Its middle of the night here in Manchester when wife and kid already asleep. In a rare serene moment like this, I should be doing the literature review part of my dissertation but somehow there is this imaginary brick wall that stop one’s thought process. Hence another too often moment of procrastination creeps me once again.

Either Hemingway, Capote or Woody Allen which said something that to overcome writer’s block, you just have to keep writing. But rather than grinding papers to fuel my dissertation writing, i decided to recollect slice of my life story which i suddenly remembered due to random up-swiping in twitter. Hopefully, brain dumping this will lubricate the dissertation-mode engine once again. At the very least, procrastinating this way is more productive than yet once again Netflix-binging hole i cant seem to escape every time dissertation journey gets a little bit uphill. 

So just few minutes ago, i read some post about parents that put too much pressure on their kids to perform in school. I am glad i didn’t have this problem because my mom and dad are very understanding about my abysmal school grades. In fact, i felt like they did not have high expectation of me, in a good way of course. Case in point, when i just started college, both of them said that they will be happy if i can graduate in 5 years even though they knew normal bachelor degree can be earned in 4.

In high school, i hardly ever being forced to study by them. So naturally, i never study in school. I didnt put the effort, i didnt see the benefit and i was just too lazy to do that. I was just strolling away from one school test to another with hope that at least i passed and didnt fail.

I didnt have too many friends in junior high, spent most of my times in PlayStation rental. However, i got along with lot of people in high school. Being social was new experience for me that time. Hence i spent most of my times hanging out with them, not worrying about anything. I once got 4 out of 10 for Physics final grade. That was surprising because my final exam was literally zero, i thought i would get worse. But that didnt bother me in anyway. I just didnt give a flying fuck. This happen from first grade up to the very end of third grade.

But one day, a random event shattered my world view and brought reality to my face with momentum of a ten ton truck in an empty German autobahn.

As a background, Both my parents were teachers. I grew up in a decent lower-middle class home, never have i ever feel poor but also never too posh either. One day, i accidentally find information on both of my parents salary on the table. At that time i never knew and i didnt even bother either. What strucked was, that their combined salary at that time was not enough to pay tuition in a private university. I was on final year of high school so i know little bit how much it cost to enter decent universities in Surabaya.

This realisation really hits me hard because if didnt get into public university, theres a little chance my parents can afford that kind of money. So either i need to push through in the national entrance exam or no college at all.

This moment also make me realize my place in this word. I have friends from both worlds, the posh friend who cant wait to go to private med school and the struggling friend who already knew he need to get a job after high school graduation. Apparently even though i didnt have to suffer that bad,  i also did not have the privilege to just slacking around and somehow opportunity will be handled to me in a silver plate.

This realisation slapped me in the face and shouted, what the fuck have i been doing up until now. I started taking my school seriously after that and yet it was already late in the final year of high school. I had no time to start reading learning materials hence i focus on acing the national university entrance exam. I crunched nearly 10 years of National Exam question bank every day up until the D-day. The thought of not having a safety net if i failed the test really burn the midnight oil in the 17 years old me. Super effective to make me start studying, more than any scolding ive ever get in my life up until that point.

Miraculously, i passed the test. I was accepted in Information System ITS, probably more because of my parents endless prayers rather than my last minute effort.

From that point on, my life was snowballing in a great trajectory. I was passionate about the subject, i met with wonderful friends, most of the academic staff was nice, i was involved in a lot of great organisation and activities. The overall college experience really develop myself and opens up so many doors.

One day in the third or final years of college, i was riding my motorcycle and taking a turn to a gas station. Apparently the gas station workers was my high school friend. We had a small talk while he filled up the gas and then i continued my journey somewhere.

In the whole journey, i was contemplating very hard about one thing. The gas station worker, that friend, it easily could’ve been me. Had i didn’t read the salary slip of my parents, my life could as well  be similar like him. No disrespect to him in anyway and i hope he have a great life now but the experience makes me realize (again), i was just one mistake away from living a minimum wage job. Had i didn’t read the salary slip, i would never start studying. Have no chance in national exam and probably would never set foot in any college institution.

Typing this post in my flat right now, i really really count my blessing. Never in my wildest dream i will be here in this place, doing postgraduate studies with scholarship. If not because of God’s subtle nudge to look at random papers in the living room, i probably would never leave my hometown and end up digging ditch or something. Writing this post in my blog, i hope time and time again this experience will always humble me every time i get to cocky and forget where i came from. It also reminded me to not complain. Compared to what could have been happened, all the problem that i have right now is just inconvenience.

So thats all for the story. I need to start writing my dissertation again. Thanks for reading this, whoever you are. Its very nice of you to keep up with this thousand words rambling and i hope you have a very nice day.

Posted by Kiki Ahmadi

Professional in Telco and Digital industry in Indonesia | Currently pursuing master's degree in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship in University of Manchester

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