Build a 22-year-old-self You Can Be Proud Of

This is not a normal article in the series #IfIwere22 because I was 22 only a year ago. It is not an advice letter, they are the sincere notes I wrote to myself, I hope you too can resonate with it.

As a 22, I quited my job and come on to pursue a mediocre degree, just to get away from the familiar place where I spent my adolescence. It was last year and felt like yesterday, when I was sitting in the room corner and wondering: What should I do next?

I did not sit there for long nor search for an answer anymore. There is no answer, we should all know that. The uncertainties exist for a reason: to urge us to be aware of the limited time we have and force us to complete what needs to be done.

If there is real magic in this world, I would wish someone had told me about the importance of finding my inner peace, that travelling is not the only way to explore and most notably, I should be quiet more often. Those are the three key things that leads me to my new-found self as now.

1 Be a calm and pleasant person

This has nothing to do with money or relationships. Do not mistake the outer coats with your inner values. You do not have to please anyone because if they do like you, they will like you. It’s important for you to look into your soul and befriend with it. Having a good relationship with people around you does not mean you have to fake a smile, but it’s more about you tell yourself “Hey, be cool. It’s not a big deal”.

2 Travel wisely

Everyone urges you to go travel and “open your mind”, “reach beyond what you can”. No, you don’t have to do that. Travel as you like and discover as you want. It’s fine if you stay at home and look through the computer screen and read about the history instead of dusting your shoes. The ultimate purpose of travelling is packed in one word “experience”, don’t let others’ opinions sabotage your exposures.

But if you really decide to go on travel, choose your companion wisely. It’s simple to pack your bag and go, but it’s not that simple to have the real joy of travelling. Be it your best friend, your mom or even yourself, you have to decide before your trip. Wherever you go, bear in mind that it’s not about the place, it’s all about the people you meet and talk with along the way.

3 Listen, listen and learn

“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new” This saying has a lot to tell: First of all it asks people to stop talking; Secondly it tells you that listening alone is not enough, you gotta learn. Listening makes you a better person and learning makes you a different person. It’s the change that matters.

Being a 22-year-old means you have to be bold and be brave in whatever you do. It also includes the commitment of continuous learning to be a better person. There’s not an ultimate guide to do that, you just have to believe in yourself and climb the next step.

P/s: Just a piece of good news: as a recent graduate, you are graduating into the best job climate in over a decade. So, be happy 😉


A new start


Today is the International Labour Day, a very big holiday in Finland because it coincides with spring celebration of the Finnish, Walpurgis day. People flocked all the streets yesterday with alcohol and happiness. Some was pretty crazy, here’s an example:

We woke up this morning rather late, being intoxicated from the drinks yesterday. Amazingly, we found our cutie spinach in the kitchen has blossomed into a fully grown, beautiful plant! You would be even more surprised to know it came from a spinach seed that we experimented to grow. I ignored it for quite a while until a few days ago, I decided to dismantle my indoor farm and discovered the spinach had grown so big.

The spinach seed package. Who knows it can grow into such a plant <3

The spinach seed package. Who knows it can turn into such a plant ❤

At first my boyfriend talked me into throwing it away. “It grows against all odds while other plants died away, there must be something to it” I thought so I kept it anyway, just put little and little water to it everyday, expecting that it might die soon cos there was not nutrition. Seeing it shows off its little yellow petals today was wonderful! I felt so happy that I trusted in my little spinach seed’s surviving spirit 😛


Dear little spinach plant, you made a claim: Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence

Helsinki, 05.2015

If you can answer this P5 math question in less than five minutes, you probably had a good education

The above Primary 5 Math question, which was put up on Facebook by Singapore media personality Kenneth Kong, has gone viral, stirring a lot of debates since last Saturday. It took me more than 10 minutes staring at the computer screen like mad to understand the explanation so yea, I was not that smart and fortunate.

Mockingly, the fact is that I DID HAVE a good education. I went to the higher-ranked schools and was always in the top ten. I’d always gotten ”Excellent” behaviour for being decent in the class and respectful to teachers. I had always got it right, to the given educational standards at that time. I remembered my recent conversation with my mom, when I asked her why she sent me for overseas study while my sisters still stayed at home, she answered instantly: ”Cos your study results were good” Now that was the flaw, almost every Asian parents have a mindset that their kids should go for foreign study because their school results were GOOD! But I still can recall my first months in Ngee Ann Polytechnic, being drowned in the new language, new study styles, new way of teaching. I survived that three years but all I did was studying by heart lectures notes, without any critical thoughts about its application. What am I doing with it now? I have no idea. There was the huge difference between traditional and modern-days education. Traditional education focus on disciplines and subjects. But in this complex, changing and challenging world, that kind of knowledge would definitely not make a good preparation.

In 2007 at the International Conference on Thinking, Dr. Perkins asked entire audience a question: ”What do you believe are some of the most important knowledge and skills for students to learn toward our complex future?” Top theme answers were: communication, empathy, environment, ethics and self-understanding. The general notion from this is: in today complicated world, for the kinds of lives today’s learners like us are living, it’s important to develop skills and attitudes that address some very broad challenges. Dr. Perkins named those as twenty-first century skills. They are personal and interpersonal know-how of general importance to many aspects of life, helping people to better manage themselves in the workplace, parties, promotion dinners, etc. Just being a decent employee and following a routine no longer suffices to hold a good position.

Saying that does not mean the entire education system is failing, only in some places. I’m sure the math question above is a challenge for kids in Vietnam who are taught to follow rules in finding a solution, but it’s not that a big deal for kids, let’s say, in Finland, who are encouraged to use logical thinking and be creative. Kids in developed countries have the access to an adapting education system while we, from developing world do not have that privilege. Isn’t that unfair when the way your brain is shaped is very much dependent on your parents’ address? Education should be, and have to be a claim for global equality. It’s a flat world after all.