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"I would get one of the lowest scores in my whole school." (Nathan, volunteer tutor)

Updated: Jun 20, 2022

Image provided by Nathan.

"I was horrible at my academics. My worst subject was physics. While my classmates were brilliant and would score 70%, I would get one of my lowest scores in the whole school, scoring 20% if I was lucky. When approaching my final year exams, my grades had barely improved and I was still hovering at 40%.

In the week leading up to my Physics exam, I camped at Tampines Hub for three days to study. I remember bringing a sleeping bag at well so that I could study non-stop.

While I wish that I could say that I did wonderfully for my exams and topped the class, the truth is that I still did below average than the whole of Singapore. I felt very demoralized because I had been brought up with the teaching that effort breeds success, but I did not see the results. At one point, I considered not pursuing university because I may end up failing again.

Life goes on. I’m currently in NS, and I’m glad to be able to meet different people here. They teach me that even when we go through great difficulty, we must keep trying. I’ve met peers who have gone through prison and who struggle with mental health issues. They shared how they felt as though the world was against them and it was impossible to overcome their difficulties. Though my struggles were not on the same level as theirs, I felt I could relate in some form and we could learn from each other. It’s not that ‘I’m better than you’ or ‘you’re better than me’ because of academic qualifications, but we all struggle in different ways and can help each other out a little.

Trying doesn’t guarantee ‘success’, but it guarantees that we will have opportunities to grow. We move beyond sadness and dejection by seeing that our efforts have multiple functions - it’s good to excel at an academic goal, but it can be just as good to encourage another person. Trying and failing can be better than not trying at all."


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