The past week has been an eventful one. What with the Bersih 2.0 rally, Thailand's first female prime minister (and a gorgeous one at that) being voted into office, and of course Rupert Murdoch's News of the World phone hacking scandal.
In the middle of all that, I received some other news, which, while certainly not as significant as the above, was the highlight of my year so far.
After what has been an eventful and challenging journey, I can finally say that I'm a graduate. And not only that, a graduate with first class honours.
Was it a smooth ride all the way? No. Did I feel like giving up along the way? Constantly. Were there times I felt I'd blown the chance at a 1:1 degree? Definitely, when I managed to set a personal record for my all-time lowest grade received for a module. Was it worth it? Yes. Absolutely yes.
If I had to pick one thing university taught me, it would be that there's no shortcut to success. For a straight-A student who breezed by daydreaming her way through school and college, and pretty much being good at whatever she found herself doing, be it editing, designing, or working as a barista at Starbucks, I found myself in a very different world the moment I hit university. A world in which talent and personality were just not enough. Going twenty years of one's life without really having to question your ability and being given opportunities to do things you're naturally good at doesn't really teach you a lot about the real world and the determination, discipline, and hard work you need to thrive in it.
And that is what I believe my degree is worth. Not a fancy piece of paper or a ticket to a bigger paycheck or my module grades, but a primer in Life: The Real Deal.
Lessons in learning I won't always get to do things I like, but that doesn't mean I have to hate what I do;
that community and collaboration, no matter how much of a lone ranger I may prefer to be, is crucial to navigating a world built on complex, intricate relationships;
that getting - and staying - motivated is something that you have to fight for, not something that drifts your way;
that failing is inevitable but it's not the end;
that keeping your eyes on the bigger picture is the only way to move forward;
and that simple things and the occasional distraction and indulgence keep life beautiful.
As always, I couldn't have done it alone. One of my favourite quotes, by St John of Salisbury, goes:
"We are like dwarfs sitting on the shoulders of giants. We see more, and things that are more distant, than they did, not because our sight is superior or because we are taller than they, but because they raise us up, and by their great stature add to ours."So this is the part where I take the time to say thank you. To the mentors and tutors whose lessons expanded beyond the classroom, in particular Dawn Johnston, Ben Young, and Andy Price. The opportunity to learn under your guidance has been a tremendous privilege. Thank you.
To the friends who kept me going and saw more in me than I saw in myself at times, especially Mabel, Nazila, and Justin. You are gems of friends. Thank you.
To all the ones from home whose notes and little packages kept me going through the homesickness, thank you.
To my family, for believing me in their own unique ways that I don't appreciate enough, especially my youngest brother, whose letters and writing have been a quiet, but very real source of strength to me. Thank you.
And of course to my sponsor, YTL Corporation, for seeing something in me to bestow on me the opportunity to do something I had only dreamed of till then, and the individuals who made it happen. Thank you.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. A dozen 'thank you's, silent prayers, and all the best hopes and wishes go out to all of you mentioned above. You make the journey worth it.