“Time flies over us, but leaves its shadow behind.”
– Nathaniel Hawthorne
The reality of the everlasting flow of time never fails to hit me. One day I will be sitting at home and suddenly I’ll just start thinking of how far I have come from a little toddler crawling on all fours to an almost fully grown adult who makes decisions by herself. The reality of how fast these 15 years of my life has flown by will always haunt me. I always look back on my memories and I still remember my first birthday party, how I had a big white cake with blue frosting, how I had a very carefree and stress-free life. Now that I am in high school, stress will always be a part of my life, I can’t escape it.
“Success is the result of perfection, hardwork, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistance.”
– Colin Powell
To all of you that don’t know me, I am Parvathy Sunil, a 9th grader who is really into K-pop. Through my grade 9 course, I have come to realise that I really strive for perfection, and it is a really unhealthy habit. I have noticed this when I get specific tests back, such as science and math, and I tend to get unhappy with my 7s. I realised that I am only happy when I ace the test, a 7 is just not good enough. This brings upon a lot of unnecessary stress upon me as a 7 is a 7, despite it being a high one or a low one. Due to my constant 7s, my perception is that my teachers expect a lot from me, and they have very high standards for me, bringing a lot of pressure upon me to do well.
Other than a perfectionist, another word that people use to describe me is narrow-minded. This is mainly due to my upbringing. Since I have lived in Singapore for almost all of my life, I am not someone who welcomes change, I am not that open-minded as of now. I have lived in my current house for the past 10 years, and I am not ready to move out when I am older, I don’t want things to change as I don’t like change. Due to this, I am the opposite of open-minded, I am somebody who is narrow-minded.
A goal is an aim or a desired target. When I was younger, I had very unrealistic goals for my future, such as become an actress or a singer. That was mainly because of all the fame that came with those jobs, but now after seeing the tedious lives of many K-pop stars, my goals have changed, and they are nowhere near being famous. When I am older, all I want is a well-paying job, such as an architect or a math professor at a good university, that allows me to lead a content life full of success. Both of my current goals are very math related and this is mainly because math is my strongest subject, and I genuinely enjoy math. A few short term goals for myself are to do really well in my IGCSE exams and try to get a minimum of four 7s, and also, to get into NUS. The reason why I want to get into NUS because it is in my home, Singapore, so I won’t have to face any big changes when I change schools. Another reason why NUS, is because it is a really good university that is well recognised.
Personally, I think that these goals are right for me, even though they may seem a bit unrealistic. This is mainly because I am someone with very high standards, so I need my goals to be of high standards as well, and I need them to be challenging. I will achieve these goals firstly by revising my math and science units and doing very well on the tests we get. After that, the next step to getting closer to my goal would be to make sure I understand everything that I have learnt, and do practice and get really good scores on my IGCSE. After that, I will grind really hard in IB and keep practising and learning, then I will hopefully do good on my IB exams, then I will get into NUS and have a smooth transition to a well-paying job.
During this school year, I have done multiple activities and services, some of which have affected my perfectionist outlook on life. I did the service Knit-a-Square for the first two seasons of the school year, and in that service, we knit blankets and scarves for the orphaned children in Africa and Thailand. When knitting, you have to get each knit perfect so that the overall scarf/blanket looks good. This service that I did just made me more of a perfectionist as I had to make sure that the blanket I made is as perfect as it can be so that the little orphans who get the blankets will be very happy. There are two activities that I did in this year that really made me more a perfectionist – Karate and Badminton. In Karate, it is all about finding your focus and ensuring that all of your punches and kicks and katas are perfect. With this perfection or almost perfection, one will be able to take the grading and move on to the next belt. Badminton is somewhat similar to Karate as we have to ensure that every swing that we do with our racquet is perfect so that we will be able to beat our opponent. Perfection is key is both of these activities, therefore doing these activities makes me even more of a perfectionist, even though I enjoy these activities a lot.
Taking a step away from perfection, I have actually learnt a lot from all of the activities and school-related events that I have participated in. For my school trip, Ladakh, we had a training session pretty recently, and during the session I learnt that I will never always be in my comfort zone, there will be many times when I feel uncomfortable, but these moments will help me grow as a person, and it actually helps me to realise that I am living such a privileged life where I never really have to get out of my comfort zone. From the two services that I have done this year – Knit-a-Square; and PCF Arts and Crafts – I have learnt that I always need some time during the week where I can just release all my stress and not think of anything related to school. During Knit-a-Square, the knitting that we did always helped me to relieve stress. In my weekly service PCF, we did fun art and craft activities with little kindergarteners, and it was so healing to just see the smiles and hear the laughter of the preschoolers, and it was even more healing to know that the laughter and smiles were caused by us. This service just always made my week and it made me so much happier as I got spend time with the pre-schoolers and I didn’t have to think about any schoolwork that stresses me. From these two services, I have realised that I always need to find some time for myself when I just relax and not have to think about anything that stresses me out.
Something that has gone particularly well this year, and brought me closer to my goal, is my straight 7s, which mostly consist of aces, in both Math and Science. With my straight 7s, it brings about more pressure on me as others expect me to keep my 7 streak, and I tend to increase my standards for myself. At the moment, when I get a 7, it is never good enough, I need to ace the test to feel good about myself and to feel smart. This is not a healthy form of thinking, but it still brings me closer to my goal as this mindset will push me into studying and keeping up my good grades.