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She writes simply to put her thoughts together.
Sometimes they're well-structured, sometimes they're in absolute mess.
But always, they're personal.

Ultimately, this is all for Him.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

What It Means to Have to Feel Stupid

I was placed in the spot. All eyes on me now. Everyone was expecting me to read out my Chinese oral script aloud.
"But I haven't even practiced it yet."
"In fact, I haven't even proofread it."
"I doubt I can even read the characters I have written."
All these thoughts were running in my head during the few seconds of pause I had when the teacher called my name to go next.
"No, I don't want to do it."

Eventually I gave in, fumbling at every other word. Swear to God that that must have been the worst recital ever. I could feel my face flushed and my ears hot. The teacher knew I was recycling the essay that I submitted a while ago - not even the best essay I have produced - and there was just too many errors that I'm sure my teacher didn't even know where to begin with.

I'm sure we all had that sort of moment, at least once in our life.

Throughout the 5 years of my being in the British education system, if I were to pinpoint ONE thing that I've learnt, it's definitely going to be: repetition is indeed the key to success. LOL, the 17 year-old me would have strongly disagreed to this. Repetition meaning doing the same thing over and over again, but improving the flaws of the previous effort every single time, fine-tuning each detail so that by the end of it (hopefully) you'll obtain a near-perfect end result. The exams in this system are just so hard (70% for First Class doesn't mean it's easy to get a First, it just means 70% is just dead hard to get) that you're constantly being pushed to make sure you actually do your level best. I guess that's why our exams are all at the end of the year (with a few exceptions); to provide ample time for us to make sure we're nearing the success at the end of it. The thing is - at least in my experience - they'll always want to monitor our progress.

Being a perfectionist who takes failures a little bit too personally, I dread having to go through those multiple failures for every monitoring sessions. Like how I had to submit my first draft of dissertation to my supervisor, only being said to my face that it's crappy. Well, he didn't actually say it to my face, but I get the idea. Or when my Chinese teacher wanted us to recite the script we prepared for oral exam before the actual exam, knowing I would just be told off (implicitly) that I need to go rewrite it. I mean, who wants to feel such pain and humiliation?

And of course, the whole process of being in progress is just utterly painful, and the starting point is simply the worst. We'll feel stupid countless of times. Countless. For instance, I've cried over my A-Level Maths past-exams papers. Then throughout my Bachelors, I get frustrated over and over again by the fact that I can never ever understand Quantum Physics. Then when I think I do, I become agitated that I cannot answer the test questions. But really, what choice do I have? Keep ploughing my way through my degree, or give everything up. And you have no idea how tempting the latter have always been.

But that's just how life works, isn't it? If you're not familiar with a subject, you can't expect to be extremely good at it the first time round. Yeah, there are a few occasions where rookie's luck comes into the picture. But it doesn't usually work that way, does it? It's just the law of the Universe (i.e. sunnatullah) that human beings best learn from the mistakes they made. We are beings that are always subject to our own experiences and perceptions. That's just how we roll grow. If we have had no experience of that certain matter, there's just no way we can perfectly put the known theory into action. So if we don't choose to feel the pain of failure and stupidity beforehand, we would have to feel it when it truly matters e.g during the actual exam time. And we wouldn't want that, do we?

Always trust a cup of tea to sooth you.
Even if it is as severe as Condensed Matter Physics.

Yesterday was the first time I get to listen to the Friday khutbah at uni after a long time and the khatib touched on taqwa and related it to the upcoming Ramadan. He reminded us that the goal set by Allah for us in Ramadan is to attain taqwa, and that we need to prepare ourselves to make sure that we make full use of the month so we can achieve that target. It was indeed a very timely reminder because it was only the day before that I did a voluntary fast. And I don't know why, maybe it was because of the weather, or maybe because I was quite active that day, but I was beyond exhausted a few hours before iftar and stuffed my face with so many food by the time it was maghrib. Yeah, I've experienced fasting in the long hours of summer before, but that was a year ago. My "skills" of long-hour fasting has gone so rusty that I need to get back to doing it again. Sure, it's going to be really tiring during the first few attempts, but wouldn't that mean by the time Ramadan's here, I'll (hopefully) be fit enough to collect all the ajr that's contained in the blessed month - instead of complaining for days end? If I've chosen to plough through the few years of painful academic years to get through the exams, why wouldn't I want to plough to just a few days of hunger "torture" for something much much greater - Ramadan?

Here's a very interesting campaign by IKRAM UKE.
Picture retrieved from here.

And if I've battled my way through the last 5 years, achieving considerable success along the way, why won't I at least stand up in this last battle of mine. Kan Sofina?

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