KD-ADS: Expanding Horizons

Cos thinking should never be stagnant...

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Back to Square One

Well, it's been a long year (in some sense), and I have finally completed my thesis. It's been an exciting journey, and though I think a lot more could have come out of it, I was still nevertheless pleased with my accomplished piece of work. It's by no means, ground-breaking, and on second thought, I really could have done a better job, in fact if anything, this experience has taught me a lot about my weakness and "strengths", all of which indicates that I still got a long way to go.

While I still have another essay coming up, that isn't the major focus on my mind. Very soon, on the 1st of December, I will be returning to Singapore, and just as it always happened in previous years, I tend to miss home a lot more as the date draws closer. Reminiscing about my bed, my room, my dogs and my lifestyle, I wonder again of the possibilities of staying at home for the long term. There are some prospects for that kind of future, but I really would need to be brave to face a different life, which I can never be sure that I will be contended with.

Upon the closure of my thesis, I also realised that my chances of staying in Australia is wearing thin. Not only will there be inadequate support for me, but as long as I don't attain the scholarship, I can kiss my chances goodbye. Oddly, as much as this is a tragedy, it has not struck me that hard, because partly I am now more convinced that I would never make a good candidate, and I think I don't have the smarts to go all the way. Maybe if I set myself less high ambitions, such as settling for being a fellow researcher or something, maybe I would feel a lot more comfortable with the idea. But for now, I guess my enthusiasm has been drowned somewhat, largely due to reflections on my personal attributes during the year.

At one point near the end of my thesis, I was confronted with the anxiety that I couldn't complete my thesis. I was panic-striken that this would be the end of my academic course and that I should hang up the whole act, especially the ridiculous misconceived notion that I could somehow affect change in the world. In months to come, my honours thesis will be sitting on the dusty shelves of my department, and my (and others') experiences will get shafted as well. Personally, I wouldn't have any care if my thesis was graded to be the worst thesis of all, and I wouldn't have cared if anyone thought I was a luny bin for writing the things I said. But what concerned me was...what is to become of me, especially in regards to how I expect my beliefs to promote change some tangible part of society? What is there for me now?

It was then I realised how sympathetic my thoughts were with a fellow friend of mine. He was the boyfriend of a female classmate, and my classmate had introduced us to each other, knowing we would get along well as we shared a similar like for dogs. We got along well, perhaps much more better than most would have thought, for our backgrounds were different. Those moments reminded me that I was never really much of the 'high-brow' 'intellectual' type of person, that in plain simple fact, I am very much the simple man who knows too little and probably thinks too much for his own good. Had my intentions in life be any different, I would most likely be in his shoes now, which is to own a dog farm, or find some plausible means to live with my interest (e.g. acting or writing fictional stories).

So why wasn't I doing those things? Why, instead, am I residing in some other country, 1) driving myself crazy, and 2) disappointing myself about who I am? How much can one talk about self-improvement if we continue to find the same conclusions about ourselves, that is, we are always the person who is never confident to ask for a date; the person who is always indulging in his 'sinful' leisure desires of sleeping and eating; the person who is never going to be an artist no matter who much he draws or practices (or substitute the occupation with musician); the person who will stay the same person because that's the mediocre person that he is?

Change probably can come about either slowly, gradually, rapidly or maybe drastically. Yet how one judges that process of change is problematic. Do we judge against our peers who are already steps ahead of us? Do we judge it against our previous actions, which one might find that they could even be more in tune with who we are? Or do we judge it against the standards and evaluations of some random other (be it an individual, family member or institutions)?

Regression or Progression. Perhaps we will never know. Just as it is easier and simpler to direct your energies towards one clear goal, we find that the 'road' will split off into different roads, all leading to either 'short-cuts', 'misdirections', 'dead-ends' and 'nowhere[s]'. Decisions become a lot harder to make, choices seem to become much broader, but our agenda doesn't seem clearer. I only hope my results of this year will provide part of the answer to that.