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Dear debate people,
Your pay sucks. I have gone to get a real job.
Communism doesn’t pay.
Okay, kidding. Now that I’ve got your attention, the ramble starts here.
There are two motivations for most people to coach debate.
A) Money: You sit down there to talk to a bunch of students for a few afternoons a month, and it easily brings in a comfortable sum, enough to provide a few luxurious meals for a small time investment. Plus, you’re usually more experienced and might even find bits of it fun.
B) Ego: You have something to prove. Perhaps your school debating career didn’t go as well as you wanted it to be – or you have some deep seated insecurity which needs you to reassure yourself about. Plus, you like the idea of power and taking control, and feeling superior to younger ones.
It was neither for me — because I’m HUMBLE, and I actually do have a lot to be humble about. It’s to the point that I’m proud of my humility (and I dont even have to discuss A -_-). I am underqualified to be a coach. I stopped debating in the summer of year five - which means that 1) My debate experience was less than the people I’m coaching. 2) I have been out of action for TWO WHOLE YEARS — rusted to the max. Furthermore, their previous coach was my previous coach, which means I didn’t have much to add (as compared to when coaching AC).
It wasn’t easy. I often had to devise some smokebomb to enable myself to leave work early (often resulting in the debate people asking me, why I don’t have work/why I can be there in the afternoon. MAGICK!!!)
Then the competitions are mofo insane nowadays with what, four motions both sides. (4×2=8 sides to prep) and with two substantive speakers, (8×2 = 16 cases!!!) what the fuck is wrong with these organisers?! They think jc students a lot of time and energy is it??? (But apparently, with the might of communism, this is the case.) Worst of all, I had to deal with quite a number of tough decision points, usually involving people. At times, I even messed up quite badly in making decisions. Other times, I stuck to what I believed was right, even against…higher advice.
So why did I do it?
1. I was bored – and needed more meaning in my two years. (Actually, on the contrary, I was very occupied trying to come up with application essays then. Funnily, time spent coaching actually helped me come up with an essay, or rather THE essay..)
2. I seem to like overloading myself, for overloading sake– its a good distraction.
3. Just because it was different. Just because. And how many people in debate had the privilege to be exposed to a distinct school of thought. Its eye-opening and a useful learning experience.
4. Because when I was deliberating over it, I was strongly criticized for it. It triggered some instinctive response, I dunno, to prove a point or something. I don’t know really. Its hard to explain.
5. I was bribed by free food then -_-
(Note what’s missing)
But for all the hours of sleep I gave up (and bottles of beer I thinked in order to drink up a case), I feel like it was all worth it. The tiring process was itself fulfilling (some part of me must be workaholic/insane). I learnt a lot from watching the debates – probably received more than I gave. In these debates, there often were epic hilarious moments from funny characters of various types (where do I even start!). I even learnt what it meant to root for a team, when I was previously usually indifferent to winning. Most importantly, I met a new group of friends, both younger and older. And I most definitely would not have all these if I just stuck within my usual old…yeah.
Looking back in a stream of consciousness ramble: I was inexplicably happy when two of the teams broke first and second for a prelims. Most angry at a certain semi-finals. A few post-competition smses meant a lot to me, especially when in my fatigued sleep-deprived state. My most favorite team was the one with the fusion format. I really liked my Call Sign for my debate shirt. I felt most awkward at a certain finals =x And my least favorite competition was NAMED AFTER A GREEK GOD (他媽的!!) _|_. Oh, and I like prawn aglio, astons (DOUBLE), scones, mangoes, the purple tie etc etc.
I most certainly had a great time. I truly appreciate the rather unexpected opportunity that I got to help out where I could. I think that up to a point, it was really the people that kept me going — which is why I say I don’t want to deal with the j1s: they’re not part of the bunch I started off with. I wished I had a bit more time till the season ended (which would have been the case if everything went according to MY plan i.e. start work in June). And I definitely wished that I could have done more, that I could have been more capable and impactful, and simply done a better job.
I also should have told the people who went off to netherlands a week ago — but hey, it just didn’t feel right to spoil the festive tea party mood then. I spent a fair bit of the night waiting for the right moment, and the bulk of the time just being plain wtf in the head.
The arrangement is that: I can help out with prep from the comfort of my home and internet, depending on how busy I am. And I’ll come by here and there, when my schedule permits – and depending on who’s involved =P I’ll be mainly damn packed till this summer.
I wish you all the best for the remaining competitions, and more importantly — everything after that. Because while debate might be an essential part of one’s intellectual journey, there is so much more to life than debate, competitions, and petty allegiances.
Wanted to end off by copying and pasting an excerpt of my essay, but realised that each and every paragraph contained politically incorrect/offensive material (What possessed me to write this to a SCHOOL, omg). Lets just say that the title of the essay is the same as this post, and its first line?
I sat on the wrong side of a debate final…
I know for one that the sunk cost fallacy isn’t really a fallacy for me. Generally, the moment I put in time/money/effort in anything, I’ll make sure I fucking go and finish it — even if it results in wasting more of my time/money/effort. It’s probably why I sometimes just cannot take myself out of a sian situation, and it just drags out for damn long.
But I never knew that making a mistake could have such an impact on the decision making process. Rational people are supposed to fix their mistakes, rather than continue with it. The best part is that a few months ago, I could even rationalize that I was making yet another mistake, and I actually told myself that I should be doing this this and this.
But why am I rambling about this? Because in retrospect, I could be one thousand two hundred dollars richer right now.
Do you know how many bowls of ramen that is?
I had a very bewildered expression on my entire night trip home today. Feeling like I’m in a slight daze – or more politely put, my mind is full of fuck, as though salvador dali paid me a visit and took a shit in my letterbox. It still hasnt fully hit me yet. Its a bit too much for one night. Its not so much the subject matter by themselves, but the flurry of thoughts after.
But its bizarre contemplative moments like this, that I feel -
The awkward moment when you realise you actually miss and would rather hang out with your friends from the workplace than…..
actually, i rather see the debate people also — who are now happily having fun on a Bhutan “educational trip” (euphemism for holiday.)
Maybe not the someone who is dancing around naked in the room though. That’s just disturbing… D:
I originally logged onto wordpress to publicise how my SOAS friend accidentally referred to himself as African, rather than Oriental (when I teased that he could pass off as both). But thats actually quite boring. Something else caught my attention. Something that seems like scenario planning (in the manner of a Sherlock Holmes movie fight), but probably something taken from experience.
Normally, I try not to share/repost these webcomics even though I really really want to sometimes. But for this one. My god, been there. Thought about it. Thought about it hard. And even tried almost all seven options available and more before. I must have really been asked that quite a lot)
I’ve still no answer. …Or do I?
My two years in the Alternative Reality of the Missing Years have ended.
I wouldn’t be like those people who (a) spent all their time whining about IB on their blog/wall, and then (b) whine about how their life feels aimless and meaningless after IB exams. I will inevitably be sentimental, but I plan to do neither (a) nor (b). In fact, I’ll elaborate on how awesome I am, a bit of what I learnt, and the general feeling of parting.
I was never in a rush, surprisingly. It was mundane at times, but I never really did feel the strong urge to finish – apart from a few times. Either I was in a genuinely comfortable situation (which I probably was), or I have the talent of contentment (which is probably also true). But it finally has ended. And as usual, it still has not exactly completely hit me that something has just finished.
Maybe it’s because the end was a bit too gradual. By now, I’ve already been idling for the past month. Today may have officially been my last day, but effectively, everything just stopped when I took a break to go for pro cup, and went for my ‘extended korean holiday’. I haven’t had a full work day since I came back from my three week break. In fact, nothing has really happened since. On balance, more time was spent living as though I was already free. Uhhh hence, the excitement of liberation has already been diluted over the past one month plus — but nonetheless I feel this great glee in being free.
But today was a point of no return. I know it would be a long while before I even set foot in that place I spent so much of my time of. From the rewarding times to the humbling ones, fragments of my time there just kept resurfacing in my mind. I have done a lot of things that I would not have otherwise done, met people I would not have met, and even got a tan. Its hard to precisely explain what exactly I have gained from my two years – but the fact is I have.
On a few occasions, it brought out the worst in me. It taught me the uses and abuses of power. Yet, at the same time, it taught me the limits and costs of it. For most of it, I felt that it made me more aware of what I could and could not do. In a paradoxical fashion, the nature of my job made me more humble, yet at the same time have a greater sense of pride. Many a times, I was pushed to tight corners of decision-making and weighing priorities under time constraints. It wasn’t easy, and I probably will never know if I made the right choice sometimes — there probably isn’t a right choice.
(Paragraph about how good my life was – removed. No, really -_-)
I would most certainly miss my swimming pool – the place where I picked up swimming again, because I had to organize some swim event. But more importantly, I will miss the people I spent my time with. All the way to the very last moment, I didn’t feel a need to leave early. I could have, but I didn’t because of my friends. It was my last few moments with them. As I left the place at the end of the day, there was this lingering bittersweet feeling. In a sentiment of self-indulgence, I perhaps left a gap in each of the various social groups — which I attribute to having lunch/tea with them in small groups of no more than three people. Nothing really makes me tremble a bit inside than the parting — especially long term partings. I’ll probably see a few of them again, but for most of them – the sad reality is that it probably wouldn’t be the case, much as I enjoyed their company.
But that’s that. I will gladly be moving on – I have to. There are better things to do with my life. And like most years I would probably forget most of it once the new year proper begins.
So now I’m free — what’s next?
…….a lot of stuff, my god. I think it’s called Life. I think it’s called the Real World :O
Here’s a short less-than-800-characters write-up about my community that I did a few months ago (and I almost, but fortunately didn’t, wrote about the debate community instead. How insipid would that have been!) Censors added.
A hacker who sued Inland Revenue, a drummer who renounced his faith, a chef who made a flamethrower, and a multilingual scam artist, have lunch with me regularly. As we casually discuss Wikileaks, and whether lunatics go to heaven, it almost sounds like __. But it’s just my __ friends.
Our homogeneous uniform masks our diversity. There’s even an international flavor of Burmese, Filipinos and Canadians (Yes, this is the __ __). Two years in this community made me think beyond the sanitized bubble of school. How often would I have otherwise hung out with ex-convicts, the dropout moonlighting to pay for his mother’s surgery, and a farmer who knows Kung Fu? There is so much of the world that school did not reveal to me.
Everyone loves Christmas. Its more awesome than New Year’s Day, because Christmas is like the Friday night of the entire year. It marks the start of everyone’s favorite week. The week where you either don’t go to office, or show up at a half-empty one because even your boss and your boss’ boss is on a vacation. New Year’s Day is like the Sunday night of the year, preceding the Monday blues. It marks the end of the holiday — which makes me wonder what the hell is so happy about happy new year.
Okay, I normally don’t do this New Year’s Resolution thing — if you refer to my posts over the past three years, there was no such thing. Generally, I think that 31/12/x isn’t much different from 01/01/x+1. The sad reality is that if you were an incompetent and hopeless the year before, one year isn’t going to change much.
But when I do have a New Year’s Resolution, its bloody hardcore. In 2008, I resolved not to skip a day of school — which I didn’t, and which is fucking amazing in acsi. No, seriously, you have no idea how many useless days/events/classes there were, and I didn’t even take an MC because of my almost jewish adherence to my resolution. (I can’t remember what the hell possessed me to make such a stupid one tho). By this point, I’m betting that nobody actually believes that there was a year where I did not miss a day of school…
But my resolution has gotten more intense. My new year’s resolution is to be able to concentrate this year. Now that sounds damn ambiguous. More importantly, its damn ambitious. It’s almost paradoxical: in order to concentrate, I’ll need to concentrate. But nonetheless, it is necessary. Concentration is fundamental to the machinery of the mind. It is most important for efficiency, and it makes the difference between toiling aimlessly, and working effortlessly. For the next half a year at least, I’ll be damn hard-pressed for time. Either I become efficient again, or I goodlucktakecare.
I used to have some degree of this, but I completely lost it by now. In civil servant terms, I have a few KPIs to measure this. I have a half formed methodology to go about this in mind also — the most basic of it requires willpower and avoiding distractions. I probably won’t have the concentration level of a yogi, but I just need enough to get by.
But anyway, for those people planning to get a New Year’s Resolution, or already having one. Here’s a song by Mick Jagger, from the movie Alfie that stars Jude Law. Yes kids, jagger as in the mOoOoOoOooves likes jagger.
OLD HABITS DIE HARD.