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.
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Don’t despise the day of small things

little victories.jpg

It’s the little things that count, and this semester, I learnt to be proud of, and thankful for the smallest things. They’re little on their own but if you put them together, they’re not so little after all.

Here’s 25 little victories this semester:

  1. Being punctual for class. God knows how hard it was to (actually show up) and be punctual for class especially when the going got tough
  2. Attempting to eat healthier. (YAY!)
  3. Keeping coffee intake to ONE cup a day – for those people who say I am a coffee addict, now you know
  4. Not cabbing to school at all this semester. SAVING ALL THAT MONEY
  5. Learning how to save a few bucks a day
  6. Learning NOT to be guilty for being tired and then pushing myself doubly hard to deal with my weak, inefficient self.
  7. Planning essay submission such that it was one essay per week, not 5 per week (12/13).
  8. Walking away from friendships that caused me pain (congrats to me!)
  9. Shopping less
  10. Spending more time with my family, going home before 9pm almost every night.
  11. Doing more readings than last semester
  12. Doing readings not for assignments but for interest’s sake
  13. Gaining enough confidence to wear a midi dress (and other things that I thought was not my ‘type’ of attire).
  14. Maintaining my composure in tight situations and not lambasting people who I had issues against.
  15. Sleeping 6 hours (or more) a day (with the exception of one day in the semester)
  16. Finishing a notebook planner – like reaching the end of the book and not dumping it halfway
  17. Very actively participating in church stuff 🙂 yay
  18. Learning and honing a new skill/interest in watercolour
  19. Selling my own creations and learning to believe in the power of art and that I can make something that make people smile (thank you friends who have played a part in this)
  20. Making time for people who matter. Loving harder than ever.
  21. Being okay with being alone and happy on my own
  22. Drinking enough water (almost everyday)
  23. Reading my Bible almost everyday
  24. Hanging out more with my dad before he left for missions
  25. Quitting things that were not worth my time. and not being guilty for it.

My Story (Part Two)

My story part 2: (Part 1 here)

This is written as part of a RockTheNakedTruth campaign, founded by Cheryl Tay (@cheryltaysg) to help people love themselves and deal with their pasts with community support!

It’s really hard to explain or even start to think about self love in this day and age. It’s very easy to say we’re not affected by the people around us when we are, and we know it, deep inside. My bullying story isn’t an uncommon one, neither is the other side of it – recovery, uncommon. Being a kid who was thrown down when it was the time where people dug and searched for their identity, I suppose it was much later that I got the chance to find mine. I got so used to putting myself down that it was nigh impossible to understand self love. At first, the victimization came from outside, then slowly I internalized it and I convinced myself that I was not good enough, that I needed some sort of beauty transformation, that Instagram-girls were one sort of beauty and had some grace/glamour that I coveted but would never attain. I unconsciously always reminded myself that girls with ‘airport runway’ chests and skinny figures were ugly and I believed that stereotypes were what drove the societal standards forward and that if I wasn’t a stereotype conformist then I had no way to fit in or be seen as part of society’s popular kids. I learnt to put myself down and every time any compliments came I’d fend them off, thinking that I wasn’t worth any of those. Till this day I still fight these fears, though to a much lesser extent.

It was in J2 when I was introduced to the world of lifting that I began to discover what strength was, literally and figuratively. I got hooked, to prove a point. I wanted to prove that small girls could achieve something, but that wasn’t self love, that was bitterness. I was angry and I wanted to make a statement, I still cowered whenever I heard words used for bullying. Bullying never ended. When I was skinny and bust-less I was shamed for that. When I started hitting the gym the comments became “wow so small hit the gym?! Can lift or not sure cannot la” or “small girl grow muscles very ugly can act like girl and look like girl or not don’t try be buff!”. I came to realize along the way that people are gonna shame you for everything, and that me proving a point by hitting the gym was not beneficial for me because I didn’t exactly feel motivation from within, I just did it to get back at haters. That’s not self love. I learnt, very gradually, that your only competitor is yourself. I looked in the mirror at the gym and I saw people lift heavier, they were much stronger. I realized I could not compare myself with them because the basis of comparison is different. I chart my own fitness path and improve based on how my body works. There’s no point comparing your strength with someone who’s already larger and stronger than you to begin with, you’ll never be happy because you’ll always be behind. Furthermore, if you’re going to continue and complain about what you DON’T HAVE, instead of taking what you HAVE and push it to higher standards, making yourself proud of who you’ve become, then you’re never ever going to be satisfied. It’s one thing to not be satisfied and want to improve, but it’s another thing to base your standards on something impossible and kill yourself both physically and mentally wanting to achieve/reach those standards.

I also learnt that self love is to be kind to my body, to sleep when needed to and train regularly, also to eat properly and most importantly to maintain a positive mindset. I can’t stress how important it is to maintain a positive mindset. I used to be a person who gave up easily, once things got difficult I walked away because I was too scared to deal with them. But I learnt to face them squarely and not walk away, yet also balance this with the ability to let go. It took a long time for me to learn to take compliments, but slowly I am learning that when people say something, say thank you. My confidence has grown and I am slowly growing in strength and maturity to appreciate and love myself for who I am.

The breakthrough did not come instantly. It’s been 4-5 years since the long spell of bullying has ended but the scars are still healing. I’m thankful for all who’ve patiently walked with me in the journey, hugged me when I cried, taught me how to smile and say thank you to compliments and not awkwardly react because I didn’t believe it. Thank you for teaching me what confidence is and for helping me grow as a person.

#RockTheNakedTruth #ROCKloveSG

Miracles

As if one miracle wasn’t enough I had two this week. It wasn’t large mind blowing or whatever, but small tokens of assurance, grace and encouragement. This week God affirmed to my heart that the God I believe in, He is real, true and powerful. 

So many things happened this week which caused me to be grateful and which warmed my heart. DG on Monday was the celebration of mommaaaa Gaozxc’s birthday and it was a touching scene to see her really appreciate the gesture which not just us but the community did for her. It was really touching for me too, to see the way the community rallied around her, to write her well wishes and love her deeply. She’s an amazing inspiration and her heart seems to have no limits. Somehow God taught me through her life what it is to have humility. I’m an egoistic person and she taught me how to be humble and learn from everyone. I note how she learns from everybody around her, and that’s something so rare to find in our day and age where a lot of us are pretty obsessed with who we are and what we can achieve and I personally feel that my ego needs to take a beating sometime. Anyway yes I was really warmed by her. I remember the verse in Acts in which the Pharisees marveled at Peter and John and it was found and noted that they had been with Jesus which made them the way they were, it reflected in their demeanor. I need so much more of such experiences.

Secondly this week also we learnt how to be sensitive. There was more than one occasion where I had to learn how to exercise Christian sensitivity and understanding both to individuals and to a community as a whole. 

Thirdly, my vision was rekindled this week. I was in the middle of sharing the gospel and things like this when I felt it occur to me what life really meant. I’m not discounting the worth of other experiences because I do go through many of them too and learn vital lessons but I felt God teach me that really I feel the most alive when I surrender faithfully to Him. I remember praying this prayer 3 months ago. I told God that I was going to willingly surrender a special friendship to Him, I was going to lay it on the altar and follow the Great Commission. Christ didn’t guarantee we’d be free from pain or sorrow if we obeyed Him, but He said He would be WITH US. That promise is true, real and alive. When I said I would surrender it all, I did, and I shared the Gospel unflinchingly, knowing fully well that it could go both ways. 3 months later God rewarded me, bountifully. One of the battles I had to fight internally with myself was that I was afraid this whole sharing the gospel thing would be a completely intellectual experience. That’s like partly the point but it would be not enough. But I ventured by faith. Then that day God showed me He’d been working through me and using me to breach barriers to bring Christ to the person. It’s such a great thing to experience something that you never knew would be possible, that you didn’t believe because you were faithless, that someone could be open to walking in Christ with you. It’s mind blowing. I am but in awe and wonder. 

This week’s classes also augmented my faith in God because I saw how modernism and other 20/21st century philosophies and maybe even non 20th century ones were different from the values I upheld. It caused me to be thankful for what I have been brought up in but learn to keep an open mind to whatever I learn because it is not just a theory but it is a lifestyle and a mindset that one upholds. Nonetheless, this week’s classes were interesting and thought provoking. I hope for more of these, it makes me very happy I took these modules. 

Germany, Euro 2016

This was a tournament where we all laughed, cried, mourned the slow start, appreciated the small victories, the clean sheets. This was a tournament where little things mattered, we may not have been spectacular, World Champions they call us, but we played as a team, the support was wonderful, on and off the pitch.

It was a tournament where the details came to light, where so many others that were often overshadowed, showed what they are worth. Thank youJoshua Kimmich for playing far beyond your age, for being brave enough to handle attackers that were of mad speeds, for being bold to stand in front of Buffon and take that spotkick.

Thank you Mesut Özil and Toni Kroos, often uncredited and criticized, for all that hard work, certainly the team would not look the same without you.

To Bastian Schweinsteiger, danke schön Kapitan, your work rate and relentless running up and down the pitch is so invaluable.

To the one and only lord Manuel Neuer who are we without you?

To Benedikt Höwedes, Mats Hummels, Jérôme Boateng, you kept our clean sheets intact, but you also were not just the defensive bedrock because your visionary passing ensured we had build-ups of play that led to our goals. You help us cope with set pieces, it was unfortunate that Mats Hummels was carded and that Jérôme Boateng was injured (against France) but you guys did your best and we are incredibly proud of you.

To Jonas Hector, you were quietly bossing your zone each time and the work rate you put in was magnificent. Though people didn’t even know which club you came from and though you may not have been shot to stardom as others may have been, you’ve been rock solid and deserve all the credit you can get. Not to forget too, that decisive penalty against Italy.

To the rest of our subs, you are super subs, and your support on and off the field was incredible, whether you guys got to play this tournament or not (Julian Weigl/Jonathan Tah) or whether it was for one game Emre Can&Leroy Sané, you all played your hearts out and we are forever proud of you.

Lastly, to Thomas Müller, people throw criticisms at you every single game, the media is relentless with the way they count the minutes you haven’t scored, but trust me when I say that all the Germany Football Team – Die Mannschaft fans are and will always be behind you, our Raumdeuter, and you always will be our ‘space invader’.

To Germany Football Team – Die Mannschaft, thank you for a wonderful tournament, see you again in 2018, maybe this time the young boys will step up more than they already have and do us prouder, even prouder. But for now, Vielen Dank für alles!

Why do you do this? It’s not ‘you’

Disclaimer: I’m writing this based on my experiences and mine alone.

For a good while in my secondary school days, let’s say because of a bad experience, I hated girls. I didn’t wanna be like them. I detested everything that they were, because I felt I was not that. Secondary school was when girls grow, in every way possible, especially in the physical aspects, and I seemed to have been left out. I did talk about that more, here, but any way I grew to dislike feminine characteristics. I didn’t know how to dress also and I was a pretty socially awkward (and loud) person at the same time. Also, from young, I loved football and sports and it was always easier for me to hangout with the boys than with the girls.

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If I should have a daughter

 

“Always apologize when you’ve done something wrong, but don’t you ever apologize for the way your eyes refuse to stop shining. Your voice is small, but don’t ever stop singing.”

This was inspirational and moving. It reminded me of the values of passion and pride in which I build my work and daily schedules around. It’s very good to watch!

Credits to TED.

Blogging

 

So recently I’ve had quite a few people come and talk to me/text me (since we’re in the internet generation and cannot not Whatsapp/Telegram) that they’ve been reading my blog posts especially those that involve a good deal of reflection (cue ‘reflection’ tag) and they’ve been really affected by what I wrote. They told me that I was speaking to their heart. So here’s some thoughts on blogging and writing and words and all related stuff.

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