November 8, 2013

Graduation, and on Overcoming Adversity

This week is a happy, happy week where dear friends officially graduate as degree holders of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). Many congratulations to all, and best wishes in all your endeavours! 

I'm a dinosaur among my university peers, my intake year being 2009/10. One reason for delaying my graduation is that I took a gap year in 2011 to do an internship in Hong Kong. It was a very educational and fruitful period. 

In Fall 2012, when I was supposed to resume studies, something BIG happened. Long story short, I had to return home to settle things and defer school again. My family and I were anxious, and I felt as though life had stopped abruptly... immensely frustrating because your 20's are supposed to be full of youthful energy, ambitions to be realized, and perhaps, the opportunity to find someone you can love.

Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.  — Mahatma Gandhi

A year ahead, this is what I've learnt so far, which hopefully may be useful to you in times of trial or illness:

1. It’s okay to be angry or to grieve… but not for too long. We’re often fed “just keep swimming, swimming” advice when times are tough. However, it’s important to acknowledge disappointment, frustration, and loss. I used to suppress negative emotions and turn them into a sort of motivating anger — “I’ll be damned if you kill me” - which is great for the gym and tough physical activity! Realistically speaking though, relying on anger as fuel is a surefire way to implode in the long term. 

2. There is help out there. During this difficult period, I was very blessed to have loving and supportive family and friends. If you don’t, there are many organizations and support groups which you can approach. Don’t let that inner voice or your pride stop you from reaching out. Use the right channels; posting on Facebook/Twitter might not get you any responses or expose you to adverse responses, which may further discourage you. 

And there's this ;): 

I laff memes.

3. We CAN rebuild, and become better than we were before. It is at your lowest when you’ll have to answer tough questions that you've previously chosen to ignore. You will be forced to look at your failings in the eye, to reexamine your priorities, and to make decisions which can ultimately make you a better person. I find much solace in this quote by the preacher Vance Havner:
God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.

Where am I now? I continue the good fight, believing in the person I want to be and doing what I need to get there. I’m far from perfect but secure in the knowledge that I can be a better person every day, not through my own strength, but by relying on Him. At this stage though, I'm thankful for the joy abiding in Him brings me and the changes I can see happening in my life. 

When the odds are down, will you fight on? Dare you make changes, no matter how uncomfortable they may be?
In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.  — Albert Camus

Yi Wei Lim, yiweilim, vincent van gogh, van gogh, van gogh sunflowers, sunflowers, painting, impressionism, impressionist

I hope you and I find our invincible summers.

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