2018 In Review

If I were to choose a word to represent my 2018 experience, ‘battle’ would be the most suitable of them all.

As 2018 is coming to an end (update: it has already ended when I actually am done with this piece), I finally able to sit down with my cup of kopi o kosong in my room to quietly reflect on what happened in the past year. There are so many things that are going through my mind right now that I needed a peaceful time like right now to consolidate all my thoughts and get my acts together.

Mental Health

2018 has been a year where I had to battle my self-doubts and all the internal struggles I had within me. It wasn’t a year that was friendly to my mental health or my physical health as a whole. There were a few instances that I suffered mental breakdowns. Despite the most recent episode happened a few months back, I am still suffering from the side effects today. I knew and I could feel how I became less patient with almost everything, I could flare at any behaviours that irk me. I stumbled with my words so frequently that I find it hard to start a conversation with anyone. My self-confidence was at a point so low that I wouldn’t even dare to establish any eye contact with anyone I am having conversations with, my eyes will naturally float around. It was downright social anxiety. Although things got slightly better towards the end of the year, it is a key concern for me. I just hope that I’ll eventually recover and return to that more extroverted self who found so much comfort in front of a crowd.

Binge Eating & Loss of Fitness

Mental struggles played a large part in the slight deterioration of my physical health and how I looked overall. Stress has given me the excuse to binge eat at almost every opportunity available. It went to the point that this action has taken a toll on my fitness level. I’ve basically undone whatever I’ve worked so hard on throughout 2017. My weight went back up to 72KG, my 5KM timing went beyond the 30min mark, my resting heart rate went up to an average of around 52-56 bpm. I felt my asthma could come back anytime soon (it relapsed earlier in the year and my stamina went one way down from then on).

I got too tired easily. I couldn’t be sure if that was due to the workload I’ve got to deal with these days or that I’ve completely lost the fitness mentality. I find that I do not enjoy my runs as much as before. It became more of like ‘if you want to balance out your diet, you’ll have to run/workout enough’. It became more of a mandatory routine instead of a form of relaxation. The purpose has steered too far off from my original intentions from 2016. I wouldn’t have persevered on, had I not have the motivation from the group runs I was part of towards the second half of the year.

Now that I am back to the ‘dad bod’, I think it might just take me a while to find back the enthusiasm I had for fitness and to go back enjoying every moment of it. I just hope that in 2019, workout returns to its role as a stress reliever instead of a contributing factor to my stress level.

Of course, 2018 did not only consist of all the bad things in life. There were moments that positively defined my year. There were also moments that reminded myself that there were still hope at the end of the day and I was more capable that I thought I was. I have specially chose to rewind on 5 of the moments as part of this post and here they are:

5. FINAL VISIT TO SRJC

I was considering between my birthday celebration with JCFC and my last visit to SR to be included in the Top 5 moments of 2018. Both were as significant but that afternoon at SR has that extra reason to make the mark into this list.

The feeling of pity was that reason. I have every reason to feel pity about the closure of the college that I once hated so much being in it. Yet, as I left the place and went on to pursue my dream, I realised the importance my 10-month stay there is to my life.

I wouldn’t have meet and befriend such a lovely group of people in the form of JCFC had I not went there.

I wouldn’t taking up running as a hobby had I not suffer under the intense running training around the Will Run route every PE lesson.

I am so glad that I was able to get there in time to take a final look at the college with Viv and document all the ‘scenery’ on camera. I initially had plans to visit SR for the final time during the flag decommissioning ceremony earlier last month. However, I was unable to do so due to some last-minute changes to my schedule.

4. JOINING GROUP RUN

The moment I knew I was losing motivation to conduct my own runs on Saturday evenings, I decided to join any open running crew during their running days. I even tried to revive the group run chat that I had with my JCFC girls who ran at Sundown 2016. Taking reference from the chat name Charmz has created, Fitspo People Athletic Club (FPAC) was formed. More commonly known as Fitspo People, the club surprising grew in number after the original crew added their friends. I started running with new running buddies like Justin and Jaslyn during the second half of the year as preparation to the year-end Stan Chart Singapore Marathon. We took our runs from my first base camp around Marina Bay to places like East Coast Park, MacRitchie Reservoir Trail and Coney Island. We basically travelled half of the country on our legs.

During times when FPAC weren’t running, I joined the other running crews with their runs as well. For example adidas Runners in October. One thing about adidas Runners is that they have limited slots of the public to sign up for whenever they have a run. It was like trying to grab hold to Ed Sheeran’s concert tickets. One would have to be online on Facebook as soon as they published the sign-ups for their upcoming runs in order to get him/herself successfully registered. It could have been my second club had the registration was made easier. In the end, that run in October was the only run I had with them so far. I don’t know when’s the next time I would be able to run with them again.

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From the second half of October onwards, I went full swing into training for my first full marathon. Running Department happens to be the official pacer for the race so they have like pacer runs that we could join in. I usually don’t join for pacer runs because these runs always are held on Saturday morning — which does not seem to fit into my schedule. Yet, for the next two months, I managed to make things more flexible for myself. The reason why I decided to join the last few pacer runs was that it covered some very long distance: 30, 33, 21, etc. I don’t think I can find the motivation to run some 10km more than the longest I’d run previously. I need proper water points and route to keep myself going and to better gauge the form I was at going into the final phrase of training. Two months of running with RD gets me rather familiarise with their culture and they seems to be really fun people. I swear I don’t get to find people who still put on smile after waking up that early for a long run.

After Stan Chart ended, I eventually joined them for an exploration run at MacRitchie Reservoir. It could easily been one of the toughest runs that I’ve done for the entire 2018 (apart from the 35km run I forced myself to run and the other MacRitchie Run with FPAC). I could foresee more runs with them in 2019.

3. BACK TO CONTENT PRODUCTION

The decision to return back as a producer was met with another round of internal struggle. It took me a while to actually convince myself that I need to return back to content creation — both editorial and video. Editorial wise, I was technically on a 2-month writing hiatus since early June. Even so, the articles I’ve written in June were mostly for clients, making my last more original content dated back to May 27.

I never had any intention to return to content producing as long as I am still in the force. Yet, while taking up role as the Media IC during my Specialist Course, I reignited my passion for content production. I felt so great having to edit off Premiere Pro again after so long. Content creation has been my life for a good 4 years leading up to enlistment so that kind of explains why I missed it so much when I decided to take a hiatus.

In September, when randomly surfing YouTube, I came across one of Casey Neistat’s vlog. I was impressed. Very. I was thinking if it is difficult to think of ideas to create online shows like the very-long-never-update EC Show, why not I try to document my life through weekly vlogs. It would provide me the motivation to live a more interesting life every week. After that, I continue to watch more vlogs and got introduce to prominent vloggers/YouTubers like iJustine, MKBHD and Jon Olsson. Once I saw Jon Olsson’s vlog, I was thrilled by the idea of creating cinematic-style vlogs. That’s when I fell in love with colour correction.

Ed’s Filmologue was thus created and my YouTube channel was revived. It provided the main content for my channel and given me a completely new lifestyle. I got myself a more portable vlogging camera and I was ready to go. On September 8, I uploaded my first vlog episode and by the time the year concluded, I have created 15 episodes. Quite an achievement I feel.

Screenshot from Brown Sugar Milk Tea Taste Test.

Apart from Ed’s Filmologue, I also revived the Try Out series where I tried some ‘crazy’ things so that other people wouldn’t have to. The biggest project of the year came in December when I collaborated with a few friends – Kishan, Yapz, Hui Shuen and Jing Xing – to try out almost all the brown sugar beverages in Singapore. I swear we almost died from diabetes. The amount of sugar beverages I had that day could easily be more than the amount I had over the past 2 years combined. We had fun and I definitely gained some experience from the production itself.

2019 will see more of such contents created and I can’t wait already!

2. GRADUATION FROM MASCC

On 23 August, I marched out into parade square at Leaders’ Square, Pasir Leba Camp, receiving my new third sergeant rank. This is the biggest milestone of my National Service ‘career’. It is my proudest moment of the year no doubt. Going through the Maintenance and Ammunition Specialist Cadet Course (MASCC) was a whole new experience to me. Being a PES C soldier means that I only get to go through the modified BMT where outfield only consists of 2D1N. It was like a walk in the park, although I got infected with conjunctivitis after that. MASCC was different. It provided me with a more wholesome experience as a soldier. We kind of planned our own 3D2N outfield and our sector deployments. It was tough.

Despite it was the period of time I suffered one of my biggest breakdowns, I believed that I’ve learnt a lot from my peers. We worked together, suffered together and eventually graduated together. It was fun while it lasted.

1. FIRST FULL MARATHON

The completion of my first ever full marathon on 9 December has to be my greatest moment of 2018. Despite my drop in form throughout the year, I managed to clock a sub-6h. I didn’t expect that, I was still in doubt over whether I could finish the entire route before the 7-hour cut off time. Well, I was an hour ahead. I still felt that had I been more consistent in my training and my diet throughout the year, I could have performed much better.

This is the biggest milestone I had so far since I started running in 2013 (cue SRJC). If you told me back then that I’ll be running in a full marathon in 5 years time, I will regard you as bonker because it was unthinkable. That morning, I’ve turned unthinkable into thinkable, dreams into reality. I thought myself one lesson, nothing is impossible as long as you keep going and be more patient with your progress. Results won’t be imminent, but as long as you don’t give up. Maybe 5 years later, I’ll be running a good sub-3?

Other than moments that define my year, there is also the human factor that makes 2018 a more pleasant one. These are the people – whether old friends or new – that walked 2018 with me either throughout or at some specific time and played a big part to the moments I had.

People I’d Want To Thank

Justin & Jaslyn

Firstly, would like to thank these 2 new friends whom I’ve made this year. Justin and Jaslyn were the ones who kept me motivated in running throughout this year. Trust me, I would have steered way out of my running program because of all the stress if they hadn’t consistently been running with me. From Marina Bay to Bishan Park to even the hilly and muddy MacRitchie trail, I couldn’t have been so spontaneous without them. Of course, thanks Wanz for introducing them to my life.

Huiqi

Huiqi was always that supportive friend who I could count on when it comes to all my crazy production ideas. From the failed projects of one or two short films and Kaleidoma to projects that actually went public (aka my vlogs), she has been there. She showed me the support I need, despite not wanting to be in any shots. Really very appreciative of her to the point I felt so bad if anything were to fail along the way (like previously). At least, that’s some motivation for me as well.

Viv

Viv has been my driving force since the time everything started crumbling down in 2016. Although we don’t go for runs together that often anymore, but her mental support all these well kept me going still, in 2018, like helping FPAC with the SCSM admin. She hadn’t had a good 2018 and I am that lousy friend who couldn’t provide her more comfort like she had done before, other than just merely offering my listening ears. But I believe, we will become stronger in 2019.

Swee, Edwin, Manfred, Daniel

From OETI to Sungei Gedong, these were the guys I could rely on to make my NS journey a pleasant one. It wasn’t easy adapting to a new environment when we were posted to our unit after completing our course at OETI. There was so much uncertainty back then but we had each other to count on. Although Manfred left for his new appointment halfway through, he was the one whom I found comfort talking to when we were both going through MASCC. Swee, Edwin and Daniel have been the most supportive back in unit. They took initiatives to lighten my workload and really makes significant contributions to our unit. Most of the time, I find them more capable than myself. I really looked up to them at work. I swear I would have lost my mind if weren’t for them.

Hui Shuen

Hui Shuen has been one of the supportive figure after seeing my relentless call for help on my Instagram Story. It all started back then I was so stressed that I was contemplating about getting a personal assistant to sort out my mess. She offered her help but I eventually didn’t get a PA because I don’t have that financial capability to do so. (Hey, I ain’t earning big bucks just by writing this blog or creating random YouTube videos.) However, when I was looking for people to collab with me for YouTube content, like the Brown Sugar Milk Tea episode, she came forward to help. I was really very touched. She’s like my extra pair of eyes to help me check for ‘blind spot’. I can confirm that that very episode couldn’t be possible without her helping me to brainstorm and checking out on points that I have missed. Really looking forward to more collab opportunities.

Everyone else in JCFC

Lastly, I’d want to thank this very special group of people who never left even though we are all busy with our work. Although tbh some of you guys got me so pissed at times (is it confession time), but at the end of the day, you guys are still here while a lot of people just disappear from my life – some without any notice at all. Thank y’all for being such an understanding bunch of people who still bothered to tolerate my shits, unpredictable mood swings and awkwardness.

As 2018 ends and 2019 arrives, my only wish for the new year is for it to be better than the old one. It just want to build on from what I’ve achieved in 2018 and slowly remove the negativity that I’ve carried with me over to the new year by the end of the year. 2019 will see me ORD and start my gap year. It could be an interesting year, if I plan it right.