“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.