In the Name of Purity

Looking back, the most fascinating point in my early childhood was related to my name, including how I got it and what it was intended to mean. My given name in Chinese is “Ke’er”, which refers to “lovely child” literally. Actually, its meaning is more than that. The name “Ke’er” is so attractive and amazing that even my Chinese teacher in high school said, “How wonderful your name is!”

It was said that my family spent a large sum of time seeking for good characters in the dictionary that could stand for greatness and ambition, but no one was capable of finding out an adequate solution. Therefore, they turned to Aunt Qiu for help, who was my mother’s best friend. She proposed, “Why not call her ‘Ke’er’? It sounds simple, but it stands for purity. Purity is enough.” So I received my name, and I grew up from then on in the name of purity.

My friends remarked that my name was easy to remember, and it was so sweet-sounding that it was easy to link it with peace and purity. So it was! I was taught that I was supposed to keep my mind pure, be kind as well as peaceful, and never be seduced into the trap of the so-called “dark society”, where people were described as treacherous who were concerned about their own interest only. I was always told that I should keep a pure mind, just like what my name indicated.

Integrating music into My Life

What would my life be if I never got the opportunity to get close to music? I cannot imagine that. From my perspective, music is my charming lover, who I have known since I was at the age of three.

What could a three-year-old child do? Get indulged in mountains of toys, or cry for snacks and care surrounded by grandparents? I have to admit that I was indulged something, and I cried, asked and even begged my mum for something at this young age. That “something” was a piano. My mum told me many years later, “I was worried that a three-year-old girl was too young to even touch the piano, but when I saw tears running down your face for many times, my heart melted with pity, so I signed you up for piano courses, without too much expectation.” Thanks to my mother, I was able to walk through the gateway of piano and music. It was truly delightful and wonderful to let my fingers flying over the keyboard of the piano! In these days, I laid a foundation for advanced lessons. All in all, my “piano career” began from then on.

I was not only fascinated by piano, but also singing. My mum was a vocalist in her early 20’s, and she was a real fan of songs. Sometimes she sang songs for me, but most of the time I was left with a satisfactory set of karaoke instrument at home. Holding the microphone, I could sing a large number of nursery songs at a time without any pause! To be honest, my voice was sweet, and rhythm as well as tone was not such a problem for me, although I was not as excellent as my mum.

Additionally, dancing was my cup of tea when I was a child. I once danced like a lovely bird in a municipal competition, in which I got the admission into the final. But I did not really take part in the final, for the year of the competition was, 2002, the year of SARS. Children were not allowed to go to crowded places, so I lost the chance to become a child star. And I had never been a child star, although it was my dream when I was a child.

Diligent and Talented “Alien”

“She is a well-behaved and lovely girl, a little shy though.” When I was a junior pupil in the primary school, many of my teachers commented me like this. Indeed, I tried my best to get a good grade in each subject, and I did not dare to do against my teachers’ instructions. Furthermore, I was so coy at that time that I did not have the courage to voice my opinion, to show myself, etc. For example, if my teacher asked, “Is there anyone who would like to take part in the dance competition in the school?” I would not raise my hand and told her I actually could have a try, although I had learnt ballet for long and practiced every week. Therefore, many opportunities were lost because of my shyness.

But I was not really accustomed to the comment “a shy girl”. In the depth of my heart, I had a strong desire to be special, as well as earn popularity among friends and schoolmates. The problem was just that I failed to behave following what I really thought. Sometimes I imagined that I was an alien who came to the earth for special tasks, but my appearance was like human as it could help me pass myself off as a real human. When jogging on the playground, I “communicated” with my alien colleagues by talking with my watch, pretending that we could successfully chat in this way. I was not quite sure why I did like this when I was a junior pupil. Although it sounds funny, I never regard myself as a “stupid” girl; on the contrary, I am greatly proud of my will of “becoming anything but ordinary”.

The adorable “alien” was intended to distinguish herself from other children, so she chose to concentrate on her work diligently. During the summer break of Grade 4, I spent approximately four hours every day practicing playing the piano, when my peers were enjoying computer games, Barbie dolls and other toys. It was never straightforward for a 10-year-old girl to sit down beside the piano, practicing the same pieces for such a long time, but I stuck to it and kept making progress. When I was playing the piano in front of those piano examinants in the standardized grading test for the piano, they were amazed by my skilful and fluent playing, and I got the highest grade “Excellent” for Grade 6 then. When my parents heard the news that I got such a good result, they could not believe their ears as they never thought I was able to make it. After all, it was the reward of my diligence, right? Afterwards, I continued taking piano lessons and taking part in all kinds of piano competitions, and my last exploit was passing the piano test for Grade 8 (the top grade is Grade 10). At that time few children of my age were capable of passing such a high grade in playing the piano, so I did earn some popularity among my peers who regarded me as talented.

When I was a pupil, there was a stereotype that a pupil was not able to do well in both academic work at school and playing musical instruments at the same time. But my own experience proved that the stereotype was absolutely wrong! Not only could I play the piano well, I also handled my learning tasks eminently, especially in maths. When I was in Grade 6, I only got 98 out of 100 in maths exams for once, and 100 out of 100 for others. I was keen on maths, and I was fascinated about working out difficult maths problems. In short, the enthusiasm for music and maths and strong desire to be special made up for a unique girl who considered herself as a unique “alien”.

Real Fan of Music and Maths

It is no denying that I continued holding my passion for music and maths after I graduated from the primary school and became a junior high school student. I was in “Music Class” which was a special class in the school, along with 48 other selected children who were good child musicians. I passed the test for selecting students by playing the piano, but I joined the choir and started to learn vocal music after I went into the junior high school. I could still remember those time when we had to practice in the tiny vocal music room from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. for the choir competitions, after which we must hurry home and finish our homework even though we felt tired. Practicing was bitter and tiresome, but the sweat counted, and feeling a strong sense of achievement was amazing! Nothing could be better than trying to do the best along with a fabulous team, or rather, the Choir of Xinghai Middle School, which ranked the top for years in our district.

When it comes to maths, there is no doubt that it was my favorite subject in the junior high school, although I could get great marks in each of the compulsory subjects. Every night I spent a large sum of time researching into the maths advanced problems given by my maths teacher, and I kept thinking to myself even if the problems were time-consuming. To be honest, it was not maths itself that interested and attracted me; it was the sense of achievement and appreciation from both others and myself that pushed me to learn more and better.

At the third year of junior high school, I got the first prize in the national junior high school mathematics competition, and I became the first student to get the first prize in that competition in our school’s history. I never took extra class outside the school, but I should make it! At that moment, I was a real fan of maths, who was a “superwoman” in maths in many schoolmates’ mind. However it was just somewhat regrettable that I failed to persist my affection and passion for maths after I graduated from the junior high school. Sometimes I think that if I had not given up my passion, I might have become a maths master winning many Olympic awards in maths now. Anyway, the experience with maths was truly marvelous.

Growing up to be responsible and creative

If you ask me, “What do you think did your senior high school teach you?” I am bound to tell you that it must be “how to be a comprehensive and mature person”. There is no denying that I acquired a lot of knowledge in the senior high school and made great progress in academic performance, but the most impressing thing that I learned at that time was grow up to be responsible and creative. Every time I talked about my senior high school, you could easily identify the note of pride in my voice. Thanks to Guangdong Experimental High School, in which I studied for three years, I went through the significant period in my adolescence and finally became a mature girl.

I used to have no idea of what to expect about my life, my career, and my future, but I changed a lot after I took the career planning course and shared ideas with successful figures invited to our school. After learning about a wide range of information about jobs, capabilities and so on, I started to research into myself and asked, “What kind of person do I want to be?” “What is my ideal career?”… Then I found the answer, which I kept updating: To be a dynamic and virtuous figure, to become a project manager and then a CEO in an IT enterprise. I was a fan of science and technology when I was still a little girl, and I discovered that the work that required both technical and interpersonal skills would suit me best. After I knew what I wanted to be and what I wanted to do, I was capable of making decision determinedly as well as arranging my life with clear goals.

Do you know what did it feel like to be surrounded with a group of senior teachers and perspective scientists or engineers? I spent three years in the top class of my senior high school, the students in which were selected elaborately before admission. Stressful though I felt, I had to admit that studying and living in such an unique environment helped me stimulate my creativity and sharpen mathematics as well as science skills. By communicating about academic work and debating on hot issues with my creative classmates, I learned a great amount of stuff, because of which I could grow up to be a creative and excellent student with great academic performance. “Be diligent, dynamic, and most of all, happy.” That was what my math teacher told me, who was also known as a senior expert in Mathematic Olympiad. I could never forget his words even though I left the high school for long. Thanks to my teachers and classmates in the class, I was able to acquire a set of skills that a satisfactory scientist or engineer should have, and know the essential spirit of carrying out a science journey.

It was not until I went into the senior high school that I realized how important it was to become an all-round person. You should be a specialist in your career, but you should never be shortsighted. Therefore, I tried to become more active and joined indifferent associations in the school, such as Model United Nations and Red Cross, where I learned a lot which I could not get access to only in the class. Furthermore, I took vocal music lessons twice a week. A girl who was good at study, music, interpersonal interaction and so on was charming and lovely, right? And I made it!

What “unique” truly means

To be unique, what you need to do is to be yourself. Be yourself, and then you can find that you are unique in the world. What about me? I used to strive to force myself to be a well-behaved girl and please everybody around me. The questions I always thought about were: what kind of person the boy I love will like? How to become a popular girl that is welcomed by all people? What can I do to become as shining as the famous star? … I got messed up, because I could not find out the answers to them. Struggling though I was, I failed to please all the people I met. What’s more, I cared a lot about what others said about me. It was probable that some simple words were able to ruin my schedule and upset me for long. It seemed that the master that was in charge of me was not myself, but others’ words.

Before I came into the university, I never made an effort to get away from the idea of trying to satisfy people around and acting as they expect me to do. However, I tried my best to make some changes. I told myself, “Keer, only you are the queen of yourself. You are supposed to do what you truly want to do, and try to be the best of yourself.” After all, I was not born for others. Why should I walk in the shadow of other people and ignore my real thought and need?

Then I went outside to get in touch with the world. I traveled to a large number of places, including the provinces and countries that were away from where I lived. By admiring different mountains, rivers, buildings and so on, I got to learn about the diversity of the world. Besides, I talked to a wide variety of people from different background. I chatted with the farmers to know more about their simple but positive attitude towards daily life; I shared thoughts with authors to learn how they viewed and depicted the world from remote perspectives; I made interviews with entrepreneurs and was greatly inspired by their delighting courage of exploring a new area, just like exploring yourself. In this way, I got to know more about the world, and realized that I could have a great number of choices to “sculpt” myself.

Now I have learned to listen to other people’s points of view patiently and politely, but I never try to copy the pattern of others’ life, nor get lost because of others’ comments. I am developing myself according to my own thoughts. I spent much time doing coding work on the computer as I dream of becoming a software engineer in the future, even though some people around me say, “Keer you are a girl! A girl is not intelligent enough to work on the computer.” And I sing songs as well as play the piano at weekends for love, though some people say, “Keer, you are not a specialist in music, and you should concentrate more on your study.” Furthermore, I actively take part in charity work, from caring disabled children to visiting the old in the nursery, though some people say, “Why do you waste time to do that?” Only I know what kind of life I want to adopt, right?

However, being myself and being unique does not mean that I should neglect what others say and be indifferent to people around. I am tough and determined in terms of choosing what kind of life I want, but I show gratitude to all the people who give advice to me or comment on me. Thanks to them, I can hear different opinions, and try my best to discover a real self, though facing challenges. A truly unique girl should be like that.