Change begins with choice
'N' Level student-inmate from institution TM1
I believe that this quote can relate to many people. Not everyone has the ability to realise this at a young age, but I am grateful to have done so. Though some realise this in the later chapters of their life, they still make the effort to change. As Theodore Roosevelt once said, "Believe you can and you're halfway there". I hope whoever who reads this can understand how important change is in one's life.
During my childhood days, I was known for being the most mischievous boy wherever I went. My parents constantly received complaints from my teachers and parents of my friends. They have never punished me physically but instead; they always reprimanded me and usually grounded me. Little did I know, my parents were also having complications in their marriage. As the years went by, they eventually got divorced and older sister and I were in the custody of our mother. We moved to the North of Singapore, and I was the only male in a house with my mother, sister, and maternal grandmother. As I got even older, I also picked up negative behaviours from my peers such as obstinacy and rudeness. As I was surrounded by women at home, there was no fatherly figure to discipline me or to correct my errant behaviour.
Eventually I got into fights and that a lot of trouble in and out of school. I was at the verge of getting expelled in my third year of Secondary school. Then, I made new friends who were even more rowdier than I was, I started hanging out with them more often and totally neglected my family and education. Although I somehow made it to Secondary four, I stopped attending school completely and dropped out. I started working part-time jobs as my mother was the sole breadwinner of our house and she could not afford to give me an allowance. I also made numerous visits to the police station as getting into trouble with the law. In early 2021, my mother had a mild stroke and was hospitalised for one month. Once she got home, within two consecutive months she also had two more mild strokes, but this time leaving the right side of her body partially paralysed.
As a result, my sister and I had to take on responsibilities, such as paying bills and supporting our household. In the midst of all this, I still did not see the need of changing and even though I did support my family, I still was getting into trouble with the law. I took advantage of the fact that I was given warnings all the time and became ignorant to the fact that I may get charged in court as every offence I committed slowly accumulated.
In February 2022, I received a phone call from on & investigating officer, asking me to come down to the station. When I went there the next day, and I got the shock of my life. I had accumulated a total of 22 charges and was going to be charged in court the following month. Even then I was still lax about the fact that I could be incarcerated, instead I believed that I would get probation as I was being charged in court for the first time. After my first court hearing, I was put up for prep probation report and I was let out on bail but electronically tagged. I was still very ignorant of the harshness of incarceration, and I tempered with my electronic tag multiple times just to go out with my friends.
In July 2022, I was foolishly convinced that I would get probation and attended court with that confidence. When the judge first announced that I would be sent to Reformative-Training Centre at Tanah Merah Prison for a period of 12 months, I was speechless. My mother who accompanied me to court, tried appealing to the judge but there was nothing we could say or do that would change my date for the next 12 months. It broke my heart when my mother cried profusely, but I had to accept the consequence for my actions.
In the first month of my sentence, I finally realised that if I do not make the choice to change, I might keep going down the slippery slope. With God's Grace, my personal supervisor asked me if I was interested to study in prison school. I took that opportunity and told myself that I would use this as steppingstone and build future from here. I am currently my Normal Academic levels this year and I hope to be able to do well and move on to pursue my diploma next year upon my release. My family has been very supportive of this decision, and I am happy to make the choice to change before I regret further.