Falling in love with drawing
When I was nine, I saw an extremely beautiful watercolour drawing of a sunflower by a girl in Daily 10 – a kids’ newspaper. I was amazed and was determined to learn how to draw just like her.
With my dad’s help, I was able to track down the person behind the art – which in hindsight was a bit stalkerish! The girl who drew turned out to be the daughter of my dad’s colleague. I started going to the same studio she went to, to learn more about watercolour drawing. That’s where I fell in love with drawing, and it’s still my favourite hobby now.
Part of a team
I’ve always considered myself an island. I used to do everything on my own – I’d rarely depend on others and I’d expect the worst from them. That all changed when I joined my school’s volleyball team. Over the years, the sport has taught me a lot about why being a team player is a good thing. I’ve learned how to communicate with people, how to depend on them, and how to trust them. This is so important during competitions. Being on the school’s volleyball team has really helped me come out of my shell, and to believe that I can rely on others.
Standing up for who I am
In Form One, my friend and I were the only two ethnic minorities at our secondary school. We both felt like we were discriminated against by people around us, almost every day. That was a tough time.
I was pretty shy, which explains why I didn’t say out loud how much it hurt, or how we felt about it all. But over time, things became too impossible to ignore, and we had to tell someone. The teachers simply didn’t seem to understand – or even believe that we were being discriminated against, even after our parents complained.
One day, when someone made a really racist remark about me and my friend, I went straight up to that person and our class teacher. I confronted them, and asked the person why they would say such an offensive thing. That moment was a life-changer, even though the words had just come out of my mouth automatically. I’d finally spoken up for myself and my friend, and stood up for who we are.
After that experience, I became more confident about myself and about my identity. It really changed me in terms of how I talk and engage with other people, too.
A better, more outspoken, me
I was a very shy person in elementary school. I felt really embarrassed when I had to do, well, anything, and I felt very inadequate compared to everyone else. The people at my school seemed to be good at everything, and I felt like such a timid creature next to them. This was the case all the way up to middle school. After that, I got into – to my and to everyone else’s surprise – a very good secondary school. Even the teachers seemed shocked that I’d got in, even though I studied at a renowned girls’ school. I don’t mean to sound big-headed, but I’ve been told my English is of a very high standard, and I am encouraged by my teachers to get up on stage and share my work. Doing that has really built up my confidence – something I’m grateful for, as I no longer want to be that introverted person I was when I was little any more.
Hard work, not luck
Brazilian footballing legend, Pele, once said: “Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice, and most of all, love of what you are doing.”
I’ve not always agreed. I was very lazy as a primary school student, and thought that success can be achieved through luck and fortune, not hard work. Exams could be passed on pure luck, not by studying. The incident that changed my attitude towards success was this: in Primary Five, I used to not revise for my exams, and I’d give up if I didn’t know the answers. During my first secondary school admissions exams, I failed in some subjects. I felt so frustrated and I regretted not working hard enough. After that, I’d study even if I didn’t want to. Even after I passed my admissions exams and got into my preferred school, I continued to work hard (and still do!). I prefer this attitude more than the one I had – now I’ll never think of success as being luck-based.