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“Grades do not define you.” (To the 16-year-old me)

To the 16-year-old me…

There is so much that I wish I could tell you. The road ahead will not get any easier, which you will soon realise, but there is great reward in embracing everything that comes your way. But if there is one piece of advice that I can give you now, it would be to never let your grades define you; no matter how stellar or terrible they may be.

Grades may be a reflection of your capability to master a certain subject, but they are not a definitive measure of your capabilities.

You must be rolling your eyes at how cliche it may sound especially when everyone around you is telling you otherwise. With all the practice papers and worksheets piled up on your table, coupled with the chapters that you have to read before tomorrow’s lesson, I totally understand. With so much academic work taking up hours of your time, you must find it hard to breathe and sleep without worrying if you have finished them all. Studying is everything if not, the main thing in your life now. Getting good grades is the main thing that you should be focusing on achieving. Well, at least that is what everyone tells you anyway.

But hey, in years to come, you will start to realise that your value is not dependent on how well you score on tests. Rather, true value comes from how you deal with setbacks and conquer challenges. We live in a complex world with multiple problems that have yet to be solved. What the world needs is not more people who only know how to ace examinations; the world is in great need of problem solvers. Becoming a problem solver starts with stepping out of your room and exposing yourself to the reality of society. It is only when you choose to interact with people from all walks of life that you can truly understand the needs of this world and think of ways to make things better.

Instead of only thinking about how to score better on tests, start thinking about how you want to be defined. Would you like to be remembered as one of the many students who did well in school or as one who made the world a better place? Over the coming years, you will hit against many hard walls, fail more times than you succeed, and shed many tears of disappointment over and over again. Nonetheless, through hitting against many hard walls, you will toughen up and find the strength to break through them. By failing more times than succeeding, you will discover that it is not the end of the world and find the courage to keep trying. In shedding many tears of disappointment, you will feel a growing conviction to make the lives of those around you better.

Young girl, how can you experience the beauty that comes with experiencing the full spectrum of life’s experiences if you are mostly in your room? While you are busy working hard to excel in school, never forget to go out there and live your life.

You will get there!


Your future self

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