Dealing with too many elephants in the room

DISCLAIMER: Reading this post may cause distress. Therefore, please refrain from reading this post if you are faint hearted.

  • Ever since I graduated from primary school I had been told by my parents that I was to be in charge of my education. I was told that I can decide whether or not I required tuition for a particular subject. But here’s the catch: I was not able to ask for assessment books, simply because when I was in primary school I had many assessment books which I had been left incomplete. Hence, being rational my parents said I could request for anything other than assessment books. In sec 1, I was enrolled in a tuition for math and English.
  • One year later, though my performance for math was satisfactory, my grades for English were not as expected. Hence I was given an option to once again take ownership of my education as to whether or not I required tuition for English. Being rational, I said that it was wise to discontinue my English tuition simply because it’s not effective. When asked what my plan for the rest of secondary school was, I said that I just required more practice which could be obtained through the purchase of an assessment book for English.
  • After sec 2, my parents said that they had enough trying to save my English grades and enrolled me in a tuition class for English. Surprisingly, I had entered triple science class and since I felt that I lacked finesse in Physics, I requested for a tuition for physics. Total number of tuitions that I was enrolled in: 3
  • I went on and off for tuitions for several subjects and had to attend remedial lessons for almost every subject in school. And, phew I passed O Levels enough to get into an engineering course in poly.
  • After consulting various friends and relatives, my parents decided that it was better for me to get into common engineering as I had more time to decide my specialisation. Well, I decided I like BME but after Y1 I got into RM.
  • After studying for 2 years in Y2 due to certain health reasons, I am finally, now in Y3 final sem. And honestly, it feels like it is only now that I am able to have better control over my education simply bcos I can spend close to 10 hrs daily, away from home.
    Now the problem is: What next?
  • I have been suffering from numerous sleepless nights, panic attacks, headaches, backaches, emotional meltdowns, etcetera. The fun fact is that everyone I’m sharing the house with are going through similar emotions, but they just cannot seem to find a way to rectify this situation. Ever since the covid pandemic in 2020, the situation at “home” is getting from bad to worse.
  • Big questions that I have now are:
    o Am I depressed?
    o Am I burnt out?
    o Is this issue worth all the fuss?
    o How can I get out of this situation?
    Hope to get proper guidance with how I can go about handling this situation. Thank You in advance.
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Hi @lovelychange

Thank you for taking the time to share with us your struggles, I’m truly sorry to hear about the difficulties you’re facing, and I can see that you’ve been through a lot in terms of your education and personal well-being. It’s completely understandable that you’re feeling overwhelmed and experiencing various physical and emotional symptoms.

I want to acknowledge the toll that this situation is taking on your mental health. The questions you’re asking yourself—whether you’re depressed, burnt out, and if this issue is worth the fuss—are valid concerns. However, it might be beneficial for you to speak with a mental health professional who can provide a more personalized assessment and support, as I am unable to do this assessment online. I would highly suggest that you reach out to a counsellor in your school or a counsellor from a nearby Family Service Centre and process your thoughts and feelings together.

In the meantime, please do consider reaching out to someone you trust, like a friend or family member, to share your feelings. Sometimes, expressing your thoughts can be a relief and open the door for support. Additionally, if the situation at home is worsening and affecting your well-being, it might be helpful to explore ways to create a healthier living environment or to seek external support.

Balancing education, personal well-being, and the challenges of daily life can be very demanding and tiring, and it’s okay to seek help! Your mental health is a priority, so please remember to take care of yourself. I encourage you to seek professional help as it can provide you with specific strategies to cope with stress, anxiety, and overwhelming feelings for your situation.

Remember, you don’t have to walk through this alone, and seeking support is a sign of strength! Take small steps to care for yourself. Let us know if you’ve reached out to anyone, and keep us updated on how you’re doing.
Hear from you soon.

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Thank You for your comment on my earlier post. It really means a lot to me.
I just wanted to give some recent updates and my opinion with regards to your recommendation.

It’s Uni application season, and yet again the routine problem came back - asking for recommendations from others.
this time I played the game differently. Instead of being stuck in another dilemma, I predicted the problems and started finding solutions before hand -
to be exact from the start of 2020. Having encountered the problems with deciding on my post-secondary study path, I researched about various courses and
job openings they could possibly lead to before hand. Now, I am rather well educated on my possible opportunies and well prepared. I have drafted a few essays
for Apptidude-Based-Applications, scholarships and also have started saving up for Uni accommodation.

the thing now is convincing my parents. Once again, they have started rocking the boat. this time with higher severity.
I have even applied to NUS, and am in the midst of applying for NTU, which is my preferred choice. I am optimistic about getting into my first choice in NTU
thanks to my intern and FYP.

the thing is that, my parents each come from difficult backgrounds. My father lost his father - the sole-breadwinner - at an age of 17. My maternal granfather had to support his cousin’s family along with his family.
I can understand these insecurities but they use their insecurities to intimidate me per se. they keep on reinstating the need to have backup career plans which is a good thing. But they also unknowingly tend to discourage me from reaching my ambitions. to be exact I’m punched Black-eye by reality.

this time I am assertive of getting into my preferred course in my uni of choice. It’s just that I’m finding it difficult to ignore their negative remarks.
I also find that reaching out to the Family service centre may be quite difficult to resolve this situation given the urgency of this matter.

Currently, the biggest elephant in the room is applying for Uni. Any suggestions to get through this phase?

Thanks once again for your earlier reply. Looking forward for a reply to this post too.

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Hi @lovelychange !

Thanks for the update! It’s good to heat that things have progressed from the last post. After reading your post, I can imagine how it’s like to feel conflicted when facing resistance from your parents, especially when you’re pursuing your dreams.

It sounds like your parents’ concerns stem from their own difficult backgrounds and experiences. It’s actually very common for parents to project their fears and insecurities onto their children, even if it’s unintentional - this happens a lot in our Asian culture I guess. I want to encourage you that although it’s important to acknowledge and respect their perspective, it’s also important to prioritize your own goals and ambitions :slight_smile:

I’m glad that you’re attempting to assert your confidence in your abilities by choosing a path forward! Remember, you’ve worked hard to earn your internships and complete your FYP, which speaks volumes about your dedication and capabilities. You must trust in your strengths and accomplishments as you go through this phase of applying to universities :slight_smile: Believe in yourself!

I can also imagine that dealing with negative remarks from loved ones can be emotionally taxing. It might help to set some healthy boundaries and communicate openly with your parents about how their comments affect you. You can let them know that while you value their input, you also need their support and encouragement to pursue your goals wholeheartedly.

As for seeking external support, reaching out to a Family Service Centre could be helpful for you in this situation as they can provide support and guidance in detail, especially when it comes to managing the relationship and communication between you and your parents.

In the meantime, I encourage you to focus on staying grounded and resilient in the face of adversity! Surround yourself with positive influences, whether it’s friends, mentors, or supportive communities, who uplift and encourage you along your journey. I believe you have the strength to overcome this obstacle.

Last but not least, please let us know how you’re coping so far and share with us your journey. We’re here to support you !

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This is so common, in fact it brought back so much memories of how my parents always had “empty” and unfounded threats. :pensive:

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Actually what are their reservations about you applying to uni? Is it financial reasons or others?

If your grades can get you to NUS / NTU then it’s quite good already mah, don’t waste the chance - unless of course there are other reasons that would prevent you from completing your uni in peace.

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that’s the thing I’m really confused about. they just come up with newer plans everyday when they talk to different people. It’s really like fighting in a war field - have to be ready to defend my opinion from another threat.

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Must be frustrating to deal with new opinions all the time. What happens if you just went ahead to apply? Will they force you to drop out?

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Thanks for sharing your story, @lovelychange! You’re an amazing resilient person. You’ve shown great foresight in preparing for the Uni application season by addressing potential challenges early on. Dealing with parental concerns, stemming from their difficult backgrounds, can be challenging. Consider having an open conversation with them, sharing your research and dedication to your chosen path. Emphasize the efforts you’ve made to secure your future. If reaching out to a family service center seems difficult, seeking guidance from a mentor or counselor might be beneficial. Remember, your determination and preparation are commendable, and expressing your commitment may help alleviate their worries. Stay focused on your goals, and good luck with your Uni applications. :muscle:

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Well, that’s what I did. After having to battle this dilemma at every major decision making phase, I just felt that I would have nothing to lose by giving it a try. So, I went on to apply.

In 2022, I had to repeat Y2 sem 2 bcos the school management felt that I was finding it difficult to cope with the load. Well, I actually insisted on improving my performance before opting to repeat a sem. But since my parents felt it was going to be difficult, they were mentally prepared for me to repeat a semester. Though that helped them stay in touch with reality, I feel that if they had more confidence in my potential, I wouldnt have had to come to that stage. To their greatest dismay, after opting to repeat a semester, I ended up repeating a year because at the rate that I was studying I could not meet the criteria to enter Y3.

What hurts me the most is that, if they had given me a listening ear at any of the initial stages, the problem could have been prevented.

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Thank You to everyone who had read and commented on my previous posts. Your comments and concern have enlightened me. I’m back with another update regarding this matter.

First off, I have some good news to share!
I got back my results for my final semester, and I have scored B+ for both my intern and FYP. To add on, I was even selected for a FYP student project showcase that was conducted exclusively for students who had projects worthy of being showcased to industry leaders! It provided a rewarding experience as I was able to get feedback from people who would directly benefit from my project. What a good way to end this phase of education! :blush:

Disclaimer: This post is gonna be long.

Now, here they go again…:neutral_face:
Well, TBH I was optimistic about working in the months before matriculating in Uni, but now I realised that there is a slight problem in executing my plan. It has got to do with my sleep problems as mentioned in my aforementioned post.

I share my room with my grandmother. So whether it is about deciding who gets to use the extension cord in our room to charge our devices or when to turn off the light, I have to take into consideration her view also.

My grandma owns two tech gadgets, an iPhone and an iPad namely. She uses them to watch YouTube videos, listen to music and to talk to my aunt who lives overseas. The problem arises because of the fact that she can’t limit her screen time. Daily, she uses both her devices for a total of 8 hours on an average. (Ps. That’s actually more than how long I used my laptop to study when I was in Y2). The problem arises when she blares her YouTube video even at the middle of the night. She used to use her earpieces in the past, but after my aunt advised against the excessive usage of earpieces, she stopped using them totally. :frowning: I’m not exaggerating when I say that her devices’ loudness have made my heart pound amidst my slumber, when she plays her videos midnight. Apart from my depression causing sleep problems, I have had sleepless nights because of such external factors. I get really irritated because of this behaviour and made me retaliate by turning on the light to study at my desk at the middle of the night. What’s made me wondering is that she dozes of soon after I turn on the light to study. :thinking: And there goes my sleep…:face_exhaling:

My parents and I have told her that this action of hers is affecting each of our daily lives negatively. It causes disturbances to my father who works from home on alternate weeks and has also caused sleep problems in my mother too! Yet, this problem doesn’t seem to get rectified even after 5 years!

With the ever existent sleep problems at hand, I doubt my initial plan of working before entering uni. It is my greater priority to restore my health before getting ready to tackle a heavier academic load. And now this is the biggest elephant in my room.
The thing is that, I am highly anticipating my university offer in the coming weeks. However, the constant pressure from my parents for having a backup plan in the mean time, is literally killing me every day.

Any suggestions to tackle this problem?:grimacing:

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Welcome back, @lovelychange ~ and congrats on your results!

What does your grandma think of the feedback that your parents and you have given? Is she keen to make any changes or consider using her devices in the living room instead?

I do agree that restful sleep is extremely important, you’ll need that whether it’s for school or work. Another suggestion is to consider the use of earplugs for sleep, maybe that can help block out some of the noise?

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Thank You @Jaws !

Well, she responds in two different ways. She’ll either attest our view by saying that it causes unexplained headaches during the day or defend her self by saying that her behaviour does not seem to affect how others in the family get their activities done.

:thinking: Actually, my father uses the hall when he works from home. This mainly because the WiFi strength is better in our living room which is crucial for him to work.

It must be noted that our TV is capable of playing YouTube videos. We watch YouTube videos together as a family when we have lunch or dinner together. It’s just that my grandma doesn’t seem to have any other meaningful pastimes beyond watching YouTube videos. She used to read books and go for walks in the past. But now her iPad seems to offer more pleasure than those activities. Guess it’s a case against instant gratification…:face_with_monocle:

Thanks for your suggestion! Ear plugs and eye shades are now part of my regular bedtime routine. They do seem to block out sufficient amount of noise and blue light when I get awoken in the middle of the night.

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Definitely ironic to see how our parents / grandparents were the ones who forbade us from using devices but end up getting addicted themselves.

Anyhow, good that you got it figured out! Like you say, it’s top priority to get your health back on track! I wish you all the best and hope you get the uni offer you were hoping for :star_struck:

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Hi I’m back with another recent update wrt the situation I’m in, at home. Just a little bit of a rant…

After my previous update, my sleep problem got worse up to a point where I had to move over to my parents’ room at night to sleep. This was because despite insisting and asking my grandma to lower the volume of her devices, she did not (and does not) seem to listen to us. My father had to step in and “convince” my grandma that I had to move out to sleep in their room at night. Similarly, I also cannot use my table to study cos of the same issue. :headphones: To solve this problem, I spend my time studying in the library for 4-5 hours a day. Some way is better than no way, right?

TBH, I’m not too particular about sleeping in my parents’ room or going to the library to study. It’s just that… it hurts to see that my grandma doesn’t even acknowledge that this as an issue. I’m not asking them to acknowledge it, to earn their sympathy but just to gain their understanding when I insist on going to the library every now and then.

Oh well, this is the biggest elephant in the room that I’m dealing with right now. Thanks for reading through. Hope everything will change one day… :crossed_fingers: