10 Things I’m Glad I Learnt Before I Turn 20


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The day that I have dreaded for the past 2 years has finally arrived. The day that I wish would never arrive is finally here. The day that made me realise that I can run away from anything, but time. That, is my birthday. My 20th birthday.

Growing up, I have always thought that being in the 20s is scary. You are basically an adult with a lot of responsibilities on your shoulder. When I was growing up, my mom kept telling me how she got married at the age of 20 and pregnant by the age of 21. Maybe it is the norm back then, but my 5-year-old self had always picture being 20 as like a super adult – one who can do anything, just like my mom in that age.

Hence, if you all know me personally, I had been so scareeed to turn 20. But on the day when I turn 20, I took some time alone to reflect on my journey. The journey I had embark upon for 20 years and for more to come. These are the things I am so glad I had learnt before I turn 20:

     1. Not everyone is going to like you – and that’s fine                                                             This is truth – stop trying to please everyone. Stop trying to make everyone like you. I have yet to master this, but I have finally understand it and slowly learning to let go. Let go of those who are not worth of my time and effort.

    2. Happiness comes not only from within but also from our surroundings                    Everyone always tell me, “happiness comes from within”. Yes , that’s true. But it is only true to an extent. Happiness also comes from your surroundings. One TED talk say, “you are a reflection of the 5 closest people in your life”. I could not agree more about this. How can one remain happy if one of your close friends keep criticising you – sometimes not for the better but for the sake of it. This leads me to my next point.

   3.  Letting go is a sign of maturity
Letting go is a sign of maturity and NOT immaturity. When someone say “let go”, immediately you would think of a significant other. But really, sometimes this applies for friendship too. When it’s not worth your time and effort anymore, then let go. Sometimes, it is okay to be selfish.

   4.  Appreciate those who matter
This is one that many people forget or take for granted. Appreciate those who matter – that is very important. We can choose to let go of those who make you unhappy. But those who don’t, must be appreciated. Take a moment everyday, to give your dearest ones a 5 minute call. Take a moment during your lunch hour, to message your loved ones and say “how are you doing?” Sometimes even doing this to an old friend could really make their day. So start appreciating!

  5.  Never let the fear of losing be greater than the excitement of winning.                                   Expect to fail but don’t be afraid of failure. There will not be success without failure. Here is one of my favourite Japanese proverb:

7times  6.   Dream big and make it happen                                                                                                  Everyday, take a moment to think: what did I do today? Did it bring me one step closer to my dream?


  7.  Today is the best time for you to try doing something new and take that risk!
I always tell my friends, “don’t wait for the right time. There will never be the right time. Create that time and make it right”.

  8.  Those who matter don’t mind, those who mind don’t matter                                                  Be who you are and who you aspire to be! Even if that means you have to change a little. Remember, “Change is the only thing constant – and it’s inevitable”. Some complain when they see others change. But to be honest, sometimes we need to change, for the better. How can we be who we aspire to be, if we remain the same, and don’t change at all? Quoting another TED Talk, I love this quote:  “Don’t fake it until you make it. But fake it until you be it”.

  9.  Do good: to yourself, to those around you, but mainly to the world
This Is a very important point that people often forget. We focus so much on ourselves that we forget the world. We need to spread this happiness. Find what cause resonates with you most, and do something about it. Not everyone will be passionate about the same cause. But it’s better to have one cause that you are passionate about than nothing. 

It could be anything from poverty, human rights, empowerment and so on. Remember, giving is sometimes better than receiving. 

  10. Create legacy: picture yourself how do you want to be remembered?                                   Think how do you want to be remembered? Always remember that in the end of the day, people will not remember what you did but they will remember how you make them feel. Similarly, people will not remember what job you had or what you did to get you there, but they will remember the impact you created.

By the end of this, you probably know my love of TED talks. But I promise you, this one is one that’s worth watching. He quoted “there are more than 1 billion worlds out there. So remember, if you have change 1 person. You have change/impacted 1 world”.


After this reflection, I felt so much better about myself. Maybe, I have not achieved as much as my mom. Yes, she’s a superwoman. But, at least, I know I have learnt so much about myself. Learnt so much to be a better person. I am so grateful about that :)


With love,

Shannen ❤

Third Culture Kid?

“A third culture kid, TCK, is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents’ culture”

Being taken out of my so-called home country at the age of 10. Spent a significant part of my developmental years in a multi-racial country while attending an International School. Currently studying university in another region. Has made me become one of the many third culture kids.

However, recently, I have been seeing an increase in popularity of articles and posts about third culture kid. I am constantly flooded with endless amount of such posts from my High School Friends. Whether it’s about the benefits, the characteristics, and up to the funny moments of being a TCK. All these posts, make it seem like being a TCK is superior.

The media has made it seems like being a TCK is very luxurious. I could not agree to the fact that being a TCK does open many doors of opportunities for me. I got the best education I could possibly ask for. I got to have the best and most supportive teacher, I was taught in what-to-me is the best curriculum, I was taught to be open-minded at a young age, and I met the greatest and most inspiring people (and most of all, friends). I could not have possibly think of getting anything similar if I was never taken out of my home country at such a young age.

But, there are many hardships of being a TCK that are never revealed by the media. In the end, we are all human. We are all equal. There are so many emotional battles that we need to go through, more than one could imagine. Now, let me tell you few hardships that we need to go through (ones that would even out the fact that we travel a lot). Let me tell you, that in the end, we are NOT anymore superior than other people.

1) We don’t actually know where are we from

Truth is, this fact is not always funny. In fact, it is heart-breaking. To this date, I don’t know where is “home”. Is home where the heart is? Or is it where your family is? Or is it where you passport says it is? Nobody knows the real answer. I don’t see this as something to be proud of. Seeing my friends speak happily and proudly about their home country, do make me feel jealous. You’ll be surprised at how many TCKs wish that they could equally speak with so much pride and joy.

2) We find ourselves disagreeing with our own culture and traditions

Being more exposed to different cultures, traditions, and ways of thinking… do end up making us wish that we were brought up the same way. Do you know about the phrase, “the more you know and yet the less you know”. Exactly. The more we know about different cultures and traditions. The less we actually know. The less we know what’s right and what’s wrong.

So? This means, we often find ourselves arguing about these issues with our own family, people from our own culture, or even people who are too open-minded. Sometimes, it is better to not know.

3) We find it difficult to get along with people from our own home country

Moving on from the second point. Because we are constantly arguing on little things, we do in the end find it more difficult to get along. Again, whether it’s from our own country or the more closed-minded people.

Especially when we go back “home”, a place where we did not grow up in. Obviously, we act, speak, and think differently. Some of you, non-TCKs, may think we are showing off or difficult to be friends with. Truth is, we are not trying to offend you, we were just raised differently. This is very heart-breaking, because fact is, most of the time we don’t get these exceptions. As a result, we find ourself alone in our own “home country”.

4) Our friends are spread out all around the world

Some may say, it’s a very “cool” thing to have, which I do agree, to an extent. Many people don’t realise how difficult it is for us to have a reunion. Many don’t realise how difficult it is to meet our friends again.

Consider this, in High School, I was very closed with one group of girls (there were 6 of us). Now, we are all spread around the world, in different countries, and different regions. Yes, I could see them again. But the chances of us meeting at the same time as a group of 6 again is nearly impossible. Because we are spread around, education system is different. Our vacation ends up at different times as well. It’s not too luxurious anymore, is it? While many other non-TCKs, could easily meet their group of friends again, we couldn’t. It is nearing to two years and we have not even gathered as a group again. In fact, I have not seen most of my good friends anymore.

5) We are used to goodbyes, too many that it’s NOT healthy.

Yes. I believe that being used to too many goodbyes is not healthy. Many of our friends and ourselves have to come and leave. It is not good to be prone to these goodbye tears.

What impact does this make in my life? I am beginning to realise that because of this, I am more scared to be attached to someone. Because I fear of being left once attached. This is a typical emotional problem that many TCKs have to go through, and yes, it is unhealthy.

Well after all, we are just human. We are equal. We are not anymore superior. Don’t let the media fool you. Yes, there are sooo many advantages and endless opportunities that are open to be as being a TCK. Yes, I have experience a lot more than an average person at my age.

But what I’m saying is, this does not make us any less human. There are many hardships for being a TCK too.

With love,

Shannnen ❤

Cheers to 2014!


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Cheers to 2014. Though I feel like a ‘party-pooper’, but to me, 2014 is just going to be one of those years….. It is you who could change it to be one ‘heck of a year’.

This year, I am taking a different take on how I will perceive life. This year, I don’t have any specific resolutions, but I do have step by step rules in order to change my way of living.

2013 was not the best year for me. It was the toughest, most tiring, but most educational. Nearing the end of 2013, I began to realised that I have just wasted another year. I have wasted it because I spent so much time trying to invest in my future that I realise that I did not live in the present at all. The last quarter of 2013 has been the toughest for me. I had never been in so much pressure, stress, and have that much workload before. I realise that I barely even have time for myself. By barely, I mean about 2-3 hours weekly at night (midnight, means sacrificing sleep time).

One day, I started to think, if I were to die today, would I die happy? The answer is a definite no. Because I have been living 95% of my life trying to invest in the future, that if I die today, I wouldn’t have achieved anything. Anything I mean. Time is something that none of us could control, isn’t it?

So for 2014, I promised to live my life differently. How? These are the first few steps I would take to achieve happiness. Because if I had to sacrifice my investment for the future, I’d rather ensure that it makes me happy.

1. Less of what ‘employers would want to see’ and more of ‘what I have always wanted to achieve’.

What this means, I might need to quit one of my outside activities and pursue something that I had always doubt myself about…. which is learning Programming/Coding.

2. Less of what would my friends want to hear and more of what I want to do. 

Which means, if I would want to stay in and fiddle around with my makeup instead of having dinner/pubbing with my friends… That’s what I would do.

3. Become the Jack of all trade 

I have always had a lot of different interest in High School. Looking back, I realised that if I let myself to go outside the box and chase it like what I used to. I could be good/talented at something that I never thought I could. Hence, this means, go crazy with ideas but make sure to pursue it and not become one of those “I tried once, but I stopped”.

4. Continue what I have always loved to do.

What I have always loved to do is working with mentally disabled children and makeup. Hence, no matter what, I would need to make time for this. Even though it’s 2 hours per week. But I will and I have to.

5. Be happy

The last yet most important thing is to be happy. I need to be happy. Find the happiness and stop saying/thinking that “2012 was the best year by far”. Instead think, “2012 was amazing, but I know this year will be even better”. Make more friends, do what I love, pursue what I have always wanted to. Because everyone deserves to be happy. Pursue it even if people disagree with it. If it makes you happy, then that itself is an enough reason to pursue something. Happiness is the key to all success in your career, relationships, and life. Be happy! :) 

Please keep in mind that yes YOLO is a great thing to keep in your mind but too much YOLO-ing means your future is in danger. You need to have that balance. If you realise that you are leaning too far from one to the other, it’s time for you to stop and lean a bit backwards.

I don’t aim to live in the present 100% but I want to have at least 30% – 70%.

I hope this help you to consider how to start your year and how to change the way you live. Remember, it’s not about starting, but it’s about maintaining.

All the best.

With love,

Shannen ❤

What if your hobby is your profession?


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Here I write on behalf of the people who are studying or working in field that interest them but not necessarily satisfy them. Dear friends, you are not alone.

I’m sure there are many of you who have hobbies that are not related to what you are studying or working in. I’m sure among most of you there, ever once thought, “should I pursue this interest?” or “why didn’t I pursue this interest?”

A couple days ago, the thought had struck me. I thought “why didn’t I pursue makeup?” I was devastated and had thought of leaving my university (ha, might also be because of the exams depression! :p). But I then remember, one night, when I was at a pub with my friend. My friend asked this stranger we met, “Why did you decide to study Literature?”, then she said “Well I really enjoy reading and I love analysing them”. Good answer, I thought. Many of us, choose our “path” in university based on similar deduction.

Then, my friend is a curious one, he continued to ask “Well, now that you read for your course, do you still read for your own enjoyment?” She replied “Good question, I guess I don’t have that much time to read for my own enjoyment. Maybe on vacation….”

Well, that conversation, certainly linger in my thoughts for quite some time. Right now, when things get too messy and I’m too stressed about everything going on in my life. I can lock myself in my own room, and fiddle around with my makeup for hours.

But I wonder, if my hobby is my profession…. Then what would my hobby be? Would I enjoy my life more or even less, because I have nothing to get my mind off things when I’m stressed? Or will my life be different? Will I find other hobbies?

Will I be happier …. or will I prove my own opinion about humankind that, “human is never satisfied”?

I wonder how things will be. For those of you who ever once thought about pursuing your hobby, think about this. This is just a small food for thought.

But you are your own decision-maker. Will you just think about it and create all contingency plans? Or will you actually do something about it and find out about the result yourself?



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Sometimes we are too focused on ourselves, we forget about our loved ones.

Sometimes we try too hard to make ourselves happy, we don’t realise we are hurting others.

Sometimes we try too hard to make ourselves look good, we trash others.

Sometimes we try to too hard to keep ourselves healthy, we forget about the health of our loved ones.

Sometimes we work too much, we forget our priorities

Sometimes we try too hard to ‘live our lives’, we forget about our responsibilities

Sometimes we try too hard to grow up fast, we forget that our parents are growing old fast too.

Sometimes we are too focused to get to a destination, we forget to look around along the way.

Sometimes we are too focused on the closed doors of opportunities, we forget to look at the open windows… or even, opened doors right across the street.

Sometimes we are too focused on ourselves and how to be how we want ourselves to be, we forget to be who we actually are.

Sometimes we are too focused on ourselves, we forget about those around us.

Perhaps sometimes, we should switch the sentence the other way around.


Because doing one good deed every once in a while is not enough.

Because being selfish may get you to a lot of places, but it does not get you satisfaction and happiness.