To Cease and Commence

Over the past few days, my life saw a real commencement than the one that is going to come tomorrow. I finally commenced work as a working adult, in the job that I had fought so hard for and finally attained. I met up with 9 other individual AFEs that were in my batch and wanted to start work earlier. The other 66% of the people didn’t want to start so soon. It’s like a continuation of the DSTA 10. Now its the Air Force 10?

The past three working days were a period of relaxation as many issues had to be settled, for example contractual issues, the surrendering of my Pink IC (Yes now I am no longer a civilian officially), the pasting of the sticker to reflect my new Military status (Military Expert as opposed to WOSE formerly), getting posted to Paya Lebar Air Base in the Air Logistics Department and getting the required signatures done for the initiation process, as well as making of my temp pass so I do not need to exchange passes at the main gate.

In the past few days I made friends, joked around, and all of us kept looking at the used car websites, just for fun because, we joked, that it is a pain in the ass to walk 15 minutes from the main gate to our work place. When we all got our temp pass, these jokes just died down on their own. However, our common consensus was that we would probably still do our own research, but the actual buying of a vehicle would still be 1-2 years away, and only when we got posted to our bases.

I had to wake up early everyday to travel to work. You don’t see white collar workers waking up this early. Military personnel in uniforms, school children who had to go to school on their own as well as teachers and blue collar workers flood the MRT every morning at 6.30am. By the time I reached my workplace, it is already 8am. I take 3 hours to travel everyday; perhaps it is time to find something productive to do. Honestly I was slightly annoyed by my iTouch converted phone since it cannot receive whatsapp messages on the go. It is indeed irritating. Perhaps in the end I would succumb to a Blackberry, but that is in January next year.

We still haven’t had our uniforms since everyone dealing with logistics had their hands full on the upcoming NDP parade, hence I should expect to don my No3 with my ME4(T) rank in August? That’s about one month more to go.

Tomorrow is the date when I would (finally) have my commencement ceremony in the University Cultural Center. Most of my friends have had their commencement ceremony in the past week, notably Jia Hao, Zong and Dom from SoC having it on Tuesday, and then Wai Kit from Business on Wednesday. Engineering was the earliest last year so now it has been relegated backwards.

I wonder how I would feel tomorrow. The graduation that everyone has been looking forward for, suddenly seemed to be something I am dreading. People feel happy about commencement because they (finally) graduated after 16 years of hard work, but I just don’t feel the exhilaration. Maybe I always had a smooth studying journey and I never thought it was too hard work. Or perhaps I was never very excited about graduating in the first place. Commencement should just be called Ceasement as everything ceases. Your freedom to slack and lie around at home; your time to meet friends etc has all been taken away. And a huge burden of responsibility falls on you now.

I’m not too excited probably because I never once did visualize the ceremony as a way to motivate myself towards the end. I’m not excited to go up and shake the Dean’s hand (whom I have not seen in real life) and collect my certificate from him.

Or perhaps I was never excited about such events since PSLE’s collection of results day. I wasn’t happy when I got my 4As in NJC. I was there at the location just thinking I could have done better. Why is my name not up on that list. Haha. I’m just always asking why am I not better.

Tomorrow is a day where people would kill for to swap with me. An exaggeration perhaps, but the meaning is there. After working hard, alright it’s not that easy, for four years, we all finally graduated, and I even got a great honours, something I should feel proud for, or should I? Considering that graduation with a First Class Honours is merely proof that you are smarter / more hardworking than the people who are left behind, but in reality you are much stupider than those who made it on overseas scholarships and are able to come back as a scholar to be promoted on the fast track above you. Crude yeah but that’s reality. Not that people with lower honours are less smart, mind you, just a general feeling that there’s nothing much to be happy about since there is a long way to go.

The goal of my life was never so much as to attain good results in university. It is merely a stepping stone to the real things that matter. It’s just a checklist that I can tick and then it’s time to move on to my career. To build it, to get a promotion, to get more money, to fulfill my dreams and objectives.

I guess this isn’t the type of commencement blog post that you would be expecting to see isn’t it? Which person in this world doesn’t feel excited over graduation, and a good honours to boast about? Haha. Perhaps once you stand in the shoulders of giants, you will realize there is an additional head there to climb. You’re there, but not there enough. Sorry but this is not good enough. I felt the same way in NJ, perhaps it is the same feeling now. You’re just never good enough.

I guess this is the reason why I am here. I cannot afford to be complacent. I cannot allow myself to fall from the shoulders and rest at the hips. It took me so long, with so much effort to climb up slowly to this place, but all it takes is a little complacency to fall. I guess it is time to out do, out last and out survive.

There will be many happy people tomorrow. I would too, since I get to mingle with friends and take photos with them. In a way it is a little sad that they would move on with their lives, and we would all be very busy with our careers, so much so that only closer friends would remain as we don’t have time to catch up with every single one of our friends, and boy are there many friends in university.

Read a friend’s blog about her career and how she chose to be a teacher. In a way I’m feeling quite proud that she has chosen to become a teacher not due to the traditional reason that people cannot find jobs so they end up at teaching. Perhaps this is because it resonates with me. I always hoped people who sign on didn’t sign on because they couldn’t find a job elsewhere. The regulars always joke that the economy is bad so there’s 10 of us.

I always think that you should find a job that you want to do. Don’t go into it just because the money is good. Teaching and being in the military is something sacred and important. In your hands are the lives of the young ones in Singapore as well as the lives of everybody in Singapore, be it Singaporean, Permanent Residents or Foreign nationals. We have to have a high sense of pride in our job because it cannot be replicated elsewhere, and there is a huge sense of purpose with us.

Oh, a discussion popped up between a few of us in the Air Force 10. Whenever people ask us why we chose to sign on, we just tell them that the pay is high. But in reality we don’t feel this way. The pay is part of the reason but not the main one. We had a good takeway from our NS experience; we believe in the importance of defence; and we are here to make a difference. I guess I feel proud to surround myself with such fellow regulars. Perhaps one day the organization would transform itself to 4G and beyond, in a way that would make everyone impressed with it.

It’s commencement tomorrow, and everyone’s lives would really begin commencing (hmm weird phrase of language). From there, let’s hope that everyone can find a job or a career that they feel happy working in, and contribute to this tiny island the way that they can. Congratulations class of 2011 and hopefully some of us can make it big out there in the vast world that we live in.

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