Dedication: N(athaniel) Y(ee Shin) L(ye Zheng Bin) A(udric)

Throwback to two nights ago (I was waiting for Lye Zheng Bin to upload the photos of us so that I could include it in this post, but the post couldn’t wait so here goes) 

The National Young Leader Award has been a journey to remember, from the day I was approached by my teacher whose faith in me has given me this amazing opportunity to two nights ago when our journey through this award ended in a beautiful ballroom. First, congratulations to the award winner Audric! His inspiring story, I’m sure, would continue to touch the hearts of many and bring hope to countless people who learn of his story. 

And next I’d like to talk about how this has been less of a competition, an award winning ceremony and less of a challenge; more of a fun adventure and a new set of family members introduced into my life. I think every award finalist has inspired me in their own ways with what they love to do and what they do, and how these two are aligned, almost parallel in their lives. The kind of encouragement they have been to me and the recognition that being a finalist in this award has given me has been motivation I can’t describe simply in words to keep doing what I’m doing and be proud of sharing what I do.

Also the new connection that we have found with each other, including the very very inspiring and supportive Halogen staff have been the best moments that I’m so thankful for. Here I’d like to point out that they are the kind of people I least expected to cross paths with (who knew I’d find people whom I could relate to and learn from and have fun with all at the same time?!); and for that I am grateful to no end.

The lessons learned are countless and I can’t describe exactly how these months of growing, learning and supporting each other has been for us| so here are some photos instead! 

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First picture altogether when we first met

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After we prepared cupcakes, certificate and thank you card for the staff! Here’s where we spontaneously celebrate ZB’s birthday too! 

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So glad to be part of one of Halogen’s biggest days: NYLD 2013

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Read about the most powerful lesson being with these people have taught me!

Special thanks to the finalists who walked this journey most closely with me, great things await us in life, let’s go! 

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10 Things My Alma Mater Taught Me

The 10 things I learned from RGS:

1 You can’t expect people to love you if you don’t love yourself: It’s just like how you can’t respect your teachers if they don’t command that respect from you, if you never learn to appreciate what you have and cherish your strengths, no one will be able to understand you for you and love you for you.

2 There are a million things you can’t control: I used to think we had little out of control and there are many things that we can make choices about, but school has taught me that there are rules in place and there are systems to follow; there are reasons they are in place and if you can understand that reason, you will understand its importance and why you have to let those things control you, sometimes.

3 There are a million and one things you can control: Yet the final decision for everything lies with you, and if you end up doing something you don’t like for 4 years, you don’t have anyone to blame but yourself.

4 Life is easier when you look at the good: Don’t be quick to criticise everything- it doesn’t make you look cool or smart or intelligent or superior. If you’re too busy looking for the bad, you will miss out on all the good

5 Sometimes you have to let go: People change and things that happen for a moment don’t determine what a person is like forever, so if someone does anything to hurt you, choose to let go. It doesn’t have to be because you forgive, but just because you making the choice to hold onto it, does you no good at all.

6 Keep promises to yourself: It’s ok for people to break promises they make with you, you can’t control that. Learn, though, to make promises with yourself; and keep them.

7 You’re an RGS girl, not a superhero: Despite the expectations that everyone has, they have little idea how much is really on you- only you have a clear idea of that because you know of the expectations you have from every aspect (parents, teachers, peers, juniors, seniors). And then the only one to decide for yourself, which are the ones you can and want to strive to meet and which just simply should be let go of. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure just because you can’t do everything in the world.

8 Thank people: I always imagine the school would be a more enjoyable place to be in if we all learned to thank people for the little things, from non-teaching staff and teachers and peers, we don’t have to wait for Teachers’ Day or Friendship Day or something to make each others’ days and make gratitude part of a culture that could lift our spirits and encourage the heart constantly.

9 Serious today, lame tomorrow: Things that seem life or death today, may be things you realise to play no role at all in deciding what kind of person you end up being tomorrow; so learn to take things easy

10 Social loafing is serious: It is very very easy to just sit back, relax and go with the flow, to do things just because everyone else is doing it and make friends with people just because it’s convenient and for your benefit, it makes your life easier; but if you think about it, it also makes your life more meaningless because then you lose your identity in exchange for convenience.

Thank you RGS!

Checkpoint: Farewell Assembly

Someone once told me that as we grow older, because we accumulate more and more years of memories and experiences, time seems to past faster and faster in our minds. This is because as we flashback through our lives, there are more and more memories to account for. So when it finally sank in that today was farewell assembly, I was like ‘wait, what?’ because for a bit it was happening all too fast.

The thing is, graduating is neither some kind of wildly exaggerated ending that’s magnified to be THE grand finale of my life and all relationships I’ve made in RGS nor the cut-off point for any memories that have begun here because in the very first place, I am graduating with the closest friends at heart and this school compound, the juniors and the people that hold so many memories will continue to exist for yet a few more years.

Instead, to me, graduating is a checkpoint.

Because time flies and by this time next year, many things that are etched so vividly in my mind right now will become figments of my memory that I can never experience again the exact same way. This is how it works- at present because you’re feeling it there and then, the experience is most real; but once that moment passes, it is but history that you can’t replay. Yet these memories are the ones that slowly shape us into who we become. I remember promising myself before entering this school to ‘not let anything change me’. At that time it worked in my head, that no matter what happens in this school and what goes on, I wouldn’t lose myself to this school (rather, not let the school’s every aspect govern my life and the kind of person I became). Whilst I don’t think I let the school govern my life after all, I can’t say I didn’t change at all because of the school because I did, the commitments and decisions that I made along the way, played big parts in deciding the kind of beliefs that I hold strongly today.

So today as I leave this beautiful place that holds amazing memories that I know I cherish so much but can’t rewind to experience again, it is a reminder that as a move on, every experience is precious and I’d like to cherish them before they pass me by into that very small fraction of my flashback in the future. And at this check point, I’d like to keep track of 10 things my experience in this school has taught me while it’s still fresh in my mind (that I’ll share another time, sorry)

I dare say no two persons in my batch I’m sure would have had made every decision the same way upon entering this school and hence everyone has been shaped differently from the start to the end of our RGS journey (which is, but a check point); but as we move forward into more years of countless possibilities and leave and cross many other paths with different people, I hope we still hold true to ourselves and let this RGS journey become a small but valuable fraction in the flashbacks of our lives- at least for that bit, we crossed paths and we share that fraction of memories in common.

P.S. I hope I make sense because right now I’m just feeling like: ‘wait, what?’

Somewhere in between

I’m not sure why of all the things we may do numerous times, the firsts and lasts always appear more important. Today was the last day of proper lessons in school, somewhat. But of all the other days we had options and core only, there wasn’t that special tingle as we did, in actual fact, the exact same thing we’ve been doing for the past three weeks. I remember being year 4, the first day was special, walking into school as the ‘oldest girls’ in school (or at least that’s what they call us) with our heads held high and pinafores clad just the way we like it. 

We’re always talking about our first impressions and first times with a person or doing something, because I suppose that’s how our story with this new xxx that has been introduced into our lives begin. I remember the first time I stepped into RGS and my first OM team. All these came into my life as milestones and shaped much of who I am today. And at the same time, I know my last day in RGS coming just around the corner and my last OM team would be just as, if not even more, memorable. 

I know I like to be part of people’s firsts. I like to be there at my junior’s first class back in something she’s passionate about or be there to support a friend’s first experience at donating blood for example. I want to be part of that story that she may tell one day about how this xxx came into her life. And I guess it’s yet another of my obssessive ‘I want to be part of everything’ feeling, but sometimes I know I want to so much because I know how precious firsts are; and part of the love and care I feel for people involves me wanting so much to be part of their first. 

However, tonight I’d like to bring attention to something besides the firsts and the lasts- and I think I’d like to call them the ‘in-betweens’. They say the process is more important, how you arrive at the final result is more important. And in many ways, they are. Just because this isn’t your first or last time, doesn’t mean you don’t treasure it. I think taking for granted the ‘in-betweens’ is a very bad idea because first of all, you don’t know for sure if they’re going to be your last. And if lasts are really so important to you, then surely these ‘in-betweens’ which could very possibly be lasts are extremely precious as well! Oh yes and don’t forget that all these ‘in-betweens’ are lessons that teach you how to get the most out of your last. It’s like signing up for a course and only going for the first and last course, I’m sure that’d be very fruitful! (yeah right) 

So today I stand up for the ‘in-betweens’ because everyone’s so conscious about the firsts and lasts, they forget that in-betweens are possibly even more important. And from today onwards, I think I’d give myself credit and value for the company I give to people’s ‘in-betweens’ instead of undermining them just because they weren’t firsts or lasts. 

Going on Holiday

Today I turned down an offer to go to Thailand for two weeks with my grandparents over the holidays, there are many reasons I said no to this seemingly amazing pleasurable escape route to a busy holiday working and doing all the things on my holiday to-do list which I promise to share sometime but I guess as much as this idea of escapism was pretty appealing at first, I have weighed the factors and decided not to go. 

The reasons why, I shall not elaborate here but this thought process made me recall the last time I went overseas. 

OM has been my ticket overseas for the past three years and each time is an eye-opener because I don’t go on holidays often. My last family holiday was in Primary 4 or something to Hong Kong/Bintan. This year was exceptional, comparably the best because of company and here I hope these pictures give you a little idea of the kind of the fun I had. 

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When people say they’re ‘going on holiday’ we quickly assume that they’re going overseas for a vacation. I’m not sure if that’s the actual meaning of ‘going on holiday’ because to me that just sounds like I’m taking a month or two off from work and having some fun, regardless of whether I’m going overseas or not. But because every holiday everyone around me goes overseas with their family, I sometimes give what I do and how much I enjoy myself in Singapore less value and credit than it deserves. 

But not this year. 

Here’s to the last time I went overseas! And to the fellow Singaporeans who’d be in Singapore while everyone take off to elsewhere for the holidays, I’m with you bruddas!

 

Must go: Chinese Garden

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Same day a few months back, I was discussing excitedly with Phionna a long-awaited plan. Being adventurous westies, we had wanted to challenge ourselves to walk back home from school on one fateful day. We made grand plans- I searched routes and we discussed ammunitions that had to be packed. But on one fateful night as I discussed its feasibility with my dad and was convinced it was a waste of time, adventure time for the westies was reduced to a morning jog around Chinese Garden. 

The last time I was here would be the 2011 Jurong Lake Run 5km, some marathon of some sort I don’t quite remember. And compared to then, there was no crowd to speak of when we visited today. A humble place covered within an hour’s walk, this place has numerous beautiful sceneries (that I didn’t manage to capture because of my lack of camera during the jog) and many chinese heritage monuments that are worth a look! 

I think as we immersed ourselves in the culture and heritage, the chinese stories we’ve been told from young and the architecture within; I found myself feeling pride for the strong values that these stories of actual people were taught to us since young. From national pride to filial piety, I thank these Chinese figures for teaching me all that. And I am lucky that this visit reminded me. 

Thank you adventure buddy for the company with the most laughter!

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Pretty

I used to think that prettier I was, the more seriously people would take me or the more they’d like me. But as I came to terms with the fact that I’d never be able to change the way I looked, the height to which I’d grow or the layout of my facial features no matter how I try; that’s when I realised I had to stop defining self worth with looks.

It may be true that good looking people win first impressions, and these first impressions could possibly bring you far. But just because you don’t fall under good looking doesn’t mean you are deprived of all these ‘privileges’ and you’re from a ‘different class and standard’. I think we have to start taking different perspectives to have a fuller picture- you see even while good looking people win first impressions, they don’t necessarily get the chance to prove anything else about themselves or they don’t get the satisfaction of earning things from their capabilities, they almost completely rely on ‘the luck factor’. Whereas for those who aren’t good looking, the options are left open, you can pick up skills to prove your capabilities and choose where you want to end up with this character, these abilities.

This doesn’t mean though, that there is a clear line between good looking and otherwise; because from here we have to learn to look beyond that absolutely superficial construction by luck, because any person is much more than what they look.