Blindly Helping

“the road to hell is paved with good intention”

This quote just resonates so well with me. I’m not sure how others perceive this, but to me, it means that sometimes, in our attempt to “help”, it actually leads to unintended consequences and sometimes, even harm.

In this modern world, we are constantly bombarded by events and situations around us or even around the world that prompt us to help. When we see an old lady crossing the road, we get that impulse to go over and quickly help the old lady. When we see an aunty/uncle on a wheelchair trying to get around places, we rushed over to lend a helping hand. When we see news articles about people from other countries suffering from poverty/malaria/civil war, it triggers our amygdala and emotions of empathy and sympathy – also an urge to be there to help. However, I wonder if people have truly thought about the consequence of their help and if it is even truly, helpful?

Let us just take some moments, slow down our innate mechanism and drive to help and think.

Just imagine yourself, suffering from some chronic disability/financial/ difficulties etc for a long period of time, and one day, an ‘angel’ descended upon you and offered you help with your difficulties. It would be great if the help can lift us out of the sufferings that we are going through, and allow us to resume our independence in our daily live, however, what happens if the help is only brief and temporary? While it is sad to admit, but this is the nature of help in modern society. Many of the assistance that are provided are brief and temporary without consideration of the longer term impact.

We are so blinded and so eager to help we often don’t consider what kind of impact these acts have on people. In another case, just imagine a family of 4, getting by with little income. Common sense tells us that we should provide this family with financial assistance (usually temporary), but what does it mean to the family? Considering that the family have been able to survive without the additional assistance, injecting this amount of financial assistance would mean that we are disrupting the equilibrium or the natural coping mechanism of the family and possibly creating the problem of reliance. And what happens when we choose to stop the financial assistance? The family needs to find ways again, to cope with this lack of assistance. (FYI, I am not arguing for the cases where the family have problems coping with basic needs, and also families that sometimes just need this additional funding to cope with the temporary crisis).

I personally think that it is important that more people learn to understand the impact of their actions before they do anything, even helping. Consider whether it takes away the element of independence and personal empowerment when we decided to come into the picture and offer help and also what other sustainable ways are available when we help. I don’t think that helping is bad, but helping without conscious thoughts is.

All in all, the act of goodwill / help is just overrated in today’s world. People really need to stop, and think of what is the best way to help (if it even exist). Many a times, the needs of a person or a society stems from a larger system and maybe, it would have been more sustainable if we could involve more systems/organisation and listen to the person (whom we think is needy) to allow for a more personalized and sustainable help. (But yes, of course if it is a case of crisis, then direct help should be rendered.)

To end off,  i would like to share this quote as i like how it encapsulates what i think help should look like: “Give a Man a Fish, and You Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Man To Fish, and You Feed Him for a Lifetime.”



Late night thoughts

Hi there,

It’s been a long time since I have posted anything.

Ended all my papers last week and I have survived Y3S1. Yayyy 🙂

Just when i thought it was time to enjoy hols, so many things and problems started rolling in and I haven’t really been able to rest well even though my exams have ended. It has been tiring to try to keep things going, and i find myself constantly thinking about those problems, finding it difficult to keep my mind free and empty.

Every time i think about the relationship problems i face IRL, it always reminds me of the things i learn in psychology class about humans and the things i learn in social work about how to build relationship. Everything suddenly seem so relevant to me and it is as though i find myself as the client that i always read on the vignettes. Seeing myself as the client, i then start asking my social work self, how would you deal with this if you were a social worker, then there i go, listing out a whole list of possible actions that i could take. As a social work student, i expect myself to at least know about problem solving  (esp when it comes to relationship) better than my friends/family who are not social work students.

However, looking at the list of possible actions that i could try, i find myself being very hesitant and ambivalent about taking those actions. even something as simple as saying sorry can be difficult. These things, i never realized until i myself got stuck in similar situation. Often, i find it easy to come up with actions  to problem solve, but sometimes, it is really difficult to execute it. While those action may seem seemingly easy, it can actually trigger a lot of ambivalence in the client and i am experiencing it now.

It is hard to proceed, but okay, one step at a time. Hopefully things gets better.


Disturbing truth of the Reserved Seating in Public Transport

I travel to school everyday via the train and there’s something that I feels really disturbing to me – the reserved seating.

In Singapore, public transport such as the public buses and train have seats reserved for those who needs it more (e.g. Elderly, pregnant women, or those who are injured) . Usually there will be labels placed near the seats either or, the seats will have striking colors (e.g red) to label the seat as a reserved seating.

I do understand the rationale for such arrangement. It helps commuters be more aware and to give up their seats when they see someone who needs it more. However, in my opinion, while this helps needy people get a seat, it defeats the purpose of building a more gracious country.

What I have observed so far is that, there is great pressure on the people who are sitting on the reserved seat. It seems as though the responsibility of giving up one’s seat lies only in the people taking up the reserved seating. Personally, it gets very disturbing for me whenever, e.g. an elderly come on board, and the commuters NOT sitting on the reserved seating avoid looking at the elderly. Instead they stare at the person on the reserved seating, it was as though they were communicating to the person that, ‘hey you, yes, you are responsible for giving up your seat…’

This is definitely not how graciousness looks like to me. Even though such thoughts are  not verbalize, it is just like a kind of norm that I have observed on the train. I think this has also led many people to avoid the reserved seating, with the fear of being stared at, and also be labelled as an ungracious commuter.

Another reason why I feel that this reserve seating is quite negative (in some sense) is because it kind of promotes some kind of discrimination. It make it seems as though the old people, the pregnant, those with disability are very needy. In a way, it is actually a label that say (in the case of elderly), ‘this aunty/uncle is old and is weak, so please give up your seat to them’.

In addition, this has also led to some of the older adults feeling that they have a sense of entitlement to the seats in public transport. I have observed how older adults naturally walk towards the reserved seating, without saying anything, they just stare at that person, as though they were sitting on their seat.

In any case, I don’t feel like this is a very nice culture in Singapore (Or any other countries). I believe that people are nice by nature, or if not, can be taught to be more caring/ gracious, and that the needy people can also be courteous enough and to learn to ask for a seat on public transport.

It does not take much on us to be aware of the needs of the people around us.

It does not take up too much on us to do something nice for someone else.

Oh well, I guess Singapore still has a long way to go to becoming a more gracious society.

Seeking solace in myself

Yesterday was such a bad and stressful day I cried myself to sleep. I would say crying is actually really theraupeutic because I tend to reenact scenarios in my head and I become more aware of the reasons why I was crying.
Tears are good analysis of emotions and overtime you will find a pattern, realizing how you keep crying over the same things. 

One thing that upsets me the most is probably the feeling of inferiority and feeling leftout, so I probably have to work on getting myself out of such scenarios and adopting better coping methods when in face of such situations in future.

Also, I realized, one reason why I am constantly getting attached to others may be my way of seeking attention to myself. And it’s never healthy to build one’s sense of self-worth based on other’s approval or disapproval 😦

Lastly, while yesterday was a sad day, there’s still much to be thankful for. I’m really touched when my mum made me herbal tea because she knew i wasn’t feeling very well and im grateful to my friends for cheering me up. 

There’s probably much more to life than just studies, stress and work. Keep going~

I’ll be fine

For the 101th time, I need myself to trust that I will be fine and EVERYTHING will be OKAY.

It’s not that I am in denial, but saving myself from potential self-destruction is more important than anything.

Trust that you will be fine.

Have faith in that your efforts will be rewarded.

And even if you are not okay, everything will fall into place in the end.

Just go at your own pace.

In the end,

You will do fine.

You will be okay. 

You will be okay.

You will be okay. 

Monday realisation

Just realized how far I am lagging behind my peers during our group study today. This is perhaps a sign to me that, I should  work really really hard, and I should just study alone. I also realized how I don’t fit at all in the university community. Not only am I not intellectual enough, I am not open and daring enough to ask for help. No one understands how awful this feels. 

Rather than having a bunch of smart friends, I think I will stick to my small space and my own bubble. This is too much for me to handle. I don’t want to try because I am to cowardy for new experience and my heart can’t take it. For every step that I take forward, I go backwards by another 5 steps. Let me just retreat into my comfort zone. And cry.

Feeling super stressed out and I am screaming internally so no one could hear. Sometimes I really wish I could be a more rational and less emotional person so that I would feel less and perhaps devote more energy to get things done more productively.

There’s so much to work on. Right now, let me just be immune to all that’s coming to me and just get my work done.

Second Year, Second Semester

Second Year, Second Semester.

This semester has been tough on me because of the modules I am taking and also because I don’t get to meet my friends as often as I usually do. Before I started university, I have always thought that university is the time of the life where people find their life partner, forge lifelong friendships, try out all the crazily insane things and most importantly, it is the peak of one’s life.

However, after being a student here myself, I realized that all these glamorous image that every university tries to portray is not true for everyone. Yes, while there may be people who find their life partner and live the time of their life here in university, the truth is that the bulk of the people here are just normal people living very ordinary lives. (eat-sleep-study) And, yes I am one of them.

The real world being a competitive place, university is no different. The gap between high school and university is quite drastic, I would say. The level of stress, compared to when in high school is much much more and over here, time waits for no man.Whether or not we like the culture here in school, one have to accept and adapt to it fast.

Behind that glitz and glitter is the superficiality of human and I feel that coming to university helps me see life clearer than before. During my first year, I started off as a freshie, hoping to make more friends. It was not long before I realize that it was a bad idea to make friends from the same course, because what fundamentally underlies a “friendship” is a “partnership”. It is a mutually beneficial relationship. People attempt to make friends with you not because they are genuinely interested to know you or your life, they simply do it because through this friendship, you can get your textbooks for cheaper price, get more information on courses and also sometimes, past year exam papers 😉 what a good deal, isn’t it? However, it is at the cost of the fundamental trust and faith of human relationship.

What exactly is a friendship or the purpose of human connection if not for school work? Honestly, this is quite depressing to think about. And I can pretty much expect the same to happen when I go out to the workforce in future.

Also, it is in university that you realize that you aren’t as good as you thought you were (in literally, everything). Before I joined this big community, I thought that I am quite a bright kid, average-looking, but with a fairly decent sense of humor. I am worth something and I feel proud of my achievements. Right here, right now, I don’t think so anymore. Being surrounded with a huge group of people that are just like me, with the same interest and passion as me, it is hard to appreciate myself and my uniqueness. I have no idea how am I different from the others. There are always people who can do things better than you do, even when you try your best, many times, things don’t turn out like how you would want it to be.

In fact, university life is a pretty stressful period. There are many who try their best, but only to be outdone by those who put in half of their effort. You come to realize that nothing in this world is fair.

It is also the time where you realize that passion – sometimes isn’t really practical for the real world. Dream in this place gets cold. One can claim an interest in an area, but if it is not something that the society is looking for, or if its not something that earns big bucks, it is rendered useless.

In all honesty, university has been depressing so far. (With the exception of some superhuman friends who could make my day). While it is quite extreme to say, but I would like to conclude that university is not for the weak-hearted, introverts and those who dare not try out new stuff (if not, you just simply conform with the rest of the 99%, sadly) .

Done ranting, bye.