Everything I Know


“Paul Jarvis is a web designer, best selling author and gentleman of adventure.” (About the author of the book I’ve recently finished, titled ‘Everything I Know’) In closure of my Post-Prelims Pause, this one’s a reflection about the lessons from my recent read and a consolidation of my efforts of reframing:

After leaving the exam hall disheartened on Tuesday morning, plunging into a 3-day hiatus was a decision that came with uncertainty. I was unconfident about recovering the incredible momentum and drive I had working towards Prelims and altogether unsure about how much of what I have revised will still stick with me after this break (these fears still remain). But in the mere span of 3 days, I have revisited many experiences that have reinvigorated my fatigue-stricken self: skating, trekking the Rail Corridor, museum hopping all afternoon, a desperate attempt at exercise and every other time spent at reading and writing. The wonders this has done for my mind and soul is what Jarvis would describe as the magic of “starting by stopping”. We are uncertain about breaks because they’re a change from status quo, but if we understand the flaw of ‘doing more of the same’, then we begin to appreciate the value of doing something different so you can achieve something else better ultimately.

For the week that we are approaching (where results come back) and the 2 months ahead of us, I have countless fears: doing badly for Prelims, being too disheartened to bring myself to work harder, having friends extremely dear to me leave me in this critical time, getting distracted by the numerous ‘what else I could be doing’s. The penultimate fear in this period would probably be letting people down (my parents, teachers, people who have invested time and hopes in me, and myself). In the words of Jarvis, “fears only have the power that you give them” and if one chooses to work hard at something or try something that one is fearful of, then the fear naturally loses its power—this is what I shall do. Perhaps, these fears of mine revolve around the common theme of having put in so much into this endeavor that I cannot imagine having to accept an undesirable outcome that would appear to do no justice to what has been invested. But since when have we been given the luxury of certainty in the things we do?

There is a Perfection Paradox, where the myth of perfection creates a barrier between oneself and the starting line of working towards a goal. The idea that, ‘I don’t think I can do this perfectly, so maybe I shouldn’t try.’ stops us from launching any efforts directed at our goals at all. Time to reframe: if the goal isn’t defined as “As at A levels” but “to try as best as possible to put on my best performance for A levels”, then with determination and focus, there is no way to fail, because I’ll be succeeding at it with every day that I put in effort. This though, takes courage: “In order to be courageous, we must first take a risk without knowing the outcome. Being vulnerable is what drives us to make leaps, start new ventures, and most importantly, make and own our choices.”

Vulnerability is a measure of bravery in itself, and this final lap towards the A levels is time for the vulnerability in giving it all I’ve got, while embracing the uncertainty about the outcome.


(Still) Not Easy

2 years ago this time, I published a piece titled, “It’s Not Easy To Be My Friend”. And introspection in these couple of days as we take a breather from the A levels mad-rush has lead me to a similar conclusion (it seems little has changed), this one is dedicated to the ones who have become a source of unconditional support within the school campus and whom I’m so incredibly thankful for:

“I change my mind easily yet I always must have a plan, even if it’s a spontaneous idea I have decided to adopt, it is imperative we come up with a plan around it, minute by minute, if possible. I hate getting lost because it wastes my time, so if you bring me somewhere please know where you’re going. Actually I don’t like anything that wastes my time, so I find myself disinterested in a couple of obligations. I am emotional, very emotional and so I am fragile. If you say anything, even as a joke, if I can’t tell you’re kidding, it hurts and I’ll break. Actually even if I know it’s a joke, an over-thinking nature would concoct a subconscious reason you may really mean this hurtful remark and it’ll still pierce through this very permeable membrane. My emotional shroud is not one to be messed with, I seek to understand and connect. So in every way possible, I try my best to put myself in your shoes and think of what you think and do what I suppose you’d like (there are exceptions like very tired unclear minds at night or maybe it depends on the person) I am distracted easily and I have a short attention span. I don’t like to hear people elaborate if I think I already get what you mean (because that wastes time). And as much as I care, I forget easily. Your birthday, the shade of brown your eyes are or your favourite band and artist, all that I forget yet I expect you to remember mine. It’s hard to change my mind about something because often I know what I want and what I don’t want, so it’s easy to feel like you don’t have a say in my decisions. It’s also easy to feel dispensible in my life and assume I don’t need you; and leave. Being my friend is not easy. As an extension to what I was thinking about yesterday, today I realised that I’m a very difficult person to stay friends with or love, so I thank everyone who has stayed by my side despite how intolerable I may be. It’s very easy to walk away, but I promise if you stay, I’ll devote as much as I can into our friendship. And being my family member is even harder. …I suppose so, since you’re stuck with me forever- so thanks mom, thanks dad, thanks sis, thanks bro.”

(Written in 2013)

2 years on, it’s a bit different. A new accumulation of sudden departures, plot twists in the expected happy endings and chilling memories as reminder of the uncertain nature of relationships has introduced caution, into my interactions. This caution translated into action, comes in the form of a careful pursuit for depth in friendships (as I have attributed many unwanted departures to that). There is a story about nomads, who tie camels to these trees in their sleep (see: The Camel Story) and the moral is that our past becomes a part of ourselves in the present, I guess this would make a classic example. And for having this pursuit shape my sometimes intrusive and overly-attached self in these friendships, I can only thank these people endlessly for your acceptance.

(The photos are not exhaustive, thank you all I deserve none)

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