M'sian City Life #29: I Thought I Would Do Fine With Just An SPM Cert But I Messed Up

"I kept convincing myself I was already getting along fine. But truthfully, I was not."

Cover image via

Adam Rizal is a 25-year-old college dropout who has a dream of pursuing his tertiary education once again

Image via Adam Rizal

It all started in July 2013 when Adam's family ran into some financial issues. He was studying mechanical engineering at Universiti Kuala Lumpur Malaysia Institute of Aviation Technology (UniKL MIAT) when he started working part-time. He took up a job as an aircraft cleaner at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).

However, six months later, Adam dropped out and took up a full-time job as a production operator. He was doing quite well and Adam even got his first promotion within a few months.

Opportunities began to open for Adam after that as he received a better offer to work at a hypermarket and retailer chain as a warehouse assistant in June 2014

However, he found it hard to keep up with the office politics and began to feel overwhelmed.

"The long hours in the warehouse really made me depressed. Imagine working in the middle of a wide warehouse floor every single day, and being surrounded by tall pallets that consisted of everyday groceries," Adam said.

"I was glued to the computer screen and ignored my colleagues. I became really hot headed and I began to crack under pressure."

More hardships awaited Adam. He fell ill and jumped from one job to another.

Adam (bottom left) with his colleagues during Hari Raya celebration last year.

Image via Adam Rizal

He was "discarded" when he was struck down with dengue fever, as he was transferred to another department with the reason that his performance dropped.

Later, when he was offered a job to work at a departmental store, he resigned and started working as a floor supervisor in April 2015.

With a renewed sense hope, Adam began learning the ropes of the trade. But it all went down the drain when he was struck with a back pain in his lumbar region. He stopped working in September 2015.

During this period of time, Adam met up with his teacher who advised him to further his studies but he insisted that there was no need for that

Adam met up with his teacher two weeks before Hari Raya last year.

Image via Adam Rizal

"I thought I was on track with my achievements, so I kept convincing myself I was already getting along fine. But truthfully, I was not."

He was going nowhere but he kept putting off his plans to further his studies.

Looking back, Adam said that this is one of the major turning points in his life as he started to seriously consider what he needed to do to get his life back on track.

Somehow, Adam never need to worry about getting a new job as he managed to secure a 6-month contract job at a local telco company in October 2015

"Over there, I took a step back to examine my own life. I knew that I still have a lot to do, but I was getting tired by my own bullsh*t. I convinced myself that I was getting tired, that I was going to give up without even doing anything."

However, since he was a customer service representative, Adam had to interact with hundreds of people on a daily basis. Slowly, he began to open up his mind after talking to many different people.

"I strived at first, but I became lazy as I go along the way. But I kept telling myself that I was alright."

He had familiarised himself with the system in a short period of time. He remembered how he had the chance to handle an irate customer, but the call ended with laughter.

"I had the potential, but I got lazy. I became too comfortable and I didn't want to learn as much as before."

Despite being apathetic about work, Adam still felt disappointment when he found out that the company had decided not to renew his contract

"I got angry and frustrated. I kept saying that it was their fault, but it was really my heart that was the one that had already given up. I never ever thought or imagined myself working very long there."

"I blamed the management's decision and ran away from reality again. But I already knew the answer — that I was not wishing hard for this one. I didn't want to climb out of my own rut."

Adam then decided once and for all that this should be taken as an opportunity to turn around and take charge of his own life

"I want to keep learning. I want to achieve my dreams. Keep the promises. I will go back to school."

"I had wasted the opportunities given to me previously. Now, there is no other way than doing it the hard way."

"I really need to step up, and further my studies. It's never too late for anything, I just need to be brave, to turn things around again. It took me more than 2 years to have a good look into reality."

While he is determined, there are still many roadblocks ahead for Adam who only has a SPM certificate in hand

His application to study at a local public university was declined because he lacked the three-year continuous working experience. He had tried to apply for jobs but for all it's worth, he is underqualified certification wise although he has working experience.

Nevertheless, Adam found a job and he is currently working as a storekeeper cum dispatcher in the last few months. Since his application was previously rejected, he is in the midst of applying for a Diploma in Logistics and Supply Chain Management in a private university.

"I do have some regrets because I can't move forward and progress to where I want to, but I take it as a learning experience. We are all bound to make some mistakes, so I just learn to keep pushing on."

Living in the city ain’t a piece of cake but it could also be exciting and adventurous. How are you coping? How are you making the best out of things? Do you have a story or experience to share?

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Stay tuned for the next episode!

Previously on Malaysian City Life #28, Aaron Wong shared his account of being a theft victim and how the police assisted him during the unfortunate ordeal: