Why I decided to go back to school at 35
No, it’s not to pick my baby cousin up from ballet class.
“What can you be after you study that?” Ma asked as she refilled my bowl of chicken herbal soup, with chopped scallions creeping up the parameters.
I take up the report card, and close it again.
Maybe not now, I thought to myself. Physics can go first, and then A math. I mean, I can always do things like art on the sideline, right?
How many of us, Singaporeans in particular, have made decisions based on scenarios like the one above?
Fast forward that to 2017 today.
Have we pursued what sparked within us at the very beginning?
I had some time to spare last weekend so I did something that I haven’t done in a while. Planting myself in a cosy cafe, I took out a notebook and began to journal.
The idea of going (back) to school has been on my mind for quite a while now, and I feel like day-to-day routines just don’t cut it for me anymore.
I decided to go back to school. Here’s how I came to my decision:
1. It breaks my overly-computerised routine
Work. Home. Work. Home. Repeat. The day often passes slow but the week fast. Before I know it, it’s Sunday and I only have six hours before work the next morning.
Work can be so numbing as we all know it, and sometimes I feel like I am just part of the factory production line.
Life becomes automated- even for my choices at the cai fan stall every lunch break. I say the same-old interesting things, complaining about the same clients every time I meet up with my long-time-no-see friends.
I save up for short trips on budget airlines, and kept my eyes peeled for that getaway every time things get tough.
The sad thing about this is that I feel the same after I came back from the supposed-to-be wondrous overseas trip, and the cycle to save up for the next trip repeats.
2. It breathes a new rhythm
It dawned on me that everything will stay the same unless I make a conscious choice for something to change.
I can choose to break that robotic pace, cause I know that life is bigger and much more than that.
Many of us are subconsciously seeking for a new momentum in our lives.
I knew that I was looking for a flow where life doesn’t just pass me by, because I can consciously take charge and steer it to the direction I want it to go.
I thought of my secondary school CCA (band anyone?), checked out zumba classes on Fave and thought about trying out a stimulating course; perhaps a photography or graphic design diploma from MAD School.
I thought about the interests I never pursued. The best time might very well be now, right?
3. It is a space for me to think for myself again
Amongst many things, I feel that going to school helps me to think for myself.
My time will be focused on thinking, exploring and understanding things for my own knowledge. Not money, not housing loans, not monthly targets. In the age of information overload today, I don’t want to just read information passively and let them sweep over my head. It has been too long since I had the chance to digest and try my ideas out for myself.
More than reddit, news subscriptions or youtube tutorials on a tablet screen, having an actual classroom to learn is great for me to have my own space again.
"Wherever we want to go, we go. That's what a ship is, you know. It's not just a keel and a hull and a deck and sails. That's what a ship needs. But what a ship is...what the Black Pearl really is...is freedom." - Jack Sparrow
Anddddd I was also inspired from Captain Jack himself. As the world changes, so must the tools and skills.
All these skills and knowledge that I have received over the years are just like the keel, hull, deck and sails of a ship.
They are what I need but who I am, essentially, is an entirely different matter. As I live my life in the pursuit of what I truly treasure- be it freedom, joy or love, I can use the skills to sail there.
After thinking about what I have on my hands right now, I decided that my ship needed an upgrade or renovation of sorts.
How about a design school in Singapore?
4. It adds value to my work
To quote this comment on Reddit: “School puts you in an environment where everything you do is questioned, many times by people more experienced than you.”.
I figured that It’s a rare space where I can be unafraid to fail. Cos that’s where we learn the most, right?
There are many schools out there that are designed for those who crave for that space. On top of the practical skills learnt, it feels like a space for my mind to be refreshed and challenged on the process of thinking.
Take, for example, graphic design.
As I learn to create my own work to answer a design brief, I probably need to think about details like typography and the mood that certain colours evoke.
All these elements relate to larger questions: what is the purpose of this poster? Who is my target audience? How can I invite their eyes to stay on this piece of work? What makes people stop?
These thinking skills go beyond academia to help me reevaluate what I see everyday at work.
This might very well be where new ideas come in for old problems in my workplace.
New solutions to old problems, change often happens as a matter of perspective.
At the very least, they definitely won’t look the same anymore.
5. I can (finally) make new friends from different circles
The last thing that pulled me forward to sign up for school is the new people whom I’ll get to meet outside of my existing social circle.
Can’t really describe it but relationships formed within classrooms always has this organic element to it. Other than having zero agenda (I don’t think competition for grades would be a thing for us anymore), there are also default conversation starters like the course syllabus and assignments to fall back on.
Through the exchange, you will never know how you will cross paths again in the near future.
Meeting people in school definitely cuts several barriers from the get-go. Haha truth be told, I can’t really remember the last time I said hi to someone new without any association to work.
It’s time to go back to school.
Now that I have made my decision, the next question is where.
I feel that every school, big and small, has its own personality. I would probably go for something I have always been interested in at the back of my mind. With my childhood interest in design, it will probably be a graphic design diploma.
“Do one thing everyday that scares you.” -Eleanor Roosevelt