By AIZUDDIN ARSHAD
People say that it is not the years in your life that matter, but the life in the years.
That is exactly what I decided my life should be after SPM; a life lived. Back in school, I did a number of things – one too many, some might suggest – that ranged from being the disciplinarian head-boy to a dramatic thespian. In hindsight, it was not really surprising that I made the aforementioned decision.
The outcomes of my two earlier major examinations, UPSR and PMR, were promising cause for hope. On the other hand, although my SPM results were sufficiently praiseworthy, they were not a crowning success.
Nonetheless, they were good enough for me to pursue tertiary education at UiTM, Shah Alam. Prior to registering as a university student, I was sternly warned by my parents to steer off the active path I undertook in school. They shuddered at the thought of me ending up with yet another disappointing end result.
Having failed to meet their expectations, the guilt had me half-heartedly nodding in agreement. For a rather long while, I kept that promise. I subjected myself to monotony, and my days were a mindless routine. I woke up, got ready for class, headed to the faculty, returned to the dorm (with the occasional pit-stop to the library), and that was it. The cycle was then repeated over hundreds of days. At least, until an opportunity came knocking that changed my life entirely. Some would say for the better – others, for the worse.
Long story short, I became involved in the student council. On this platform, I got to experience many different things, meet all kinds of people from all strata of society, and most importantly, make a difference. I was able to help the victims of several natural disasters that had devastated this country and spent time in various fight for the rights of the student body imbued me with confidence. The fact that I got to learn managerial skills, event planning, proposal drafting, as well as see the world beyond our borders, was an added bonus to the whole experience.
However, the whole journey was being made on a broken promise to my parents. Divine retribution was signed, sealed, and delivered. I was left in an academic rut and had no other choice but to look for greener pastures.
Thankfully, it was not all doom and gloom, for there is a saying that goes, “When you have hit rock bottom, there is no other way but up.” It is safe to say that I am currently on my journey up, and it has been a laborious, but promising process thus far. I had to start from scratch and dig deeper to discover what fit me better. I had to go college-hunting at the age when I was supposed to already have a scroll in my possession. I had to weigh in the financial pros and cons.
In the end, I opted for a degree in Communications and Media Management. I cannot conclusively say that Communications is my calling, especially when I used to think that Law was my calling (and we all know how that went). This time around, I have learnt to settle for a learning experience. I would also like to believe that I have some raw and unpolished skills that this new course can help me to better develop for my future career.
On this wholly different path, I get to experience many other new things. In the last year alone, I was involved in two short films. Both experiences helped me to develop my formerly aesthetically-challenged mind, and tapped into my more bohemian and artistic side. As for my studies, this course delves into the many fields of media, such as journalism, public relations, advertising, publishing, digital media, etc., which appeals to my jack-of-all-trades nature.
Furthermore, I was granted the opportunity to present at an actual international conference sometime in 2009, which was truly an eye-opening introduction to the world of academia.
I must say, I love it so far – even if this new path did not have its fancy perks, meeting new people and amazing new friends is always a cherished prize. I have gone through the whole top-bottom wheel of life process, and if there is one thing I can take from that and share with the rest of the world, it is this – do what your heart desires. It may lead you to fame and success, but bear in mind that it could also lead to unfavourable circumstances. No matter the outcome, you can proudly say that you did it your way and that you lived.
Aizuddin Arshad is pursuing a University of South Australia degree programme. A natural jack-of-all-trades, he likes to learn and experience a little bit of everything. Most intrigued with socio-political issues and current affairs, he aspires for a lucrative writing career. Click here for more articles.
Note: The above entry was written in 2010 for What’s After SPM?, published in 2011. This non-for-profit book project is a collaboration between Leaderonomics and a team of young Malaysians. Click here for details on the project and authors.