At this moment, I know several 16 year olds who are over the moon. You see, they have just received their GCE 'O' level results yesterday.
One of them is my colleague's son. He scored straight As, surprising even his parents. "You must have more faith in your son", I told her. In our competitive academic environment where every other child gets a headstart from young, she couldn't believe that her son could score better than his peers. Afterall, she had never sent him to any enrichment class all his life.
I know another boy who doesn't receive much attention at home. His family barely gets by on his father's meagre income as a driver, yet he outshines all his peers in school.
I remember when I was 16, my best friend outperformed me in her 'O' level results, gaining a place in a prestigious junior college. Years later, her brother won a scholarship and was educated in Oxford University while the youngest brother excelled in our local university.
Did they have an early headstart in life? The answer is "No."
I used to visit her at home to find her slaving away in the kitchen with her mum. Her parents sold curry puffs for a living. Life was hard and she had to finish her chores before she could revise her school work or go out with me.
On the contrary, some of my affluent classmates who were always shamelessly flaunting their musical talents (obviously they attended enrichment classes since young) and assets or rushing for private tuition didn't do too well. They were the same ones who never made us feel welcomed in school.
I know we shouldn't use school results as an yardstick to measure our success in life. Unfortunately, as awkward students in a snobbish girls school, that was our only salvation.
I have no idea how they are doing right now but I do know my best friend and her brothers are high fliers.
Whether we get an early headstart or not, I guess at some point in life, everyone's on par again.