What Drives You?

I think you are meant to be driven, not meant to drive.

My driving instructor broke into a mild fit of laughter. I always thought he reminded me of some kind of hyena. And with his shades covering his eyes all the time, I found him rather unlikeable.

That happened about 8 years ago when I was learning how to drive a Class 3A vehicle. In the lesson one week before, he had suggested I better buy myself a seat cushion to prop myself up because I was too ‘small’. (Trust me, I am not petite at all.)

I remember those exact words because even though I did not retaliate and tell him off for such an insult – I was, after all, only 19 then – that remark stayed with me and fuelled some kind of drive in me to show him.

I passed my driving test on the first attempt, and 8 years on, I can say I am a pretty reliable driver. So much for labelling your students as ‘drivers’ or those ‘to be driven’.

This was similar to my memory of one of my Mathematics teachers who never really believed in us either. She did not have to spell it out like Mr Shades, she only had to say “I believe if you all put in your best effort, there is still a chance, a chance that you will pass (our A level Maths).”

That remark drove me insane. Nobody would be contented with a Pass for Mathematics, and given the way she was constantly undermining our hard work and intelligence, my incredulity transformed into frustration, and frustration translated into a source of self-empowerment. I would show her that I could get an A for Mathematics, without her help. So instead of attending the supplementary lessons she conducted, I went off and studied on my own, and did exactly what I had promised myself, by God’s grace.

There is always something magical about the power that can drive you when you want to prove someone else wrong and stand up for yourself. Something innately powerful in every living being to actually surpass his or her expectations. May we have the wisdom to embrace and understanding this sense of empowerment, and continue to do good work even if no one believes in us.

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