Back in my schooling days, I was one of the majority of students who placed substantial priority on academics over anything else, say, extra-curricular activities, sports, hobbies, etc. I was so focused on attaining not just good grades but I was also maybe a little too swept in the notion of being the class-topper. I was active in taking mental notes of which classmate was my competitor each time. My eyes had nothing but the pages of my textbooks to roam about. I never bothered making friends, never cared to join any society, and not even try and enjoy the bus rides to and fro school.
While I did genuinely enjoy studying, I believe I had missed a lot of things whilst getting unhealthily drenched in just books all day. I was not living in the moment. While other students had friendly gatherings and outings to look forward to during school breaks and very especially after SPM, I was just a lonely fret scrolling through their happy pictures in my feed. Back then I tried to justify my doings through labeling myself as an introvert. Well, sure enough, that label didn't hold for me for very long. I soon begin to realize that I had not improved in areas concerning people skills, such as my communication skills and worst yet, I had nothing to brag about my participation and achievements in extra-curricular activities, which was[unluckily for me] the very essence in every scholarship application that I had tried and applied for.
While I did get the good grades which I had yearned for, it soon dawned on me that grades are not all there is to measure a student's aptness. Having come from a financially challenged background, I had always desired to obtain a scholarship that would sponsor my studies in university. I scoured the internet and newspapers day and night to find relevant scholarship applications and through sweat and toil, typed in all the best words I could put together in my scholarship essays. But as luck would have it, other more deserving (and less deserving) students were shortlisted except for me. While I did get through some of the preliminary stages, unfortunately, I never made it pass through any of the interviews I had attended. All my academic certificates and transcripts proved to not be of much use, especially if I was lacking in soft skills and extra-curricular participation. I tried to rely on self-pity but not even my financial circumstances mattered to the scholarship providers. No one gives you something for nothing.😔
Hence, I missed a good one year of pre-U studies without any form of scholarship. For a while during that period of time, I kept the notion of scholarships from busying my mind but still chose to focus on getting good grades, except I was more self-aware and people-conscious this time. I tried to work on my anxiety in facing an audience during presentations, integrated more with my teammates in group works and started participating in several clubs and societies. As my final semester in pre-U drew near, I started working on preparations for scholarship interviews and what not. Through several more rejections, I finally landed on a fertile soil and was secured a scholarship with Yayasan Telekom Malaysia to pursue my undergraduate studies. 😌💗 #blessed
I might have learned things the hard way but it was all truly an eye-opening and fulfilling experience in the end. I am still learning and improving my soft-skills and I believe active participation and contribution in extracurricular activities have been just the right conduit for that. Apart from studies, I have also made it a point to develop my assets in various areas such as writing, designing and coding that could prove to be beneficial for me along the long run.