Overcoming Fear of the Unknown

With his confidence battered and ego bruised after receiving his less than stellar ‘O’ level results in 2013, and worried that studying in a polytechnic would yield disastrous results for him, Ahmad Saifuddin decided to confront his fears head-on and just do it.  By doing so, the former Loyang Sec School student unleashed his full potential, graduating with a Diploma in Biomedical Engineering (Merit) with a CGPA of 3.92, winning the course Bronze medal in the process.  Find out how he did it.

Even though it has been 3 years, the memory of my first days in Temasek Polytechnic (TP) remains fresh in my mind.  Like every other freshmen, I was anxious of what the future held for me.  My confidence had taken a severe beating when I first received my ‘O’ level results.  I didn’t do that well, and when my classmates told me that they would be applying to study in a JC, it made me feel so inferior. 

With my Sec 4 classmates at Loyang Sec School

Well, I had reservations about embarking on this new journey in a polytechnic and I questioned my capabilities.  Was I even good enough for a Poly?  Was I going to fail my diploma course eventually?  How was I going to bear the devastation of being kicked out of Poly upon failing?

These were questions that resounded in my head.  But I chose not to let my fears prevent me from embracing this chance of success at TP.  After all, we are the pilot of our own destiny and the only person standing in our way is ourselves.  From that point, I decided to make this new beginning worth my while.  And on that road to self-discovery, I eventually started to believe in myself again.

Honestly, Freshman year was no walk in the park.  I struggled to adapt to the new culture.  But I knew I wasn’t alone in the unchartered waters.  I remember how I sat dumbfounded during the first lectures, trying to comprehend all that technical information.  It was like… why in the world did I enter a Poly in the first place?  But in time, I slowly grew more confident.  So you see, we always feel threatened by unfamiliar things.  It is human nature to be afraid of the unknown.  But once you settle into your new environment, things will begin to fall into place.

Once I managed to settle down and ensure my own “survival” in Poly, I decided that it was time to help others and to give back to this place that I call my second home.  So I got involved in multiple school activities, which allowed me to hone my leadership skills as a student leader in club committees.

Serving as a Student Ambassador during TP Open House 2015

Being a Student Ambassador for the School and part of the Engineering Studies Club has been fulfilling.  Together, my committee members and I organised many events.  Our hard work and dedication as student leaders paid off during the Orientation in my final year.  For the very first time, the School of Engineering clinched 2 out of the 3 Championship Trophies in the Temasek Regatta – a dragon boat racing event which was the finale to the 3 days of Orientation for new students.  We won the overall championship as well as the “Best Cheer” award.  It was exhausting, but we wouldn’t have had it any other way – because in the process, we forged friendships and memories to last a lifetime. 

Celebrating our victory at the Temasek Regatta in April 2016

Academically, the road to the completing the Major Project in my final year proved to be most challenging yet rewarding.  The experience taught me many valuable life lessons.  I was blessed with supportive team mates who persevered through the challenges with me as we strove to complete our project. 

Of course, hard work isn’t the only key to success.  I know that what I‘ve achieved wouldn’t have been possible without my secret weapon, my Mum.  I wouldn’t be the person I am today if not for her unwavering love, support and faith in me.  The growing up years was tough for me, but I’m sure that it must have been even harder for her.  Thank you, Mum; this is for you.  And, if there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that your mum is always right.  Even when she’s wrong, she’s still right.

With my family on Graduation Day

Not forgetting my lecturers and friends at TP – they had given me encouragement, helped me in my school work, and stood by me through the past 3 years.  Without them, I can safely say that I wouldn’t have made it. 

Receiving my diploma is not the end.  It represents the beginning of yet another exciting chapter in my life.  The future is uncertain, and like how I began my TP life, every uncertain beginning would come with apprehension and some fear.  As I am on the threshold of entering a new phase in my life, I must admit, I am beginning to feel the same fear and self-doubt which I had felt after my ‘O’ levels.  But I remember what happened after that.  We must be brave!

With my course manager and fellow medalists on Graduation Day 2016

A famous superhero, Clark Kent a.k.a. Superman, once said “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”

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