defragment.me

Turning 30

This is the year that I finally woke up from a deep slumber and remembered to be my self.

I have struggled with myself for the past 29 years. Just being myself. I tried to disown the person who was truly me and tried to live like everyone else. I failed. Miserably.

When we were kids, everyone said the key to happiness was having a good education, so I tried to do that for a while.

After we're done with school, they said the key to happiness was to have a good job, so I tried to work towards that for a while.

Then I turned self-employed, they said the only way to be successful at business was to be mercenary like everyone else – I couldn't do that and for years I allowed people to take advantage of that – that too, stuck for a while.

I wondered helplessly at the world. Is there not a place for someone like me? Full of ideals, unwilling to be mercenary, just wanting to be happy. It seemed wrong to want to be happy. It seemed 'selfish' to be pursuing your own dreams. I was labelled unrealistic, delusional, naive.

I couldn't find my place, I couldn't find myself, I struggled to cope with society's demands. The expectations, the bills, the responsibilities. The guilt. The overwhelming guilt that I was not being filial to my parents because I have chosen an unconventional lifestyle and career. That they would have to live with their daughter never being able to 'make it'. I tried to compensate them in my own ways, but I failed miserably.

The picture of my 29 years on earth seems to be summed up in one word. Failure.

I failed to get a good education, failed to hold a good job, failed to be the model daughter my parents wanted, failed in every conventional way possible. Looking back, it was of no surprise that I was suicidal. I wasn't worth a place in society's terms. I didn't seem like I deserve anybody's respect or love. I was nothing.

I am highly emotional and sensitive. I couldn't will myself to do things I didn't want to. I thought of myself weak for being emotional and sensitive. That it upsets me so greatly when I can't work on stuff that I don't enjoy. Or that I seem to feel too much. That my moods change like the wind.

It took my 29 years to realise that, everything that I detested about myself, were actually gifts.

That these gifts allowed me to be the person I truly am. To be very persistent at doing things that I love. To be determined to alleviate my own pain, and in turn, people's pain. That being such a misfit gave me such intense empathy for other minorities. To want to be happy and not settle for anything else. I refuse to compromise. I refuse to think that it is 'okay' to settle for less.

I cannot be otherwise. I can only be me and live my life the way I want to live.

That took me 30 years, and am I blessed that I know this now. To be me and no one else. To have the beliefs I want to have, eat the way I want to, sleep with my own patterns, advocate my own causes, do the things that are meaningful to me.

Nobody can be me. You're not me. Don't tell me what gives my life meaning and purpose. Meaning and value, can only be derived internally. People can put a billion dollar value on me, but it wouldn't matter if I perceive otherwise. Don't tell me what is reality. I define my own reality. Don't bind me to your perceived reality.

I have come a long way. I wouldn't have survived if I didn't believe that happiness is possible. My current lifestyle didn't magically appear by itself. It happened because I believed in it and refused to buy other people's version of reality.

The best decisions of my life, were irrational decisions. The ones that people call crazy or unrealistic.

The best years of my life, are ahead of me. I have tons to look forward to. It took me 30 years to be entirely comfortable in my skin but once it happens, there is no turning back. I have noticed something about myself lately. The more cynicism I face, the more idealistic I want to become.

The world didn't progress because of the cynics, people. It progressed because of people who refused to accept the status quo/reality.

It is great, to be turning 30.

The goal is not to bend or change ourselves so we fit the norm; the goal is to find the group in which we are the norm. No matter who we are, no matter what our values or beliefs, our tastes or proclivities, there is an entire culture or subculture out there just like us. I learned that, instead of expending energy to fit into the group, it’s better to expend energy to find the group in which you fit.

Simon Sinek, Fitting In.

Live, love and be yourself

I watched "Eat Pray Love" the movie last night and was left disappointed by the adaptation of the book. Like many of the book's fans, I was excited to watch Julia Roberts casted in the movie, she seemed like a perfect choice to play Elizabeth Gilbert.

Now it just seems like the movie audience is just going to think that Elizabeth Gilbert is selfish whiny b*tch. The movie left out important details of how she eventually made that decision to end the marriage. Or even start praying to God. I don't think it will eventually matter to Elizabeth Gilbert anyway. If she didn't make that "selfish" decision to go on her journey, I don't think she would have written that book which inspired many other women to do the same, or at least reflect on their lives. She wouldn't have gone on to speak at one of the most popular Ted talks – the talk that brought me to read her book in the first place. She needed to do what she had to do. Why is there such a negative connotation to pursuing your happiness?

No pulse left

When I first read the book I felt like I was reading myself. To be fair, there was a tiny part of the movie which made me feel like I was watching myself. The part when she tries to explain to her friend why she needed to go away for one entire year. She had no pulse left. I had no pulse left.

I don't think it is ever possible to explain this feeling to anyone else unless they have been through the same. The same feeling which makes you feel that you're suffering a fate worse than death. It makes you feel guilty for feeling that way, because there're tons of cancer patients or hungry war victims who are wishing they have a proper chance at life. But that's the thing you see, there is no feeling worse than being totally able and in supposed comfort and still feeling like you may be better off dead. At least the sick, poor and hungry have proper reasons to be angry with their lives. I had no reason to have felt this way, just like Elizabeth Gilbert had no reason to.

That guilt, eats you up inside. The desire to be truly alive, eats you up inside.

Each and every time I go through a transformative phase, I tell myself to learn from it and never make the same mistakes again. I have come to realise the way I am built mentally, emotionally and spiritually, I am destined for a life of change. Of movement, of desiring the feeling to truly be alive. This is who I am, but I've spent my life trying to shut that side of myself up. Yup, I am writing about this again. But I've only come to terms with this recently, it is really going to take a while before it entirely sinks in.

I just hope I don't sabotage myself in the process.

Fatigue

Sometimes it feels tiring and lonely. To be one of those misfits who cannot live life like how others do. I have had times wishing I could be less emotional, less perceptive or having an interest in numbers instead of visuals. I wish I would be excited by the prospect of being an auditor instead. I was actually wishing all my innate gifts away.

It feels really really lonely and tiring when nobody could empathise with this sort of self-introspection and dissatisfaction. Why I seem to be so hard upon myself. I'm sure there're tons of people who read this blog and decide that that the writer whines throughout.

Even I, myself, get sick of my own "principles". Why can't I just take work as work. Why do I feel so personally about every design decision I have made. The frustration I feel when a client prides the importance of the number of features rather than the value of design. Or when somebody thinks design is just making things pretty. Or when a developer writes inline styles into the html.

You know, I could live a lot better if I don't get all worked up over "trivial" things like that. But this is me. These are the qualities that I hope prospective clients would deem as strengths when they choose to hire me. There are tons of more gifted designers out there. I'll be the first to admit that. I don't write a design blog or speak at events, I don't network very well. But I bring myself completely into the work that I choose to do.

Just like this blog. I can't write about "25 tips to Zen Living", neither can I write about" 25 ways to become a better designer". There are better writers out there with these topics. But I can write honestly and openly about myself, by doing that I hope to share the best gift I can – my thoughts, emotions and experiences. Perhaps it would make some of you roll your eyes, but once in a while, I get a heartfelt email or comment about my writing, and to me these are what that counts.

True connections are the ones that matter to me. There will always be the ones disagreeing with you, your decisions, your product. There will even be the ones who think "Eat Pray Love" the book is a piece of crap. I cannot help but raise my eyebrows at those people who refuse to use an Apple product. But when you manage to genuinely touch the lives of those who can relate to you, your decisions, your product, you know that you have made a real difference to them. When this happens, they truly appreciate you or your work, not because it is something everyone uses (ahem. Windows) or admire.

Respecting choices

Would you choose to be the spouse who stays out of responsibility or the one who leaves because you believe your partner deserves better? Would you design a product that the mass use out of necessity or a niche who truly loves it? Would you spend your life chasing stability and security or would you want to feel alive?

If you have the gift of foresight, and you know you will get paralysed in a year's time...Would you spend this year enjoying every moment of your life, or would you work really hard to have savings and buy insurance?

If you truly love and care for someone, wouldn't his/her happiness be the most important? Why can't we, as a society, encourage the individual to be happy, instead of being "responsible"? As a parent, would you wish your son or daughter to be truly happy, to be "responsible", stuck in jobs they do not love, just to be filial? Would you, want your wife to stick with you because she took a life vow, or do you want her to be with the person she truly loves?

We all make different decisions and respond differently to the same situation. While I used to believe everyone should live life with passion, I have come to accept, albeit a little unwillingly, that some people could be happier with security. The world needs diversity, but I do hope the world will come to love and be kinder to the minority as well. The ones who choose to live their dreams.

Support

Reading a book like "Eat, Pray, Love" makes me feel less lonely, that somewhere in the world there are people like me, who stubbornly refuse to give up on their chosen dreams, no matter how painful or how stupid they can seem to be.

There have been countless times when I have felt like there's nothing left in me to go on, that I should just give it all up – and then almost like magic, a random book, video, blog post comes along to tell me, I am not that alone after all.

This is why I still choose to keep on writing my long, rambling, repetitive monologues. That somehow, somewhen, somewhere in this fragmented world, these words would mean something to somebody. That perhaps my writing could make a person feel a tad less lonely, less unsupported, less of a sore thumb sticking out.

re: Power

I grew up with the mentality that money is the root of all evil, having witnessed what it does to people around me. Then I changed my mind. I realised money is just a representation of power, so the struggle for power is the root of all evil.

Now, I've changed my perspective once again. Power is neither negative nor positive. It is neutral and the use of it depends of the person who welds it. The key for me is to be aware of my relationship with power, instead of avoiding it all together.

I don't know about you, but I grew up in an environment which instilled on me that it is wrong to hold on to any form of individual power. I couldn't reason with parents or teachers, because that to them is "answering back" – which means I am undermining their authority. Any effort to have a personal voice is met with disapproval or sometimes a slap across the face.

I don't think I surprised myself much by growing into an adult with not much of a voice except for that angry one in my head. I kept giving away my personal power because that was how I was brought up to believe – to listen, to conform.

Looking back, perhaps I wanted to be accepted so much that I subconsciously tried not to offend anybody. I developed a fear of confrontations because that would mean trying to win a power struggle, even if I was right.

I wasn't a tit-for-tat person, so there were tons of situations which I simply let go and hoped that karma would deal with it. I still feel that approach is fine, but it cannot come at a price of your individuality. I am not talking about ego-based pride here.

Often, the person who wins a fight (I don't mean a physical one) may not be the person who is right or true or better, it simply means this person has the will to win (or the desperation not to lose).

Power struggles are everywhere. It exists between spouses (honey, please do the housework), between colleagues, of course the ones between economic/political parties. Artists fight for the power to create, advocates fight for the power to change. Don't misunderstand that Gandhi was giving up his power when he gave up his riches and went on his peaceful protest. That's demonstration of true power – power that doesn't require brute force or making others fear.

I realised that the most important one I have to win, is the one that exists within myself. The power struggle between my mind and my soul.

The mind often succumbs to pragmatic pursuits, the soul simply wants to express herself.

I, need to be myself. In the process of doing that, there will be plenty of struggles, disagreements, confrontations I have to face. But I believe, once you win that internal struggle to be your true self, it doesn't matter what people say, you wouldn't need external validation, because all it matters is that joy and peace that exists within yourself.

Imagine a Self that is unaffected by what people think and say. How much power would that individual have. He/she will not be afraid of anything. Don't you think we all live to try and prove something? Imagine not having to prove anything to anyone except yourself. It doesn't matter if people frown upon you and your actions. You just need to be able to answer to your Self.

People depend on external sources of power (authority, money) because of human insecurity. If you ever find that unwavering belief of who you are and what you're meant to do, the power comes from within. Money becomes your tool and not your master. Power becomes a form of energy and not gratification.

If we can all learn to gain power not from meaningless power struggles but just by understanding true power comes from within. Nobody, nobody can take away your internal power. They can seek to weaken you by taking away your pride, your riches, your accomplishments, but they can never take you away from you.

"If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; succeed anyway. If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; be honest and frank anyway. What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; build anyway."

Mother Theresa, via fastcompany.com

I am who I am

I've finished reading "The Fountainhead" yesterday after seeing the book or the author mentioned in 3 separate blogs in a space of 1 week, after never having heard of it all my life (I love to read, but I am really not that literary). I was barely into it for 20 pages before I had this OMG moment whereby I wondered why on earth did I not read it earlier. This is almost the book I have been waiting for all my life. Almost.

If you're working in a creative field or you have issues reconciling your individuality with society, go read it now. The true depth of the book has to be experienced by the individual reader, but there were a few parts that touched the very core of my soul which I would like to write about.

The protagonist, Howard Roark is an architect. He is the what Ayn Rand, the author, thinks as the perfect man. The man that upholds his ideals no matter what. He believed so much in what he was doing, that it didn't matter if nobody believed in him.

There was this part of the story whereby after a series of incidents whereby the society did everything it could to repel him, Howard had no work – he would rather remain idle and face the possibility of suffering, rather than to compromise of his ideals. His friend, very concerned, tried to advise him to compromise, just a little. Howard refused, and so his friend asked him what was he waiting for if he wouldn't compromise?

Howard replied, "My kind of people".

When I read that part, I just froze. I know exactly what he meant, because I too, have been waiting for "my kind of people".

Howard Roark was everything that mainstream society hated. They thought of him as selfish, because he only cared about what he did and would not integrate himself into society (i.e. develop PR skills and do what other people expect). He believed in creating buildings that were functional, he refused to add a feature to his buildings simply for the sake of pure aesthetic. He was born ahead of his time and he was despised for it. Why?

"Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision. their goals differed, but they all had this in common: that the step was first, the road new, the vision unborrowed, and the response they received- hatred. the great creators- the thinkers, the artists, the scientists, the inventors- stood alone against the men of their time. every great new thought was opposed. every great new invention was denounced. the first motor was considered foolish. the airplane was considered impossible. the power loom was considered vicious. anesthesia was considered sinful. but the men of unborrowed vision went ahead. they fought, they suffered and they paid. but they won." - Howard Roark / Ayn Rand

Considering this book was written more than half a century ago, I now realise that the issues that exist in our modern society now have probably existed throughout the history of mankind.

Ayn Rand's believed that the man should be selfish in order to be truly selfless. It is man's destiny to live up to his/her fullest potential, to create what he/she is truly capable of, unwavering in his/her vision, in order to share his/her greatest gifts with his/her fellow human beings. I may not have worded it right here and I don't think I am equipped to do so. I agree with most of what she was trying to convey, only that I personally believe that the ideal world requires diversity. I believe in the concept of duality and I believe the individual only can exist because of the mass, just like how I believe you need to experience pain in order to fully experience joy.

I guess if I have read this book earlier in my youth, I may have saved myself a lot of pain. Pain of trying to integrate myself into the mainstream society instead of celebrating my individuality. Though I must say, I appreciate my individuality very much now, because of what I went through in order to preserve it.

-

For the past two weeks I seem to be undergoing some surreal reality that I find it hard to explain in words. I kept getting tested in many different situations, with people that exist in social circles that do not overlap each other. I got questioned for my beliefs, people trying to persuade me to see the light of their advice (which was kind and I appreciate), some trying to veer me off the path I was intent to take. Mostly out of good and 'right' intentions in their perspectives.

It was as though I was being asked, "red or blue pill" every other day. It was an interesting experience from my own observation because the more I was being tested and as I defended my beliefs, the more I grew in my conviction. I had plenty of opportunities to take the more comfortable and perhaps easier path. Yet I simply refused.

I no longer cared whether I could get people to believe in what I was doing, neither did I care whether they understood, or even respected my choices. I was someone who always looked for external validation and I needed a lot of it, but this time round, I just didn't think it mattered anymore. I believed in what I was doing and that was enough. Of course, it made me appreciate the empathy I got, out of the very few who understood, even more. My kind of people.

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Life amuses me. The moment I decided to give up control, the moment I stopped hoping for people to validate me, they start popping from nowhere.

Today, I simply feel very blessed. Blessed that somehow throughout the years of society's conditioning I somehow, barely managed to remain true to myself. Blessed that my partner fully supports me. Blessed that I have a select few who is exactly the "my kind of people" I have been waiting for. Blessed for that hug a client gave me today, the same person who saw something in me that I myself couldn't see, much less others. Blessed for that conversation I had in the evening because I could make a difference to someone else. And that someone else could make a difference to me.

Most of all, I am blessed that I seem to be finally able to feel comfortable in my own skin. For I am who I am, I live the life I want to lead. I cannot tell anyone else to live like me, neither can others tell me to live like them. This is the basic right of a human being – free will – that somehow I seem to have lost along the way. I take back that right of mine, today.

If one attends to the problems of humanity and commits oneself to solving them, the universe will care for that person the same way it cares for a flower or a bird. - Buckminster Fuller

Why I don’t blog about design

On my twitter bio, the field for website is directed to this blog. I would think most people would leave once they land upon this page. If, my twitter page is linked to my portfolio site, it is very likely that I'll gain more followers. After all, there'll be more people who would want to follow a designer than an emo blogger right?

Very similarly, if I blog about design, whether is it about critical thought or my design process, I would again presume that it would likely raise my online profile a lot more. I honestly do not want that attention in an egomaniacal kind of way, but in a professional sense, blogging about design would definitely help to raise my profile, which translates a lot to more or better quality business. There is definitely a wider audience interested to read a blog on design rather than a blog on.....personal issues and lessons? ;p

I went through this entire thought process prior to starting this blog and the process became rather lengthy and it hindered me from starting my blog for years. My mind tells me to start a blog on design but my heart tells me to write about myself. Now, who is the egomaniac? ;)

Why start a blog?

I want to start a blog because I want to share my experiences with people. Good or bad. I can start a blog on my design experiences or a blog on my personal experiences. The design blog will reach a wider audience which is nice. But I hope that the personal blog will reach the audience, however small, on a deeper level.

There are tons of quality design blogs out there and I don't think I can offer better content than what is already out there. I am not saying that I can offer better content than other personal blogs, but what matters is I am trying to write a blog with my heart and honesty. How much of me will you know if I write about my work?

I reckon that people who bother to probe a little bit more will discover the link to my portfolio site anyway. Those that leave based on their 3 second impression of this site, will not be the people I want to connect with. On the contrary, if there are some who actually bother reading any bit of this site and still want to connect with me, these are the people that will be quality connections. Because they want to connect with me even if I go on long-winded musings about myself, or going a step more, they see the intention behind the long winded musings about myself.

The value of being authentic

I feel that it is not easy to find authenticity on our society, online or not. How much of a person can you get to know even face to face, much less on social media? I offer myself almost like an open book, if anybody actually take the time to read it.

I very much enjoy authentic writing and I applaud people who write openly of their less-glamorous experiences. It takes courage each time to write about your emotions, your weaknesses, your failures. How many people will start judging? How many of my clients will deem me less professional because I openly admit that I have low self-esteem?

I want to tell you, that it is incredibly healing to be able to relate to someone else's honest, emotional writing. And it is even more empowering to be able to write your own.

Why? If you can relate to the statement above, you will know what I mean.

If many more of us can open our minds and hearts, the world will be a much better place. Failures and weaknesses will not be perceived as negative, so much more hurt can be avoided with truth. If only more of us know that it is okay to be ourselves.

I have learnt that, while taking the step out to write this blog, if I am no longer afraid to be judged publicly for my weaknesses, there is nothing much else to be afraid of.

There will always be people who are critical or judgmental but it is very much worth it if you find the ones that understand and accept you for the person that you are.

Why I think it is important to share

Our society doesn't readily accept people who are different from the mainstream. Times are changing, the society is evolving, it is definitely better than how it used to be when I was a kid. However, it still remains a challenge. Whether is it about being gay, being an artist, pursuing your dreams, discovering that truth is relative while the rest of the world believes that it is absolute. That any of us can create the reality that we want. That we're very much conditioned to remain in a state of fear for the benefit of those in power. Or that whatever that's not been scientifically proven can be real. That I think that us humans are egoistic for believing that we're the only intelligent life-forms in the entire universe. Or to dismiss ancient wisdom for mumbo jumbo. That I don't understand why we're still trying to win peace through violence. That we're all human beings and we all have flaws and I don't understand why we judge people for their looks, colour, intelligence, size, etc when we know that we're not much better ourselves?

I have been through certain radical transformations myself and thought-provoking experiences. I want to write about challenging the status-quo, about being unconventional, about trying my best about living my life differently from the mainstream. I am what geeks call a 'use-case' for pursuing an alternative lifestyle (no I don't just mean the gay part) and there are plenty of others who have the courage to live their lives differently.

It is just that we are conditioned to believe that these people don't exist or are very few and far in between. We are not. We are still the minority but we are a growing lot.

And we're not 'lucky'. We simply believing in having the power to create our own reality.

I write to share because I want to stand up and be counted. To be counted as one of those who defied 'reality' as our society perceives, and to share content of similar people, just so that maybe, just maybe, it will make a difference to the number of people encouraged to create their own reality.

I want to be the change that I want, and perhaps you can too.

Stop feeding the fear mongers

They are not worth our precious time and energy.

Perhaps I was naive to think that things will settle down after the AWARE EGM – it has opened a can of worms that probably most of us would wish that it had remained closed, the Singapore government included.

I grew increasingly disturbed and worried as I chanced upon comment after comment that reeked of homophobia and narrow-mindedness. The news of MOE (Ministry of Education) suspending the sex education program made me start to seriously wonder what is going to come next. A witch-hunt?

Just when we think that the media censorship laws have gradually relaxed and the society seemed to be progressing, now it just seems like we are almost back to square one.

Many thoughts went through my mind as I came up with retort after retort, full of logic and reasoning, why people should stop being so near-sighted and judgmental. I was prepared to write a long post, making a clear argument on why all this paranoia is just plain ridiculous.

'The other side'

Until I came across a few blog entries and comments from 'the other side' – the side that believes that homosexuals are just headed for hell and that raising kids with 'the right values' is the apparent right thing to do. There were other people like me, who tried to reason their way through by making comments, and looking at the written exchange, I came to a realisation.

There is no point reasoning or arguing out with people who are just not willing to listen in the first place. Reading most of the conversations between the pro-gay and the anti-gay are like trying to understand a conversation between a chicken and a duck. One party can make a perfect argument but if the other party is not willing to see beyond his/her own viewpoint, they can go on forever and nothing will be concluded.

Alienation

Being marginalized personally for most of my life, I was actually almost immune to it. However, the scale of the matter this time caught me by surprise and I could not help but worry about the homophobia surfacing into the mainstream society. It is like the AWARE issue has forced many to take a stand and have a say, especially when their precious kids are concerned.

Prior to the AWARE hijacking, everybody went about their own business, the very most, conservatives would sometimes stare and mutter words of disgust to themselves. Now, the publicity and scale are somehow making many of the 'traditional' family-oriented people jump on the anti-gay bandwagon.

Ironically being gay is the least of what I have been marginalized for. I was made to feel like an alien because of my academic success (or the lack of it), my career path, my choice of hairstyle, a whole long list actually, and more recently, my spiritual beliefs.

People give me strange looks all the time, and that includes my very own relatives. Like the uncle who snorted when I told him I was running my own business. Friends roll their eyes when I talk about astrological charts and reincarnation. Strangers stare because of my spiky short hair (yes, girls must keep their hair long and flowy).

All these made me stronger, but not without much pain and tears. I have grown to be proud of my individuality and identity. What I have learnt through all these experiences is, there is only so much you can do to change a person's mind.

There are people who will listen, these are the ones who are not judgmental in the first place. Those who judge, are typically people who do not have it in them to open their minds to another viewpoint. The third category, are people who believe very strongly in their own beliefs, so firmly that nothing will change their mind unless they personally experience otherwise.

I generally do not have a problem who stick to their own belief systems, the issue only comes when there is a lack of respect in the belief systems of others. The extreme end of this spectrum, are people who deliberately incite fear and hatred.

Playing into their hands

It suddenly dawned upon me, by reacting negatively to these fear-mongers, I am simply playing into their hands. Negative feelings drain our energy. These people get a kick out of seeing us getting upset. The best way to deal with them, is either react positively, or choose to not react at all. It is just like dealing with people who are (consciously) abusive. They continue their abuse because the fear shown by their victims gives them a sense of power. The only way to dis-empower them is to stop the fear.

Having not much of a sex education in school did not make me less or more gay. Having a rigid education system depressed me more than it made me 'equipped' for society. Facing nay-sayers all my life did not dilute my individuality.

My take on the sex-ed program and 'concerned parents'

They can do whatever they want with the sex education program. I believe the targeted age group (12-18) will form their own judgments (or non-judgments) with or without a sex-ed program. The 'impressionable' ones, I am sorry to say, will still be impressionable by other sources even if the sex-ed program preaches all the 'right' values. Food for thought, would a 'concerned parent' be happier if their kid leads a double life in order to upkeep the 'right values'? It does not have to be an extreme case like a married man having a boyfriend on the side (though there are plenty of these around), there are plenty of people out there who are so internally conflicted that they cannot even bear to face themselves. Kids who live the 'right' way but end up extremely unhappy will make these parents happy and proud indeed (can't help the sarcasm, sorry).

Good will eventually prevail

I personally believe that whatever goes around comes around. I also believe in the good old fashioned 'good will prevail over evil'. Just as they would like to believe 'evil' gay people like us will be damned, I believe people who deny the minorities their rights and respect will have to bear the consequences one day. The government, for being overly conservative, will one day have to face repercussions (please stop complaining when there is a mass exodus of talent).

Nobody has the power to change my beliefs if I carry a strong conviction towards them, thus I understand that I do not have the power to change anybody else's.

However, I have the freedom and the right to express myself, that includes leading a fulfilling life and contributing to the causes I support. There will be people, however few, who will honestly question themselves, if I deserve to be in hell, simply by being in love with another girl.

Do not play in their hands any longer by feeling any ounce of anger, instead, focus on doing our own part (whether by setting a positive example or by positive advocacy, we just need to answer to ourselves.

I am not afraid to be judged if judgment day comes because I hold nothing but truth and love. On the contrary, am not so sure about the ones who incite fear and hatred. I therefore hope that one day love can open their eyes to God's unconditional and non-judgmental love.

Proud to be AWARE

Earlier today, I clapped until my fingers were bruised.

I have gone to cast my vote at the AWARE EGM straight after a night of work (I keep nocturnal hours), kept myself mentally alert alternating between coffee and sweets, ended up with my limbs trembling due to caffeine and lack of sleep, stayed till the very end even though I was on the verge of collapse.

But it was all worth it.

For today, I personally witnessed with my own eyes, felt with my own heart, processed with my own mind, the courage and pride of women fighting for their own rights and justice.

It was an experience that would not be justified with the mere description of words. I had honestly not expected this.

The diversity

For it was not only the outspoken feminists who turned up. It was an incredible mix of men and women, of all races, religions and ages.

There was the old who could barely walk but still made the effort to queue for hours to register. There were the male expats who took time out to volunteer for a cause they believed in but was not of much direct relation to them. There was this Caucasian woman, among many other Caucasian women who turned up to vote (presumably PR or PR-turned-citizens), who was giving away flowers out of a trolley to people in the queue, probably paid out of her own pocket. There were the educators who put their jobs on the line by speaking on the floor. There were housewives, mothers, husbands, staunch Christians, a Muslim father, who spoke for their support of a comprehensive sex education program for their children.

The ironic moment came when Josie Lau said that she was not against sex education, she simply wanted the kids to make 'informed' choices. I guess she needs to re-learn her definitions, because hers seem to point to the lack of information as being 'informed'.

There were plenty of people who were queuing up for their chance to speak, and when their turn came, they spoke with such conviction and passion that my hair stood and my heart moved. There was the girl who on the verge of tears, telling the new exco that it is already so difficult to grow up in Singapore, and how could they, how could they deny their right to love, their right to choose?

I could feel tears filling up my eyes upon hearing that. For I only know too well, how difficult it was.

And the speakers on the floor spoke for us. They questioned the new guard on their lack of sensitivity, lack of thought, lack of organization. Their mis-use of public funds (estimated to be 90k). Their lack of respect for the old guard. Their inability to answer questions. Their lack of experience in running a NGO. The list goes on and on.

The crumbling of the new exco

Personally, I am appalled. I am appalled as mentioned in my earlier posts on this subject, how can such educated women with high-flying careers, apart from having a very narrow mind, not think about the consequences of their actions prior to the act?

They have splurged our money, underestimated our intelligence, insulted many of us personally, shifting the responsibility of answering sensitive questions to their legal counsel (who was fair and did not help them much), and the icing on the cake was:

The majority of the audience was clearly not in support of them, they have lost all credibility and respect, and when the vote of no-confidence was passed, they actually have the audacity to say that the vote did not stand legally.

They have lost the popular vote and they want to exploit a legal loophole to hang on. I was starting to wonder if they have lost their sanity in the proceedings. Or modesty.

To top it all off (yes still more icing incredulously), they were implored by the old guard to step down graciously which they refused, accepted the opportunity given by the old guard to hold a meeting for 5 minutes to give proper consideration to their resignation, disappeared for half an hour with no notification of whereabouts, with their legal counsel not being able to contact them.

The motion of their removal was passed after ample time was given to them. Which thereafter, they appeared and insisted on giving a highly formulaic statement on stepping down graciously and wishing the best for AWARE.

Sorry, I personally feel that they have lost the right to step down graciously after repeatedly refusing even after the vote of no-confidence was passed, trying to pull off a stunt to say the vote was not legal-binding, and then disappearing for an indefinite amount of time. They did not have the decency to let us know that they will be extending their 5 minute meeting to 30 minutes.

Throughout the whole drama, the old guard was gracious enough to give them chance after chance to step down, and they even got us to give a round of applause to the new guard if they were ever going to re-appear.

The press has been kind to them (they were barred from the EGM by the new guard). I have just gone over the latest news reports, they did not report the new guard's unbelievable display of denial – the official statement seemed to be that they chose to be gracious and stepped down.

Reflecting

I am sure that some – even if they are the minority – of the new guard's support will be reflecting upon today's events. I do not think many of them are actually aware of the full situation, the deceit by their leadership, and the full scale of the hurt caused by them.

For me, I am actually grateful, in spite that I was feeling extremely insulted, because if not for the whole drama staged by the new guard, I would not be able to experience such a wonderful display of unity and strength. The array of individual talent and wit by the floor speakers was incredible, it was definitely a pleasant awakening for me. My previous mindset that we do not have enough brilliant individuals with their own minds was wrong.

And they were in full splendor today.

It was electrifying, the energy from the hall emitted by people from different walks of life who had united for a common cause. If you were there to see the display of passion of the people's faces for what they believe in, the eruption of pure joy when the vote was announced, you would not want to miss it, I assure you, for almost anything else in the world.

I am proud, of myself who stood up to be heard despite my personal dislike for being around people in general (too sensitive to people's energies), despite my fatigue at work, despite feeling as if I am about to break apart anytime, despite my lack of guts to speak on the floor or anywhere else actually, I was there.

I am equally proud, of my partner who stood up for the cause we both believed in, despite her being cynical of mankind in general, despite her being repeatedly let down by situations and people she once gave her trust to, despite having personally faced an uphill battle for the causes she supports, she was there.

And I am very proud, of all of you who made it, despite all that was in your way.

For once, I am proud to be a woman and a Singaporean.

p.s. I ponder about the people wondering why are we making such a big fuss about this when they are sitting in comfort because of the rights AWARE has fought for them in the past 25 years. Equal rights are not to be taken for granted, they have to be fought for and protected.