“I was in the Normal Academic stream at Saint Andrew’s Secondary School. Back then, I never really saw the importance of studying; I only wanted to have fun. And I was never known as the genius or the smart kid; I just hit the passing mark every time.

When I scored 30 points for my ‘O’ Levels, I had a huge wake-up call. I come from a family where my parents always had high expectations of me, but I never met any of them. I felt like a failure and went into a semi-depressed state, and I had no one else to blame but myself.

What was next for me? For a whole month, I reflected upon what I needed to do with my life. I tried everything from applying for a place in ITE to sending letters of appeal to different polytechnics, but none of them accepted me. In the end, I decided to retake my ‘O’ Levels.

I wrote a letter to my principal, Lucy Toh, but got rejected. She called my mom and said I was someone who didn’t take things seriously. I’m sensitive by nature so that really pissed me off, but now I realise she was just trying to challenge me. She took me back in the end.

When I returned to school, some boys teased me and called me ‘King of the School’. They said I was in secondary six because I was older. I was actually lucky to have a few repeat students with me. We became a community of friends who really encouraged and pushed each other to study.

I didn’t know how to study effectively at first, so I did some research on Google and YouTube. That’s how I came across my favourite channel, The College Info Geek Podcast. This guy called Thomas Frank offers all kinds of tips and advice, and they worked for me.

It took a lot of discipline for me to study. I started with 30 minutes, then 45, and eventually I could study for six hours without stopping. Thanks to all my hard work, I passed my ‘O’ Levels the second time around. I got 16 points. I actually cried and my parents and principal were very happy for me.

After my Os, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to pursue, but I did develop an interest in self-improvement thanks to all the research I did to improve my studies. That got me thinking of maybe starting my own business one day, not just to make money, but to also create something that can really help people.

Today, I’m studying Business Intelligence and Analytics at Temasek Poly. I’m learning how to code and analyse data because I want to start a business in the tech field. I plan to pick up other aspects of running a business through books and experience. I mean, I’ve been learning everything on my own so far.

Any advice? I’m not at that stage where I can give advice, but based on my own life experiences, I live by these four words: hard work, discipline and patience. Self-awareness is important too. Be aware of who you want to be and what makes you happy, and take it from there.” – Jonah, 20

Jonah is sharing his learning experiences as a young entrepreneur on his brand new blog, A Hustler’s Journey. Subscribe and give it a read!



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Arman Shah

A former travel writer with fond memories of solo adventures in Southeast Asia, Arman is now Founder of The Everyday People. He's also the co-host of Channel Empathy, a podcast about the marginalised in Singapore.