Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Staring at a blank page.

What does it feel like to fail?

Earlier this year, I did something that at that time seemed impossible to me.

I conceded defeat. I decided, after a long, painful and horribly unpleasant experience, to withdraw from Middlesex University and go back home. And I did this without even saying a word to my parents about it.

I was never born with a silver spoon in my mouth. Oh, no, it's shiny like silver, but it isn't silver — it's cheaper than silver, but only by a small margin, because the amount of craftsmanship and hard work that went to it meant that it worked as well as a silver spoon, and on the plus side you'd be able to use it anywhere without looking like a ponce.

That spoon was my family's successes. My father is well-known in the industry he works in as one of the few local film directors who can turn out international-standard works. He's the one responsible for the first few brilliant Raya ads that now spawns a million rather shoddy imitators. That's him. I'm his son.

My mother is one of the few career women in a multinational in this country to get into a high position without having to resort to Datinry — she's probably one of the few women in high positions at her age who still looks good in a power suit, and doesn't dress in a kurung.

Out of all of my uncles, almost all of them are succesful professionals in their fields. One of them is the head of the board of a very famous local corporation. I won't even go to what both my grandfathers did.

This isn't boasting. God help me, I do not feel any pride reciting any of this to you, because this is what I had to live up to since I was a child. Live up to, and fail. Repeatedly.

I am not academically brilliant, like my sister or my cousins. I am not socially ‘succesful’ like my brother. My intelligence stops just outside the realm of the practical, and the only practical knowledge I can claim is merely scant experience in about two dozen or so programming environments or software tools. Oh, I am witty, but all that wit falls apart in groups of more than six, and I spent five years as an outcast in high school.

I am, still, however, privileged. I am born into a middle-upper-class family. I am brilliant, or so I have been told. I have never known poverty, hunger, intellectual deprivation or any lack in amenities. My parents have made every effort to make sure that I got the best education and erudition their money could buy, and it was good education, or at least as good an education as anyone could get.

And yet I failed. I had, as one of the ladies who worked in the office where I finally placed the withdrawal form said not unkindly, ‘thrown away an opportunity’. One that apparently fell onto my lap.

When faced with an accusation like this, I can no longer feel any anger, or remorse, or defensiveness. All I feel is… nothing.

Yes. You're right. I threw it all away.