It is true that people are born with different "starting points" and that being privileged gives one a head start (Pushing back on privilege and meritocracy; Dec 23, 2017).
I came from a dysfunctional family, with a gambling addict mother and a mentally ill father.
Although I did not starve, I lacked a role model.
When I was a child, my father would often grumble to me when he was slighted at work. He also had negative views and perceptions of society.
When I was in junior college, he lost his job and refused to find a new one.
I was uncertain if I could complete my studies. I went through a stressful period and developed mental health issues, particularly anxiety, and had difficulty focusing.
When I was in the National University of Singapore, I had no financial support from my family and constantly worried about paying my tuition fees.
I graduated from university in mid-2009 with $30,000 of study debts. Lacking guidance in career planning, I struggled with lowly paid contract jobs and found it hard to repay my huge study debts. At one time, I took on three jobs just to stay afloat.
This exacerbated my mental health.
I graduated in mid-2009 with $30,000 of study debts.
Lacking guidance in career planning, I struggled with lowly paid contract jobs and found it hard to repay my huge study debts.
At one time, I took on three jobs just to stay afloat.
Luckily, my situation turned around in 2011, when the foreign manpower policy was tightened.
However, the companies I worked for did not care about the mental health of their staff.
I hope that sharing my experience will raise awareness of the struggles children and young people from low-income families face.
I hope people will come to know of this other side of Singapore and influence policy changes to help the less privileged.