Letting love carry you

When I was in school, we had to choose subjects to take when we were 14. I think we had to choose at least 6 or 7 of them including our languages. And if we were greedy (and capable), we could choose 9 or 10. How would you have chosen the subjects to do? If you were like my classmates, they mostly took the subjects they were good at. Teachers encouraged that too, because in our system, they discouraged students from ‘wasting their time’ on things they were not good at. And often, their personal image, pride and vanity was tied to the tangible grades of the students.

I max-ed out what I could do. This is not to brag; but at that point, I loved knowledge so I wanted to sample everything. I didn’t ace my subjects but I did well enough to actually do all of them. There was English, Chinese, Mathematics (including A Math and E Math), Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Integrated Humanities (including Geography, History, Literature), Arts. Arts took up the most of my time; spanning more than 6-8 hours a week of class, studio, execution time. All the other subjects took way less time and I could also get better grades in them. But I did find myself falling out of love with the process of working physically on the art pieces.

Eventually I did well for all of them enough that when at 17 I had to choose a narrower set of subjects to do, I went simply for the subjects which I enjoyed. By then, they were a bit more on the intellectual side of things. If I hadn’t do well in them, I wonder if things would have been different. But I’m certainly glad I chose things I enjoyed and liked; and I happen to live in a society where intellectuals are looked favourably upon. In the long run, it is not your grades that will keep you motivated and going in the difficult things; it was your love for the subject.

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