Talking to Grief
Ah, Grief, I should not treat you
like a homeless dog
who comes to the back door
for a crust, for a meatless bone.
I should trust you.
I should coax you
into the house and give you
your own corner,
a worn mat to lie on,
your own water dish.
You think I don’t know you’ve been living
under my porch.
You long for your real place to be readied
before winter comes. You need
your collar and tag. You need
the right to warn off intruders,
my house your own
and me your person
my own dog.
I use to have this problem with handing grief. I tend to sweep it under the carpet and resume a bubbly self. Inadvertently, it comes and bites me in the ass, hard.
I would like to think I’m better at this in old age. Perhaps too, I have learnt to adopt a more positive outlook in life and somehow I do feel I have less to grief for and more to be thankful about. This is probably the best possible outcome. I’m a firm advocate of adversity tho, I think it makes one bigger, better and stronger.
Last Sunday, I submitted my 20 page research paper and concluded 1 year of Graduate School in Educational Psychology. It was a challenging but intellectually fun year. The start of the program was honestly intimidating because I couldn’t really fathom the American accent all that well, knew nothing about the discipline of educational psychology, knew nothing much about the educational system in the US, and frankly forgot what it was like going back to school again. However, the year has been very enriching, not only in terms of learning something new and making new friends but more importantly growing as a person. I’m still not so sure what I want to do after I graduate, but I’m not going to be a teacher in a public school in NY, that I know for sure. Ideally, I want to find something in a non profit, or perhaps if I dare say, start up something on my own. Back in my youth, I had dreams of starting a play school. I even had a name for it, “Oinkers Play School”, with little baby pigs as my mascot. The hubby said it will never fly because its too cutesy for America, but hey! Dreams are free and unrestrictive!
The most important lesson I’ve learnt so far, from a particular classmate of mine, actually is to just DIVE DEEP into what you’re currently doing. He’s like a machine really, he figuratively BULLDOZES into this program and runs over all distractors in his sight. I guess what I’m attempting to say poetically, but failing miserably is that he puts his heart and soul into the program and just does it extremely well. I think that in order for me to succeed, I need to put away the stresses of what’s next and just bury myself headlong into what I’m learning and then it will come to me. Not the other way around.
I really like my classmates, they are all very nice, faultlessly polite, fun and very driven to succeed. Some of them are big smarty pants too and I like being in an environment where I can learn from smart people! Someone once said, always attempt to be the dumbest person in the room, that is when you can learn the most!
I’ve got about a 1.5 years to go before graduation, hopefully they will offer the programs that I’m interested in within the next 3 semesters. I really want to take cognitive technology and early childhood development. Maybe my ‘Oinkers Playschool’ will be equipped with learning Ipads and state of the art technology. Honestly tho, I’m undecided about the use of technology in learning, its all in the rage right now and I use it a ton, but so much has not been researched in this area that I worry of the possible future repercussions. But maybe, I worry too much. Kids in the future will
probably have self driving cars and their lives will probably be surrounded by technology, more so that I will have been. It’s funny how every generation, holds on to a part of the past that they grew up with and is slightly apprehensive of the future.
That is why, it is essential that I take this module in Cognitive Technology. I’m probably willing to delay my graduation for it. YAY, one more semester of graduate school. I want to be an eternal student (in some ways), will be cool if I can do a Masters in Early Childhood Education after this. Who knows?
Today marks the 1st day of class for my Masters in Educational Psychology in Hunter College. I am ridiculously and unapologetically excited. I feel my heart fluttering and beating quite quickly just thinking about it.
For this semester, I opted to just take 2.5? classes (The norm is 2 and there’s some pro seminar thing which I don’t know much about yet) I wanted to slowly ease back into the system and enjoy the process. Unlike during my BA and Post Grad Dip days, where I had to run from tuition kid to tuition kid and/or part-time jobs, after/before classes. I now can luxuriate in printing notes, looking through class materials and blogging before class. This feeling is AWESOME! I must remember to thank my proud sponsor and loving husband for it all.
I’ve always wanted to study outside of the Singapore Education System and given my financial background in the past, I could scarcely afford my UBC exchange program without the two scholarships, I was extremely lucky to get. This time I feel even luckier because for once in my life, I need not worry about how am I going to pay the bills! I can just enjoy the process of studying and not have any stress about paying for books, maintaining a high GPA to be kept in my scholarship program or worry about my tuition kids, who often had the same exam periods as mine! I might get a part-time job/internship for the exposure to the educational field in my 2nd semester tho. Or perhaps, I will just continue volunteering for New York Cares because the organization is great and I enjoy working with less privileged children.
I feel ridiculously blessed to be at this stage in life where I feel I have no major struggle. Honestly, I almost feel emotional just thinking about it. I was raised in a way, circumstantial or otherwise, that I was never just given stuff. I had to work hard for the things I wanted. Both my grandparents were from extremely humble backgrounds, endured great hardships and hence I was taught that education was an extremely extremely important means to live a better life, in a strictly financial sense (unfortunately). However, I now have the opportunity to engage in education in a ‘self actualization’, vis-a-vis education to satisfy ‘physiological needs’. I can learn for the sake of gaining knowledge and for betterment of self. Perhaps I shouldn’t have viewed them as dichotomous relationships, but I used to; for the instincts of survival was too overpowering.
I was never extremely intelligent so, in order to do well in school and in work; I compensated by having to work harder than the average Joe. I used to bemoan the fact that I wasn’t naturally gifted or handed silver spoons while growing up. But now, I’m extremely grateful that I have had to work hard to achieve the opportunities I have now. For it has given me clarity of thought, a mature and well grounded attitude in life and more importantly it has taught me to be grateful,humble and content for the things I have. I’ve grown up to know, not to feel entitled, and more importantly be responsible for my life because nobody was going to ‘rescue’ me. It is with this belief that I’m not going to pay for all of my (future possible) kid’s college tuition. I will give them a fixed amount, and they would have to work hard to get their own scholarships to fund the rest. Or perhaps they can choose to go to NUS or NTU which are world classes institutions at 1/4 the price of a private American college on par in terms of ranking (according to the Princeton Review). Yes I am very proud of my home Universities!
I have worked hard in the past and now, have reaped some of the benefits of that hard work in my youth. I acknowledge that I have a long way to go, and more hard work needs to be done, but I also realized that it is time for a well-deserved pat in my back. I have always been unnecessarily harsh with myself, and that has impeded much of the happiness in my journey through life. Through my quest for happiness and meaning in my life, I’ve finally realized that contentment and gratefulness are important trajectories of happiness. It’s not just about how much you have, but how much you appreciate what you have.