Ten Achievements As I Turn 30

How do you even try to summarise ten years of your life into a list of ten? As I look back into my life in preparation for a retrospective moment as I marched into the unknown realm being 30, I spotted so many memorable moments, both big and small, worth mentioning in my list.

Yes, in mere hours I will bid farewell to the carefree gang of 20s (you lucky bastards!) and hope to be welcomed by the community of 30s. And yes, my life in the recent years have been colourful indeed, interwoven with beads of memory and strings of nostalgia made up of people, places and moments.

I thought it will only be fitting for me to blog my thoughts of my achievements in the past ten years of my life as my 30th birthday approaches.

Are you ready for a stroll down memory lane with me? Here goes:

#1 Coming to Singapore

The Singapore Flyer

Possibly the biggest decision I ever made in my life, and one that I have never, ever regretted. Yes, I did leave behind truckload of memories back home. But when the opportunity came knocking, offering me a chance for a better life in a country I never even dream of living in, I took a deep breath, took the plunge… and I never looked back. In a blink of an eye, I have spent ten years of my life in Singapore and grew up from a clueless young man to a slightly less clueless not-so-young man. I dare say my life would never be the same if I stayed put where I was in Malaysia.

#2 World Music Contest 2001

My life had always revolved around school bands. Without a doubt the pinnacle of my musical life was when, as part of the NTU Symphonic Band, I went to participate in WMC 2001 in Kerkrade, Netherlands, and emerged a First Prize winner in the First Division. After months of endless rehearsals, logistical nightmare (I was the band’s welfare officer) and fundraising effort, together with some of my dearest friends, I stood tall at the top of the (band) world. The feeling of being crowned a winner was truly euphoric.

#3 Getting a first class degree

NTU Convocation Ceremony 2003

I remember the endless nights when I braved the humidity and piles of lecture notes, trying to cram it all one month before the dreaded exams, in pursuit of something that even I myself have no clear idea of – a good degree. Truth to be told, I do enjoy studying. I enjoy stressing my brain into doing mental gymnastic and coaching my friends into understanding complicated algorithm. The day when my final semester results were announced, when I got my straight As and first class degree, was understandably the best day of my life. And as if that is not enough, I went on to do another diploma in a totally different field… just for the heck of it.

#4 Good career progress

S6003334

After a month of frantic job hunting upon graduation (it was during the horrific SARS period when everyone was paranoid and the job market plunged), I landed my first job in a field that was totally unrelated to what I studied. My career kicked off in the recruitment industry in a small company which gradually expanded at dizzying speed, enabling me to literally sprint up the career ladder. Since then, I have dabbled in the conference sector, which saw good money but was wayyy too political, and then I was back in recruitment again but infused with the Internet. And now here I am in Hong Kong, paving my way to be a good web product guy. I have come a long way from the geeky mechanical engineering graduate who was hell bent on NOT being an engineer, to become a manager with a combination of knowledge and experience which, apparently, few candidates have. I call that a blessing.

#5 Staying on my own

The living room

Yet another decision I took which I have never regretted is to move out from a shared flat, stood on my own feet, sacrifice a big part of my income and rent a place to call my own. After years of sharing different abodes with different housemates, an opportunity came along in the form of a dirt cheap yet new flat in Toa Payoh, and I took it. Living alone has taught me a lot of things. Total freedom in building your home life comes with a price you might not be entirely willing to pay. But I learned, and preserved. And without these independent living, I would not be able to throw the endless small dinner gatherings and large birthday parties over the years.

#6 The Singapore Idol Fever

Bash251

How could my list ever be complete without the mention of what was one craziest thing I ever done? What started as a past time watching Singapore Idol season 1 had quickly exploded into a flurry of late night blogging, furious debates on fandom rivalry, and eventually the birth of the official site of the first Singapore Idol, Taufik Batisah. Getting to know the man himself and running his fan site and fan club were no joke. Had it not been for a gang of die hard supporters, I would have fizzled out long time ago. After three years of toiling for the Fiknatics, I called it quit together with Cheryl and Shafik, my two BFFs whom, without TB.net, I would not have the blessing to be acquainted with. The three of us have sure come a long way from dabbling in that dreaded forum to be at where we are today. Aren’t you glad? I am eternally grateful.

#7 Losing weight

Shafik's 21st Birthday Celebration Night Out

It started at the start of 2008, when a date commented how I need to change my wardrobe, and I realised I have not been buying new clothes since, like, forever. The reason was that I told myself I will buy new clothes when I lose weight, which of course never happened. So I signed up at the gym, got myself a personal trainer, and worked hard. Coupled with my various diet plans (some successful, some not), I achieved what I wanted to do – to stop being a dumpling only a 40″ pants can fit. Today, I no longer tip the scale at 90 kg, and I can wear jeans of 32″ comfortably, and at times t-shirts sized S fit nicely too. I shudder to think if I ever go back to the way I was. Don’t believe me? Check this out. This was taken back end 2007. How time flies.

#8 Falling in love

Devilmisu @ TCC

Ahhhh… the four letter word. What can I say? Everyone fall in and out of love at some point of their lives, me included. Perhaps I am more melodramatic than most when it comes to affairs of the heart. I have had serious relationships before, as well as pseudo-relationship (you know, the ones you thought you are in one but the other person don’t). Flings and dates came and go, and through all the ups and downs, I have learned what it meant to be in love, and to know what I am looking for in life. And I can proudly say that, when the right person comes along, I will know. I am not a perfect person, but I hope eventually someone will see the imperfect me, perfectly.

#9 Joining Singapore Men’s Chorus

As I look back at my blog entries, I was amazed by the number of times I said I can’t sing. The truth is… I can’t. Yet I made it through the auditions for the Singapore Men’s Chorus joining the stellar line up of bass singers. Though the SMC I got to know friends whom are very dear to me. Despite my short five months with the lads, I truly enjoy the time spent singing and dancing with them. I was sorely disappointed for not being able to perform even one season with them, due to my relocation, but the friendships we nurtured, hopefully, will last for life.

#10 Travel the world

Excursion to Oia

After saving very hard during the first few months of my working life, I embarked on my very first holiday on my own terms – it was Bangkok – and the travel bug got me for good. Since then, I have been spending most, if not all, of my savings on traveling to places near and far. I relish the feeling of packing up for a trip, the journey to the airport, the facilities on the flight, and of course, the adventure in an unknown land where everything is new and foreign to you. Phuket was my favorite, having been there for seven trips in a space of 1.5 years, but nothing beat my winter holiday last year, when I spent three days at the magical Santorini, Greece. And yes, I will be back.

The Conclusion

So there you have it, the ten achievements of my life in the past ten years. Do I feel proud of myself? I do. I would not have done things any differently, given a choice. Through my years, I have my friends and family to thank for helping me shaping the person I am today.

As I move into the unknown future of the 30s, I know things will be different and exciting at a totally different level. Life will pan out in ways I could not imagine, and the road ahead will be paved with bumps and potholes I can’t be prepared for. It could only mean one thing – an adventure.

Happy birthday, me.

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