As I head to work today, I was reminded of this small nag my mum used to always tell me when I bid her farewell at my primary school gates.
"Stand tall! Don't slouch when you walk."
My mum has many "don'ts" for me when I was younger - so much so that sometimes I felt the American notion of childhood freedom read in Nancy Drews and Sweet Valley High was a taste I'll never be able to experience.
Certainly, my mum was refering to bad posture, and spine problems later in life. My primary school late principal insisted all students carried their bags when they walked into school. Parents or maids who carried bags for the students will be kindly reminded by the teachers and vice-principal (read: malu). The notion is to remind students that the burden of learning and knowledge is really their own and no one else. Also, it also taught me to pack lighter. Haha.
So as a result, we literally bend over backwards to carry our daily load of textbooks. Stand tall, don't slouch.
When I corrected my posture, I could immediately feel the weight of the books threaten to pull my shoulders to the floor. It was extremely uncomfortable, and it hurt. But I could also breathe better, walk faster and eventually I was so used to the load, when there were extra books, it was no effort at all to carry them.
Moving on, when educational levels climbed higher and bags became smaller, the ability to carry the load became such a habit, I don't notice how heavy my "lighter" bag was in comparison to my peers. I was simply too used to the weight.
Reflecting back, what did my mum see when she saw me carrying an obviously heavy bag and walking tall and upright? She must have worried for my spine and all, but more than that, I think she wanted me to me strong both physically and mentally. The sight of a 7 year old walking straight despite a 7kg school bag, must have made her proud.
Doesn't mean she didn't insist on checking my bag every night to make sure I didn't useless things (like books I didn't need that day, paint brushes, a dictionary AND a thesaurus).
Stand tall - persevere despite the load life constantly adds to us. Don't slouch - don't ever let my guard down, never take the easy way out even when it seems like the best idea at that time with no apparent consequences.
My mum was only 1.50cm, she had to stand taller to be heard by others around her. Being the oldest and also the shortest child, I've seen her carry weights more than her petite frame can manage. She took care of everyone around her, saved and scrimp so that I could have the best. She stood tall, and never found an excuse to slouch.
One of my primary school's is perseverance, and my mum's insistence on my posture, her own demands, revolves around this very idea. As times seem tough at work, I must look back at this anecdote, and remind myself to
Stand tall, don't slouch.