Regardless of their English ability, every student had a moment when they did not finish their homework, making excuses that they had to do other homework, or they had left the book for tutoring at school. I had gotten used to hearing those excuses and scolding them try to make less mistakes in her homework.
One evening, I was also about to tell Bo-min, a first grader in middle school whose exam results are in the top tenth of her school, to memorize the English vocabularies more carefully and finish her homework with little mistakes. If she really wanted to go to a foreign language highschool, she needed to improve English.
It was then when she started to cry. Her nose started bleeding and the blood drops fell on her brand new ergonomic chair that her parents had bought for her so that she can study more comfortably. I knew my words were not harsh enough to make her cry.
“I am a teenager, too. I want to watch TV dramas on Wednesdays and Thursdays. But I have to study all the time to finish my homework. I always study but I always do not seem to have enough time. I am so worried about my final exams. What if my scores drop on these finals? I do not want to disappoint my parents,” said Bo-min, finding another tissue to put in her nose. “I hate the fact that the world remembers only the person who is ranked first on one’s exams or field. I do not want to be a loser. But I am living in this competitive world. What can I do?”
Frankly speaking, I did not know what do at first. Bo-min was going through enormous pain. I thought she was too much worried about her exams for her age. She was a just first grader in middle school! What she needed was a break to watch TV dramas and a compliment from teacher or parents. I and her parents did, by telling her that we know she is doing her best and her parents are okay even if her grades falls on next finals.
On my way home after the private lesson with Bo-min, I realized that Bo-min is not the only one stressing over grades. My friends are spending many hours in studying rooms to maintain their GPA (Grade Point Average). Also, they write dozens of applications to find good programs or opportunities to become more suitable candidates for presitigious graduate schools or companies or they go on a diet to make them better. It seems meeting those standards is considered as being successful.
Everyone struggles to be successful or be at the top. These efforts to keep challenging themselves to become a successful person for one’s dream should be appreciated and encouraged. However, if we are “always” suffering for better future and be hard on ourselves for having a break, maybe we should reconsider about the attitude toward our lives. If we do not, we could always live in a harsh reality, waiting for the not coming happy or successful future to come.
These days, I see more and more Facebook posts about the agony and anguish of university students who grew tired of sleep deprivation, tons of pages to read, or photos of the Red Bull energy drinks. All these signs hint the arrival of midterm exam period in which most of us compete for higher GPA.
Working hard to achieve one’s dream is good. However, sometimes, we should not let our aspiration or efforts to be successful always overwhelm what I want to do now. We do not automatically become happy in the future. We need to be happy now if we want our future to be happy.