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Helloooo!! Just a lil note to say that I am still very much alive. 2018 has been crazy so far. So much things have happened - including losi...

i yam still alive

Helloooo!! Just a lil note to say that I am still very much alive. 2018 has been crazy so far. So much things have happened - including losing my phone (good lord, how many times do i have to lose this thing!!) - and also wonderful things like going to Sri Lanka early this month. I can't wait to blog and tell you guys about my amazingggg trip. Unfortunately a lot of photos were on my phone sigh but I'll do my best with the pictures that I have in my digital camera :)

Work has been all right, company's sent me for courses to improve my journalistic skills. Excited to discover more things. 2018 has been wilddd. I'm also taking driving lessons - auto - finally!! I know a lot of people take it the year they turn legal. But me, I'm always a slowpoke, so I take my time and this year I just felt that it was the right time. I've booked a lotttt of lessons this coming month so cross ma fingers everything goes smoothly and I'll be ready to terrorise road users ;)

Anywhos, just here to tell you I'm all good, still blogging, never forgetting bout you guys!

i want to type this down before i forget everything heh! recently, one night, i was having a conversation with my brother. he said, "...

external gratification

i want to type this down before i forget everything heh!

recently, one night, i was having a conversation with my brother. he said, "sometimes the most outwardly cheerful people are the saddest". i had a good long think about it... why?

i think i know why. hear me out.

it sounds very all-encompassing and doesn't necessarily reflect everyone in the category but for ease of explanation, let's label expressive people as extroverts and non-expressive people as introverts. (i know a lot of people will say "but outgoing people can be introverts too what" and yada yada but again, for ease of explanation hold your horses, that's what labels are for haha)

extroverts tend to be louder and chirpier and they seem to be confident people because afterall, it seems as if they don't seem to care about what others think of them, they do what they like and are having a good time. a display of confidence.

at the same time, i believe extroverts tend to want more outwardly expressions of feedback. because to project outward confidence, there is also a need for a return of the same intensity. they yearn to know what others think of them. that sounds kinda cheem, but stay with me. basically, extroverts tend to need external gratification. it's not a want, but a need. it's their vote of confidence.

for example, and apologies for the lack of a better example, people who love hugs tend to love to receive hugs too. they hug others because they want to be hugged too. they express it, and hope to receive it.

perhaps, expressing outwardly would mean they'd usually want to receive forms of outwardly love too.

back to what my brother said, "sometimes the happiest people tend to be the saddest". perhaps happy people who encourage and help others because... they too need it. and sometimes unfortunately, it's not reciprocal.

external gratification tends to be scary because it isn't reliable. it's not long-lasting or enduring.

another example: pretty girls tend to need people to tell them they're pretty (even though they've been told they're pretty a number of times) because they expect to receive compliments. that's a form of gratification. when they don't receive them, it can be quite crushing. a person of average looks may not expect that form of external gratification, and are content. they don't rely on that form of external gratification to feel good about themselves.

another example: i think this explains why kids who are often told verbally that they're good early on in life may be reliant on external forms of feedback and gratification later on in life. so when they grow older, if they don't have that kind of gratification, they fumble.

another example: likes. facebook likes. instagram likes. we need to know we are liked by the number of likes. so sometimes people post loads of stuff online (appears extroverted), but perhaps they actually just need that gratification of being told they're beautiful (for selfies) or their photography is good.

another example: drugs. it serves as a form of gratification/ escapism for the momentary pain. it's addictive cos it makes a person feel good. or gives that illusion.

another example: travel, adventure. it's also a form of external gratification. i mean, extroverts tend to like the adrenaline that comes with it.

so in other words.... the intensity of what extroverts need to receive is far greater - which means, expectations are far greater.

they need to be the best, the greatest. and to know if they're the best, they compare. that's their downfall.

i'm not sure if i'm making much sense but i hope you're still wth me as i try to navigate through my own thoughts.

you see, that's why sometimes quiet people are the most confident. they draw from inner strength. there is no need for people to tell them that they're good. they know they're good. and sometimes that comes from deep within. there is a sense of calm.

they don't need to compare themselves with others, they don't expect to receive anything - no external gratification.

but it's not the end for extroverts.

in other words, "outwardly happy people tend to be the saddest" may not always be true as well. we can debunk that hypothesis.

happy people CAN show they are outwardly happy AND also be confident at the same time.

the trick? as long as they don't expect external gratification all the time. sometimes it's good, we all need to be told we're good to feel good about ourselves. to be confident that we're making the right choices. but we cannot rely on it all the time. because external gratification is addictive and sadly, unreliable. we cannot expect to receive external gratification constantly.

how do we feel internally good then?

that is the trick to true happiness i believe. and i truly think it's not expecting too much of oneself. to know that we are already good, no matter what. i repeat, no matter what. that we are doing our best no matter what. regardless. we are good and we are loved whoever we choose to be, whatever our actions, however imperfect we may be.

that's the trick to inner security, confidence and happiness. i truly believe so.

sounds like a very nirvana post. a bit ah? but it was quite a revelation to me. and i want to write it down to get a sense of my own thoughts.

This year, all I want to do is let go~ of things I can't control and go with the flow~ - that means people, conversations, circumsta...

New Year Simple Me

This year, all I want to do is let go~

of things I can't control and go with the flow~

- that means people, conversations, circumstances.

I no longer want to constantly expect things to go my way cos they don't and won't just because I want them to. Also to know that people are trying their best - that includes myself.

It means to let go of trying so hard... It makes living a lot easier, and people will be happy and willing to offer their help, and for me to accept that help.

I also no longer want to expect things to go amazingly. I realise I tend to set unrealistic, grand expectations of how things should go - and end up disappointed. I think also cuz I get easily excited bout things HAHA. So I end up conjuring fantastical worlds. An example: Up coming Bhutan trip in October with my dad. I guess I would previously like to hope that the trip would be this mindblowing epic journey. But now, I just want simple things. If I get to sightsee and spend quality time with my dad, then that's all that matters.

That's of course not to say that I no longer have expectations. I also have needs and wants that need to be taken care of :)

Why I think all of this is important is because... I realise being in control all the time, and being on top of the game creates a lot of mental anxiety. Very unnecessary energy wasted to be constantly thinking about what people are thinking... I can't properly live in the present. And that sucks.


It won't be easy to let go and I constantly remind myself some things don't matter. It's like if I'm jealous about someone else's life, I'm the one suffering. The other person isn't even bothered about what I'm thinking and I'm slowly drowning in my own thoughts. So hey, if you think about it, not worth constantly wondering. Let go~

If you happy, I happy, then gud.

And it makes everything a whole lot more fun!

Speakin bout fun, I started my year with a bang ;)

Dad's 60th party on the 6th of Jan:

a night of drinks, laughs and good music :)

pops and me!
he was also very pops that night btw, and always is la!

my crazy partner-in-crime;
we both danced the night away~ i swear without huiquan everyone else wouldn't have stepped up their game

my two bestest friends, i do love them so!!!

Social interactions are sooo important. And as much as I love alone time, I think having a healthy social life is also pretty darn important ya. So I hope to meet as many people as possible this year!

And have a ball of a time at the same time - lemme repeat myself - bro's wedding!!! cousins' weddings!!!! sri lanka trip!!! bhutan trip!!!!


It's gonna blow. Mindblowing 2018.

Hahaha I'm excited :) :)

Here I come 2018!!

The moment I stepped into the house, his face grew stern and he growled, "What is it you want? What is it that you really want?"....

the story that broke me

The moment I stepped into the house, his face grew stern and he growled, "What is it you want? What is it that you really want?".

I stood there, not knowing whether I was allowed to come in or not.

I thought to myself, you can do this, you came here to do this story. you can do this.


Some time in August last year, an NUS professor approached me about a story. He sounded very keen on letting the media in on this one because his daughter was involved in it.

Her classmate had killed herself, and the whole school had tried to keep it under wraps. But after two boys had killed themselves in a space of a few days and months before the latest one happened (timeline is a bit foggy in my mind right now), tongues started to wag and parents turned to whatsapp to discuss. They were convinced that the education system had something to do with it. Stress? Pressure? Expectations?

The professor was incensed because according to him, there weren't proper systems in place to help students deal with stress and cope with their problems. There was only one counsellor for every student that walked in with a problem. He was particularly furious that the school did not carry out the right procedure in informing students that their classmate had died. According to him, their teacher had merely said that if anyone had problems, "please approach me. otherwise, please prepare for your examinations in two weeks' time".

I listened. And I was hooked. This was definitely a news story.

But I knew it was a difficult one. Suicide, a topic that's not often talked about in Singapore. Plus, it was a tall order for a junior person in the newsroom to take on. I was merely 2 months into the job at the time.

Nevertheless, I took it on and pushed for the story with my editor. She relented.

It took me a couple of months to firm up the story. What the story angle was. Who I should speak to.

More importantly, why I should even do the story.

I chased profiles. Parents whose child died. Siblings. Friends. My editor helped me find a profile through a conference about suicide. I managed to speak to the writer who wrote a book about his friend's suicide. I crafted my message in the most delicate way to convince him to speak to me.

Alas, the digital team got to him first. I lost that profile. My editor chided me.

I even hunted down an MP who was willing to speak to me. After coaxing and sending a personal email, he relented. During the interview, I asked him, what was the government going to do about the rise in youth suicides? What can teachers, parents and students do to help vulnerable youth?

Even after that interview, I didn't know what the news angle was. Do we go with the government's pov? As with many of our news stories? I was lost.

My editor provided an angle about the fact that students needed to build resilience. I disagreed, yet didn't know what other angle to go with. I was confused and flustered by the story's lack of development - yet, felt the pressure to deliver. Was I sending out the right message with this story?

Then, I managed to speak to a girl whom I had been conversing with for weeks, to try to persuade her to come on camera. Her sister had taken her own life just a few months ago.

No other media outlet had gotten to her and I wanted to. Because... her sister was that girl from the school the prof was talking about.


I entered the house, clutching my bag and also, my heart.

The girl who I was messaging for weeks was in the house with her mom and dad. I sensed that the family was not too at ease with my presence.

Slightly terrified by the man who seemed to be seething with rage, I sat down, and started to introduce myself. Why I wanted to talk to them and what my story was about. They asked me questions about where and when the story was going to air. What use would it be to talk about their daughter's suicide.

Soon enough, they warmed up to me. They told me about their daughter - how she was a bright child. They showed me her accolades - top in science and english in primary school. How she didn't even need tuition. The fact that she was gifted. They also told me that she had the loveliest heart. How she wanted to be a vegetarian because she learnt how animals suffered before they were slaughtered. I had already known she had a kind heart, because I trawled through her blog and read her posts hungrily. She wrote about how she wanted to do more, yet felt so tired with the world - that she wasn't going to be young forever and that she was afraid she might lose that drive and heart to help people in need.

Something hit me during my conversation with their family and that was during the moment her sister revealed to me the contents of her farewell note.

What shocked me first, was her apology. Not to her family, but to her friends... that she was not brave enough to carry on living. That she was sorry for giving up the fight. Her sister told me that her sister's friends had the same suicidal thoughts. They had confided in her that they too, were troubled but what kept them going was each other. The saddest part was the fact that the day before she took her own life, a friend had come to her to seek advice. According to her mom, she had wanted to talk to that friend about her own problems, but in the end, she became the listening ear. Her sister said she'd sought help from her school's counsellor, but felt that the sessions did not work. Eventually, she stopped seeking help all together.

The next thing that I found out made me rethink my entire story.

The girl's sister told me that in her letter, she did not reveal what made her take her own life. But what she did say was... that it had NOTHING to do with studies. That she did not kill herself because she was stressed. And that if the media were to say it had anything to do with it, she warned them not to believe. She was adamant about this.

And that brought me to a deadlock. How was I to tell the story now? How accurate would it be?


Back in the newsroom, my editors hunted me for the story. "Where is your suicide story? When can I see it? Who have you spoken to? What is your angle?"

I was stressed as hell. Helpless also. I was not gum yet with any of my editors at that point of time. And I was terrified to ask for help.

I started to write my story any ways, and went ahead with the angle my editor said I should go with - that students need to build resilience.

I felt like I was losing my deadline because the story seemed so old and I was tired of talking about suicide by then. Is this story of relevance anymore? Who still wants to hear about suicide - it'd been weeks since the case happened and all media outlets had covered the topic.

Except me.


It was the day of the recorded interview with the girl's sister. I got my cameraman prepared. I told him to be sensitive to the grieving family. Her parents declined to be on camera and I respected their decision. I could also tell that they were not ready to speak about her death either.

Her sister spoke with emotion as she recounted the day she found out about her sister's death, how her family was coping, and what she loved most about her sister.

After the interview, we all sat down to read letters from the girl's friends given to the family and looked at old photos. The atmosphere was light. There were also times when there were tension - when I asked if they saw the signs. The blame game began - "why didn't you tell me she posted this photo on Instagram?" The regrets poured in - "i should have been able to tell that she was sad the day she walked upstairs to her room without talking to any of us."

But there was also, a lot, a lot, of love for this girl. The man who confronted me at the entrance of the house was actually the person whose heart grieved the most. Her dad had adored her - fetched her to school, supported her at events. And apparently, she was the reason for him to carry on living a good life. According to his wife, their daughter was the reason why he decided to change his unhealthy lifestyle - so that he could live to see his daughter do well in the future.

My heart was torn, I was wretched.


With the interview done, my story was finally complete. My deadline... I didn't know if there was still even one. Anywhos, I wasn't very proud of the story. I was perplexed, not knowing if I had fulfilled the criteria of a good journalistic story.

There are three rules to good journalism: A-C-T. Accuracy, Contextualisation, Timeliness.

I wasn't sure I hit all three or even, any of the three.

My editor told me, "I can tell, you're getting very emotional about the story. A journalist needs to be fair and objective. You are not."

I took it quite hard then. I didn't know what to do - whether to be a human or journalist first.

I handed in the story quite late. It didn't seem like any of the bulletins wanted to take my story. Nobody seemed interested in pushing it out either. Even I lost faith.

In the end, I made the call - to kill the story.


"This is for your family"

I handed this small bouquet of flowers to the family for it to be placed at the girl's altar. And then I left the house.

A week later, I called the sister to tell her I was dropping the story. She said it was okay, and that she told her parents about it. They too, thought it might have been a good thing for the family that the story wasn't published. A sense of relief washed over me.

Her sister arranged to meet me one last time again and we met to talk over at a Starbucks joint. I was happy she asked for the meet up, it gave me somewhat of a peace of mind.

We parted ways, but somehow I got the nudging feeling that I'll meet her again.


A sobering post to end 2017.

I'd been wanting to write this piece for a pretty long time - my struggle with this story and how it has affected the way I think about journalism now.

But I never felt like it was the right time to talk about it until now - took me a whole year to come to terms with it.

It's 'the story that broke me' because I had felt so much conflicting emotions.

I learnt so much about depression, suicide and how it affects the young. I believe some time in the future, I will revisit this topic and tackle it.

The story has also made me think about the way I operate as a journalist. It was so tough separating myself from a story that took a toll on my emotional and mental wellbeing. I'd always thought journalists needed to be empathetic to their profiles, and so I tried my best to give justice to the people who shared with me their stories.

The whole process was taxing, working with my editors, profiles, and feeling like I couldn't pull through. I thought I'd let a lot of people down - the NUS prof, the family, my bosses...

and even myself.

I had doubts about whether I was good enough to be a journalist, especially since I am one who listens and feels deeply about issues. I thought maybe I'd be better off telling stories about people instead of raising questions about issues.

But I have learnt, and I now understand why people say that sometimes, we need to separate ourselves from the stories that we put out.

As much as I felt deeply for my profile, I realised also that it was important to keep my emotions in check to tell the story objectively. Sure, I am human and I am inclined to stand for what I believe but I realised my role is not to campaign for causes.

I chose to be a journalist, one who speaks to people and disseminates accurate information... not one who simply tells people's stories through emotion without fact-checking.

I seek the truth.

In a world that can be so complicated and noisy... the truth can also mean different things to different people.. with people voicing their different opinions. And so, my job is to tell it as it is.

Of course, that's not to say that I no longer want to have empathy for my profiles, but I think emotions can be a double-edged sword - too much of it and I will cease to function properly in my profession and too little of it will not allow me to connect with people and my own stories.

Such a balancing act, as with so many things in life.

This was a painful lesson, but I think I've grown quite a lot in the past year. It has been a good run, 2017.

I sense 2018 will be crazy exciting. That I will be meeting and talking to a lot of people. And discovering a lot of new things. And most definitely growing a whole lot more as a journalist :)

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