That One Word Which Changed My Life
Participant from Tanah Merah Prison
“Bam!” I hit the table with my fist in frustration. When I finally looked up, I saw that all eyes were on me. It must be the angry look on my face that made them look away as soon as I looked in their way. Even my closest of friends did not dare to approach me. “I am hopeless”, I told myself. I could not even answer a simple question that my Economic teacher gave for assignment. At that moment, as self-doubt started to creep on, I began to ask myself whether I was cut out for ‘A’ levels.
When I decided to sign up for study in prison, I knew that it was not going to be smooth sailing, especially after leaving school for almost 12 years. However, the burning desire to change my predicament was the primary catalyst that convinced me that it had to be done. I had heard many success stories from my fellow cellmates on how education has the potential to turn the life of an ex-convict around. From then on, I told myself that one day I would enter a local university and fulfil my dream as a degree holder.
But now, it seemed like it would remain a dream after all. I was going through the lowest ebb of my life. I had to do well for my Economics to stand myself in good stead to enter a local university. I was also afraid that spending too much time on the subject will be at the expense of other subjects and would jeopardise my ‘A’ levels certification as a whole. It was one of the toughest decisions that I had to make in my life - to drop Economics.
One night I had a dream. I dreamt of my late grandmother and in that dream, I was still a little boy. Since young, my grandmother had always pampered me. So as a little boy, I would tend to give up easily and find the easiest way out which is the simplest of task. In that dream, I told my grandmother that I wanted to give up learning to play a guitar. She responded and gave me the sweetest of smile and her exact words were “Persevere you must if you want to attain success“. At that precise moment, I woke up and realised that it was just a dream. However, unlike any other dreams, this one serves a purpose. I finally knew what I had to do. I understood.
The next day, I got the ball rolling. I did a study schedule for myself until the day of examination. I also started to burn the midnight oil in order to make time for more practice papers. I suddenly found myself more participative in class. Soon enough, my grades for class tests gradually improved. This further increased my self-esteem and led me teaching others who had problems with the subject. When the examination came, I was very ready and was able to complete the paper with ease.
When the results were realised, I was overjoyed to find out that I qualified for the course in a local university of choice. I even got a commendable grade for Economics, the subject that I had difficulty in. All my efforts have finally come to fruition. Finally, I am a step closer to achieving my dream.
The word ‘perseverance’ has radically changed my life for the better. It not only got me closer to attaining my dream but also improved me as a person. I am now more positive in times of facing challenges and see it as an opportunity for self-improvement. With perseverance, I am more confident to begin with an end in mind and end my prison life with a new beginning.