I’ve spent enough time travelling to know that plane rides are best reserved for building-up and internalising some random musings or philosophical nothings.
And as I find myself on a flight to the land of the rising sun, comfortably confined for the next 7 hours, I figured I’d better do some timely reflection.
The past year has been a year of – you guessed it- learning and growing up. A series of events unfolded as the year progresses, some highlights include:
- Embraced the title of a freelance writer cum photojournalist.
- Began college.
- Half-sponsored an overseas trip, by which I mean I paid for flights and accommodations, for my parents.
- Published a poem.
- Published two print magazines.
- Flew to Yogya with The Travel Intern.
- Won an award for a photo.
- Felt immense happiness for my mentor who launched her book, ‘Stay Gold‘.
- Wrote so many human-interest stories, such as the story of a 23-year-old football manager and the story of a drag queen.
In many ways, 2018 has been slow, exciting, yet excruciating in some ways. I have met so many wonderful people in my life, many whom have helped me better myself as a person, writer, son, and a college undergraduate.
Clara, Pam, Dom, Hendric, Cherie, Marissa, Melissa, Seth, Mindy, Bel, Trish, Ryan, Lye, Denise, Jason, Jax, Os, Xin Hwee, and so many more … Thank you.
My biggest takeaway? Learning to take a stand against ignorant people.
I have learnt that everyone has an ego and to overstep someone else’s ego is a sin. I have learnt that not everyone has a fluent grasp of the written language, and when it comes to giving criticism, patience and tactfulness are keys.
I have learnt that people gossip about the things they don’t know about you, about things they are unsure of, and oust you out of their life.
I have learnt that people can be two-faced. There was a time when I needed to clear the air of uncertainty. And I did, only to find out later that even the manner I cleared the air was frowned upon.
This incident had made an impact in the later half of the year. Before I knew it, I was falling head-first into the depths.
Long story short … I had posted an FB status on issue A and some people mistook it for issue B. And that someone countered by publishing the story on IG story, which I was initially oblivious of and later learnt through a third-party. I apologised with a video of a certain Telegram chat, clarifying the issue and clearing the air.
But it was too late. My reputation was tarnished and I had to make certain decisions thereafter.
I have since moved on. (Still slightly salty because I DID NOT get an apology.) But, I’m happy for this person because s/he will go on and do something great for the next year.
I have written rather extensively this year. My favourite story was the one when I shadowed local veteran drag queen, Sammi Zhen.
This project came together spontaneously. For what was supposedly an academic paper for a gender studies class eventually became a full-length human interest story.
I remember sourcing around for willing interviewees, liaising with Sammi who was at a parade in Taiwan, following Sammi around from hotel halls to pubs, and chatting with him amid sweltering heat and boisterous crowd at a fast food outlet.
Seeing a drag performer up close was an invigorating experience. The manner a drag performer acts on stage is one filled with flair, sass, and savage jibes. It was very interesting. Very, very interesting.
For this, I thank Professor Lacey Stein, who had told me to “Take (the idea) and run with it”. And of course, Sammi, for sharing this elusive craft.
So here’s to a better and more enriching 2019!