Usually, after a swim in the pool, I would head over to the jacuzzi and just sit there clear-minded and relaxed, enjoying every jet of water as it massages my back.
Today was different. Every stream of water jetting against my skin felt just like a variant of the emotions surging within me — disappointment, frustration and sadness. I sat there, like a crestfallen child who had just been told that the drawing she’s been working on the whole night before was trash. My vision, initially trained on following the congregation and dissipation of the clusters of bubbles, blurred out eventually as my mind lapsed into yet another round of self-chastisement and blame. I lifted my left hand and allowed it to be supported by the bubbling water, only to watch it sink a few moments later with its own weight. I observed its beige gradually get absorbed and fused into the blueness of the tiled floor of the pool.
It probably sounds so stupid, but I have never felt more heartbroken before. Not even after I lost my first love. And this agonising feeling I’m feeling right now and since 10am today was due to nothing more than 3 digits.
3.61. I blinked. Once. Twice. I proceeded to refresh the screen a few more times. No, it had to be wrong, it CAN’T be 3.16. I refused to believe the score before my eyes. I can’t possibly be that lousy. A few agonising moments later, it dawned on me that I had no other choice but to accept that 3-digit score, that my hope of getting at least a 4.0 was nugatory, evanescent, just like the bubbles that were gone as soon as they were formed in the jacuzzi.
Come on, it’s just 3 digits, it’s just a score and nothing more. Move on like you always have. Stop dwelling on it, it can’t be changed anyway. You are more than that surely. Don’t let it fester and develop into a self-fulfilling prophecy. SUCK. IT. UP.
Yes, I know, I get it. It’s stupid, to allow your self-worth, self-esteem and value rest upon these 3 digits. It’s stupid to be dwelling on it even 4 hours past the time it was released to me. It’s stupid to be so caught up in what’s already been written when my only option now is to keep moving forward, to relentlessly trudge towards the end of the tunnel.
But surely, I am entitled to what I am feeling right now, aren’t I? Is it so wrong to feel upset and disappointed at myself, at having fallen short of my expectations? Is it that bad if I wanted to dwell in these emotions, if I wanted to be all whiny and annoying and selfishly wallow in my own sadness? I don’t want to suck it up, I don’t want to just stoically move on and on and on like I always have. I want to soak in the heartache. More than ever before, I want to cherish this pain and anguish as I wilfully think back to what I could have done better, and I will make sure the emotional distress this “failure” has caused me is deeply etched in my subconscious as a reminder, and later, something to be resurfaced and celebrated along with the pride and pleasure of achievement. Because the sweetness and joy of victory and success will never be as sweet and joyous as when one has once experienced the bitterness and regret of failure.
There are no crests without the troughs. There are no highs without the lows.
It sucks that even after claiming that I am in here for the joy of learning, and learning for the sake of learning, I have to admit that I still seek a sort of validation through grades. However, I do recognise that this toxic habit of making a huge share of my self-worth a function of my academic achievements is one that has been drilled into my psyche since the start of my education and one that I should definitely rethink.
end of catharsis.