Life Thoughts, Personal

“My greatest competition is, well, me.”


I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook’s Memories feature. In one way, I like how it brings up fun memories from the past and reminded me of how much I’ve achieved or grown since my high school years. But then again, it also brought up a bunch of bad memories, and things that I would prefer to stay in the past.

So as I scrolled down the ‘Memories’ from April 15th, I came across a status that I made back in 2012 that reminded me of an incident that happened after my SPM 2011 result was released.

As some of you might have known, I received 9A+ for my SPM in 2011. Back then, the Ministry of Education has just rolled out their ‘Bursary’ program for all students who scored 9A+ and above. Under this program, we were allowed to choose any programs in their list of approved programs (this list includes programs from Asasi, Matrikulasi, Diploma, STPM, A-Levels, etc) and we would be eligible for a full scholarship for our pre-university (foundation) level. If we were to continue the scholarship for our undergraduate degree, we would need to score the minimum requirements, as well as securing a placement at one of the approved universities on the list.

Sounds terrific, no?

I mean, hey, the scholarship is already there. There’s no point of applying for any other scholarships or going through the hassle of filling out application forms, attending interviews, faking about how sure you are in pursuing a specific major/course and trying so hard to impress someone who has probably seen about hundreds of students just like you.

But then again…

Life doesn’t always come with an easy way out. You’re not always going to get a free pass to your destination. Of course, occasionally there would be perks here and there if you do well enough in life, but if you go through the hardship to get something, it helps you to appreciate it more in your life.

So what happened to me was that, obviously, I applied to a bunch of other scholarships as well (mainly because the Bursary program wouldn’t cover me if I were to stay in KTJ for my A-Levels, and mainly because I had my mind set in securing a scholarship from a specific body for my studies). I submitted an application to Bank Negara Malaysia, Yayasan Khazanah, Securities Commissions, Axiata, Petronas and MARA (and perhaps a couple of others that I can’t remember). Got rejected by most. Went to SC’s interview until the 2nd stage. Invited to Petronas’s EduCamp but didn’t attend because I chose to go to SC instead. And was invited to attend MARA’s interview.

Back in 2012, I was an active member of this one Facebook group. Most of the members are my age, and a lot of them were posting about scholarship applications and whatnots. One of the posts read as follow:

“korang yang dapat 9A+ tu accept je la yang kerajaan punya ni, kalau korang reject membazir tau, kerajaan bukannya nak replace tempat korang dengan orang lain pun. So yang dapat 9A+, reject semua interview/educamp/offer, bagi la chance dekat orang lain okay?”

(those are their exact words. and I can say this because I took a screenshot of it and posted it up on my old Blogger blog three years ago)

Surprisingly, a lot of people agreed. To see this coming from people from respected schools saddened me, as I was (indirectly) one of the people that it was addressed to. I kept quiet though, I think? I can’t remember if I responded to the original post or not. But obviously seeing how some of them were my friends, it hurts a little bit to see them not being supportive of us and having all these thoughts. I’m not saying that it’s a wrong thought to have, I certainly can understand why they’re feeling that way. But in its own way, it’s diminishing their own values and skills if they think that ‘competing’ with students who scored more A’s than them would cause them to lose out.

Were they that insecure about their own capabilities that the thought(s) of having to compete with more students frighten them?

Were they that doubtful about their own skills and achievements that a mere difference of an A or two in their results can mean this much to them?

Were they that uncertain about their strengths that they view everyone else as competition?

See, that’s the mentality among most Malaysian students (or even the Malaysian community). We compare everything to other people. We like to look at what other people have achieved, what other people have succeeded in, what other people have gained. We set too high of a goal for ourselves and we beat ourselves up for not achieving those insanely impossible expectations. We view everything on a two-level scale: Amazing and Not-Good-Enough.

This mentality needs to change.

We need to stop worrying too much about competing with other people. We need to understand that everyone is born with different strengths and talents, and that everyone is born for different successes. Not everyone is going to be successful in one thing, just because a few others were successful in that field before.

And this is especially important for SPM leavers out there.

Just because your brother / sister / friend / senior / mom / dad / etc was a scholarship receiver and studied in a country outside of Malaysia, that does not mean that you have to do it.

Just because your parents are doctors and your siblings are all doctors / medical students, that does not mean that you have to study medicine.

And just because all your friends are off pursuing their tertiary education, that does not mean that you have to fall in line and follow what everyone else is doing.

Take things at your own pace. Take things slowly. Do things your own way. It is, after all, your life. Stop worrying too much about being like other people or about being better than your mom’s best friend’s kid, because, you know what? You deserve the chance to write out your life how you want it to be.

Credit: Facebook 9gag Malaysia

Trust me, trying to fulfill other people’s expectations is hard, if not impossible. You can try to please people with your actions, but there will come a day when it gets too difficult to do that and you’d just crash and burn. The thing about expectations is that they grow. They change. When you fulfill one expectation, another one comes up. When you’ve achieved one success, people tend to expect more successes from you. The pressure of constantly trying not to fail and trying to impress other people becomes too much at times, and your inner spirit would die.

So, stop.

Stop living up to other people’s expectations. Start believing in yourself. Know that whatever happens in this world, the best competition that you will ever win is when you become a better person than you were in the past. As long as you keep improving and getting better than how you were before, you’re already winning in life.

The only failure in life is not making the most out of it, and not learning new things that could improve you, both mentally and physically. The only failure in life is to not utilizing all the opportunities that are provided to you to learn and improve yourself. The only failure in life is to live a life where you’re not truly living it.

Think about it.


This is perhaps the rare occasion in which I post two blog posts in a matter of days, all thanks to procrastination and the impending doom of my Loss Models midterm 2 that is coming up on Tuesday. Anyhowz. Sorry (not sorry) for the long rant. Have a good weekend and stay awesome people. :)


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