IT’S post-SPM season and many 18 year olds across the country are either rejoicing, in mourning or something in between over their examination results.
Regardless of what letters were shown on their result slips, most will be setting their sights on the uncertain future.
Questions like “What do I do now?”, “Where is my life headed from here on out?” and “What’s for lunch?” should be ringing in the heads of some young adults right about now.
Just thinking about it makes me think about what I went through when I was about that age and some things that I have learnt after going through the process, as well as witnessing other people going through it in their own ways.
When I was younger, I had very little idea of what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
I knew that I wanted to go to university and eventually graduate, so I chose a course that I was most confident in passing, which was Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL).
Looking back at it now, I don’t regret that decision. Being able to go through the process of tertiary education opened up a lot of opportunities to learn about myself.
It allowed me to find out what I liked to do, what I didn’t like to do, and afforded me the platform to make mistakes.
Thinking back on my university days, I think that’s one of the things that I miss most: The leeway to mess up.
It was in university that I decided to make videos and put them on YouTube, which could have been a mess, but instead became a life-changing decision for me.
It wasn’t easy at first. I’m a shy person, and making videos was literally putting myself out there for people to judge.
On top of that, I had to learn social skills when people started recognising me.
YouTube made me a different person – all because I made the decision to get out of my comfort zone and try something radically different.
What I would say to young post-SPM teenagers is, make as many mistakes as you need to because that’s how you learn about yourself and life.
If you ever stop to think to yourself “this might be a mistake, I should stop doing this,” one of the best things you can do for yourself is to go ahead, do it anyway and discover for yourself if it really is one or not.
This is of course different from thinking “driving off this cliff is definitely a mistake” and doing it anyway. I do not advocate that. It’s just in those moments of uncertainty that you should plough forward to achieve some sort of clarity.
If it turns out to be a mistake, you learn from it. If it doesn’t, you will reap the benefits from it.
In any case, be unafraid, and you’ll reap the rewards of taking that chance.
After my own university experience, and watching other people as they experimented with their hobbies and passions, I’ve found also that what you do outside of your course matters a lot.
I know many people pursuing fields that are outside of their course. They have varying levels of success, of course, but for the most part, they seem to be very happy doing what they are doing.
For example, a childhood friend I was in a band with holds a degree in video game graphics, but is now a full time music composer for an animation company.
My wife studied mechanical engineering, but is now a writer/composer/singer-songwriter.
A good friend of mine studied law and and now runs one of the most successful not-for-profit educational online movements in Malaysia (@Englishjer).
These people, alongside many others have shown me that there can be success outside of what course you choose to enrol in, as long as you have the right attitude and work tirelessly towards getting better at your craft and become undeniably good at what you choose to do.
They are an example of what hard work can do for you. If you choose to be really good at getting good grades in your course, then more power to you. Go all out for it.
If you choose to be really good at something outside your course, the same thing applies: Go all out for it.