Yes, I'm finally doing this. And yes, I've succeeded in pushing myself to do this.
What's one thing that's happened to you that has made you become a stronger person?
I believe a lot of things have happened to me in 22 years of my life. And all of it has made me become a stronger person. But one thing that has taught me more about myself and made me become a stronger person is my anxiety and my fear to fail.
You see, I'm so used to putting high expectations on myself and I've never struggled much in my studies (other than anything related to Maths, that was a bit challenging but I managed to pull through hehe). To me, everything I do has to reach a certain standard/achieve an expectation I've set so that I'll be happy with it. Anything that doesn't reach the standard or meet the expectation will not be something I'm proud of. Academically, I barely had a rough time. I'm so used to getting things done my way and I'm so used to getting what I want when I put my head and heart in it. But things weren't the same in 2016.
I failed 6 out of the 7 subjects I took. I couldn't finish my assignments because I lost hope in myself. I lost interest to study. The stress and anxiety became a huge issue (and I've never experienced this before). Nothing about academics impresses me anymore. I just couldn't do anything because I know I'm already failing and I didn't see the point of trying. I was ashamed of myself and I constantly blamed myself for everything. I just gave up, while at the same time tearing myself down because I quit, and that's so weak of me. And I was doing the thing I feared most this whole time, I failed. I failed in wanting to do my best. I failed in trying to be positive and enthusiastic. I failed in achieving my expectations. And I failed to want to continue, and decided to just let it all go and give up.
It was a constant battle in me. A voice in my head is telling me to not give up and try and persevere. Maybe there's still a chance for me to do well. Maybe I just had it in me this whole time but I couldn't bring myself to do it because I lost faith in myself. But there's also this other voice inside my head that's telling me to be realistic about it. I failed and that's it. I've hit rock bottom. I not only let myself down, but everyone around me too. And there's nothing I could do about it because I gave up. Even if I try, it's still not enough because I'll let myself down again. So there's no point of trying.
But I told myself, let's try and take summer courses that doesn't involve 3000 words essays as your assignment. Let's take something different, and at least find a friend in that course so you won't be scared to head to lectures alone. Let's try and keep the studying momentum going before you have to face a semester with 4 heavy subjects. And so I did. I enrolled in two courses while at the same time, meeting with faculty officials to settle what I need to with my studies.
I took a Korean oral beginner's class and an economics class. Both of them are different from the courses I've took before. The Korean class was fun! It's just for a month but I have 3 classes in a week. I learnt basic Hangul and how to read, write and speak in Hangul. It wasn't stressful at all. Our 성새님 (pronounced as song-sae-nim; meaning teacher) made it 재미있어요 (pronounced as jae-mi-iss-seo-yo; meaning very interesting/fun). I had supportive friends who would help me with my pronunciation, despite being laughed at at first. I can't speak Hangul that much now and I've forgotten almost all the things I've learnt because I don't speak Hangul anymore 😟 But I can still read Hangul, but slower than before. It sucks but I'll try and speak it on a daily basis. On the other hand, the Economics class was a lot of maths. At first I was scared but I appreciate that the tutors will still mark your exercise worksheet although you didn't finish it. They'll award you points because you tried attempting the question, regardless if your answer is right and wrong. And that's great because that's just what I need! My effort is not wasted and it's the little acknowledgements like this that really boosts my confidence. I now understand that Maths is a language and there's nothing I should be afraid of. I will be slow in Maths but there's nothing scary about it.
I struggled during Summer semester. There was a part of me that couldn't believe I can do it. There was Maths, I was scared of it until a few days before my final paper. I didn't do well during my Korean oral exam because I was so nervous, I forgot everything I prepared. But I kept telling myself that I need to do well for this semester so that I won't feel bad when Semester 1 starts. At least I have some confidence to get me through Semester 1. At least I have proof that I can do it if I fight the negative thoughts. I was still anxious. I was constantly anxious because I was scared I'll let myself down again. But thank God, I didn't have any panic attacks 😌 I was anxious but I had friends who were willing to go out of their way to help me understand. A big shout out to Din for having to answer every stupid question I have for ECONS2070 😂 He's the MVF (most valuable friend) in this course because he had to sit with me through every lecture (I have a small case of social anxiety) and explain to me a question for at least 2 hours until I understood how to answer it (and that doesn't include the times I ask why is it written in this way and why is this and why is that and how is this and that is that... you get it). He knew I was struggling and scared but he continuously reassured me that I can do it.
I'm happy to say that for both courses, I got the results I hoped for and I've never been happier! It took me a year to finally get my 5's and 6's back and a whole summer to fight and tell myself I can do it. It feels so great and relieving. But I still have a few more semesters to go and I hope I won't stop fighting my inner demons.
Until today, I try my best to not fall into a cycle where I self loathe myself all the time. When I do, I can feel the anxiety creeping in. It's mentally and physically exhausting because I'm trying my best to calm down and stop overthinking about everything, but at the same time I'm blaming myself for everything that's happening. It's a dangerous cycle to be in and it's very difficult for me to break out of it. And so far, the only method that has worked is just crying until I get tired and fall asleep.
2016 taught me a lot because I was at my weakest, personally and academically. The methods that have always worked for me, failed me. And it wasn't enough to make things better. It took me a whole year to discover what study method works for me and what kind of load that I can't handle. I lost confidence in myself and it showed through my social life and my studies. I got scared. I got stressed out. I got anxiety. I quit. I gave up. I lost myself. But I discover more and more about myself through every struggle. I no longer care a lot about huge, visible success because I know I'm not mentally ready for that. It's now about the little successes I experience every day, like succeeding to cook a meal, or staying in the lecture for a whole 2 hours without feeling anxious, or finally finishing this blog post. Haha but really, tiny successes like this is what I'm learning to take pride in because at least, I didn't decide to give up on a wonderful day when there are so many great things I can do. And it's these tiny successes that is helping me pick up my strength little by little every day.
Have a nice day ♥