Myself and I

Me.

What am I?

Who am I?

What defines me?

I’m having those moments of doubt again. It’s not that I don’t know who I am, I know where I stand and why I do what I do. I know what I love, what I dislike, and I know my emotions through and through.

Nosce te ipsum.

Have I not been saying that a lot?

We need to know ourselves to get anywhere. Be self-aware. Improve. Know your pitfalls and your strengths.

And yet, sometimes I feel as if I’m an alien, an entire different entity from my own body. I look at myself, what I’ve achieved, what I’ve done- and I wonder why. I look at myself from the outside- detached, as you may call it- and I see someone unrecognizable. There’s a little part of me that wonders why I care about my academics, why I push myself to memorize things that simply aren’t useful. There’s a little voice in my head that tells me it’s all useless, that really I shouldn’t care- and I should just go on and pursue what I want to do.

It frightens me because I’m threatening to change my stance on this world I’ve built around myself. I’ve spent so much effort pouring over my books, prioritizing it- and I didn’t mind. Because I truly believed in what I was doing, and I truly believed that what I was learning was beneficial. And it was, to some extent. We learn new things. But these past six months have just been about exams, and how to tackle exams. Exams.

I think we all know that life isn’t like that. Life doesn’t tell you when it throws you an obstacle. It doesn’t tell you to go learn how to best defeat it. It doesn’t tell you when it’s coming. It doesn’t tell you what you should do, doesn’t tell you if your efforts will even culminate to anything.

So why waste 6 months of our lives over that?

I would never have questioned that a few years back. I knew where my priorities lay.

I don’t know where they lie now.

I still care about my work. Of course I do.

You know how sometimes you can do things absentmindedly without thinking? Multitask- like perhaps watch a youtube video while reading an article- and somehow both things are assimilated into the depths of your mind. I can’t do that with studying. It requires my undivided attention, my utmost concentration. I have to weave a story with the notes, make sense of everything. There’s no such thing as hard memorization.

But I can only do that when I believe in it. When I know that I have to, when I know that I want to, when I know that I can. I can’t do it anymore. I always have this nagging feeling that I should be doing something else, that life is too short to waste time memorizing things that will be forgotten in a few weeks. Learn the material, yes, I can. But memorize it?

It’s a constant internal battle, a battle with myself to keep concentrated. When I win it, when I convince myself to sit down and study- it lasts for a few minutes. Then it starts all over again.

It’s this kind of thing that makes me wonder why I’ve changed. Why I value my studies so much less than whatever ‘greater calling’ the little voice in my head seems to be so concerned with. Yes, there’s so much more out there to learn. So much out there that I want to do. But the crux of the matter is that society says otherwise. It acknowledges the existence of better things, but so ruthlessly tells you that you have to go through the motions.

I never regarded schoolwork as going through the motions, I thoroughly enjoy school when I’m actually learning new things.

But exams can’t satisfy that appetite for knowledge.

It’s during these long periods of self-induced metaphorical ‘starvation’ that makes me question the core of what I do and why I do it. I have to control myself. I have to stop myself from reaching out to those ever-enticing maths problems. Stop myself from tinkling on the piano and belting out tunes till my heart’s content (which, by the way, is something you’d never want to hear for fear of permanent damage to your eardrums). Stop myself from contemplating Zeno’s paradoxes, reading up about psychology, neuroscience, or millions of others things that I wouldn’t pursue but would just like to learn about. Stop myself from reaching out to the bookshelf. Stop myself from thinking.

Yes, it’s this brainless memorization that causes mental stagnation. And I despise it. Learning new things engage me. I learn. I love to learn.

Memorizing things engage me in a different way. A less pleasurable way. A numbing way.

And I didn’t mind doing it for a time, when I was convinced it was good for me. But I reiterate, life’s too short.

Time is against me. Tempus fugit. Tick tock.

And so I have to resolve to do what I want to do least.

Because of society? Because of fear for my future?

I suppose, in a way, yes.

But I don’t know. I feel better about it after writing it down. It’s been eating away at my confidence and resolve for the longest time, it’s good to finally acknowledge it.

Do I feel like school and exams are restricting the real me? Preventing me from being the best I can?

Ironically, to some extent, yes.

But I know it’s imperative to do this to get myself onto higher platforms for the future.

Yes, no?

At any rate, it’s only for a while. No need to get all weepy and sentimental and resentful (like many others have). In a week and a half, I’ll be a free woman and I can read as many books as I please, go do my online courses, spend as much time as I want on maths, bake and whip up as many things as I like, paint, draw, sing, play piano, finally get onto the tennis courts.

Until IB starts in a month, of course.

If the IGCSEs are peanuts, the IB is a coco de mer nut.

And trust me, those are the size of watermelons.

But I think I’ll love the IB much more than I like school now. Mr. Denousse was talking to me about how the questions in the IB examinations were unpredictable, unlike the IGCSEs or the O levels or the A levels or whatever- and I think that’s going to be brilliant.

So in a way I’m looking forward to next year, even as so many dread it. I like the unpredictable. I like the unknown. (Ironic, because all this would be incongruous to those who know me- you’d have to drag me out of my world of academia before you could convince me to do anything truly adventurous and outdoorsy.)

But you know what I mean. I like the thrill of learning something new.

So you know what? I shouldn’t waste my time telling you about this. I should be playing the piano or something.

Just kidding.

Time to get back to work.

Sigh.

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