PS/ i apologise for the inconsistency in font throughout this whole blog post. In the midst of finding out what’s wrong…

First week into 2017 and it has been a really hectic week. Lots of things are happening already, one of them being the start of the school term and FYP going into full gear speed. Hence I need to blog to declutter. Yes I treat blogging very seriously HAHHAA.

But before I venture into 2017 I want to talk about how I wrapped up 2016. I went to watch 2 movies–Moana and The intouchables!!

Celia encouraged me to watch Moana because personally she thought it was better than Frozen, including the soundtrack. After I watched Moana I felt it was not necessarily so but it was definitely a refreshing Disney movie in its own way. Firstly, Moana is not a princess and secondly, there is no romantic love depicted in the whole film at all. Only love for the island and family love—kinship. Celia is a very passionate animation student and if she really appreciates the film it must be good shit. She also ordered me to stay till the very end of the credits.

 

I also found the whole concept of Moana very aligned to God; I felt it was linked to Christianity ahaha. I’m going to start talking about it and there will be spoilers so if you don’t wish to read please skip this part. Non Christians will find it harder to grasp, but I’ll try to put it in simpler terms!

I felt that there were edifying themes in Moana because I could draw many parallels in the film to Christian values and beliefs. Firstly, the Ocean calls Moana, it appoints her for the enormous task. This is already the first parallel—how God always appoints and selects certain people to do His work for Him. This is what we call our purpose in life, and our calling.

Next secondly, the ocean consciously guides Moana’s destiny and plan in a God-like way, which is how when God calls us for a daunting task, He wouldn’t just leave us alone, but will also equip us with the strength and necessary help to complete it. Just like how the Ocean helps Moana by sending Maui! Remember the part where Maui kept tossing Moana into the sea but the ocean always brings Moana back. That part really amused me because sometimes there might be obstacles that prevent us from doing God’s assigned task, but somehow God will miraculously open a door.

Thirdly, Moana’s grandmother was always there to help her and support her, even after her death. The first thing I thought of was godly counsel, and loving people that God has placed in our life to encourage us. It could be sisters in Christ, or even someone senior. I thought it was really relevant and at this point in the movie I began to pay more attention.

“Only when I am weak, then I am strong.” This is the fourth point. Moana is small, and she is someone that is called to a destiny bigger than herself. She is being pulled out of her comfort zone—the island that she has been calling her home—and forced to take on a mission bigger and more important than herself. It makes her seem so small in comparison to the impossible task set before her. It reminded me of how God always calls us for bigger tasks, but His grace is made perfect in weakness, only when we are weak, then His strength is able to better shine through us.

Lastly, Moana doubted herself. She doubted if she was the right person. The scene on the little boat when Maui left her. After she failed, she told the ocean firmly, “Call someone else,” and returned the heart back to the ocean. It was that part that made me tears run down my cheeks instantly because it is so relevant where I’m at that stage in my life when I’m about to graduate and yet know nothing about what I want to do. In other words, Moana is very selfless, courageous, like me…but we doubt ourselves, too. Circumstances and failures get to me. I let them define me. But ultimately Moana reminds me that I should let my great calling over my life define my identity. (so much for doing identity crisis for my FYP hahah)

Moana also talks about self discovery and finding out who you really are. Maui lets his magic hook defines him as a great demigod, but later on he learnt that it is his character that defines him.

I went online to find out more about Moana’s themes and what people generally thought about the storyline. To my surprise, many people said Moana took on a Christian worldview too, fitting the edifying themes quite nicely.

“This constant theme throughout the movie could spark a conversation about God’s role in shaping our lives and influencing events–good or bad–in a positive way that advances His purposes in the earth.”

“…as the story progresses it’s clear that she is really obeying–not disobeying–a higher authority and “calling” on her life to accomplish something that is A) bigger and more important than her life or her heart’s impulses; and B) all for the sake of others, not herself. In this way “Moana” actually has a general compatibility with a Christian’s calling to follow Christ: we are to lay aside our self-centeredness and surrender to a quest story that God has written for us that is bigger than our lives and is more about saving and helping others than it is about helping ourselves.”—From a movie review by Kevin Ott

Next, I caught the intouchables at Yeeyen’s house. It was her birthday week and I went to her house to eat cake HAHAHA. She invited me over and we just caught this french movie!! It’s totally a pleasure to be watching shows with Yeeyen because she laughs really loudly and it’ll make you want to laugh out loud also. HAHA.
The intouchables is a super unique movie. I still think its very cultural and very different from the Hollywood films I have seen. The Bromance between Driss and Philippe is real man. I bet they’re shippers of them all around. Anyway, it has been a while since I’ve seen this movie so I’m slowly failing to recall the details hahaha. However, one thing I’ll never forget is the insight this movie gave me to paralysed people. We see them everyday but I never felt empathetic until I watched this film. It also brought to light the under-appreciated caregivers of today. Their role seems minor but it is actually very tough and meaningful. Character development is also key in the film, how Driss and Philippe are so super different, but ironically, this is who they exactly need in their life. It’s all about finding balance. Seeing how the relationship grows between the two really touches my heart. No wonder it broke box office HAHAHA. Overall, it’s a really light hearted show with themes on friendship, trust and human possibility.
Yeah, anyway, the last month of the year was spent in the most amazing way possible. I had plans for every single day and it never fails to surprise me. Spending quality time with my favourite ones are the best things in the world. Here’s a summary of what I did for the past December!

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-Myanmar mission trip meeting with team

I’ve talked about this before so won’t dwell long on it! Full post can be read HERE.

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-meet up with Jolynn, meet up with Yeeyen at her place

It was the last day of FYP submission for the term I remembered it was a really turbulent day. I went to meet Jolynn and the whole conversation turned out to be a deep one about life. After which it got me feeling comforted, fearless, angry and conflicted all at once. (we discussed a lot) So I went to Yeeyen’s house to eat cake and watch a light hearted movie hahaha.

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-christmas kettling with mum, got nails and eyebrows done, Orchard road

It’s my first time Christmas kettling with mum. I’m super happy I got her there in the end because she enjoyed it so much hahaha. At night I headed over to orchard to get my nails and eyebrows done. It is the first time my mum accompanied me do all these beauty stuff. My family also have a tradition every year of the season and that is viewing the Christmas lightings along Orchard Road together.

Lotsa people have been commenting that my nails are really pretty and I’m very joyful to receive such comments! They even ask me for lobang HAHAHA. Well it’s at Far East Plaza and I only did all these for $50. It is cheap considering that the market rate for gelish, hand drawn (10 fingers) will total up to about $80. I don’t remember the name of the shop, but it was a malaysian lady that did it for me really patiently. Far East Plaza have a lot of nail shops for you to choose from and you actually can compare prices and designs.

 

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-baptism, buy present for secret santa, got eyelashes done, caught Moana with Isabel
Baptism was reflected many times so I won’t say much except that it was a very quick and simple one. Full post on baptism HERE. I met Isabel afterwards to get my eyelashes done! At Emerald Allure. I absolutely love their affordable and great services so you should give them a try if you’re thinking of eyelash extensions! Then we headed to Orchard because she wanted to thread her eyebrows. Shopped around, then caught the Disney film Moana in the end.

It will last permanently up to 2 months so I’ll save up on make up time.

Seldom post a close up but here it is. I’m really satisfied with the outcome. I don’t want it too dramatic so she did a very natural look for me. However, I don’t do this too often though as I find it too high maintenance to keep up. Maybe around once or twice a year only.

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-Dental appointment, BS group outing @ASM (NASA)
Woke up early for dental appointment then met Ariela, Evan and Charlene for a short outing to ASM NASA! Damnit I participated in the Instagram contest but I didn’t win. The exhibition was about space, rockets and the solar system (a little bit). I wanted the NASA cap for so long but didn’t bring money on that day 😦 Regardless it was good company with them, I mean it always is!

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-Myanmar Mission Trip
Full post will be up soon.
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-Flower Dome with parents, Supper @ Satay club
With my limited time and short stop in Singapore for 1-2 days my parents brought me to Flower Dome! Wanted to go before I fly off but due to time constraint, we couldn’t make it. Just very thankful that we got to go before Christmas! This has also became sort of a yearly tradition for us. Last year we went in the morning and this year was around evening time, when the sky was dark. Both has its benefits but I would say I like the night version more because everything is illuminated and it felt very magical.
Supper was next!!! We went to satay club. Even though it was really hot, it honestly felt very good to visit the iconic places in Singapore knowing that I’ll be away from this city often. This looks nasty but its actually very tasty.
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-Thailand, Khao Yai Holiday with fam
Full post will be up soon.
2017After which, I spent the first week of 2017 in the most hectic way possible. As much as it wasn’t that physically draining, I felt it was mentally draining because these activities led me to think about many things.

1. KC buddies Gathering

Spend the opening of the year in the greatest way—with Mat, Elisha, Dexter, Ernest, and Evan. Every year on 1st Jan we would gather at someone’s place, it almost feels like a tradition already. We would have buffet and then play some games after that. If we had time, we would probably gym or swim in the afternoon.

How this clique got together was very special—because of our parents. Our parents were a clique!! I think they’re even closer than us hahha. They had this adults’ whatsapp chat and because of our parents frequent meet ups, we joined in too. This gathering was with our parents actually. So the adults sort of took care of all the food.

This is my favourite part. We would go to changi airport after the gathering to have coffee!! (so weird…at night right) I remembered last year Janell and Joel was here too so all 7 of us had to squeeze into a car. This year wasn’t that squeezy ahhaa. But it’s still my favourite part of the gathering, where everyone just chill and talk.

2. Design School Open House Duty
I volunteered to help out for open house a few days ago. It was great and very nostalgic, because I’ll never be reminded of how a long way we’ve came from year 1 unless I look at the freshies.

It’s ironical that I want to graduate and yet have no clue what to do after, yet many parents with their freshly graduated children came to ask me, “What are the job options?” “Are there opportunities for further studies?” I know what are the options, I told them the answers to all these questions; but funnily enough, I don’t know the right answer for myself.

So any of yall read this pls stop asking me okay HAHAHA.

Overall I felt open house was very refreshing. It reminds me of why I am in this course in the first place. It helps me reorientate myself and as I was explaining to the students, I think I’ve gained more than I have given away to them. I remembered why I chose it, what was the passion that drives me initially and I’m so thankful it is still the same passion that drives me now. 3 years of work in design school wasn’t easy, it can make me distracted and lose sight of the big picture. But open house kind of gave me a breather. It gave me a chance to stop, look back, and reevaluate a lot of my concerns that I had when I first came into the course. Did I fulfil them in the end?

3. Leo Club Paint A New Hope Event

I went on one of the Saturdays to help out the homes in the Marsiling area; most of which are 1 room apartments, with elderly living alone in them. This Indian auntie was very angst at first because her name was not in our list of houses go to. She insisted that we help her paint her house and so we did. To be honest, I was really intimidated by her angsty nature at first and thought that she’s such a difficult person to deal with, forcing us to enter our house and getting so worked up over a small issue. After which, I realised that she’s not so bad a person—she started to brighten up as we worked in her house and I could see her face filled with hope. Very cliche I know but I witnessed her mood change and the very next hour she was serving us drinks.

This event taught me to empathise in many ways. Her house have not been painted for 15 years, and it has never been maintained, let alone improved and updated. The condition is quite bad, I can wipe one corner and all the cockroach droppings would just stick to the tissue paper. She is unwell and weak hence she could not get rid of the old furniture, paint and clean up all by herself. I could understand why she grew so bitter and desperate. I realised, the reason why she scolded us at first was because she’s in despair, she really craved help. I’m just thankful we did so.

When I was going home with Sihui, we started talking about studies all of a sudden. Her mum is also my mum’s friend and we’re childhood friends, so she knows my mum well. She talked about how my mum is so nice and how she used to encourage her in primary school when she wasn’t doing so well. Most of all, we talked about stereotypes—judgments and discrimination that happened in schools between the express and N(A) stream students. She told me about how they were discriminated and stuff, how the “smarter” people from the best classes always looked down on those who cannot study.
I tried my best to understand. I mean, I might never know the feeling and I am in no position to say that I fully understand because I was never from the N(A) stream. I felt super guilty because sometimes I might just be tempted to behave like one of the Express students that Sihui mentioned about—secretly thinking that we’re better than the N(A) students—even though we did not openly discriminate them. However, never would I choose not be friends with them just because of this reason.
To the end, there’s still this inevitable feelings of “upper” class and “lower” class. In fact I think it’s present in every school, every student. That because I was never from the worser classes, I was in best class for all 6 years so it never hit me the hard way. I was never on the victim’s end. I might never experience it, so I have no right to say I understand.

However the closest I was to this kind of feelings is the gap I felt between myself and the JC students.  It started when I was 16 and it hit me harder that way because I dropped from top to bottom. My friends were the smarter people, I mingled with the smarter people and it was a whole new level of experience because most of my friends made it to JC while I stayed behind in poly. I dare say I had it tough because of the expectations that I have placed upon myself since young. I was always in top classes, top school, top whatever shit and everything I do—CCA, music lessons, grades, tuition—I had to be the top, or at least better than my peers. I fought hard because I thought that was one of the safe proof way to please my parents and secure a good future. I want to remain one of the best because the thought of dropping down sucks.

It’s stupid really. I got 246 for PSLE, but guess what, I wasn’t satisfied because my whole clique got 250 and above. I got distinctions for most of my guzheng grading exams, and I felt good, for a while, and then the year starts and we all have to start hustling again.
Precisely because I wasn’t in the bottom from the beginning, but rather, I dropped to the bottom, I had it so much tougher. I had to slowly let go of the notion that I wasn’t the top anymore, I cannot define myself by that persona anymore…and I had to search a new identity for myself. I had to slowly admit that I had gotten dumber with age (AHHAHHAHA) and was no longer the top kid that I pictured myself to be.
The first year in poly I struggled. Whenever people asked me where I’m studying, I had to swallow and choke out the words, “…um, Singapore Poly.” I’ve gotten looks of dismay. Looks of dismay from aunties and uncles and relatives that obviously expected more of me, and their surprised faces clearly read, “Gosh grace what happened to you? You are a smart kid, we all thought you would land in JC.” Of course it was not verbalised.
Do you get it? I wasn’t supposed to be in a polytechnic.
I know there are norms that says poly people also have their talents, and you can’t compare both JC, POLY AND ITE together. But truth is, no matter how many times people say that, the society will still subconsciously have this thinking, that JC > POLY > ITE. And you can’t change it. You can’t because its drilled into the minds of countless generations and our human pride tells us that JC is better. That you say, “Raffles Institution,” better than you can choke out, “ITE Central”.
(I’m just stating a very general viewpoint. Pls do not kill me for this.)

4. Chinatown
After that I went home, showered and went to Chinatown with my parents to see the new year decorations! It was the opening that day. We had our dinner first at this restaurant which was really good. After that I brought my parents up to Lepark and the moment we stepped up out onto the roof, there was a huge exploding sound and I looked up. Fireworks!!! The view was super good because we were at the top of People’s park complex, duh. We were really really very lucky as I didn’t know there is a fireworks display at that timing at all!! Totally not planned.

It was really good quality time spent with my parents. The only time in the night I had to reflect with some nostalgia was the halfway during the opening performance. We were watching when the set changed, and the next performance was a chinese orchestra. I caught sight of a familiar silhouette of an instrument—an instrument I knew all too well. A girl was playing the guzheng!

Guzheng is a Chinese instrument that I used to play in my younger days. Seeing them play just made me realise how much I miss being on stage. 10 years of connection with Guzheng was a really wonderful time for me, and to feel not attached to the instrument is impossible. I’m not sure how to even put my love for the instrument into words, you probably have no idea. I grew up with the instrument. It was there for me on my toughest days, when I was struggling with exams; it was there on my happiest days, when I was rewarded with distinction for my music exams and when I was playing solo for the first time. It has been with me throughout childhood, puberty, and into my preteen years. From 7 to 16 years old I played it and I have never thought of quitting.

Even though Guzheng has about zero role to play in my life now, but my heart still aches whenever I thought about how my skills must have been deteriorating with the passing of each day. The melody just rang in my ears and inside my heart it feels bitter because I know I cannot turn back time. I cannot go back to the carefree days where I feel beyond happy just putting on my performance gown. I have worn a few costumes; some in white and blue, some in purple and others came in the form of a dress with a ribbon. I remembered how hard we practiced along the corridors for SYF. I remembered trainings were 4 days a week and we still had to come back to school on Saturdays. And as if that wasn’t enough, I still had private guzheng lessons outside school on Sundays. I remember the greasy feeling of eating with my fake nails on. Then the annoying part where you go to the toilet but you can’t wash your hands because of the fake nails on. I remembered the fear we had when we went into classes without memorising the scores, because my instructor is fierce as fuck. He’ll throw your books out of the class if you play a single note wrong. I remembered how we fitted into our costumes before SYF and how I had to carry the heavy guzheng from the 4th floor to the 1st floor USING STAIRS in my dumb dress. hahaha. I was so loser back then hahhaa I didn’t even know why I didn’t take the lift. I remembered I was so scared I’ll step on my long dress then crash to the bottom of the staircase HAHA. I remembered the earliest memories, when the 7 years old me first sat before the guzheng and my legs couldn’t even touch the freaking ground.

One of the many performances in Secondary school.

It wasn’t that the road was smooth sailing, happy and that’s why I loved guzheng so much. In fact, it was the total opposite of that. Guzheng brought me the most suffering I swear. I have cried over it countless times, investing lots of feelings into it. I remembered how I hustled and suffered, practicing 2 hours every day, and as I grew older, my skills grew too. I sold my first guzheng when I was 15 and I cried. I sold it to trade it for another better guzheng for my very first competition at Singapore Conference Hall. Guzheng taught me to suffer, it taught me resilience, it taught me discipline—not to be late, not to complain, to submit to authority; and most of all it taught me love and self-expression.

I can’t imagine losing the ability to play the Guzheng. Ever. I think I’ll rather lose my ability in designing than lose my ability to play the Guzheng. But both are my prized skills set that I treasure a lot and I do tie some sort of my identity to them.

National Competition Rehearsal, Singapore Conference Hall, 2013.
Xinthesis II performace, during the set of , 2012.

I think nobody can ever understand how I feel regarding guzheng unless they’re my guzheng mates that attended CCA/classes with me. Sadly none of them are really in my contacts now. I only contact Julia occasionally and she’s the only one that can understand what I’ve been through that’s why I appreciate her a lot.

This is us! 15 years old. I think this is the only exception where I’m willing to show pictures from my preteen years HAHA.
Another group of friends whom I was very close to last time. Sadly we don’t keep in contact now (only via Instagram haha) I still value the memories a lot cos they were the people that shared the same amount of passion towards guzheng.

Few of people that I interact with today knows about my involvement with this precious instrument. It’s either they know a little, but few or no one knows the full story behind it. The thought of it saddens me because I feel that if you don’t know my background with guzheng, you don’t really know me. Guzheng was one of the greatest things that defined me in the past. It was a part of me. To share in this feeling with someone will be my greatest joy. Typing this really makes me wanna cry so I shall stop talking about Guzheng here..

5. BS Group Sharing X first YPM Service of the year

Surprised immensely on the first YPM service of the year where I saw Florence unexpectedly on the stage singing. I didn’t know she was back! Just the sight of her made me thank myself for putting in the effort to be punctual for YPM service. I was usually late, but that day, I was on time.

Everyone was all so excited to see Flo but the 3 of us had the privilege to go lunch with her! And so Evan, Charlene, Ariela and I had a little catch up session with Flo over lunch.

“If anyone is going to be there, it’s Him.” —Charlene

We began to share about how the past year (2016) has been treating us, and it was a fairly emotional one. There were tears shed. There were also moments where someone remarked an amusing incident which caused our whole group to erupt into laughter. HAHHA. As we related to each other about the year, looking back, I almost felt like I was having in the “thanksgiving dinner scene” of Eat Pray Love! It feels like home. Flo told us that one of the things she really missed while in HK is this fellowship that she have with the 4 of us in Singapore. So sweet right.
“It is in the process of loving people that you get healed.” —Florence

I don’t know if the rest would be comfortable with me sharing the details of their personal sharing here so I probably won’t comment too much on that. In short, to Evan, 2016 was a year of growth. To Florence, she said that it is in the process of loving people that you get healed. She talked about the significance of the Myanmar trip to her, and most of all, her big move to HK to study in HKU. For Ariela, it was her graduating, seeking jobs and getting into a new relationship. For Charlene, it was internship, FYP, and juggling workload as a whole. The year seems pretty big for most of us. I really learnt a lot from all of them and I’m glad we all managed to stick together still!

“There are times when life does not work out as you have planned or wanted. Despite everything, however, you are not destroyed and you do not fall into utter despair. You know that human strength and effort are not the only solution to your problems; you know that the Lord can save and that His faithfulness is great; and, therefore, you know that you can allow hope to rise up in your heart as you place your confidence in Him.”