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This time, I hit rock bottom, at its worst - by N.A.

Chosen Topic:

Life is a work-in-progress. What is one thing you hope to improve and why?

'A' Level student-inmate from institution A4

2nd Prize

Just like all the seasons, never stay the same, all around me I can feel the change. Some of us bear the scars of my past but it is also a mark of valor. This time, I hit rock bottom, at its worst. I was at my lowest when I felt the world was closing up on me. I did not have the courage to seek help. I was not open to changes and eventually, I crashed.

Being incarcerated for the fourth time for violence was my most painful hit. This time left me no alternative except to face the vicissitudes of life in prison. Having four children on my own, I ended up losing three to adoption. I was at my closest point in losing faith. Life is tough. Nobody said it was easy yet no one said it would be this hard. Days passed, came months and after a year of being incarcerated, it was a question to myself that came along with answers. How could I give up on life, leaving my eldest child alone? Thoughts came rushing in. I wanted to break the cycle. It was a period when time stopped moving for me.

Where do I begin? How do I begin? There are too many things I want but how do I achieve it? Life … is the world we live in. It can never stop. It has to keep moving. Life is hard work but it is a progress that changes our mentality and not only our physical appearance. I started off with doing the best for my future. Education never dies. I took up my chance to study once again. I took my O levels. I may not be the best student but I was proud of myself, knowing something in me changed. Going to the next step, A level is a bonus, scoring would be a plus point. During my O'Level moments, there were many times I wanted to give up. I kept asking myself what the point was.

My son, my only son that I am left with, he is the point. He is my motivation, my reason I pulled through, the only reason why I am holding on. I wanted to be better than I was yesterday. Not smarter but wiser in parenting and decision-making. In times of my darkest days when I felt like I was a failure and could not do anything right, my son is the only thought that came to me, waking me up from negativity. If I could not manage my fear of failing in prison, how will I have the courage to face rejections after my release?

I’m tired of being the worst that society thinks of me. Changing the way society sees me is not important for me but also for my son’s future. I want to be someone my son can look up to, someone my son has something proud to be of. To be better, is to be a role model to my son, so that he would imitate the good things I do. Doing something out of perseverance and resilience teaches my son to grow into such when he gets older. When life gets hard, giving up is not an option. Everyday is a learning process. Through perseverance and dedication to one’s highest ideals in life, any adverse situation can be overcome. Believing in ourselves is a tough job, especially when we face rejection, failure and obstacles that are not within our control. However, in life, everything is changing for the better and time is the one thing that can never be given back.

Wanting our child to be a good student, a decent person …. But how can that possibly happen when we as parents are not improving ourselves? Be it in the way we speak to them or treat them. Seeing how differently every individual handles situations sometimes scares me or amazes me. I think to myself every time. I do not want to be that kind of person, therefore, I need to make improvements. I know my flaws but self awareness is not enough. Simply being aware of our flaws and doing nothing about it, does not change anything. In this era, I have seen how difficult it is for parents to really understand their children and I do not want to disregard the flaws of my children in the future.

There are many things that I need to improve. Courage, I have to get rid of my fear of failing. To learn how to be open minded and spontaneity. Why do I need to improve on these? Because losing three children is enough pain that I can bear. Losing them just because I was afraid to seek professional help, I did not have the courage to admit I needed help. I needed to change the way I see things in life as today is a different era as it was 20 years ago.

It is okay to fall, it is okay to fail, as long as I know that I need to get back up on my feet. Having irrational fears such as what if my son hates me for being incarcerated again, what if I am not able to make a career out of myself, what if I give up along the way. Too many, there are too many what-ifs in life and I need to have some spontaneity in my life to push myself and to just do it instead of thinking the worst out of everything. Having an open mind changes the way I think in life. I realized that I cannot possibly be uptight about every single situation in life. Not every situation is within my control and if I stress over every single situation that I come across, I would probably be drained by the time I reach my 40s. The fact that I have 10 more years until my 40s, I do need to improve on little things in life.

Writing this, SACA made me rethink my plans. Asking myself more realistic questions that benefits a life that I would want to be proud of. Doing things not only out of passion but the ability to walk through storms with perseverance, the patience and resilience to get back on my feet, knowing that I am stronger than I was yesterday. Something that I would be proud of. Going through tough unforgettable childhood, the years in my teenage life where I am constantly hurting my parents, today, having my own children and now, losing three to adoption, despite the thousands of times that I have failed, I too have endured and have grown. I may have to let go of my three children for adoption, but holding my only one that is left, guides me not only to parent what I am left with but also parenting myself. Those years of wandering left an indelible impression. How can we let go of things when life gets rough when we do not even know what is on the other side of the door?

Progress is change. Life is a work in progress. It definitely is because everyday of our life, we are discovering something brand new not only around us, but ourselves. Looking back on the things I’ve done, I was trying to be someone. I have watched how I grow over the years, how I have handled pain then was different now. I am better, that I believe, definitely better than I was a second ago. As quoted by Walt Disney, “sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage”.

To succeed, we fail. That is the process of growth in life. I may have failed yet again and again, but I came out as a different person each time I fell. Having to write today’s essay is my last chance to improve on what I am lacking.

Taking the next step to grow is to be brave in acknowledging what are my weakest points that could bring me to my darkest moments. Courageous is facing ups and downs in life. Open minded in accepting the differences. Spontaneity in making a change for the better. My son, his future, our happiness is my reason why.

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