A common scene in university is the one where a university student (No la, a primary school student. In a university.), tired of the incessant emphasis on grades and studying, throws his hands in the air and wonders aloud, at a loud volume, and in slightly cruder language than this, “Why am I doing this?”

And that’s why I’m doing this.

Explain, for those of us who are not gifted with the dementia that allows completely random connections in between topics, you doofus.

In a bit. Just chill… dude? Dudette? What gender are you anyway, inner voice which I reply to indicating signs of mad-something disease?

I’m the voice in your head. Assigning a gender to me now is just one step further down the path to psychosis, enlightenment and peanut butter cookies force fed to you by monkeys in aprons.

Oh god, why.


We don’t truly know how badly we want something until we don’t get it.

Now, that statement is something I feel strongly about. Its truth permeates almost every aspect of our lives.

You always wonder about the path not taken. But somehow, when you are given the opportunity to take the path, and you don’t quite make it, it’s worse. What I mean is, say you have to climb over a gate to get on to that road, but you can’t quite reach it because you were never good at climbing, or the gate is high and you’re short.

Okay, that was a really bad analogy. But hopefully people get what I mean.

One of my friends brought up this point, which I think makes a lot of sense. It’s in relation to dance, but it applies universally. He said that there are 2 types of dancers who improve really fast. The first type are those who dance with a chip on their shoulder, maybe because of a rejection they received at some point, when they were told they weren’t good enough. The second are those who have an internal motivation to succeed, driven by passion.

These 2 types can overlap, and frequently do, but my point is this. I believe that in anything you do, there are 2 types of motivation that can drive a person and push him to strive for excellence.

Either he is motivated by rejection, or he is motivated by passion, and a will to succeed. Some may argue that the 2 are in fact that same thing, but extreme opposites. I’d say that they are related, but in the sense that one can easily lead to the other. Take Michael Jordan. He was cut from his high school basketball team. Edison took 10,000 attempts to invent the lightbulb. Dwight Howard wrote on a piece of paper when he was a small boy that he will one day be the No.1 pick in the NBA draft.

When I was in year 1, I tried out for NUS Dance Blast. I went in, not with arrogance, but almost a cautious optimism, bordering on a sense of entitlement. I took it for granted, almost, that I’d get in. After the audition I still thought I was going to get in.

Reading that rejection e-mail was painful. But it motivated me, too. It opened my eyes to the reality that I was not good enough, but that I wanted to be. I failed the audition, but I wanted in. I wanted to be in Blast. And that thought pushed me. Pushed me as hard as anything else had in my life. A year later, if you ask me now if it was worth it, I’d tell you hell yeah.

The friend of mine who brought up the topic got into Blast the same year I got rejected, and since then never have I seen his motivation decrease once. He goes all out every single time, and because of that his ability has improved drastically. He works hard because he wants to get better, his passion and will to succeed and improve is great.

At some point, however, you come to realise that one can lead to the other. Passion does not shield you from rejection. Rejection doesn’t mean you will lose your drive once you are accepted.

Michael Jordan won 6 championships in his time with the bulls. Kobe Bryant was asked what is his greatest motivation, and his answer was “Anything negative.” Either of them could have stopped at any point, once success was theirs. Both were driven by a combination of passion and rejection.

So why separate the 2? Why not just merge it under the umbrella of motivation?

The reason behind that is the consequences of each type. Passion drives you to success, but rejection could lead you astray. Taken the wrong way, the rejection could lead to envy, jealousy and embitterment.

Disappointed by failure, frustrated after multiple attempts, Edison could have given up any time. In his own words, however, “I haven’t failed, I’ve found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” It depends on how you take it.

How much rejection you’re willing to allow yourself. How much you’re willing to take and keep moving forward.

Passion, however, can  also be affected by failure. A common misconception is that passion is enough. Just because someone has the passion for something, they expect that success will invite itself in and make itself at home. But this is hardly the case.

The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. 

-Randy Pausch

Now that I think about it, the 2 types of motivations are quite intricately linked. And therefore, what is the point of this post? I’m not too sure.

A friend told me, “Don’t use a desire for inclusion as a source of motivation. That can only get you so far. Use desire for self-improvement as a motivation, that way you can get much further.”

I’d like to agree. I really would. It seems like the noble thing to do. The right thing. But I can’t. I just can’t.

To me, the sense of injustice I get from failing is a great motivator. I want to improve, personally as well, naturally. But at the same time, there’s a part of me which goes, “I cannot stand here and watch myself fail. I cannot stand here and watch others say I failed, that I wasn’t good enough.”

I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.

-Michael Jordan

Everyting negative – pressure, challenges – is all an opportunity for me to rise.

-Kobe Bryant

Final thoughts: I saw this video on YouTube today, in which there was line spoken which hit me like a ton of bricks. When you feel down, or feel like you’re failing:

Look up. Get up. And don’t EVER give up.

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