10 years, my god. It’s been a decade.
I have grown so much over the past 10 years. Looking back, which I do frequently, I have become a better version of me. 10 years ago, I was still that clueless girl, trying to figure out life. 10 years ago, I had my first experience of failure. It allowed me to fall and stand up again, to continue growing and become who I am today.
Best of times: I found people whom I can call “my people”. I love them with all my heart and they have found a special place in my heart.
Worst of times: The endless farewells I had to bid. You’d think I’m better at goodbyes after all these years. No, I still suck at it.
Quick recap of the past decade, with the most significant memories.
- 2010: Crash of reality, harsh new beginnings
- 2011: New beginnings, life by my design
- 2012: Figuring out who Lisa is
- 2013: Moved to Hong Kong and discovered love
- 2014: Beginning of endless travels
- 2015: the year I’ve been waiting for
- 2016: Best summer yet
- 2017: Crash of reality 2.0, found my safe haven
- 2018: Figuring life out
- 2019: Getting my shit together
I experienced by first real failure. Poised to take over the leadership role at Girl Scouts, I am always ready to lead and bring people to new heights. However, I did not get that position and it crushed me. I never experienced failures before, for I always put in the work to achieve my goals. When it is within my control, I achieve my goals. Everyone knew I was born for that role, but well, the authorities were not a fan of my attitude of defying pointless social norms, and things did not go according as planned.
Nonetheless, this was a very important turning point in my life. In hindsight, that was a distraction and following it will give me a spot in the rat race. I didn’t know it then, but that changed my life.
Following it, I focused on studies and family. I had to step up as the big sister to my little brothers. It also gave the the time and opportunity (I’m so grateful for it) to learn about neurology, psychology and the science of the brain. I started to “hack” my life and constantly thought about the meaning of life.
I started the whole “adulthood” and “mid-life crisis” back in 2010. Always better to start earlier than later! This was also the year I started to think about the meaning of life, the purpose of living, passion, career and everything in between. It was tough, but that was the perfect start to the decade. Prior to that, I just moved with the motion, like a floating cork in the ocean.
2011 started with some fantastic news! I was the 4th best in the entire school when it came to my grades. Like I said, when I want something and it is within my control, it will be achieved. My hard work paid off, even my teachers were shocked. I was never in the top 10 of the school, not even top 20. And suddenly, I was the top 4. That moment of deer-in-the-headlights blankness when they said my name as my friends pulled my from all corners to give me hugs. That was a moment that I have never experienced.
With my grades, I could basically be anywhere I want. And since I already knew what I wanted (see 2010), it was easy. Decision making is always a piece of cake, because when you know what you want, there is only just 1 decision to be made.
I always lived life by my design. But in the foundational years, there is only limited choices. Now, I can really choose the direction that I’d like to take in my life. For the first time, I am in full control of where I’d like my life to go.
Naturally, I took international business. I love that, I always did. Singapore is small and I hate being limited by geography. To conquer the world was my goal, and it still is. If you’re going to do something anyway, might as well go big or go bigger. The ambition in me saves me and kills me in the years to come.
One of the luckiest thing in my life, as always and till now, is to be surrounded by the best people the universe has. (It’s either that or I always see the best in people.) These new friends were bright, young and fun to hang out with. 2011 was all about making new friends, figuring out about this new responsibility of steering ones life and continue to figure out the kind of life I ultimately want to live.
Then came 2012, where the travels really started to kickoff. I travelled often, but not as frequently enough. Today, I have conversations about the best X in country Y and comparing A between 2 countries, etc. Today, I am well-travelled and well-read. Back then, I was still starting out on this journey.
For the first time, I experienced living in another country. I was living in China for 5 weeks, experiencing their university life. Also, I started churning out business ideas, formalising business plans and allowing ideas to grow in my head. And became active in the startup community and the whole entrepreneurship trend.
It was a nice year, growing up, making friends, making mistakes, being a stupid teen and everything in between. Growing up was fun.
Then came 2013, the start of the best years. I moved to Hong Kong and lived there for almost a year. It was the tipping point of growing up and defining who Lisa really is. Moved to Hong Kong at the end of summer and made tons of friends.
There was where I learnt many life lessons. From career (went there to work) to losing “friends” back home to dealing with loneliness to making new friends and starting life in a new place, I grew and learnt so much. I made friends mainly by hiking and occasional drinking.
Most importantly, I found a group of friends that I now call family (crazy family). We did so many things together. We met each other at a curious stage of our life and became family to this day. It’s been many years and we have all moved around the globe, but these people will always have a very important place in my heart.
Most importantly, in 2013, I learnt to love. I learnt to fall in love, I learnt to trust someone enough to give him my heart, I learnt to find beauty in life though love and I learnt to love everything that comes with life, including art. Before learning to love, life has never seemed as beautiful. And that is why V will always define what love is and what love feels like. Before him, I never experienced life in the same way and intensity as I have today.
Side experience, also started my first real business, selling unique items sourced from abroad. It was fun until everyone got busy and the business had to end.
10 countries in 2014
2014 was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I learnt that life has the same laws as in physics. With every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Every reunion and new friendship has a goodbye. I’ve never cried in public, but when I said my farewells in Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore, Germany, I’ve never hated airports more.
Nonetheless, 2014 were mainly highs. The first time V and I travelled together. The valentine’s day where I got so nervous, I fell sick. The first time I really got to know his best friends and family. The many first times the crazy family did stupid things together. Plenty of firsts, and it was not going to end.
Then came spring and it was goodbyes. Endless tears, hugs and kisses. It was simply too heartbreaking. Thankfully, it was just 6 weeks of torture, before V and I embarked on our Asia backpacking trip. Those 2 months were filled with fun, food and love. You really get to know someone after travelling together, and we withstood each other despite it all. (Those were the best and worst of times!)
After ugly tears and saying goodbye and ending things, life began again. It was tough, really fucking tough. It took me a grand total of 2.5 years to fully get over him. (Which was the same for him.)
And in winter, we decided to spend Christmas together. Took my family across Switzerland and Germany our families spend Christmas together. It was absolutely lovely. Another goodbye that sucked, but that was a beautiful end to the year.
12 countries in 2014
That is MY year. The year started with the crazy family screaming in my ears “LISA WE ARE HERE!!!”. They flew over to Singapore to celebrate my birthday on the yacht. I was super ill, but they were made that weekend fantastic. I love them.
Then it was another year of many travels and meeting new people. Turns out, you meet a lot of likeminded people abroad. Mainly because it takes a certain type of character to live abroad and work abroad, perhaps. And I connect well with these people. So there, made tons of friends, lost some friends, but a net happiness of beautiful souls in my life.
Traveling with the crazy family all summer, going on a mum-daughter trip with my mum, exploring new countries and too many drunk parties. The French became a constant weekend party in my life too. Gosh, I do miss them.
Started the year with a picnic for my bday followed by a house party with the French. Went to the Zoo and historical museum and just had so many great memories. Of course, I had to fall from our cycling trip a day before my move to the Netherlands. I was badly hurt and was bleeding a lot. Thankfully, I still had my shit together and took my flight to Amsterdam.
The following months of learning and living were the best. My plan to party every weekend was destroyed by my anti-party housemate, so I opted for constant travels instead, especially since V only lived 30min drive away! We took turns to visit each other, while I visited all my other friends who went back home in Europe.
2016 summer was one of the best summers. 2014’s summer was the SEA summer. 2015 was the mediterranean summer. 2016 was the European summer. It was a blast in all aspects, and saying goodbye in each city was truly a challenge.
Took another trip with the crazy family to Vietnam and that was fun. Ended up riding the scooter with Kimchi and travelled the south of Saigon. Also spoke at a conference, paid to travel to the conference and went to India. Lastly, meeting V at the airport where we have a couple of hours before he flew back.
Scholarship, lots of food, home, new career path. 2016 keeps getting better.
Another move to another country. 2017 was a tipping point in my life. It was the year I experienced depression and it was the year I found E. I don’t know how E did it, but he picked up my broken pieces and hugged me till the pieces came back together. He saw so much greatness in me (we met before I experienced the 2 months of depression) and continues to see so much in me till this day. I honestly don’t know what I would become, should we not meet.
We did so many things together. Lived together, fell in love (everything was magical), travelled to many places and added each other in our life plans. He flew over every month and I flew over once during summer. We ended the year meeting in New York, counting down to the new year in his arms. We were just off Times Square, and the balcony had all these party things.
He is everything I wanted and more. I can’t believe someone like him exists. I have never been so bare and transparent with a person ever. He was my safe haven, and still is.
Countdown in Manhattan and we said our goodbyes. Went back to Hong Kong while waiting for E to arrive. Then we took a 20h trip to Singapore just formally meet my parents and tell them that I am moving to London. Worst birthday ever later, I flew to London alone.
2018 was both life changing and important. It was not a smooth journey throughout, and there were plenty of ups and downs. It took a while, but I finally figured my life out. With E, I started to embark on the biggest project in my life yet (and still working on it).
Unlike the other years, 2018 was the turning point of something more serious, something more real. Friends I made were both friendship and business/working relationships. I spent most time in front of my laptop typing and working away. I gave up social life and only had E. We only focused on our individual careers and each other. And that is probably what drove us crazy.
Sometimes the best thing to do for the person you love is to leave. And that was what we did. Another goodbye, another farewell. Another teary plane ride.
My grandma like to say that I take planes like taking the bus. I found that funny and am always reminded of her when I board planes.
The year of getting my shit together. I feel like the entire 2010-2018 was to build the right foundation and have the right experiences to build the final layer of foundation in 2019, so that the soaring-20s will be fabulous.
I cut out social life for the first 3 months and spent time in the library working away. Then I continued in my area of specialisation and also started to socialise more and make new friends. One of my (unsaid) wish is to have friends who meet on weekends at the salon to discuss about life and politics and ideas. And I can’t believe it but I found this group in Singapore! It’s like the crazy family but having more of your shit together and discussing more in-depth topics. I am learning so much from them!
Most importantly, I found my independence by the end of 2019. This decade has its moments, and above all, I emerged the person I truly wanted to be, when I started thinking about it in 2010. 10 years of failure, 10 years of learning, 10 years of figuring out life. I am so grateful for everything.
Here’s to the roaring 20s. May it be even better. I’ve got a feeling the next decade is a replay of this decade, just with more money available. I’m looking forward to 2020 already.