15HWW Origins: The Inability To Conform In School

Since Christ was actually born on yesterday’s date, I was actually inspired to come up with a series of origin posts for this blog.

Image result for big bang universe

It took me some time to get the right picture above because when you type Big Bang on google, all you’re going to get are the ones below. #whathastheworldcometo

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I mean, if you have been following this blog for the past three years or more, haven’t you wondered why this 15HWW guy is quite different from the typical 30 year old? If I were to put myself in the shoes of a reader, these typical questions would be ringing in my head:

Why did he quit a well-paying job in an organisation where he had a significant advantage when he was just 28? Why did he have the courage to become a relatively low-paid self-employed? Or maybe, he comes from a unique/advantaged family background?

And so I shall try to answer them as best as I can, since only I can. =p

Beginning with how I was already defying expectations when I was a teenager…..

My Mum was pretty good in Math and I inherited her ability.

In Primary School, I found Math a relative breeze. But that didn’t mean I enjoyed solving them. In fact, in Primary 4, when the Math teacher gave tons of repetitive assignments, I stopped doing most of my Math homework because I was bored of them. And then, I spent my time at home reading story books.

(For younger folks reading this post, this was in an age where smartphones weren’t around. I didn’t have a PC and to further shock you, there were only 3 or 4 TV channels and there were hours in the day when there was no programs at all.)

This was pretty logical to me as my English was my weakest subject and I understood that reading would help improve it and it helped that I thoroughly enjoyed reading books like the one below.

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I probably devoured one every other day

And even at the tender age of 10, I had realised that spending time on tons of Math homework was a waste of time when I had a more useful and enjoyable alternative, like reading books.

Naturally, my Math teacher didn’t take my argument too well and even though she had a habit of announcing students who had scored full marks in tests, she would deliberately omit my name as some form of punishment. I was bothered but not bothered enough to change finish most of my homework.

How did I manage that? Luckily, I had a Mum who was rather enlightened. Even though she was strict, once she knew I could really do all of the problems, she allowed me to stand up against my teacher and submit incomplete work with this statement “I don’t know how to do them and I have tried”.

I know I made some teachers mad…

Most of my classmates grimaced and complained at the amount of homework but resigned to their fate. But not me. So in Primary 4, I had already shown signs that I could not conform.

In secondary school and junior college, things got even worse with conformity.

I had an issue with coming to school at 7:15am for flag raising and assembly even though lessons started only at 8am.

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From Secondary 3 to JC 2, it was very common for me to be reporting to school at around 8am for two to three days a week. I had managed to convince my Mum that it was more beneficial for me to have an hour more of sleep as compared to spending time standing in line.

I actually had a template like this with copies printed out and signed and the date left blank.

Many teachers actually called up my mother and advised her to send me to a specialist since my stomachaches and headaches were so frequent. Oh well… (Anyway, most schools have closed this loophole and there’s a limit to how many parent letters are accepted by schools. You can argue they have grown smarter but at the same time, even more overbearing. )

So, not surprisingly, I didn’t take very well to a life of 8am to 6pm after I graduated. In fact, it only lasted for 3.5 years as I simply couldn’t tolerate it for much longer.

Addendum: In case you’re thinking I am showing off my academic prowess in this post, yah, maybe. A better explanation is that I matured earlier than most of my peers. My voice broke in early P4 and going through puberty early was an advantage up till maybe 25. It’s pretty demoralising to hear students guessing you are in your mid 30s or even 40 when I am just 30. 

And in case you are being sore at me for being able to get away with the above with an awesome and understanding mother, there’s a flip side. 

I have a much lower tolerance for bullshit and there’s alot of that in this world. I really enjoy being in my comfort zone and that’s something I am working on. I probably need to learn to inject a little more difficulty into my life to challenge myself a bit more. 


8 thoughts on “15HWW Origins: The Inability To Conform In School

    1. My 15 HWW Post author

      Hi TTI,

      Thanks for reading. I have a good feeling you will make a pretty cool Dad for your kids when they grow up to be teenagers!

    1. My 15 HWW Post author

      Hi Uncle8888,

      One man’s meat, another’s poison.

      One man’s advice, another man’s bullshit.

  1. Jared - SMOL

    Hello 15HWW.

    “I probably need to learn to inject a little more difficulty into my life to challenge myself a bit more.”

    Who needs more “difficulty” in our lives?

    Never underestimate the power of words to move our human spirit.

    Perhaps replace “difficulty” with in inject a little more “challenge” into my life?

    Instinctively, we shun “difficulties” but are drawn towards “challenges”.

    And we can replace  to “challenge” myself with:

    1) to “empower” myself;

    2) to “liberate” myself;

    3) to “actualize” myself;

    4) etc, etc, etc.

    We might as well “bullshit” ourselves before others get a chance to do it on us.

    But then, we call it “cheerleading” 😉

    P.S. I know, its not a fair world. The sales and marketing people (snake-oils like me) get all the credit; those who do the real work as in operations or engineering (number crunchers) get lost in the background…

    1. My 15 HWW Post author

      Hi SMOL,

      Thanks for your suggestion!

      I am more of those who likes to call a spade a spade.

      But maybe, just maybe, I can frame it better and label it “voluntary discomfort”. =)

      So yes, more difficulties and you will probably read about some of them in the weeks/months to follow.

    1. My 15 HWW Post author

      Hi Sgdividends,

      I sure hope my behaviour doesn’t really warrant a comparison with him.