Little things

Yesterday, a lot of things got sorted out that haven’t been sorted out for a while. It’s been a while since things have been going my way and in this period I’ve learnt to be grateful for the little things that God has given me. I realised I’ve taken a lot of things for granted, like clear vision, easily obtainable modules, and motivation. It’s not until these things were taken away from me one by one that I figured I couldn’t live without them. It started with me getting sick on new years day and I’m still kinda sick… With health taken away I was basically consigned to the bed and even after the fever subsided I was miserably stuck with flu. Being sick is really terrible, besides sniffling everywhere and having a sore nose, you don’t have strength to do much stuff. Attending to the multiple errands of the day tired me out so easily that I was quite shocked at how one train ride and back left me half dead. Coupled with that, I was waiting for my glasses to be done cause genius clumsy me broke them woohoo and I was left with contact lens that weren’t astigmatism equipped so I sort of hobbled around, banging into objects here and there, being unable to see anything or anyone clearly for a whole week and a half. It was pretty miserably sniffling and being partially blind. To add on to that, I really wanted to run or gym but you can’t do so when you’re sick so it was just me pining for some activity beside binging on Netflix and running errands. Then I couldn’t actually decide on whether I should bid for 3ks or 4ks, the dilemma was between pulling up my cap with easier 1-3k mods or just diving headfirst into 4ks. I was well aware of the fact that my grades was absolutely crappy and the fear of not getting to year 4 haunted me. It was pretty crippling, my own expectations and the fear of everything plus being unable to see anything clearly gave me daily mild headaches that lasted for the whole day. Bidding came and I panicked and dropped my MPE mods, I swear I wasn’t thinking straight. I still have no idea what happened for the first 12 days of January. With motivation and morale at an all time low, it reached the point where I didn’t want to leave the bed, I was sleeping 14 hours a day. Today was the turning point. I got my specs and I talked to someone who told me to choose my battles, take a few steps back and decide on a goal and let everything align around it. She told me I gotta choose what I wanna pursue and drop the rest because trying to achieve everything will only give me stress. Also she made me set a new goal for 2018 and that is to discover for myself how to rest and rejuvenate. She said you can’t help others if you’re dead. So start by taking care of yourself. I realised three years into uni and I didn’t know how to do that. So I’m gonna statt learning that, slowly. For now, things are looking up. I’m quietly thankful.

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2017 in review

photo_2017-12-15_14-34-57The journey
In January I discovered I could draw watercolour stuff. That sparked a journey of art, and commissions. I realised art was a way of expression and de-stressing and thus #distressdoodles developed. As it grew, so did my confidence in my own art.
The semester had great modules, I enjoyed particularly History of Film and Renaissance. I found joy in learning, especially in History of Film. As someone not accustomed to movie watching, it seemed like a strange thing to watch all 18 Marvel movies for a paper and in the end writing on something that was not part of the whole deal, Doctor Strange. The module gave me new perspectives to research on and also made me a Marvel fan, going deep down into places where I’d never ever have gone. At the same time, Renaissance brought me back to interesting places in the past, where I found developing a certain liking to Andrew Marvell and Christopher Marlowe. It was interesting. The GEM I did sent me to DC Universe where the presentation on Arrow allowed me to watch multiple seasons of it (heh), and even Visual Culture sent me to ArtScience Museum to figure out technology and art and write about space and time. Gilby’s 2201 gave me a certain foundation in doing the things I liked, Greek mythology and Genesis/John were familiar and yet new places for exploration and understanding. I spent so much time in research in all the places I found myself satisfied and contented in. I realised I didn’t want the semester to end.
My 21st was a happy and special time where I met friends who I hadn’t seen in a while, it was a day of warm hugs and smiles and laughter. I’m always thankful for those who made it possible, the RMJ gang who went extra miles for me and my family. I pushed it up a month earlier than my actual because it was the people that mattered, not so much the date.
Work came next over the summer and it was trying for me mentally. I used photography to cope with the pain and struggles that came my way as I faced old demons and also discovered new ways to help myself instead of always relying on people to pull me out of my down state. I also figured out what I liked and what I did not like, what I liked in work environments and what I did not like. I was forced to do certain things outside my comfort zone that tested my resilience and I’m thankful to God for grace. I wouldn’t have made it through without that. I’d like to thank God also for the people who made things easier when I found things hard, for those who were bros, for making me believe in loyalty, sincerity and love again. Thank you also for those in church who taught me how to survive this period and for aunty Reb who brought me around town to eat, who accompanied me when I was a scared little child.

July was the wildest month of the year. Bayern came to Singapore, I had multiple camps, Commencement 2017 and FASS Guardians. Bayern’s trip to Singapore was one heck of a week, it was crazy, I slept minimally but I had such a blast. I think those experiences couldn’t be captured with photos, watching them live for the first time in 11 years, meeting with friends and those who also were on the same side, as well as meeting the players and legends themselves. That was really amazing. I felt like I went to Munich.

Commencement 2017 was bittersweet, I watched a whole batch of seniors that impacted my life so deeply, graduate and move on to the working world. I felt sad that they were leaving but happy that they made it out of the system finally on to paths and to things that they were happy in. Adulting is never easy and as the year continued and as the struggles continued, I’m thankful they are friends because I could be a part of their journeys and being able to be there for them sometimes made me really glad.
August opened a new semester and a new mini chapter in the book of uni life. Joining boxing and kayaking was physically and mentally a challenge for me. I started year 2 with the goal of serving and year 3 was to hand over. Looking over, I regret nothing. These two comms brought joy, and heartwarming feelings. I think it was just a special feeling to be refreshed with such sincere friends surrounding me. I looked forward to seeing them every week, they were the breaks from the mundaneness that the semester brought. The semester was tiring, the modules were exhausting and to be honest, boring, except soci theory and writing which opened a new world for me. This sem I met a prof that kinda changed my perspective on a lot of things. Two profs actually. One inspired me to try things I wouldn’t have done and encouraged me so much I started to believe that it was possible to do something I thought impossible. The other prof made me face my fears of writing and approach it with new lenses and a tad more bravery. Both of them carried me through the semester with somewhat more confidence especially at a point in university where I thought I couldn’t go on anymore.
In November I discovered Operation Broken Wing and a new world of social work x fitness. I look forward to more on this journey and I am so thankful Lionel approached me to join the team in the capacity I could 🙂

 


In short, 

here’s some thoughts on the things I tracked for myself in this year

  1. Fitness journey – I started to run this year, from not running to actually writing 5km without stopping that’s a pretty decent result. Also maintaining at 45 kg and ending the year at 45 is an achievement for me. I picked up and balanced weights and functional dynamic training alongside boxing and kayaking. I have been pretty active this year despite all that was happening so that’s really good.
  2. Confidence and mental state – I nearly lost it many times this year, it doesn’t help that it’s getting harder and harder sometimes to keep my sanity with everything that crumbles and threatens to crumble around me. But thank God for church, for His grace and for all those who kept me in check and kept checking on me to make sure I took care of myself. To all those who dropped little encouragements here and there, you are loved, you never know how your comment may have been just so needful.
  3. Discovering what I was good at and being okay with the fact that I was gonna be stuck in something I’m not good at. I think I found out I chose the wrong major. When I started a sociology module and discovered I was good at it and also I found out that I was good in factual and evaluative thinking rather than what I was currently doing, it was a bitter pill to swallow, especially knowing that I wasted time and energy and mental strength all these years to convince myself of something that I knew wasn’t meant to be. It was painful to know that what I really loved, literature, I wasn’t gonna be good in, or even do a Masters in it, possibly. But I had to learn to come to terms with the fact that sometimes life doesn’t go the way I want it to and maybe that’s what God wanted me to learn all this while.
  4. Found a family in boxing and kayaking – it is a family. I haven’t had such happiness with circles in school especially when the academic year started on a not so pleasant note. As mentioned above in the ‘Journey’ section, it’s not often after you end your day exhausted, you will still go to find a group of people and spend time with them unless they really are special. These two bunches are special and I am blessed to have met them. Conversations and HTHTs as well as learning through common experiences are things I wouldn’t have traded for anything else, and here’s to all the bonds formed and to be formed, I’m excited.
  5. Becoming a senior myself and passing on and watching other people grow – year 3  was meant to be handover year. It was in a way, in that I taught people under me, whether or not from positions of power. I realised just knowing things and being able to get them done in the most efficient way does not make you a good leader, but teaching others and empowering them to do what you can do and more, that makes you a good leader. I learnt through failure and mistakes how I can help others grow and when I see them growing and thriving and being way better than I was, I am thankful for the opportunities given to me. I want to continue to coach and to help, in any capacity and make a difference in people’s lives.
  6. Somewhere in the middle of Y3S1 I transitioned from @distressdoodles to @esthertiq. More information regarding that can be found here, but for now, I am grateful that change happened, and also I did not break as I expected to, one breakdown a semester. This semester it was plain madness, there was madness in school, at home, everywhere, but God kept me sane through His Word, His love and those around me who were there for me.
  7. Dealing with loss. I lost friends this semester, for various reasons. I didn’t know how to be okay with it, I lost a DG that met every week, I gained another, but it would never be the same. I lost certain other friends and I still grieve over those friendships. Yet I know that life happens and somethings you do not go after them because everything does have a lifespan to it and sometimes life carries you on and you got to go with it. Yet whatever it is I am always grateful for experiences and people who have shaped my life in one way or another, for better or worse, I have matured and grown.

Lastly, here’s the thank you list that I’m gonna start to do yearly
God is at the top, always. I would have never made it without His abundant grace and strength poured out for me in so many ways, more than I ever would have imagined and believed. He helped those around me, and opened my eyes to understand that as well. Thank you God for holding me through the tears, fears and joy. I am blessed to know my Saviour is there, powerful and holding my life together.
  1. Deanna – thank you for being a brain dump, an essay proof reader, a fashion consultant, a feeder, and most of all, a sister.
  2. Oli- for being by my side, for hearing all my rants, every single day, for throwing chocolates at me, for showing polar bears in my face and for warm hugs
  3. Esther Ng and Naomi – you have no idea how much you both mean to me. Esther thank you for being a partner in school with me, for lunching with me, for those MRT conversations, for being honest to my face telling me things that are hurtful yet necessary. Ohms for being there. I cannot do uni without you both.
  4. Xiuwen – baobei!!!!! You were the miracle that happened, the friend and daughter I never imagined I’d have. I am so thankful you are in pubket and marketing comm with me. Thank you for being so compatible with my work style, for being a friend over everything else, for hearing my random comments and for trusting me with life’s problems, and for aimeeeee hahaha ❤ I really love you a whole load I hope you know that.
  5. Tham – broooo, thanks for being the other half of the boxing VPs. This sem was special cause you were part of it as well. HTHTs and honest transparent convos, I can’t ask for more. Connection is real brudder (*insert bad laughter here*)
  6. Rennes Michelle Jedi – babesss, this semester was tough but I am proud of you Michyyyy, and Rennes and Jedi. It was hard on all of us individually but thank you for being there for each other, especially for Michyy, and for Mich always caring for others before yourself. Im proud of you Renn and hope you enjoy disney. Jeds this sem kinda sucked a lot and you’re tired and all but I hope next sem will get better and that you’ll smile a lot more because you deserve it.
  7. Ivan – I did an insta dedication post for you, but you were the bro that made me believe in the fitness journey, and in loyalty and friendship, especially in a critical time where I didn’t know if I could believe in it again. You made it count and picked me up when it was really hard to. Thank you once again for showing me perspectives I’d never have seen on my own.
  8. Miss Nat – thank you thank you thank you, for everything. teacher, mentor and friend :). If I make it out of university alive you’re invited to my graduation in advance.
  9. Gaomin – thank you mom for speaking truth when I don’t wanna hear it the most, for telling me to rest, for being the pause button in my existence so I breath.
  10. Erinna – I love you a lot, for warm hugs, for your honesty, for the trust and for the friendship. Your presence brightens my days very much.
  11. Yenjie – thank you for sending me home, for the HTHTs, and for always going over and beyond for the club, for ZR and for myself. I am very thankful for you, really really thankful.
  12. Derek – thank you for being proud of me.

2018 goals 

  1. I want to grow in the understanding of the Bible, in love for others, and in compassion for those who do not have what I have, I am very blessed and I want to love like I’ve been loved.
  2. #roadto50kg – weight goal
  3. #roadto21.1km – fitness/training
  4. #estherpades – for adventures out of NUS, it’s university and beyond now

EN3263: Singapore Literature in Context

Module code & title: EN3263: Singapore Literature in Context

Grading:

25% close reading assignment
35% research essay
15% book review
15% 5 minute presentation on a selected singapore literature text from 2012-2017
10% class participation (yes he actually likes it a lot a lot when people talk, he asks questions)

Lecturer: Dr Philip J Holden

He’s a really kind professor, some have described him as a kind uncle. He’s the most conscientious professor in the literature department I’ve ever met besides Dr Yeoh. He creates a lesson plan on IVLE, linking all worksheets/slides/secondary readings and everything really, it’s quite astounding considering most professors don’t actually do that.

What it’s about: It’s a singapore literature module. You study Alfian Sa’at and other related authors, mainly from the Anthology of Singapore literature. You go through the history of Singapore and some of the controversial times/texts that our nation has seen. it opens your eyes to things in literature you haven’t seen before, and the discussions are enlightening.

Assignment workload: Reading of primary texts and weekly forum posts. Weekly forum posts are how he notes and starts class participation because he discusses the opinions that you posited on the forum posts. Anyway forum postings are good because you have to read the texts to post on the forum.

Thoughts about the tutor: –

Project workload & question/theme –

Readings: See above

Exam (briefly format and difficulty): It’s a lot of work though, many small components. But manageable.

Recommended if…You’re interesting in singlit. You should check it out.

Rating (in terms of how much you enjoyed it) – 3.5/5

 

EN2201: Backgrounds to Literature

Taken in AY16/17 Sem 2, (posting this late, but realised it was worth writing!)

Module code & title: EN2201: Backgrounds to Literature

Grading:

70% CA – made up of:
1. Midterm essay (20%)
2. Final essay (30%)
3. Class Participation (20%)
30% final exam (YES this module has finals!)

Lecturer: Dr Gilbert Yeoh (he’s the best!!)

Dr Yeoh gives you everything. Like he prints a course package for you and he has soooo many slides because every possible thing he wants you to learn for the module is smacked on it. His lectures are funny, sometimes information overload. The seminar is made up of a lecture for an hour and a half then a discussion segment. There’s a break in between those segments. He is open to controversial ideas and opinions. He wants originality in your essays which to be very honest can be tough given that he spoon feeds almost everything. But it is very interesting and he’s super kind and generous to always help/open for consults so please go for consults.

What it’s about: It’s a classics module. You study Homer’s Odyssey, Sophocles’ Oedipus and the books of Genesis and John from the Bible. Reason for these texts being that they are argued to be the earliest written texts in Western civilization and their themes are foundational for the writing and creation of Western literature. (therefore the title of the mod)

Assignment workload: READINGS. Many readings for a 2k module, but it is doable. Speak up in lectures, and you’ll do okay. Go through the tutorial question list at least, skim through it once before you come into the seminar.

Thoughts about the tutor: –

Project workload & question/theme –

Readings: See above

Exam (briefly format and difficulty): It’s an interesting paper, he’s not so much looking for originality as much as argument and your opinion so just state your opinion. Most people pick their favourite text and write on it.

Recommended if…You love Dr Yeoh (!!woo!!)

Rating (in terms of how much you enjoyed it) – 5/5

 

EN2275: Writing About Literature

Module code & title: EN2275

Grading: FULLY CA
10% class part,
20% Summary
25% Essay 1
25% Essay 2
10% Final Portfolio/Reflection

Lecturer & tutor:
Dr Aparna Shukla

Dr Shukla created this module newly, hence being the first iteration a lot of things would be new and in incipient stages. Lectures could be draggy until you realise what the focus of the module is and that actually lectures are not as good as tutorials. Tutorials are more helpful because mostly students take this module with the idea that they want to improve on their writing and generally people improve in smaller groups because there’s more attention on the individual student so that’s the thing about her tutorials, they’re small and super helpful.

What it’s about: how to write. properly. You start with learning summaries and interpretation skills which seem lame until you realise you cannot actually do it properly. Then you learn how to think and write a clear proper introduction and you move on to the essay itself… She uses the topic of trauma to give us a platform to write.

Assignment workload: Not much work. One reading can be covered over the first 6 weeks. Then the second half is a film/text. There are secondary readings but they are as per needed (if you write the essay then you read that reading)

Thoughts about the tutor: –

Project workload & question/theme –

Readings: Barely any, really.

Exam (briefly format and difficulty): No exams. 3 assignments through the semester, all of which you can bring in and consult her. And you should. It’ll help tremendously

Recommended if…you are a literature major who needs to learn how to write properly.l

Rating (in terms of how much you enjoyed it) – 4/5

Expected grade: A-

Actual grade

SC3101: Social Thought and Social Theory

Module code & title: SC3101 Social Thought and Social Theory

Grading: 10% Class Participation, 3 short papers (40%, each 13.3%), finals 50%

Lecturer & tutor:
Lecturer: Dr George Baylon Radics
Tutor: Jamie/Prof Radics

Prof Radics is wonderful. Have I ever mentioned how amazing he is? He’s patient, answers every email sent to him (with a whole host of explanations, sometimes), and is always ever ready for consultations despite his busy schedule. I appreciate his teaching style, as he incorporates examples relevant to the world and to us in his lectures.

Tutorials under him are great, he explains the questions in the tutorial worksheet and gets us to give and find out the answers complete with the page number so that not just us but everyone benefits. Furthermore, if the answers given are either too soft or unclear he will repeat and elaborate on it so everyone gets it.

What it’s about: the three main thinkers of sociology, Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim and Max Weber – their perspectives with regard to society, economy and religion. It’s very factual and you get to go a step further to compare them to each other (if you wish). You also note the relevance to the contemporary society

Assignment workload: Readings mainly. One assignment per each third of the sem – week 3, 7, 10. Finals is a huge percentage

Thoughts about the tutor: – 

Project workload & question/theme – 

Readings: A lot, kind of was okay for me as I am a literature major. But for those not accustomed to readings this would be quite a killer. It’s not so much the length which is hard to get by but on top of that it is not easy to understand, especially Marx.

Exam (briefly format and difficulty): 50% weightage. The paper has section 1 and 2, section 1 is a compulsory analytical question worth 40% of the overall, 2 questions choose 1 to compare all three thinkers. Section 2 (60% of the paper) has 9 questions choose 3, shorter answer (I wrote 1-1.5 pages), more factual and less evaluative and opinion based. Not very tough, if you studied you can answer

Recommended if…you are a major in soci this is a compulsory module. Or if you’re interested in the theories and concepts behind social theory. It’s a theory module not an application module for you soci-interested people looking for application mods.

Rating (in terms of how much you enjoyed it) – 5/5

Expected grade: A-

Actual grade

What doing a pullup taught me about life

I’m a small girl, a weak girl. But pullups taught me incredibly much about life.
  1. THINKING IT IS IMPOSSIBLE. You start by believing it is incredibly ridiculous about the thought of ever crossing the bar. You watch videos and you’re like how do people manage to yank themselves up. It’s like life. Some of the most daunting things seem impossible and for a long time they will continue to do so. You watch people do and convince yourself you cant do it, you forget that God is the one who gives you the strength to do life, to finish that essay, to reach out to that person, to make peace with that family member. The thought of trying doesn’t cross your mind because you’ve internalised how hard it will be and you can never imagine it can be done.
  2. Growing the seeds of belief. Digging yourself out of your resigned state and starting to believe you may actually be able, one day, far away but possibly so. I watched fitness videos and I saw 16 year old girls, just like me do it and I thought wow maybe it’s because they tried and they definitely somewhere. It’s like how we see others do well because they trusted God for something and we’re like wow okay maybe it works. Seeing others try is faith provoking. So let me tell you that if you try, it creates a cycle where you inspire others (I’ll come back to this later). This part of the process is the hardest. It’s the hardest, it’s even harder than actually being on the bar. The battle isn’t so much physically but mentally, you need to convince yourself. This part no one can be a part of, it is all you that you need to convince yourself to go do what God wants you to do, or what you know you should but are just too afraid to try.
  3. Convinced? Stage three is where you start trying. You hang on the bar and you feel the weight of everything (your body weight + gravity) all on your arms/shoulders. When you start trying, the pressures don’t come just from inside you (your lack of belief) but also from the external. Everything will try to bring you down, the time won’t be right, you’ll be tired, people will reject and diss  what you thought were your good intentions and this makes you start to believe less as the days go. Worse part is the bar is so high, literally. You see standards set and you know the only standard you have is your own convictions and beliefs and yet you can’t help feeling small and inadequate. But you grip the bar anyway and that’s a start. Good on you.
  4. You keep pulling, against all the odds you pull. I pulled for months, I tried so long and I just couldn’t bring myself over the bar. I stopped for 2 years because I went back to stage 1. You’re gonna fail countless times, you’re gonna try until you’re exhausted. There’ll be days you sit there and cry because life has taken everything out of you, opportunities passed you by, you wasted some. You get rejected by companies you applied jobs for and passed the many stages of interviews only to fail at the final hurdle. Your parents don’t value you, your friends don’t either. You feel how tired you are and you get going deadlines work school family church social life everything just overwhelming,  crumbling on you. You want to give up.
  5. Helplines come. After all that time, my best friend told me to try using a resistance band. It reduces the weight you’re pulling so you can cross the bar easier. It worked wonders, not so much for my body but for my confidence. I actually crossed the bar. Life throws you helplines. Be wise and listen to them. They come in advice, scolding, hugs, many many forms, sometimes not forms you like. But listen. They make the difference between you succeeding and you failing. One more thing, don’t get super reliant on them. After a while I realised I could hit 10 pullups with the resistance band. When you’re going good with the helpline, it becomes time to get weaned off it.
  6. Crossing the bar? Stepping on the floor. Looking up. All the advice of everyone I’d talked to ringing in my ears, I grab the bar. I pullback my shoulders and I begin the pull, I clear half the distance between my head and the bar, and somewhere I hear half my mind tell me oh no you can’t, and another half just say go go go go. Who you listen to determines whether you cross because at this point (and actually the rest of the time) it’s not a physical thing, but mental. At the start you may have been physically weaker but there’s no reason to be now. I’ve trained. You too, you’ve come this far. Uttering a silent *God help me*, I listen to the half of my mind that tells me to go and I pull. And suddenly I’m clear of the bar. I see my chin cross it. And I finally understand what it is to succeed. It’s small but it’s a victory. It’s a personal victory from my fears. You too, you gotta listen to the side that tells you to just go and obey it. The helplines that pulled you along/up won’t be there forever. You’ll have to clear the bar on your own, your life and race is yours. You can train with people just like you can run life’s race with people but in the end your race is your own to brave through the nightmares, the doubts, fears and tears. But take heart, you will clear in His timing.

Y3S1; All in a Semester’s work

Reflection
It’s been a while since I posted or wrote anything due to the sheer madness of deadlines and appointments every week. This was a painful semester because I changed a lot of things inside me. I let grades define me, and that stung real badly when everything started to crash terribly, all at once.  I used to pride myself that grades weren’t a priority but along the way I got lost in everything that was happening. I’m thankful that in this processing of digging myself out of the hole of self pity, I managed to find some basic self respect for the hard work I put in. I’m thankful for the people who kept reminding me, day in and day out, that I do my best and leave the rest to God and don’t tag my identity to my grades. And having said that, I’m also thankful to those who inspired change in me, who forced me to see the bigger picture. It’s very difficult to see the bigger picture when you’re stuck in the rat race, especially when you’re crying, dying, and struggling to pull yourself through. I reached the point where I convinced myself I was utterly stupid, incapable of coherent thought, as evidenced by the way I attempted to make arguments in the essays, all futile attempts. The confidence took a real beating.
It’s all better now, the pain for this time is starting to be that bit lessened, there’s finally some light at the end of the tunnel.
Thanksgiving
I’m thankful also to professors who cared more than just for grades or academics, professors who asked about whether I was doing okay, why I did not show up for class because I was just too afraid to face a new day of challenges when I could barely get over the previous one. Thank God for professors who ended emails with ‘P. S. KEEP GOING, none of us are good, or perfect, but we’ll all be learning together’. Seems cliché but when you’re really down and out and sitting in a puddle of self pity, you need to hear that.
I’m thankful for friends who told me to sleep, who bought me food, who texted me and took time off to help me when I couldn’t help myself. Most of the healing took place while I slept and woke the next day with a renewed sense of purpose. I’ll keep trying, again.
Esthertiq
Lastly, I changed distressdoodles to esthertiq. Distressdoodles was a coping mechanism for the near breakdowns and high levels of mental stress experienced in university, especially year 2. Over time I realised that it completed what it was created to do and that inspiration to draw was easier and easier to come by. Lettering became a skill and a part of me, that I became able to go from using this as a device to deal with stress to something I could use to collaborate with others and be useful to those around me, to encourage them through cards, to brighten and put a smile on someone’s face.
Reformation Day
I used to underestimate the power of what I have and who I was, with the power and grace of Christ, and then I used to fail because I relied on myself completely and I failed myself, but from today at least I’ll attempt to document  this change that started in me and I pray God help me see my identity isn’t pegged to my grades, or accomplishments or skills, but to Christ, for all the love He poured out for me that day on the cross at Calvary. Reformation day came and went and one tenet out of the others that Luther stood for was Sola Fide, that is Justification/Salvation by Faith. Faith in Jesus, not myself, not my work or my anything, but in and through Christ alone.

The saviour from amidst the darkness of the world

Wonder Woman (2017) introduces us to strong fierce Amazonian women who were created by Zeus to restore peace and stability to a war torn world. Set in the context of World War 1, which the film’s initials also stand for, besides Wonder Woman, the movie brings two worlds together to understand one truth: Love does bring redemption. Captain Steve Trevor crashes his plane into the waters of Themyscira while escaping from German authorities and is rescued by Diana, a young budding Amazonian. She begs him to bring her to this war front as she cannot bear to hear of women and children slaughtered. She fights, inspired others who do not have her physical superpowers and works in a team of 5 to defeat the enemy. She matures to understand the depth of humankind, the relationship between gods and man. Chris Pine plays partner protagonist to Prince and yet beautifully complements. The film ends with the war’s conclusion. A combination of Greek mythology – the gods relation to humankind, coupled with really badass fight scenes and fantastic graphics, this film is certainly a heart-stopping one.

Wonder Woman possesses both religious as well as feminist things and both do not have to contradict each other.

That’s perhaps why a very important first lesson taught in this movie is that it’s very important to gain understanding about what is not in your sphere/world because it brings maturity and growth. Steve and Diana both needed to understand things that were out of their comfort zone. Knowing something that is out of your comfort zone can be the most uncomfortable thing ever, it can even border on ridiculous. For Steve, this ‘magical place’ called Themyscira was the weirdest and most stupid thing ever, furthermore given the extreme idealism and straightforwardness of Diana to him in the context of the war. He shook his head, and then continued listening, until he realised it was true. He saw it with his own eyes and of course it would have been a major shock to him, but never once did he dismiss her claims. I was amazed at the way he handled her ‘one track mind’ and did not try to ‘mansplain’ the ‘real world’ to her. In Diana’s case, her mother didn’t want to tell her the truth because she was afraid that her daughter would be killed even faster. But the thing is, without the knowledge of the world outside Themyscira, there would be, as her mother said, a lot of things she would not know. (On a side note, I really appreciate how Diana’s mom just let her daughter go out there and experience it for herself. She didn’t try to teach it but as Diana’s aunt said – the best way the girl can defend herself is if she learnt to protect herself.) For Diana, it was a journey of growing up, a really steep one, to realise that all the foundations of truths she was brought up in and that Ares needs to be defeated to bring peace to the world are not entirely true and as simplistic as it appears to be. Her understanding of humankind, the darkness within them and gradual appreciation of love and hope deepens her character.

So, about the religious ideas/allusions in the movie…
Firstly, certain characters identify to religious figures, Diana as a Jesus/Savior figure and Ares as the devil. It is interesting that Diana tends to move in a vertical direction when she attacks and her last battle with Ares show her commanding power from on high to defeat the force on earth, paralleling Jesus defeat of the devil.
Secondly, the idea of redemption and that man are the ones who choose corruption and the path of wrongdoing strikes me as quintessentially Christian. It is interesting that Hippolyta tells Diana that the world doesn’t deserve her. Her raw passionate love, desire to save humanity from killing themselves and empathy sets her apart as a hero whose superpower seems to be that. I don’t deny she’s powerful because she can harness the Celestial powers like lightning or whatever it was. But her empathic heart seems to be the source of her exploits. Steve Trevor’s self sacrificial act to save the front from being exposed to the mustard gas and his last words to Diana, ‘I save today so you can save the earth tomorrow’ is very much reminiscent of Jesus saving mankind that they could be the saviors of others whose paths they cross. It made my heart ache when the camera zoomed in on Steve’s last moments before shooting the plane full of bombs and killing himself in the process, then cross cutting to the grief that wrecked Diana as she saw Steve die (and also think of Hippolyta letting Diana go and knowing she would never come back). Perhaps here we see visually the love of the Father (through different characters) im giving His only begotten Son for the World.

Thirdly, the interesting thing about this movie as I mentioned earlier is that it is not just a simple love versus hate battle. It is a nuanced question of whether human beings were bad by nature and how many of them realize their need for a savior, Ares mentions that he did not make the wars happen, he whispered thoughts and intentions into human ears but the doings were all of their own. This is a very Christian perspective. Many like to believe we are born good but here the movie reflects a different perspective.

There is also, an undeniable message about the power of women. My breath was stolen everytime any of the Amazonians threw themselves into a fight scene, it was wonderful to see such strength and confidence exude out from the characters onscreen. What an overwhelming and also breathtaking scene it was to behold Diana run across No Man’s land, aptly named as though no ‘male’ could cross it but it took a female to push past the boundary. Of course, it means no man’s land because no one could cross it but that’s just my take. I adored the way gender stereotypes went out the window. THANK YOU PATTY JENKINS, I am in awe at the raw power and strength of the women casted, stereotypes that were always associated with men were for once, not in play. It was funny to see a man awkward and afraid in the middle of a group of powerful females, but the greater thing for me here is not female power or men bashing or anything like this, it’s about equality. Men and woman alike can and do have the power, the desire, and the ability to make a change, to lead, to save the world, to understand others, to love. Emotions are not limited to one gender. Empathy is a great thing to have, we all should have more of it.

These combine into an idea that redemption is given to Man, using instruments of justice to execute the evil and bring back peace. In this case the instrument used is not a male as a lot of superhero movies are wont to do. It is not a one time thing, because World War 1 ended but as we all know it, there was World War 2, and yet for a brief moment, the world had respite thanks to (in this movie) the courage of a saviour who stepped up to exercise judgment when no one else would. It is a call for equality and also for honesty and to take action, whoever you may be, to stand up for what you believe. As Trevor told Diana, it is what you believe that defines you.

Picture credits here

I used to be afraid (now not so much) // My leadership journey in NUS so far

DISCLAIMER: This post is gonna be a reflection post on my leadership journey in NUS. It contains my experiences and mine only (it does not apply to everyone), neither is it a one size fits all kind of thing. Feel free to take the advice, but also know that it is from MY perspective.


I think I used to be afraid of position names. I still am, except, this time it comes with a sliver of courage, which is something experience (bad and good) gave me. I was afraid of position names because I used to think that it was a bad thing if I could be in a position and not have the ability to fulfil my role which would lead to letting people down. Slowly, as I took different positions, I realised that I not only was able to lead well in that role (thank you God!!) but I also surpassed my expectations in terms of what I was capable of. This is not to say that I didn’t fail. I freaked out countless times, especially with a fear of public speaking, I didn’t know how to phrase my words properly (I still have trouble with that), in that I do not know how to be diplomatic. I’m more of a get-the-job-done person, many times without considering the interpersonal relationships and dynamics of people that are intricately linked to the task at hand. Anyway, here’s a few lessons I learnt after taking on about 5-6 different leadership positions in Uni, from Subcomms to Secretary, I’ve kinda tried most stuff, including currently being the Project Director for Guardians.

  1. School is a safer and friendlier place to learn from your mistakes. I’ve always been very thankful for school. It’s the one place where you can screw up and have people actually teach you and tell you what went wrong without them having your head chopped after that. In the corporate world I’m sure that’s not just not the case, but also out there if you made a mistake, it could potentially cost like thousands or millions of dollars for the company. I guess I’m always thankful for mentors, seniors, people who give you advice especially with regards to leadership positions. I’m not saying you cannot get this out there in the working world, it is just that in school, it’s different, you can actually ask questions for things you don’t know with less politics, less people breathing down your neck, etc. It’s kinder, friendlier, of course this is not to say there aren’t politics, but, if you really hate it, you’re also free to leave an organization. I suppose it isn’t that simple to walk away from a job.
  2. Do things well in your term, give your best, LEAVE A LEGACY. You’re not gonna be serving in that term forever, pass on things well, don’t do a slipshod job. I get super annoyed every time people pass on stuff (whether materials, or their legacies) and it’s like crappy. Like a crappy event that was previously hosted, or a crappy attitude or whatever. Don’t do it halfheartedly, I mean you got elected/chosen/selected/whatever into that position because you said you wanted to do it, so do it, dammit. Do it well, don’t leave crap for people to pick up. Having said that, bad experience has also taught me that people will always leave their crap for you to pick up, then the onus is on you to create a good event, run a position well, do things to the best of your ability, then you (and your exco if you have one) will do well. I learnt this especially from my time in ODAC, the seniors did well, so well and there was so much that was learnt from them. My batch that served were tremendously talented as well as responsible and hardworking, they toiled super hard to create great events. I learnt much with them because I watched how they worked intelligently and honestly. So when we passed on everything to the next batch, they had much greatness to inherit (lol), no seriously, they inherited great things and we also made sure we attempted to select the best people so we could carry these things on. I’m still proud of them (hehe).
  3. Good communication is key. Be honest, yet tactful. I am still learning this. Two years, about 6-7 CCAs and I still have not mastered this art, yet I can say I have improved much. Communication breakdown tends to lead to failure. It seems very cliche to say this but seriously, a dearth of communication tends to lead to shit happening everywhere. Internal politics will result in external events failing, one cell believes they worked harder than the other cell, this results in crappy feelings and angst against another party, then leading to vendettas of people against other people, blah blah blah… I’ve gone through that and it wasn’t a pretty sight. So communicate, learn to air your feelings, sometimes it will be more painful than other times, especially if you’re on the side of blame, but I can say that it is better to deal with people telling you your mistakes in a straightforward and direct way than it is to deal with bitter feelings and unspoken tensions and fake diplomacy. Good communication also ensures people in the team know what is going on, they feel involved, not left out, and everyone wants to feel involved and part of the event/team.
  4. You need a good combination of diplomacy and efficiency. Usually you do this by combining the P/VP personalities, or at least in the Pres cell you should have a combination of both kinds. This means that you have to have task-oriented and people-oriented personalities. Too much of one either results in unhappy people while the job may be done, or happy people and no job done, or slow job done. Diplomacy is super important, you need someone who can talk to people, persuade, convince, and also elicit actions and responses from people, whether your fellow exco, participants, etc. Some people have both efficiency and diplomacy, like an individual I worked with and am friends with for two years. But others like me do not, I can really work but I don’t have as much skill/tactfulness in speaking to people. Have both personalities and those who lack part of the duo also sometimes do learn slowly. Having said that, it is not that these are the only two things needed in good leadership, but they are extremely crucial. Other factors however, do count.
  5. Learn the ropes of different roles in organizational stuff in NUS. Proposals, Admin, how to deal with OSA, how to book venues, how to email people using PDPA guidelines, how to handle addresses/a torrent of them especially in large(r) events, how to deal with manpower issues, logistics, catering services, vendors, marketing. Everyone of these usually is a different cell in a committee but it is good to get to know them. I think it is good that people try different things to learn. I joined logistics, admin, manpower, publicity, before I applied for VP role in a club. I think that’s very useful because it gives you finally a bird’s eye view over situations and in events you know where to get what done and how to get it done. It seems like a trivial job to print posters but there are things to learn there too. Ask questions, try different roles and learn from those who are in it already, it doesn’t hurt to learn more things and be able to help others who may suffer from the same problems in future. Also, knowing different cells and their roles actually makes you very marketable, it makes people want you because you know stuff and you can do stuff and even if you’re not doing it directly, they know you will be an asset to the club. Never hurts to be needed/wanted.
  6. Lastly, learn to deal with higher ups – whether OSA, CCA advisors, or even if you’re in a Subcomm, learn to deal with your pres cell. You need to learn to work under authority and with authority. Instead of feeling inferior, know your position and then excel in it, sometimes exceed expectations (haha). Make yourself an active and integral part of whatever you’re in. Learn to deal with higher-ups by befriending them and working with them, if you have issues with them, try and voice it out nicely (and if it doesn’t work, find another way out or ask for help/alternative suggestions). The higher-ups usually don’t cause trouble unless you do.

    Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to drop your comments/disagree. 🙂