Monday, 11 August 2008

I thought university would never come.

Went for supper last night (or rather, this morning) - At NTU, you can expect every night to be an eventful one. Arrived back at 4 a.m. and went to bed at 6. Feeling damn groggy right now.

But that's not the main point here.

A few of us were talking about our old schooling days, and it made me wish I could go back to those days. Less to think about, less to worry about.

Reminds me of myself when I was a tiny tot.

I received my first backpack when I was four years old. My first day of kindergarten. My dad is still keeping the photo of me back then, smiling broadly in my brand new kindergarten uniform, and my red and black (yes, I can still remember the color) backpack. I still remember I loved holding onto the straps of my bag because it made me feel like a grown up kid. I remembered thinking that was how most school kids wear their bags. Or at least that was how I thought it was. I remember feeling grown up. I'm finally going to kindergarten! I'm going to hold pencils. I'm going to have homework to do. I'm going to be a busy student. It made me feel grown up. I liked that feeling.

But I still envied real school children. You know, those who wore 'real' school uniforms. Those who went to 'real' schools, and not just kindergartens.

The feeling got all the more better when I stepped into primary school. I remembered the first time putting on my school uniform. A dark blue pinafore with a white blouse inside. I felt soooooooo grown up. I remember I loved kneeling in my uniform because I loved how the blue fabric stretched across my thighs, like a tight skirt. I felt like I could finally look down on those "kindergarten kids". I remember looking at them haughtily thinking, "Hmph. I'm a school kid. I'm so much older than you."

I know that's childish. I was a child.

Then, I began to envy my cousins, because most of them were already in secondary school. I imagined them as being 'real' adults. I wished and wished I were in secondary school, because then I could act like a real grown up and do "adult stuff". I wanted to be able to hang out with my friends in shopping malls. I wanted my parents to give me more freedom. I wanted to stop being treated like a kid. I wanted to be able to write with a pen rather than a pencil. Most importantly, I loved the turquoise pinafore much more than the dark blue one. I wondered when I could finally step up to secondary school. It seemed like eons and eons away.

Later on, I began wondering where people went to after secondary school. Do they start working already? I asked my mother. She told me people usually went to university after completing their secondary education.


Such a prestigious sounding word.

I also heard that it was a place where grown ups go to study and play. A place where you don't have to abide by any school rules, where you don't have to pay attention in class, where you can wear anything you like to class. People who went there basically led their own lives, free of parental control. At university, nobody will force you to finish your homework. Nobody will force you to study.

I wanted that.

I wanted to be able to tell people "I'm a university student". I wanted them to look up on me.

But secondary school already seemed so far away. University would never come. It'd be only something I could dream of.

In short, I wanted to grow up.

Real bad.

When secondary school finally came, I began thinking that I was finally growing up. But I was only in Form 1. The youngest in the pack. I envied those older students, especially the Form 3 students. I thought it'd be very grown uppish to be sitting for an important exam, i.e., PMR.

When Form 4 came, Form 3 magically turned into kindergarten work. How could anyone ever think of PMR as a killer exam? Form 4 was torture. When SPM came, it made PMR seem like child's play.

In Form 5, I began to enjoy my schooling life more and more. It was great to have friends to share my ups and downs. I loved them and they loved me.

When college came, I thought "Yes, I'm finally not a 'school student' anymore!!!"

In other words, "I'm a grown up!!!!"

Curiously, I have never felt that way.

Before I went to kindergarten, I thought that I'd feel grown up when I did. I was wrong. Then, I thought that maybe wearing a 'real' school uniform would make me one. I was wrong again. I thought maybe it was because of the colour difference. Funnily, I didn't feel anymore grown up than before, even when my school uniform changed from dark blue to a bright turquoise. Even in my final year of high school, I didn't feel any difference.

When, then, can I be a real grown up?

I kept wondering.

I thought college would do the trick.

Unfortunately, it didn't.

The exams got much harder, but that was about it.

Ten years ago, I thought university would never come, but here I am right now.

University. My childhood dream. I have finally achieved it.

Why, then, do I feel like I wish I could go back to being a school student? I have used all of my childhood wishing I could one day go to university, and now I wished I could go back to when I was little.

Do I feel grown up now?


Sad, but no.

Why, then, am I here? To feel grown up? To gain respect? To have other school kids envy me?

It's a question many people have asked me.

Why am I here?

And although I may not be a grown up yet, I pride myself in being able to reply,

"Where else would I be?"

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