I have somehow managed to avoid expressing my thoughts and opinions for nearly all my life. But as everyone may know, things change.
Growing up in a culture where grades on paper, or quantity, matter more than individual skills development, or quality, I find myself among the common case of being recluse, timid, and perfectly obedient. Those who seem to be loud, confident and expressive are considered unique — at least to me.
The two types of environment that could influence a child’s growth are the home or the school — if they’re lucky enough. I was among the lucky ones it seems. However, none of those environment quite stimulated my mind as much as I wish they had.
At home, there was no such thing as bedtime stories, or any stories really. Once I learnt how to read, I somehow found reading interesting and so I continued doing so, unlike my siblings. Why do I stress upon reading? Well, I think it is one of the crucial activities to developing opinions and imagination, and a catalyst for self-expression. I certainly read a lot and as a consequence I wrote a lot too. My English essays were praised by teachers and my journals were filled with my everyday thoughts.
Although my grades were good, I feel that they weren’t of good quality. Sure I had written essays upon essays, but they were meaningless essays and only for the sake of exams. Almost all did not encourage creative thinking but required a certain system. And so I obediently wrote what needed to be written. And once they were written and marked, they were stored or thrown away. No in-depth discussion, no pondering on certain issues; the class moved on to the next essay topic.
To be able to read and write eloquently is good, but as I tread on this thing called Life, I realised that they were not enough; I needed to express my thoughts verbally. It seemed to my naïve little brain that one is either born to speak in public or cower in the shadows of doubt. Some of my schoolmates who I considered ‘unique’ would naturally be involved with debate or public speaking just because they were (born) expressive and confident. I thought that because one has proven to be as such, they were handpicked to be a part of an elite group of speakers.
I could have just joined them if I wanted to, but I was not brave enough. I was intimidated by their ability to express with their voices. I hadn’t really known my own to begin with because I have not been encouraged, neither at home nor at school, to find my voice and articulate my thoughts. There was no appreciation of those instruments that would have allowed me to speak confidently.
But of course I wasn’t silent all my life. I did talk, but only about inconsequential matters and not publicly. Unconsciously, I might have resented my parents and my peers for not engaging more significant topics of conversation with me instead of just asking ‘How’s school?’, ‘How were exams?’, and ‘What are your grades this term?’, or ‘Have you listened to this music?’, ‘Did you watch that movie?’, and ‘What did you think of that boy?’.
Or it might just be my own fault for not thinking more creatively and not having the initiative to improve myself. But how was I to realise that? I was an unpolished, gullible being who knew nothing more than to memorise and regurgitate taught materials.
But shouldn’t a bookworm know better with all the books read? Well it depends on the type of book
being read. I was thought to believe that reading books is nothing but a hobby or entertainment. I had never really taken any story seriously or developed more of them in my mind, mainly because most of the time I did not share the stories I’ve read to anyone else. And because I didn’t talk about them more, the memory of those stories, along with their morals and wisdom, quickly disappeared. So I almost never learnt anything much from reading, apart from that it had been enjoyable.
Wow. I surprise myself for admitting that.
Basically, my point is that when you don’t talk about something, you won’t learn anything much, and so you won’t be able to form and express your own opinions. I have so far managed to talk to myself when I read or learn something, but one can only go so far at that before crossing the line of sanity. And that is why, at the age of twenty-one, I realise I need to express myself better. I can’t afford to keep silent any longer as I devour pertinent knowledge and issues that need to be discussed and expressed further. And if I can be confident at speaking out my opinions at length to even just one person, I would feel accomplished.
To master the skills of reading, writing and speaking is a luxury that I hope to acquire in my lifetime. And while I polish my speaking skills, you will just have to settle with my favourite form of expression: writing.