“I did well in school. My family and teachers felt I was capable of achieving many things. I believed in that too until I had to drop out of high school. I don’t like revisiting high school memories because they are traumatic and also because I can’t remember much of it. I had to leave school for me and my health. In the aftermath of dropping out, I dealt with a lot mentally.

You might think “it is not the end of the world”. That’s exactly it. But in that moment it felt like it. I hadn’t realised until that point how dependent I was on my educational success for validation of my self worth. Academic success does bring forth many opportunities but the system right now fosters an attitude that makes one believe academic success is the only way to a better future. This pushes the students to get good grades rather than learn as they’re meant to. People who are intelligent but don’t have good grades are seen as lesser.

A year and a half later, I enrolled in nursing, thinking I could pick myself back up. But even this area of study I was familiar with and had worked so hard in suddenly felt foreign. I dealt with feeling like a failure all over again. Music helped in those moments. I’ve relied on music as a means of comfort. In the lows of my life, I immersed myself into learning to play instruments and writing lyrics. I am also fortunate that my mother, although skeptical in the beginning, was very understanding of my decision to discontinue. With her guidance and active listening, I could centre myself. I had been so focused on the end goal of succeeding that I’d missed the process of getting there. I’m currently enrolled in an undergraduate program for primary education. It has been liberating. The society we grew up in perhaps only allows us to see the world from one perspective but the possibilities are endless.

Conditioning a person to believe that their entire future is counting on one thing can be a lot to handle. We are each different in capabilities. My experience has taught me that in the end, the one who makes a difference is you.”

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