How Repeating A Year At University Changed My Perspective

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There is always this nagging feeling about being deprived of opportunities compared to my able-bodied peers that bugs me in my daily life.


the back of a man with text on screen "every accomplishment starts with the decision to try"

As a hearing impaired individual, I am unable to hear as clearly as my peers, and I would always think that employers would rather hire able-bodied people than someone who is hearing impaired.

I allowed this inferiority complex to fester throughout my teenage years. I stopped participating actively in sports competition, and I did not try my best academically. I felt I was doomed to a life of mediocrity. I thought that the world was unfair by bestowing me with this forsaken disability and wallowed in self-pity.

A shift in perspective

My life started to change as I entered university. University was a completely different environment compared to high school. The lecturers in university encourage an independent style of learning which was completely different from the environment in high school where teachers would constantly push you to keep up with the syllabus. Faced with a new environment, it was challenging for me to adapt myself to be independent. Sometimes I could not hear clearly in lecture and the lecturer would not bother making sure everyone was following along. As a result, I repeated my first year in university. Repeating a year in university was a tough and invaluable lesson to me.

I realised that I have to take control of my life and not leave it to ‘fate’. Just because I cannot hear clearly in class does not mean I am destined to fail. It meant that I have to seek alternatives sources of learning.

I started watching online video lectures and sitting closer to the lecturer. Fast-forward to today, I am in my final year of university and will be graduating in a month’s time.

Going beyond luck

There is a common hearsay that to be successful in life, you need to be lucky. However, to be lucky, you have to put yourself in a position where you can be lucky. For example, if you want to strike lottery, you have to buy a lottery ticket! The tough lesson I learnt from repeating a year in university caused me to think about how I could put myself in a position to be lucky.  I started to open up myself to opportunities by applying for internships. The more internships I applied for, the more opportunities would open, and the greater my chance to be ‘lucky’. I was lucky to be offered two internships despite my ‘mediocrity,’ and it was a good confidence booster for myself.

I soon got the hang of being lucky by putting myself in a position for opportunities. During my internship, I would not hesitate to connect with colleagues from other departments. This helped to widen my network and made me noticeable in the organisation. I was also ‘lucky’ that those people I met contributed to my work in the organisation and continue to play an influential role in my life.

There are many great real-life examples of successful people putting themselves in a position for opportunities. One of the examples I like the most is Nina who really wanted to work for Airbnb and started a website to put herself in a position to be lucky. Her website went viral, and she was soon hired by Airbnb.

To everyone out there who feels like they are deprived of opportunities due to whatever circumstances, I believe there is a genuine chance to be successful as long as you put yourself in a position to be lucky.

Thanks to Marcus, Director of AbleThrive Singapore for this original post. 

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