There were times when I was studying in my room and my parents came in, asking, “You studying?” My brain went, Yes, what else do you expect? Can I focus now? but I merely replied with a nod or a polite “Yes.” Then there were moments when they came in at the exact moment when, after two to three hours of studying, I was on a five- or ten-minute break, watching a short video or using my phone.
“Why aren’t you studying?”
“I am taking a break.”
“Why are you always taking a break?” They didn’t believe me and started to nag about studying.
It was even more demoralising when I didn’t score 70s or 80s in my tests despite all the effort put in. It was worse because getting scores of 60s meant more chiding and nagging at home. During those ‘pep talks,’ my parents commonly said things like, “You haven’t been studying hard enough.” Then they went on about how it was harder for them, how I am much more fortunate today, why studying is so important, and what would happen if I don’t study and get good grades.
I knew that they were just worried about me and my future, and that they nagged at me because they love me enough to. But this combination of events often left me hanging with a single question: Why bother studying if I am not going to do well? I came to a point where I thought I would be better off as an emotionless robot. One that was programmed to study and get good grades. One that studied 24/7 without breaks. One that would not be a disappointment.
I dreamt of getting into the ‘better’ secondary schools during PSLE. I didn’t. In secondary school, I worried about not getting my preferred subject choices. The list of concerns did not stop there. “What if I don’t get into junior college?” (Getting into polytechnic was just starting to get popular, so thankfully, my parents were accepting of it.) “What course will I choose if I have to go to polytechnic?”
Then I entered polytechnic and a new set of anxieties fell upon me that caused those questions to haunt me again. No matter what I did, I could not pull up my GPA. What if I can’t get into university? What will my future look like? Will I be able to secure a good job and support my parents? There were so many “what ifs” and I had no idea what to do. I never felt that my grades were good enough. I didn’t feel good enough. I spiralled into self-doubt, feeling helpless, useless, and worthless. I questioned God. I asked Him, “God, what can I do? Why am I so useless? What is your purpose for me?”
“I think I am better off dead.”
One day, when my thoughts hit rock bottom, I heard God ask me, “Do you trust me? Do you trust that I am good?” To both questions, I answered “yes.” Then He said, “Then trust that you are My precious little girl and trust in My good plans for you. Have faith in Me. You are not alone. I am here for you.” At that very moment, I felt His love wash over all my worries, fears, and insecurities. In my darkest moments when I felt worthless, God told me I was precious, pulled me back into the light, and gave me strength. Now, I choose not to focus too much on my worries and insecurities but focus on God instead. He reminds me that my worth is not defined by my grades or my future job but by His love for me.