I once told a good friend, let’s call her R for convenience, something which she has remembered till this very day.

It was after the release of the “A” level results and R couldn’t stay on in the same junior college where she spent her first three months (which is now just part of the history of the Singapore education system) with her results. Being the perfectionist and high achiever with even higher expectations of herself whom she was, and still is, it was not strange that she was disappointed.

Now, I suck at consoling people. Like how I cannot do flattery or kissing the ass. Or lies for that matter. I rather zip my mouth shut and appear cold/introverted/shy/whatever the fuck others want to think. In fact, the exact same thing happened at the end of Secondary Two when we had streaming and R couldn’t stay in the first class due to her poorer results. She was crying and this fucking classmate of ours, H, seeing that R and I were good friends, pulled me to right beside R, when I was satisfied standing outside the circle of concerned classmates surrounding her and drowning her with consoling bullshit and sympathy. H wanted me to console R, so I told my weeping friend what I thought, only to get a painful pinch on my arm. I looked up and there was H hissing at me. Apparently H felt that I had said the wrong thing. I was 14 but I was this close to putting a punch to H’s face. She was the fucking one who wanted me to say something. If she didn’t trust me with what I was going to say, she should have passed me a fucking script! That was when I knew I was never going to console anyone ever again. And honestly, I was streamed to the second class with R that year as well! I didn’t sob or need consolation, did I? Spilled milk isn’t worth crying over, especially when I am the one who stupidly or intentionally spilled it.  

Anyway when R was devastated for the second time, being the very good friends whom we were, and still are, I frankly told her what I thought, words which I truly thought was kind of encouraging, though others might not have said it or seen it as a form of consolation. Two years passed and there we were, reunited in the same university. One day when we were chatting, she told me that she never forgot what I told her that day. Which of course I did forget. Not because I didn’t mean it or it was insignificant, but as you may have figured out by now, I say this kind of stuff all the time. My beliefs are my own Bible and I can preach like the Pope.

“You said, we were just going to take different routes, but we would end up in the same place eventually. It’s true, look where we both are now.”

I hope that you have realised by now that life is a very quaint thing. Sometimes for whatever reasons known or unknown to us, we are made to take another path, one that is longer and possibly tougher. Some people will lament in sorrow, why God, why must you make me suffer? Why can’t I have what I want?  But everything happens for a reason; you may learn more, experience more from the longer path, and often, success does not come without hardship. With hard work, and a bit of Lady Luck on your side, you can steer right into the same path with your other comrades who either with much more luck or higher capabilities manage to take the easier, shorter path. All is never lost, unless you lose hope.

Michael Phelps, after winning his many Olympics gold medals, once said, “I wouldn’t say anything is impossible. I think that everything is possible as long as you put your mind to it and put the work and time into it.”  I think he was right on and I think that this birthday ain’t that bad afterall. 😉  

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