I might be sort of getting the point of ceremonial occasions. Those that demand you to dress in painfully conventional dresses and sit on an incommodious chair for 4 hours so you could walk across the stage for 10 seconds while your parents desperately (and unsuccessfully) try to take a photo of you from across the gigantic hall. I’ve no longer been an undergraduate since 6 months back. But actually attending the congregation ceremony makes me all sentimental and stuff.
(Is it the beer, or is it me) So, I am thinking, HKU was honestly not bad. I had gone through what I had to go through. I am proud of how I dealt with the hard times because they were very, very bad. I was sore and vulnerable for so long. Because of that it sometimes seems unreal how well I am doing today.
So why not list here a few of the highlights of the past five years (including the gap year).
🍄 A Few Highlights and Achievements 🍄
1 – Biggest printed photo of me hung in public
Ahaha. This is awkward. A bit embarrassing. But funny too.
I always knew I’m better off behind than in front of a camera. But then, during the photoshoot, the photographer was like – “imagine I am your handsome ‘oppa‘ (wait) and we’re on a picnic under the beautiful sunlight” (sigh). Thence I doubted my previous conviction. If that’s what the one behind the camera does… maybe not that either.
2 – Life companions
These guys who can sometimes be difficult but never turn down an impromptu beer meetup. 😈 And the honest and ludicrous conversations we have during those hours. What more could I ask for?
3 – I think might know what I want (and this is a milestone)
Some come to uni all seemingly figured out. Me? I was lost for a long time. That is, for most of my uni years, during which I thought I might become a visual artist, a web developer/designer, a clinical psychologist, or once even a professional nomad. Now, I am pretty certain. I am an aspiring brain researcher who is fascinated by human visual perceptual experiences and who is looking forward to learning and applying computational methods to investigate the human mind.
[visual artist + web developer + nomad → visual neurocognitive psychologist applying for schools across the globe]
It’s amazing how things start to make sense. And this did not come through logical thinking or strategic planning. I remained loyal to my gut feelings, and this is where I ended up. (also, am I not an amateur web developer/designer (I built this website), an amateur artist (photographer), and an amateur nomad (if there’s such a thing)?)
If, dreadfully, I had not been lost, what would I have become?
I remember not understanding a thing about myself. I remember thinking, everyone but me has got their shit together. I recall seriously contemplating dropping out of HKU to go to an art school and pursue my (still not to be found) overwhelming creative desires. I remember applying for a leave-of-absence because I still felt clueless after three years of university education. I had no idea what I liked and disliked, what I wanted to do with my life. I liked a multitude of things, but without “sufficient” passion in any of those. I thought maybe I was born in the wrong era. I clearly recall the uncountable sleepless nights, my head rummaged by hopelessness and anxiety and disappointment at myself. Hoping, praying, I could start all over again. I remember, asking myself hundreds and thousands of times why I cannot be just like everybody else.
We all know we all go through these thoughts at some point in life. But still, you just can’t help but feel like a loser. Like you’re all alone.
That’s why it’s sometimes hard to believe how much I have changed. It sometimes seems unreal. Because I honestly love who I am, I can’t express just how much I love my life. There are sudden moments that strike me how grateful I am to be alive. Hard times have indeed made me stronger. And definitely helped uncover my unique, idiosyncratic self. It was a fight-or-flight, and I chose to fight. And when you are fighting against yourself, it’s either you give up or you win. You do not lose against yourself. You only choose to retreat.