Saturday, November 21, 2009

Behind that Shiny Resume

Behind that Shiny Resume:
Jottings of a Troubled College Student

By Jasmine Yow
Publisher: ARMOUR Publishing
Published: November 2009
ISBN-13: 9789814270229
102 pages

Synopsis from the back cover: Have you ever wondered what lies behind a successful facade? For Jasmine, it was a confused and hurting heart that led to clinical depression.

"Behind that Shiny Resume" offers you precious glimpses into her honest struggles. Watch her wrestle to reconcile her fiery passion to be outstanding in life with her desire for peer acceptance. Enjoy her musings, her little appreciations of life. Hope with her as she fights for change in her everyday thoughts. And take heart as the girl who once mocked her shiny resume finally learns to love and enjoy her God-given beauty and talent.

First sentence: 26 Dec 2006, Returning to Singapore to begin my 2nd year of junior college: Looking out of the window, I was enjoying the bus journey until we crossed the bridge and I saw the huge sign that flashed "Welcome to Singapore".

Genre: Non-Fiction. Memoir.

What led you to pick up this book? My sister Catherine lent me the diary-style book and told me that it's written by her university mate. I took one look at it and I knew this is a book I should read. I finished it in about 2 hours. I do not think her friend realizes I read her book...

The book begins with Jasmine's resume, and my, it is indeed very impressive. Imagine perfect academic scores (SPM: 10A1 2A2; SAT II: Perfect scores in Mathematics 2, Physics, Chemistry), outstanding achievements in her debate society (best speaker not only in English debate but Chinese as well) and a host of other equally mind-boggling endeavors (I sweat at the sight of a not-so-complicated maths equation so for Jasmine to have represented Malaysia at the International Mathematical Olympiad in Athens, Greece, at the age of 15(!), is something I truly admire). She is also a musical genius (she plays the piano and violin) and dances ballet, having achieved Grade 8 distinction for all three awarded by ABRSM. And mind you, her resume is not even complete because it is only a glimpse of what she had achieved. Studying the 3-page document makes me dizzy and I wished I have 10 percent of her overall achievements.

Yet, behind such impressive success was a girl that is uncertain of who she was and was living according to the expectations of others. From being a star student, she started to let herself slip. When she had lost her reasons to excel, she began to resent what she was doing. Nobody truly understood the severity of her confusion and fatigue, not even her parents. She struggled with her thoughts, with eating disorder, and was later diagnosed with an illness called cyclothymia or mild bipolar disorder.

Behind that Shiny Resume takes us into Jasmine's journey of depression and in the midst of all that, lets us know that there is hope.

What did you like most about the book? I thought Jasmine is a brave girl and is courageous by writing this book. Her candid writing of a gloomy subject such as depression is inspiring and motivating. She expressed in the "Preface" section whether had she made a wise decision in writing it. I say yes. Thank you, Jasmine, for being so honest and transparent in baring your heart out. I share your hope for what the book hopes to achieve, and for whom it is intended to reach out to. Her message to the educators, teachers and parents are spot on:

[...] No, I don't mean they should stop pushing students towards excellence--children need to be pushed. But more than anything, they need to be shaped right: to embrace learning, not to fear failure, and to develop strength of character.

Parents, teachers, students (we all are!), please read this book. Do check out the Facebook page too.