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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 ❤