When I first entered secondary school, “adulthood” still seemed like a far-off thing to me. But when Form Five rolled around, I was laden with responsibilities that I found quite overwhelming. One of the most demanding tasks was serving as captain of my school’s wind orchestra. We started off the school year fairly smoothly. It was only when we tried to organise a music tour to Singapore to take part in a competition that we started running into some problems.
I knew that organising such a large event would be no walk in the park, but even so, my first dive into the “adult world” made me realise how much I’d been protected in the bubble that is school, where teachers and peers are willing to tolerate our mistakes and there are no real consequences to them. It is the sad truth that in the real world, people do not always have your interests at heart, and no one is obliged to serve you or be nice to you.
Unfortunately, our committee did not have the foresight to plan much in advance. We only started reaching out to insurance companies and travel agencies two or three months before the trip. On top of that, we still needed to order T-shirts and speak to tour guides to work out the itinerary. The situation was crazy and we did not have enough time. We expected to wait two or three days for a proposal from the travel agency, but it ended up being a month before we had a reply. We kept calling companies to try to speed up the process, and that did not reflect well on us; our poor preparation and planning had become quite apparent.
Whenever we had organised school events in the past, any troubles we had run into, from lack of funds to need of school facilities, could usually be resolved with a trip to the school staff room. Yet when we sought help from our teacher advisers this time, there was little they could do. Everyone had their own work to do and it wasn’t their job to attend to us. We were running out of time, so we contacted the travel agencies and explained our difficulties. Fortunately, they helped us out by speeding up the process, and we managed to work out the details of the tour in the closest of margins.
In the end, the Singapore tour turned out brilliantly, but other than the joy and excitement of competing and bonding with my fellow band members, I was gifted with the realisation that the “adult world” is much more complicated than I ever anticipated.
Secondary school has been a wonderful stepping stone to the next part of my journey, providing me with opportunities to expand my social circle, handle administrative work and lead student organisations.
It is important to realise that the safety and protection schools give us do not extend to adult world. You make a mistake in school, and the worst that can happen is you get scolded or a teacher has to take over and handle the situation. But in the adult world,
no one is there to be nice to you; you make a mistake and there will be severe consequences, be it loss in money or reputation, and in serious cases, lives may even be harmed.
It is fortunate that our trip still worked out well despite our lack of experience, but I will always remember this life lesson and be aware of what the consequences might’ve been if the same had happened in the “adult world”.