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351 articles in category Personal / Subscribe

Every success article begins with the success, then the fact that their beginning is a rather humble one.

That it needs a lot of hard work.

But you know, the only hard work we’ve seen from their success is the one written in an interview at an article somewhere. ‘I’ve worked hard on it,’ the successful people say, which, doesn’t really show how hard they’ve worked.

Do they work on it for sixteen hours every day for twelve years? Do they go broke in the effort of pursuing their dreams? Do their nightmares involve failing, wondering if their art will ever going to take off?

Here’s the thing: deep down, we don’t want to do hard work – we all want to be the cool girls. Let me explain.

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Have you ever thought why you experience guilt, regret or shame?

I haven’t. But some weeks ago, a speaker at my church, who is also a writer, talked about why we, as humans, are haunted by the person we are. He said, ‘You experience guilt, shame or regret because you can imagine the person you can become.

‘As humans, we can re-imagine ourselves. We can imagine different lives, worlds and realities.’

Which means when you feel regret, you can always imagine yourself handling things better than you did. When you feel ashamed, you can always imagine yourself doing things differently.

This. Strikes. Home.

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Despite my physical appearance and my heritage, I don’t speak Chinese. My great-grandparents traveled from China to Indonesia by boat when they were expecting my grandmother (from my Dad’s side), so I’m either the fourth or third generation Chinese Indonesian.

In Melbourne, Chinese people come to me saying things in Chinese. This will be followed by a somewhat ashamed smile and a shake of my head.

‘Sorry,’ I said. ‘I don’t speak Chinese.’

They will then act surprised and withdrew quickly, leaving me standing with my head down, occasionally thinking, ‘Why didn’t I pay more attention to learning Chinese when I was young?’

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I’m at that stage of life when I realise that I’m actually not that special. I’m just a regular post-graduate student – a lot have come before me and a lot will be coming after me.

I haven’t done anything monumental. I wake up at 9am and have my coffee, then proceed to either work on my thesis or work on something else. I cook food twice a week that will last me through the weekdays, and on the weekends I go on normal dates with my boyfriend.

So here’s the question: What now?

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Last month, I found myself going to Seven Seeds cafe for the second time that week.

My first visit was to buy coffee beans. And during that time, my eyes saw something else that I couldn’t quite get out of my head for the next day.

It was a barista apron.

I had just bought my first ever manual coffee machine using my own sweat. So when I laid my eyes on that expensive denim-bib-with-tan-coloured-faux-leather-straps-apron, I knew I was in love. I wanted one. I had to get one.

So the next day, I grabbed one of the aprons and proceeded to the cashier. The waitress made small talk. ‘This is a cool apron, who is it for?’

Instinctively, without even skipping a beat, I said, ‘It’s for my boyfriend.’

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My whole life I’ve always thought that I’m bold and courageous – the type of person who cares nothing about what others think of me.

Okay, probably it’s just my whole high school life.

I’ve always seen myself as that girl – the one who swims against the current, goes against the crowd. I grew up with two genius sisters: my first sister has a PhD in BioScience and my second sister is a medical doctor. I chose Arts.

If that’s not going against the current, I’m not sure what that is.

Fast-forward six years, and that same girl scored 96 per cent on agreeableness.

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At one point in our lives, we would be watching too many movies and reading too many books and knowing too many life lessons. Remember all those cliches like ‘When you know, you know,’ or ‘Just be yourself,’ or ‘This too shall pass,’ or ‘Time is money,’ and more?

Yes, they are called cliches for a reason – the statements are true for most people, and they have stood the test of time.

So we begin to follow them. We know that we just need to be ourselves and the right job will come. (One day). We know that life sometimes throws us lemons and we can choose to weep or make a lemonade out of it. (Or really, I prefer to make lemon pound cake.)


There’s a big but. And that but is: now that I’m older, I believe that not all those cliches, or classic life lessons, are good.

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Love should not be effortless.

You know, everyone’s been saying that when you finally meet the one who you’re truly meant to be with, falling in love would be easy, blah blah blah – that the time’s just right and the place’s just right and the who’s just right as well.


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How often do you say, ‘I wish you all the best’? Probably all the time. But how many times of those wishes are underlaid with such profound sincerity? If we’re honest, probably none.

Being in my early twenties, I realise that some of my peers have succeeded, or currently on their paths to success. They have opened business, lived their dreams and gained wealth and fame. Reunions are filled with good news on their new and awesome career paths and good-catch relationships, and while I feel happy for them, yes, I do feel jealous.

And I do wish them all the best. But I wonder how sincere I am in wishing them well.

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