Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Expectations and reflections

I have been working closely with this lecturer in my department for 4 semesters. And as we sat down in her office on a Monday afternoon, she told me she's a good student, the kind that would bust a lung to reach the lofty goals she has set for herself. But people change, and she learned to manage expectations and have lots of fun in between. She changed because "life" taught her to change.

For me, there will always be a fire somewhere inside me. I can be wholly convinced I am the happiest person I have ever been, and I am at the point in my life where I am contented. Even with lesser expectations, I can't help but feel disappointed and hungry for more despite having met them. Old habits die hard.

I began 2010 with lots of hope and promise. Socialised folks will always and interestingly use recognised and significant temporal marks to make their decisions. I set goals which I believe can be easily accomplished given the person of my ability, creativity, intellect and talent.

They range from the superficial, such as losing weight and getting more visible abdominal muscles as means to encase myself in hegemonic masculinity; to the wishful, to get "somewhere" in songwriting. Nothing came to fruition. Of course, there have been the longdrawn battle with the Master's Thesis, and I have missed every deadline I've set myself. Uncharacteristic.

Small little things like the Singapore Blog Awards, organised by and Singapore Press Holdings, get to me too. Knowing I am the previous of my category, "Most Insightful Blog", I was not even a feature in the top 10 list of nominees, no chance to defend my "crown". It's shocking for me, and I am reminded of my remarks last year that if the exhibitionist won the category, I would retire from blogging forever. No offense to her though, but I really wonder what the organisers are thinking.

This too deals a blow to my integrity, as I seek to leverage on it to spread awareness on not only queer issues, but minority rights, mental health and media literacy. The privilege of being (relatively) known and having that education should always be used to help others. Life is not always a self-service. Sure, that holiday prize would be nice, but that would not stop me from fighting these causes.

I realise I have taken my thesis a little too seriously for my own good and never once considered the journey would be a lot more enriching than the joys of reaching the destination. And given my person, I would probably crawl to the finishing line, stand up, dust my shoulders, and say, "what's next?"

My preoccupation with my thesis has made me a lot more withdrawn, but a lot more closer to my family. One big victim is SinQSA, the Singapore Queer-Straight Alliance. It is my baby, but it has been reprioritised. I would have loved to be more active in my brand of information activism but I would rather get my house in order first before setting my eyes on other issues.

Still related to my Master's programme, I have earlier applied for an extension to my scholarship. I expected a rejection, and got one today, but still felt disappointed about it. I keep convincing myself by repeating the narrative of "it's not the end of the world" but frustration still reigns. It is the kind of feeling I had when I told my supervisor and probably everyone else that I would be happy with a B+ grade for my Honours Thesis, but when I got an A, I felt angry I did not get an A+.

Of course, we get hardened by setbacks or perceived setbacks and integrate that aspect of maturity into our character. Let's just call it character-building.

Somehow, I know that while my disappointment will continue to linger on, life goes on and there is still a thesis to complete. After all, isn't an anticipated set-back half-to-not a setback?

I would love to write about the many socio-political issues and assess them from the lenses of sociology, semiotics, feminism and so on, but they will have to wait. So many issues, so little time.

1 comment:

Jun said...

We change because "life" taught us to change. As if pre-destined, events cannot change, but the consequences of life remain in our hands. Expectations, decisions and outcomes are all psychological manoeuvres. I may not be able to complete my PhD, but (goodness me!) how many people even gotten an education in the first place. We are always already privileged.