Many people have been chasing after their desires. Some made it while others chased in vain. During one of the recent Club meeting in National University of Singapore (NUS), I got to hear a speech sharing by one of the upcoming exciting speakers, Chrissy Phoong. She gave an account on her journey in the National University of Singapore where she participated intensively in a number of Co-Curricular Activities (CCAs). Towards the end, she shared with us the using of a gold coin to seek her passion.
Her speech was one that warrants reflection and was apt as a reminder to us. How many of us are seeking our passion and living it out? With her permission, I publish her speech below.
Do think about the lessons we can learn after reading what she had shared. I wish you a life that is filled with passion everyday.
The Chase for CCA Points in NUS
Ever wondered what foolish enthusiasm will lead you to do? Let me enlighten you what happens if that irrational passion is translated to an innocent and naive foreigner who’d just entered the university without any peers. She goes on to take 6 Co-Curricular Activities (CCAs), having leadership roles in 3 of them, with complete disregard for her other responsibilities as a student. This is the tale filled with drama, times for being deliriously happy and times for being downright dejected and depressed.
This is the story of me, Chrissy Phoong less than two years ago in NUS.
I was enthusiastic about everything when I first came to my residence hall. Though I was living in this small enclosed box-like area without the ever-comforting luxury of air-conditioning, I was still excited. I was finally out of my parents’ clutches. The Malays have a saying for people like me, ‘katak di bawah tempurung’ which directly translates to a frog under a coconut shell. I was too sheltered to the point of ignorance of the outside world. Though I’m a city girl from Kuala Lumpur, I was like the country mouse who first came to the city and only saw the splendors and shimmering sights of everything. In my first year, I was too entranced by the lure of CCA points and brand-new activities, not knowing what I was getting into until I opened the Pandora’s Box by joining too many of them.
The CCAs I joined were as follows: I was in the residence block committee where we were in charge of the welfare of the residents, the Programme Head for the King Edward VII Malaysian Night where I had to organize the heart and core of the event, a journalist in the hall publications committee, I joined the hall’s softball team, a sport which I was completely clueless about, the English Literary and Drama club where later I was chosen to be co-movie director and co-script writer, and also the Vice-Lead in a newly formed sub-committee, ASEANpreneurs in the NUS Entrepreneurship Society. It’s a mouthful to explain about the 6 co-curricular activities and trust me, it’s a whole lot of responsibilities entrusted to a nineteen-year-old.
Joining all these inevitably damaged my academic performance and it was really quite a miserable aspect to contemplate at that time. It affected me so much that by just hearing the phrase, “What’s your score?” would launch me into the cycle of self-doubt and contempt. Looking at my results was like a tornado sweeping me off my feet and I was clueless about when and where I was going to land. I really thought there was no meaning in life as I was studying something I was not passionate about. To say it was a difficult time for me at that time would be an understatement.
Nevertheless, despite all these negative feelings, I can’t bring myself today to regret what I’ve done during my first year. I’ve gained experiences that I would never have obtained if I concentrated only on my studies. Some of the things I did during my first year were what the Japanese termed as ‘ichigo ichie’ moments, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.
During that first year, I discovered the wondrous world of writing which has become one of my passions in life, discovered the art of movie production, won my first ever and possibly last gold sports medal for Inter-Hall Games, and found friends who would be with me through thick and thin in Singapore. Despite the poor academic performance, I’ve truly learnt a lot and matured exponentially as a human being during my first year.
During my 2nd year, I was wise enough to move out of my hall as I was pretty sick and tired of having to climb 200 steps to reach my room every day, and having to wait for the infrequent shuttle buses to the Engineering Faculty located at the other end of the campus. I was also more selective in choosing my co-curricular activities. The three committees I joined suited my passion for the cause and my pursuit for learning. These three committees were NUSSU SAVE, The Ridge and of course, Toastmasters.
During my course of being a news and sports journalist for The Ridge, I had the chance to interview teamNUS Aquathlon. One of them gave me a very nice piece of wisdom which I would like to share with all of you. Every day we are given a gold coin to spend. I chose it to buy memories that I might not have the chance to experience it again.
As youths, this is our golden time. So, why not spend that gold coin seeking for your true passion, to find a meaningful purpose in life? I did that, and I’ve found my passion. What about you? Have you found yours? How would you want to spend your gold coin today? Tomorrow? In the future? Think about it.