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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​ f​​or​​ ​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.

"W​herever​ ​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​ ​​ ​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

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