my class was the so-called ‘best class’, so competition was really intense, especially among ourselves. And I wasn’t really cut out for this environment, so not surprisingly, it had been the most tortuous two years of my teenage life.

So for now in high school, while I still have a long way to go in dispelling my anxiety altogether, me exam-panicking condition has improved quite a lot. I guess it is due to the relatively laid back atmosphere of my new school, and there is no branding of classes or other related nonsense.

So well, I guess for now exam horror not that big an issue at the moment yet (and hopefully never) I am satisfied with my course, building confidence and well, pacing myself in general. I hope this can give you guys a bit of my perspective in exam terrors. Thank you for reading 🙂


Some Kind of Adventure (Part 2)

Hi everyone, so I have left off in the middle abruptly yesterday,.. so now I am continuing on where i had left off in my previous post.

Just a bit of recap, that Sunday morning I decided to take another route for my impromptu morning stroll, and I later ended up somewhere along Buangkok Park Connector.

So I was travelling down the path after a short break at the soul-less community club, and then I noticed that I was -somehow- crossing paths with that of the river, which will lead to the sea at Punggol Point. I couldn’t help but think of Boey Kim Cheng’s ‘By the Cauvery River’, in which the persona travels along the pulsing life of the river and he had a carefree stay with the natives as they immersed in the simplistic, rustic lifestyle along the way. Well, I guess mine is quite a bit of contrast… there’s some weird,polluted kind of, should I say monsoon drain??? There is no chanting in the twilight, no moonbeams beading pebbles what-so-ever, no native to guide me in making chapattis and brewing chai, and I am just facing this lifeless canal right smack in the middle of some man-made flora and fauna. But looking across the river somewhere at the connector near Tampines (now that’s really a river of sorts, rumored to be the haunts of crocodiles and mud-skippers) I see huge patches of undeveloped land at the other side, still covered with dense foliage, all the trees and the thick, velvety, menacing dark green over there. Maybe I should kayak there one day… Do they even allow people to go there? Erm fine I sidetracked a little.

So well here’s the highlight of my walk. For a moment I had a feeling I was getting closer to Yio Chu Kang Road, as I start to see those private housing estates that I used to pass by on my way to music school when I was still in elementary grade. The huge monsoon drain runs along beside the path, separating me and those huge majestic houses. And then I came upon this T-shaped Junction of sorts, on the left side of the path there is this small curious-looking, winding mud track leading to a clearing, and it was an opening into the last native village in the country, the Malays call it kampong.

So basically what a kampong looks like is that it consists of a cluster of households living together, with the village chief and his family, just like many other kinds of villages. In this particular village the members are largely Chinese and Malay families, and there is this distinct contrast in the way their traditional housing is modeled. So for a Chinese kampong house it is largely influenced by the traditional design of a traditional China Chinese house, with wooden planks nailed into walls and plastered with cement, cemented floors, a veranda for space for hanging laundry or parking bicycles and motorcycles or even cars, and maybe there will be space for people to sun cocoa seeds, nuts to make preserves. Normally the Chinese kampong houses will hang red banners at the top of their doors for luck and some of them will hang this huge tablet inscribing the family surname of their origins. Sometimes in older models there is a threshold at the entrance, so if you want to get into the house you have to cross the plank of wood at the door. Do not stand in the wooden threshold as it is very disrespectful to the owner of the house. As for Malay houses basically attap houses had been a favorite in those really traditional Malay villages I had visited in Malaysia, but in this village they have this more modern, low-lying concrete/wooden houses with a similar veranda and a backyard like the Chinese houses. And there is a little masjid in the middle of the village, which is the worship place for the Muslim inhabitants there.

So as I walked past a Chinese house there is this little plot of farmyard, with cages for chickens and zinc shelters for dogs, and there are skinny black roosters and hens running and flapping around, and there is this bamboo pole on which freshly laundered bed-sheets and towels were swaying to the morning breeze… love the thought of pressing a freshly sun-baked hot white fluffy towel to my face. And the cooking was singing loud and clear from underneath the zinc roof… many households in the kampong love to situate their kitchen alfresco… saves all the trouble of mopping oily floors after cooking, which is the main disadvantage of indoor kitchens… And I smell eggs and curry and basil leaves… or maybe a tinge of banana cake? Banana fritters perhaps. I could imagine the hot sweetness of banana-ish caramel melting in my mouth as my teeth sink into the crisp of fritters… Mmmm… I shall move on.

Crossing the little bridge I spotted some familiar plants… coconut trees, this bush og big, bright yellow flowers, and guavas and jackfruit and whatnot.

So in all this entire landscape looks kind of weird… with this rural-ish dwelling right in the midst of a metropolitan setting… the big busy road at the opposite, the rows of concrete grey just right beside it, their claws slowly sinking into the last bit of the keepsake of the nostalgic yesteryear, which is quite sad at retrospect.

Finally as I emerge from this little kampong, I ended my weird little adventure. Perhaps I might try exploring other areas and show you guys next time. Promise yeah.


Some kind of adventure (Part 1)

Sometimes when a girl feels like it, she does crazy things.

Right now I can scarcely imagine how I can ever wake up at six in the morning, just pull on a pair of tights and some random long vest with bling blings and get out for a 10 km walk and back? (or perhaps a tad more than that, I didn’t bother to check) But for Abigail, this is what she does when she wakes up at irregular hours and can’t get back to sleep again.

So I started at the entrance of Punggol Waterway, and I started a slow jog along the tracks, just going on and on, knowing in mind that somehow it will lead to a destination (it always does, in different kinds of lovely surprises) (Actually I hope that for me Life can be like that, just go on and on, and some surprise will wait for you at the end, it always does. Or rather, is it that Life is already like that, yet I am oblivious to it still?)

So coming back usually during my evening jogs I just jogged on and on, no taking u turns, nothing, until I reached somewhere near Tampines Expressway, and then I either turn out to Punggol Plaza or just turn round and jog all the way back if I have enough determination to do so. But, but but, that Sunday morning I decided to take the road less traveled.

So basically I didn’t go in the usual direction. Instead I went the opposite direction I think… (sorry I’m just so bad at remembering roads and stuff, just bear with me as I try to re-navigate my way out)… well… I’m so ashamed to say, according to the map I am referring to right now, I think I was on the Sungei Serangoon Park Connector instead… (any kind souls please help correct me if I am wrong. Many thanks)

So well, I was walking on and on, and the morning air was cool and fresh, and peppered with a tint of that lukewarm scent of the grass. There was little wind, the canopies of trees shielded the sun and the bushes and grass patches around the tracks were littered with leaves, some golden brown, some still in the prime of their lush green, some limp and soaked in murky puddles, all that, and there are fallen petals, some white, some yellow, rolled up into creases and lifeless among the humus and mud. I just recall that there was a heavy rain in the wee hours the night before, so yeah. I guess this is so parallel to what everybody is facing… perhaps we don’t have much reason to lament that Life is so unfair for us… I mean, Life does not treat everybody equally, so note to myself: just suck it up and get on with it.

So at some point I entered the Buangkok Park connector. And I remembered that at some point before that I knew I was somewhere around in Sengkang. I just came across this swimming pool cum community center (I think it is Sengkang Sports and Recreation Center) and nobody was there so I just went in to freshen myself up. And well, apparently it was kind of a ghost town… I mean who will go swimming so early on a lazy Sunday morning??? Me perhaps. But I didn’t bring along my bathing suit so no.

So due to time constraints I have to end this quickly. So maybe next time I shall post the next part of this lovely (yeah lovely) adventure when I came across an unexpected discovery… let’e keep this a hush hush for now…hehe…


Random post on a random rainy day

Hi guys, it’s raining like cats and dogs, and I just thought of taking a break and writing something…

So it has been over six months since I last entered this domain… ugh lots of housekeeping matters to attend to. Any way so many things has happened these eight months or so… kind of make me feel like I am little Dorothy recovering from that whirlwind and trying to make sense of what the hell she is getting into right now.

So now I am on my second final lap towards A levels. Frankly speaking, this eight months is – i can’t find the exact words to describe it – to me a kaleidoscope of – like, sparkles of hope, flushes of excitement and challenges, the sweetness (sometimes an overdose of it) of girl power and tons and tons of candy and chocolate (sorry my language is territrocious) and also huge patches of grey disappointment, shards of broken glass and bitter gourds and sometimes fiery hot chili and wasabi from the teachers. But most of the time it’s more of pushing boulders up the mountain, whether you like it or not.

Sometimes I just can’t help but feel frustrated about the things I see around me, my past, my present and my future. It just seems that that pot of gold is perpetually out of my reach, like I’m getting there… getting almost there… but with one ‘wham!’ something comes down hard and solid on me and I realize what a trash (of sorts) I had been in my endeavors. The saddest moment is that when I see people around me getting it so smoothly. Undeniably I don’t have the foundation they had (and that is another story), but initially I believe that hard work will always match up to talent … but in a two year race between imported talents from middle school in humanities subjects like literature I just realized that such things require a certain amount of experience in it, it isn’t as easy to train as in maths and sciences, in which there is a fixed theory or formula for nearly everything in the syllabus.

I have a really really big ambition. I guess that is kind of unrealistic at this moment of time, but from the beginning of high school I have a feeling that a career of this nature suits my personality the best. I wish I can take up History (international or Southeast Asia) in uni, graduate with at least a second upper honors and go into the academia after that. I wish I can go explore round the world for exchange program, going to places like Cambodia to learn more about mines and their tumultuous history, and doing social work there, fly to Poland to visit the concentration camps, Israel, Washington DC, the Middle East, the Peace Palace, DMZ and North Korea, stuff like that, and helping out in research and writing of articles, this kind of thing. Perhaps I am quite simpleminded and naive now, but this is my ideal in my life. This has been my motivation to study hard these ten months or so.

But sometimes certain things got the better of me. They distract me. I had promised myself on the first day of high school that I will not compare results with my peers like how I did in elementary and middle school, so I try my best not to be swayed by all these kinds of things in Year 1. But until this year, suddenly best improvers start mushrooming out of nowhere… I mean, this is quite scary for me who is trying very hard to keep up, and well, it really spooks me out, for I started losing confidence in myself, like, “Jesus Christ am I slacking off? Why don’t I seem to improve while my classmates are like zooming across the tracks like F1 racers (even though the results slip shows I have, in fact gone up like 17 rank points within three months, but the point is, its just not enough to me)”
Given that the A levels are looming right the corner, our mathematically obsessed headmaster is counting crazily in the chilling coldness of his concrete cave (I wonder why he never needs a cardigan or something), and well, the time bomb is ticking. Ugh. I appreciate his like-a-kid-counting-down-to-Christmas-ish eagerness, but really, that’e the last things I will need. And while that time bomb is ticking, here I am wasting my life over a WordPress post.

And speaking of that, sometimes, I mean, perhaps people may feel this sometimes, I feel that I am just a loveless, useless body wasting air, food and space (I mean maybe people out there do feel this horrible sometimes). No input to household income, just sit there and eat and sleep, occasionally checking the internet and study study study. Sometimes I couldn’t help but wonder that the education system nowadays is getting creepier by the years. We students seriously need a life. Get out, throw away all those drill practices that only turn us into mindless machines only capable of replication and photocopying ‘smartly’ (yeah right) and do something useful. Learn a skill, do some manual labor, help the people and contribute to society. Really grades may be something in some situations but they are not everything in everywhere. Things materialize only when people believe and emphasize on them -as a whole-.

Perhaps I am just writing this because I am not the high achievers here, true, but really, is this what Life is ALL ABOUT? Getting the best grades, the highest KPIs and move on without much thought forever and ever? This is a freaking stupid rat race really, people lose their creativity due to them being caught in the flow, as society demands it, and they just become iron-hard (and rusty) moneymakers. Seen these kind of people around, even on the podium of lecture halls in high school. Pathetic.

But what if I become like them next time? When my dreams are dashed, and I have nowhere else to turn to thanks to the way that my society views humanities, that the only viable way is the education sector, and I will be the next pathetic old preacher in a worn out suit droning on and on monotonously to a cohort obviously not paying much attention, throwing in snippets of sarcasm here and there and… carry tons of papers home to mark, giving half- hearted ticks here and there, correct… not so correct… and maybe scribble some big words in there, trying to spice up my language and sound more intelligent than I really am. Imagine doing that for forty years until I get my pension. Yuck.

So for now, I’ve just said my piece. sorry if I sound really bitchy to people… honestly speaking, I have been pretty out of sorts these few days. Maybe I should write a few more posts next time about some lovely things I had experienced… I mean, after all the rain has stopped, the sun is shining, and suddenly I just feel… brand new… 😉