11/15/2016 01:00:00 pm

Things I would Tell My Secondary One Self

Dear 13-year-old Zelus,

How are you? I know a lot of your friends from primary school are in secondary school, and you are constantly asking yourself if you have made the right choice to stay homeschooled. But rest assurred, it is the right choice. Your 16-year-old self will tell you that it is the right choice to homeschool. 

Homeschool, she'd tell you, gives you the flexibility in time to experience many things, and the freedom to pursue whatever interest you want. For example, if you went to school, next year (in secondary 2) it will be your 'streaming year', where you'd probably be rather stressed because your end of year exams will determine what subjects you're 'eligible' for. From what I know, to take triple science  (physics, chemistry and biology), pure humanities (geography, history and literature), higher mother tongue (not necessarily all combined), you have to be the cream of the crop and in the top few classes. You choose what subjects you want to take in 'O'-Levels (IGCSE/GCSE equivalent), and your grades have to be of a certain standard, for you to be able to take that subject. And if you struggle in a subject (for example A Maths aka Further Maths), you may be told by your teachers to 'drop' (abandon) that subject because it's pulling you down. And as someone who has unexplained setbacks in studies in the early days, I'm glad I'm can study whatever subject I want and not be told to drop any subjects because I'm not doing well in that subject.

*The above is what I understand of the Sg secondary school system, if I have made any incorrect statements please correct me and let me know what it actually is.

However, as a homeschooler, you can essentially choose what you want to learn. Besides the 'exam' subjects, you want to learn a third language? Sure. A particular subject you are interested in and want to learn more in-depth? Sure. An unconventional school subject, like Journey to Narnia? Sure. As long as there are courses out there, your choices are unexhausted. And even if the topic you want to learn is not offered as a course online, you can take it upon yourself to teach yourself, using the materials online and in libraries.

Of course, with that being said, your parents can also chip in some stuff into your curriculum, such as faith study and Chinese history, stuff that they would like you to learn.

Don't stress too much on studies, it's only the first/second year. Just be consistent in your work and you'll be fine.

Find the study method that works best and find ways to beat your own system-procrastination, lack of motivation etc.

Have a lot of fun and do whatever you can. Volunteer work, play with kids, hang out with friends, babysit, tutor kids, go for events, just to it while you have the time.

Sleep. Seriously, get enough sleep. sure you can stay up all night once or twice just for the fun of it, but otherwise get at least 9 hours of sleep, and be consistent with your bedtime. Preferably get into bed by 11. You'll grow taller. And learn better the next day.

During this time, you'd also find a lot of friends slipping out of your grasp. Those friends you've known since childhood may slowly feel like strangers. Don't worry too much about it, because new people will also come into your life. Just cherish whatever moments you have with them.

Don't care what people think too much, because at the end of the day what matters is yourself. Really, it is not worth it to force yourself to be someone you are not, because it is really very tiring. I know this is going to be a bit of an oxymoron and also hypocritical, but you should allow yourself to grow by pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, be a better version of yourself. [I know, I know. First I say not to be something I'm not, but then I say to push myself out of my comfort zone.] Now you're probably Zelus 2.0 (Zelus 1.0 would be the much younger, kid version) but constantly upgrade yourself, to be Zelus 2.1, 2.2 .... 3.0, 4.0. And even though you may be quiet, it doesn't mean that you're useless. Being quiet means that you carefully filter through your thoughts and select the ones to share with the people around you, it (sometimes but not always) doesn't mean that you have nothing to say.

Also, lots of changes are going to be happening, in your life, around the world. You are going to be exposed to the reality of life, where you will see the harsh world and unpleasant events, but don't lose faith in humanity.

I know you have lots of dreams and ambitions. Don't give up on them, and don't lose hope just because thing 1 didn't go as you wished, focus on thing 2, 3, 4. Look forward.

All the best, you can do this.
From your older, and hopefully, wiser, self.
10 Nov 2016, Thursday.
[Edited and published on 15 Nov 2016, Tuesday]

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