I AM 17 and will be sitting for my SPM later this year. My problem is that I just can’t make myself care about my studies.
My friends and classmates are all busy going for tuition classes and revising their lessons, while I just hang out with my younger friends at the mall and do nothing. My parents are upset at my lack of interest in my education, but they don’t want to force me to do anything I don’t want to either. Maybe I am a little spoilt, but then again, I did not study for my PMR and still scored very well in the exam. I guess my parents just have a lot of faith in me.
However, the sight of my friends burying their noses in their books all the time does get to me. I worry about not doing well in my exam and having to re-sit for it. But whenever I pick up a book to do some revision, or go for study group sessions, I get bored and fall asleep, and end up not learning much
My teachers tell me to try and find a study partner who will keep me on track, or look for a study pattern that works for me. I think those are great ideas, but … I just don’t really care. It’s weird. I care about getting good (or maybe passable) grades, yet I don’t really want to put in much work.
For PMR, I only started revising three weeks before the exam. It gave me such a rush doing that – I loved it. Nevertheless, I realise that SPM requires a lot more studying, memorising, and practicising theories (especially for Maths) so maybe cramming at the last minute will not work this time around.
I envision myself as a lawyer in the future. It means I really need to study hard to get my degree and pass the bar. My uncle is a very good lawyer and I want to be just like him. But when I think about all that studying, my head starts to spin. And then I fall asleep.
I am an only child, so I don’t have siblings to push me into doing things. My best friends used to do it, but I think they might have given up on me now. I don’t want to slow them down in their studies either.
What should I do? Do I get my parents to force me to study? Do I just keep on going to tuition centres and try my best to keep my eyes open during class? — Epic Fail
It’s manageable now because life is still simple. But fast forward a few years and you’ll have a heavier load – relationships, work, and other interests will compete to fill your day. And you should take these on because life is only lived if it’s pursued in full. It requires much more effort to juggle these things.
Imagine balancing all this. It takes discipline, organisation, and focus. It takes preparation. You have a good instinct about what’s ahead because you know that becoming a lawyer takes a lot of time and effort. Don’t leave this to luck, or a misguided sense of excitement that you can reach your goals if you leave it to the last minute. In the real world, there are real consequences. Bein unprepared for an exam is one thing; being unprepared for a meeting means disrespecting your colleagues and failing to do your duties. Do this too many times and you could even lose your job.
Put in a little study for an exam and you may pass. But you’re capable of more. You’ve capable of being the best. So why settle for being mediocre? School is a good training ground to learn this lesson because it’s still safe. But don’t take it for granted. Realise that not putting in the effort could get you through school, but it just won’t cut it in the real world. You’re only as good as the effort you put in. So take control and push yourself. No one else is going to do it for you.
And that’s a big lesson to learn – if you want to fix your mistakes, reach your goals and excel, the single most important factor is you. No one else. You can read this and take it as advice that you agree with, but if you don’t want to change, things will stay the same. There’s no way to avoid hard work to get what you want. Your uncle is a solid example of that. Spend a day at the office with him and see what he goes through. If you still want to be a lawyer, the harsh reality is that it doesn’t come easy. Nothing ever does. But with self-belief and discipline, you can achieve things beyond your worries. The only one stopping this from happening is you. So wake up. Put in what’s needed to be the best because you deserve it. And in time, you’ll reap the rewards of being the best. — Rusyan
Find the force
You are feeling like this because you lack a goal or motivating force to do well. Many people are driven to achieving good results by their competitive nature, aspirations towards a goal or reward, the fear of failure, or for the pure sake of achievement. These forces motivate people to stay on track (and from falling asleep). You already recognise the importance of SPM and that it’s going to be a lot harder than PMR. All you need now is some inspiration and some ambition, and only you can decide what that should and will be.
However, getting yourself pumped and ready for SPM is actually the smaller problem. It is a funk that you can readily get yourself out of with some determination and inspiration. The real, larger problem is your lack of will and strength – or rather, the fact that you don’t put them to use. You turn to external influences to help induce results within yourself rather than using the strength within you to get something important done. While these external forces can be useful, what happens when they are gone? You’d find yourself in the state that you are currently in; listless, unmotivated and unmoved.
We all have internal strength and fortitude. Some people just tap into it better than others. Start revisiting that strong spirit of yours, and build it up to a point where you don’t need other people to tell you what to do. Chase down and tackle problems or issues you find intellectually stimulating, and pursue them to the end without giving up.
You’ll find that achievement for achievement’s sake (as opposed to the sake of a reward or to avoid undesirable situations) can be an enriching and exciting way to live life. As for things like SPM that most of us wish we didn’t have to do, see it as a challenge to yourself and your newly found strength of character to conquer it. You’re really the only thing that’s standing in your own way. — Su Ann