How I went from “F”student and victim of bullying to scholar

f student

Underdog of all the underdogs

I remember looking at my report card back then and seeing the string of “D”s, “E”s and “F”s. That includes physical education. I was the slowest runner in my PE class.

I was at the bottom of the school cohort in terms of academic rankings. Yes, I sucked.

I did badly for oral tests because I did not know how to talk to a group of people. I couldn’t speak for more than 10 seconds without panicking.

I also broke a lot of the school rules because I thought it was pretty hip and cool to have highlighted hair, to skip classes and have untucked shirts.

If the act of breaking school rules was graded, I would have gotten an A+.

To add on to my “impressive list of credentials”, I was also a game addict. My parents did everything they could. I just wouldn’t stop playing.

Because I was so quiet and such a loser in life, I was also bullied at school and at tuition classes.

I thought that I would have gotten used to that because I was bullied since I was 6. Yet, it still hurts me all the time.

Family, relatives and teachers started to question whether I was ever good at anything.

I told them I was good at playing games like Dota and O2jam. You can imagine their reactions.

It was 1 year left to theO levels.I’ve completely neglected the school work from Secondary3 to Secondary 4.

Teachers told me that it was hard for me to get a single A in the O levels, what more a string of A’s.

For somebody in my position, it has never been done before in the history of the school.They told me that the most I could get are a string of “C”s or “B”s.

Darkest moment of my life

darkest moment

I remember looking at myself in the mirror every morning, questioning whether I would make it….

Whether these dreams were valid…….

Whether I needed a reality check……

Whether the doubters and naysayers were right….

I went into a deep depression. Until one fine day, tragedy hit….

My parents decided to file for a divorce.

That hit me so hard. Really hard.

It was the darkest moment of my life.

I was doing badly at school. I was being bullied. I was always a regular visitor at the discipline board and now my family is breaking apart. We also went into financial difficulties.

What are the odds of these happening within 1 year, simultaneously?

It was like striking a jackpot. Just that, I wasn’t at all happy.

I cried my eyes out every day. Sometimes, I would not be able to hold back my tears and would let it all out in school. That probably freaked out a lot of people.

Other days, I would put on a mask and pretendedthat everything was alright.

Deep down inside, I was in pain.

Looking back, that was life’s way of giving a big slap to my face. Telling me to wake up.

I decided for the first timeto really take charge of my life.

I started to DREAM.

One day, the thought of studying in NUS or NTU crossed my mind. I decided to tell all my friends and family about it the next day.

You probably would have guessed the outcome.

I became the joke of the week because that kind of dream is only reserved for the best and brightest in my school. In other words, the top 0.01%.

The problem was this: I wasn’t even in the top 50%. Not even close.

To others, I have no rights to own that dream.

Hustle like a madman/woman

hustle like

I knew that I had 1 year left to catch up with my classmates who studied their Sec 3 and Sec 4 materials diligently while I’ve completely ignored those for the past few years.

I figured out that I could not turn back time.

The only option that I have left is to go all in and give it my all for the next 1 year.

There is no stopping until I submit the final piece of the exam paper.

Every second of every day, I was studying, doing practice questions and more practice questions.

From 6 am in the morning to 2am at night, I hustled like crazy. I’ve never worked that hard in my life.

If I had to accompany tiger mom to go to the salon, I would buy tons of extra practice books and textbooks at the bookstores nearby.

I would sit on the floor right at the corner of the bookshop and studythem.

There were many times I’ve skipped lunch. I declined all my friends who asked me out for parties.

I stopped watching TV, threw my phone into the drawer and locked it.

I ate, breathed, drank and slept studying. I was obsessed with it.

I lost some of my friends along the way. It was hard but I knew that I had no other choice.

No TV. No parties. No games. No casual outings.

No nothing but hustling every second of every day.

There are times in your life when you want something bad enough, you will just have to go all in.

Pain is always temporary. The pain of regret is forever.

You do not want to be the person who regrets not giving it your all.

There is nothing more painful than looking back and saying “I could have put in more effort”.

Looking back, it was painful to make all those sacrifices. But every drop of sweat and tears were worth it.

Be careful what you dream of, it may just come true

be careful what you dream of

A year after the examination, I was featured in the newspaper for academic achievements. I was then awarded a scholarship.

Fast forward a few years later, I received 2 envelopes in my mailbox.

An offer letter from NUS. Another offer letter from NTU.

All that early mornings and late nights finally paid off.

Power of your dreams (even if it sounds crazy)

keep dreaming

Do you know what the beauty of life is?

Is that you do not need anybody else’s approval to tell you whether you are smart of good enough for your dreams.

I don’t care what your parents, relatives, partner, best friend, counsellor or teachers think of you. I DO NOT CARE!

The only thing I care is what you think of you.

You are the one and only person in this whole entire world who can determine whether you deserve your dreams.

And if your answer to that is “yes I deserve it”, then it is a YES. Period.

I am not born talented!

not born talented

Very often, people see where I am and they would assume that I am gifted, lucky, smart or just good from the start.

You can tell earlier on that I was not born talented nor am I born with a high IQ. I’ve just worked for it. I just believed in the beauty of my dreams.

You may not have the smarts, talents or luck that others have. I am here to tell you that it is alright.

They may outsmart you but never ever let them outwork you.

They may say mean things to you but never ever let them talk you out of your dreams.

They may even try to extinguish the fire that is in you but never ever let that fire in you to stop burning.

No matter how hard it gets or how bad it gets, you are going to get through this.

You may fall once in a while.

Each time that happens, dust yourself off, stand back up and fight harder for what you truly deserve.

It might be lonely at timesespecially when nobody believes in you. There will be nights where you will lie in bed, questioning whether this will all be worth it.

Trust me on this. As long as you keep believing, keep dreaming and keep hustling, one day, it will be your day.  :)

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Karen Foo
Karen is actively involved in speaking at various conferences, seminars, expos, workshops and publicly-held events in Singapore and Malaysia. She has co-authored a book, “Turning Ideas into Profit” with 10 other Asia’s experts and professional speakers. Karen is also a contributing author of an investment book titled “Your Cash Moves”, foreword by Adam Khoo. She enjoys reading books on trading and swimming in her free time. Visit here at http://www.karen-foo.com