Over the next 10 years, as you go through the various stages of youth and slowly transition to independence aka adulthood, you will go through numerous moments of struggle and jubilation that you will never think of. From almost screwing up your life and getting kicked out of school, to being accepted into the top university in Asia along with being in one of the mostly sought after courses, I’m here to give you a few words of wisdom as you walk through the journey of life.
You’re 12 years old, and you just got back your results for PSLE, the examination which you studied for during your 6 years in St. Stephens. You were projected to be a top 3 student, but ultimately you didn’t… not even close. You secured your place in a top secondary school due to your “excellent” grades throughout primary school, but you were kinda forced into that school by the mom. You’ll be too young to grasp why your mom is doing so, but just be thankful that there was a guiding light for you.
Academics and results will be the most important thing in your student life, as you see it as the one thing you must excel in. However, you were never an academically inclined student and you will wind up struggling like a mad dog throughout most of your student life. You learn many things slowly; other than the area of mathematics where you are truly gifted in, everything else felt like a grind. You will find yourself fighting to survive in school; not striving to be a top student, but barely promoting up each year. So it sounds totally foolish to want to excel in something which you are never good at. But we will come back to this point shortly later.
You will study your bloody ass off for your A levels, and prove all the doubters wrong. You were a late bloomer, and you made it through this phase of your life. You poured all the effort into it, and you could say to yourself: “I did it.” It will be the first moment where you felt that your hard work truly paid off, but it wasn’t because you were “smart”. Don’t categorise people as smart or dumb, it’s either they are hardworking or lazy. Taking the initiative, keeping the consistent effort, not giving yourself any excuses and putting all of these into actions: master the intangibles. Those are just some of the few things you are in control of, and will form your work ethic of the future.
With your curious mind, you are going to try and experience many things in life: some might work out, some might not. Not everything will end up what you hoped it to be like, but there will be important takeaways that you can learn from, even the bad ones. You will be too young to realise that in the future, you wouldn’t have the time to explore the things you always wanted to try. Draw a timeline, and you will realise you will spend more than half your lifetime working. and by the time you retire you wouldn’t have the energy already. Be bold, don’t have any regrets.
A simple admiration & fanboy moment of the YongSeo’s duet of the banmal song will end up leading you to playing in a guitar ensemble for almost 4 years. The years of loving and following Kpop, especially SNSD, will somehow end up with you dancing Kpop songs on stage in front of hundreds. The above will seem absolutely absurd, but all of it will happen because you had that moment of courage to take a leap of faith out of the comfort zone you are so accustomed to. Yes, you are going to have many instances of such leaps. Yes, not every time it would work out the way you wanted it, you are going to fuck up many times. No surprise hahas, but that’s okays. Life isn’t meant to be perfect all the time.
The start will always be the hardest. You will have to put in the time, physical effort and emotional investment to keep at it, improving step-by-step, slowly but surely. In the end, you will be thankful that you started it, or at least you tried. The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Don’t be so caught up and fixated with the end result, enjoy the journey as it is what matters the most. Don’t work your ass off like a blind bat, work smart and take care of yourself. You only have 24 hours everyday, so don’t go drink that Starbucks espresso and go for a study marathon because you can’t sustain such a habit.
As you grow, you will realize that there is no shortcut to success. School would not be the only place where you feel like you were slapped with a handicap from the start, it will be present in your entire life. You will gloat those who “naturally” in some area, and sometimes you wish that you were blessed with skills and abilities that you always wanted to excel in. But it’s okay, embrace everything and be thankful. You are going to feel that life is unfair, and sadly it is. If you get consumed by your insecurities, you won’t stand a chance at all. Every moment you spend bitching and ranting about them? You’re wasting time that could have been used working on those insecurities.
Hard work will be the common denominator in the many successes that you experience in your life. Don’t underestimate your own work ethic, it’s an amazing strength of yours. It’s something you shouldn’t take for granted and it is what will help you get through all the struggles and define you as a person. Remember the things that you are in control of, and let go of those that you aren’t. The road in life is never meant to be a smooth sailing one, so don’t wish for it to be easier; wish for yourself to be stronger.
You are going to meet numerous people in life. Because of your introverted personality, you will have a small social circle. And even within this small circle of friends, some will appear; while some will fade. You have a strong mindset of being independent; you will tell yourself that being alone is okay. During numerous times, you will feel the need to fit in, the need for companionship, but you’ll better off being alone than being with the wrong people. Ignore the toxic personalities that you might face, don’t waste your thoughts on people who don’t deserve. Naturally, the correct and right people for you will appear, trust me. You have a good heart, so open it to the few that truly deserve it.
“The one who wins at the end is a person who is good-hearted.” Always see things from the perspective of others, but maybe you will do too often that you don’t care about yourself. Learn to be selfish at times, learn to reject people and say no. Follow your heart, but sometimes please use your head. Maintain good relationships with everyone, not because they could be “useful” to you in the future, but because a friend is always way better than an enemy. Surround yourself with people that reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel; positive energy can be contagious. Lastly, remember to show appreciation to those who shape you as the person you are today.
As you let go slowly by slowly your “introvertedness”, you will realize that that you are a damn good listener. People will say that you’re a comfortable person to talk and confide to. It may sound ridiculous given your introverted and reserved personality, but your ability to connect with others is given by the fact that you really do care. You being there can mean a lot to the person sitting beside you. Stay humble and never act like one step above others. People may label you as “too nice”, which might not necessarily help you get a job in the future, but it absolutely won’t hurt your rep.
Your priorities in life will slowly change, but there will be a set of life principles that you will follow. Be honest, be patient, respect others: these are just some of the core values you will develop throughout your life . Keep to it, and don’t ever change it, as it is those values which will truly exemplify you as a person. Don’t ever change for someone else, the best person to be is yourself. You will end up overthinking and worrying over small things. Focus on the present, focus on the moment right in front of you. Not everything is going to work out immediately, so give it time.
You’ll soon realize that your idea of happiness is going to change a lot. You will derive positive vibes from very different areas and aspects of life. Again, everything doesn’t need to be perfect, look beyond the imperfections. Love yourself; and you will realize your relationship with yourself will set the tone for every other relationship you have. Do a lot of self-reflection, you will be amazed at how much you will grow and learn during this period of adolescence. You are a writer-type of guy, so diligently pen down the moments worth remembering in words; you’ll love it when you read and revisit the past.
It’s really important to just take what life has given you, comparison will really be the thief of joy. Remember how you want to excel in everything you do? Your limits are probably way further out than you think it is and when you push yourself, you will be amazed and pleased at your own results. Learn how to be contented as well, don’t waste time thinking of the what ifs; love what you currently have and be grateful for it. There will be a thing called social media in the near future, just don’t be obsessed with painting that picture perfect life that everyone seems to have. Never stress on what you cannot control and never worry about what isn’t yours. Be the best version of yourself, and never change for someone else.
There’s many more things I would have wished to share with you, but there are certain things where you are better off without me telling you. You went through a lot, and you survived. You should be proud of yourself; give yourself a pat on the back. Every time you are in a new environment, just take a mental snapshot of the moment. We do not remember days, we remember moments. Everything that happens to you for a reason, eventually all the pieces will fall into place. There are still many chapters in life that awaits you, it’s just the beginning.
It will be an exciting 10 years ahead for you. And you know what? Let’s keep it going.
All the best,