Farewell to Teenage Years: How Is It Like Being a 20-Year-Old (Part 3)

(This post is part of a series. You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.)

Advisory: This is going to be a very long post.

This post was supposed to be uploaded last year but I realised that it will be more appropriate if I post this after my graduation. This will somehow briefly document my past three years in Ngee Ann Polytechnic as I was embarking on the journey to attain a Diploma in Chinese Media & Communications (CMC).

While I was considering my future after Promos in 2013, I had a dream in mind – that is, to be a film director. I used to imagine myself being nominated for the Golden Horse Award (the Chinese equivalent to the Oscars) – either as an actor or as a film director. I was hoping that one day, I will have my own feature film, filmed according to those storylines that interest me.

During the Joint Admission Exercise (JAE) the following year, I stuck to my dreams. As much as I wanted to be a filmmaker and a media personnel in the Chinese-speaking world, I opted CMC as my first choice. As to my other 11 choices on the list, I couldn’t remember much about them.

I was accepted and I arrived at NP for the first time to purchase my laptop and install the software which I would develop a love-hate relationship with eventually.

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2014 – Starting All Over Again
I was ready to start all over again right on the first day in my new school, new environment. I started out being extremely friendly during orientation (CSOP), initiating conversations with fellow freshmen. I admit that I am more comfortable talking to people who are of my age and younger. To me, seniority in age boosts my confidence in a group setting.
SAY CHEESE: A group photo with everyone from our sub-tribe in it during our fund-raising.
I eventually managed to make friends on the first few days in NP, but the only I’ve had till today is that we didn’t get to catch up with one another after since. We became more involved with our course, the new friendship that we’ve forged with our course mate. Of course, we would still chat occasionally in the group chat, which prevented us from becoming like the other OGs – we did not cease to exist. The start of the 3 years was already memorable. As we ended the ‘preface’ phase of this journey, we headed on to meet our course mates on the final day of CSOP.

As how everyone from my course eventually confessed to me that they thought I was seated with the wrong course, given my distinctive non-Chinese features. Everyone was puzzled to see me seated at the back of the row which stated “CHINESE MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS”. I forgive them for that because I would be confused as well.

Class (or Tutorial Group) was allocated and I was in T01. It was a small class – given our small enrollment for CMC. If I did not remember wrongly, we had 15 people in T01. A smaller cohort means that it is easier for us to know each other because it is hard not to miss anyone. I’ve been to classes with about 40 people (in secondary school), 23 people (in JC), there were always some people that you won’t really get a chance to interact with. A class size of 15 is just about right.

Weeks into the new semester that the entire class decided to come together to have lunch. That was, to the best of my memory, the only time all of us gathered for a meal together. It was difficult to actually find so many seats around the same area during lunchtime at Makan Place, so eating with our own cliques would be easier.
Being in T01 was something I am really thankful for. Being acquainted with people who eventually shaped the next three years of my life in Poly is something that I couldn’t have asked much for. Every part of my life, there are people who will define that moment, there are always those who will be there ensure that my life isn’t boring. Although I was the eldest in T01 (after Jingwen departed for university), never had I feel out of place because the kids are a bunch of really fun and enthusiastic people – each of them has a passion in the various sector within the media industry.

In my first year, I started hanging out with Crystal, Dallies and Zeliang. We called ourselves Xclusive back then. I can’t remember how the name came about but I was sure Dallies came out with the name. HAHAHA.

Year 1 ended too quickly. Everything went by too fast for me to even realised it. It was a practice in our course that we were to reshuffle our classes for the start of Year 2, and hence that means that we have to face being separated before we could have the chance to really bond as one.
TO1: Took polaroid with my classmates at the end of Year 1, before we were reshuffled into different classes.

DRINK IT: One of the lunches we had together outside of school.

There is another group that I would like to mention – they are the one who shaped my Year 2 and 3. The Turtle Shadow. This ridiculous name came about because of an inside joke regarding a text from our Chinese Literature module. 

I am thankful for all of you – Huiqi, Peiyi, Reb, Yoke Yeng and Jon – to be by my side for most part of my Poly life. No other group of people in my circle would have able to tolerate by childishness, stubbornness, moodiness and my unpredictable personality. You guys have made my Poly life interesting and given me memories to take away from from this phase in my life as I hit 20. 

I couldn’t be more appreciative for all the fun we had over the short span of time we’ve known each other for. 

2015 – Return to Stage, SG50 & Other Happenings
2015 was a memorable year. It was the year when I actually experienced my first ups and downs in my Poly life. It was the year that our founding father Mr Lee Kuan Yew passed on. It was the year we, as the whole of Singapore, celebrated 50 years of independence. It was the year when I made my first actual directorial debut. It was the year Uncle Alan left us. It was the year where I had my second mental breakdown in 2 years. It was the year where I decided to offer my service to different communities, enhancing my experiences in various aspects.

I took part in CSOP 2015, helping with the introductory video (both as a cinematographer and the narrator), as well as a skit during induction – which gave the freshies a rough overview of what to expect during their next three years with their respective course.

It has been a fun time working with these bunch of people, as well as HMS Society. A few collaborations with HMS Society, especially during Orientation, allows me to contribute to HMS in a more ad-hoc manner. My stress level is lower in comparison, which allows me to contribute fully and with enthusiasm. 

The skit marked my brief return to stage and theatre. It was also during this time when I returned to SRJC to help out with Thespian 2015. In 2014, I moved towards acting on-screen but it didn’t really turn out well for me. I was disappointed with all my actings to be honest. Maybe I am still suited for theatre plays.

MAKING A SHIFT: Me acting in one of the productions by my seniors.

BEHIND THE SCENE: Me acting in one of the few film projects by my coursemates in Year 1.

LIVING ANOTHER LIFE: Acting in a film production directed by Zeliang.

I even tried my luck appearing on TV.

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We had roughly a month to work on the plays before putting up a show in front of the hundred-odd audiences in LT5. I eventually helped co-direct the remake of “Seven Deadly Princesses” with Kheng Yin and Zhi Rong (of course, also with the help of other alumni at times as well).

We worked hard every afternoon and evening on the scripts, characterisation and blockings. Thinking about it right now, I really missed the times that I spent on acting and plays.

It turned up to be a very successful performance. I always believe in one thing: 

Success = Passion + Hard Work

After Thespian, I also took up a calefare role at Love 97.2 21st birthday play. (Don’t bother finding me in the photo below because I was doing other stuffs when they took the photo HAHAHA)

My brief comeback to theatre might be short, but I know that one day, I will make an official return to stage and theatre, doing the things that I truly love. But for now, I will extend my break, wait for the right opportunity before seizing it.

Apart from my brief return to theatre, SG50 made up the remaining big part of my life in 2015. Everywhere I go, it was difficult for me to miss the red circular logo with an ‘SG50’ wording imprinted within it. I thought to myself, since every year I’ve failed to secure a ticket to the National Day Parade (NDP), why not I made 2015’s NDP memorable by being involved in it. Rather than going there for one day, watching the parade and then head home with the SG50 fun pack, it would be more meaningful to offer my service – during this special occasion – to the country?

WE ARE FROM AMK: The Ang Mo Kio peeps, whom I know after we were sent to bring kids from AMKPS to one of the NE Show.

At the end of the actual parade, all of us were too busy taking photos and for me, it’s like another milestone achieved. I didn’t expect myself to do community service during my post-secondary years but I am glad I did. All the friendships forged, especially with Jess (who’s also my junior in CMC) were memorable. Although the majority of us didn’t keep in touch privately (apart from knowing each other’s life through Instagram), but I am glad to have known you guys and shared this experience with you. I didn’t volunteer for 2016 and this year, but I am sure that one day, I’ll be back again.

How would I complete my 2015 story without mentioning my ‘directorial debut’.

It was the year that I directed a short film – although just 5 minutes, but it was the first film with actual casting, filming and budgeting process. This was the first time I got to really experience how is it like to be in a production team. I could consider it achievement unlocked.
This was, till date, my first and only ‘official’ film in which I directed. It wasn’t easy being a director because you have to be fully involved in every single process. (Of course being a producer might have a worse but well, different roles have different challenges.) It remains one of the proudest film I’ve directed in all (which includes a short introductory video in 2014 and a SEC film competition entry in 2016). 

I’ve been involved in other film projects as well, just that not as a director, but in other roles.
As a sound man/cinematographer in a documentary, together with Colin, Jin Ming, Zeliang and Elaine.
As a cinematographer for HMS10 Music Video, directed by Michelle Boey.

The list is not exhaustive, because there are still other productions that I don’t have pictures to showcase.

I am really thankful to be able to experience the different roles in a production team before I hit 20. At least, to me, my teenage dream is completed.
2016 – New Challenges, Running, Hong Kong & Farewell to Teenage Years

2016 was the year that I finally hit the big 2, but it was also the year that provided me with the most challenges – but at least I didn’t hate it as much as 2013, maybe I have come to terms with my own failure and success, and stress.

Other than academics, there were lots of personal problems that I’ve to deal with. I was preoccupied by my own problems despite having more important tasks on hand. I tried to come out of that constant depressing state of mind, but the stress from academics didn’t really help that much. It aggravated.

I wasn’t exactly my past self, or I should say, I wasn’t exactly myself at all. My mood disorder exacerbated as the days passed by, it was to the point when everyone around me was so cautious not to trigger me. No one knows when I could transform from a jovial person to an irritable and petulant person, neither do I.

I eventually returned to running in search for a better self. I thought, maybe taking up sports will help me to regenerate my cells and makes me feel better overall. Eventually, I ended up participating in 4 runs (3 10km runs and 1 half-marathon). I trained whenever I had the time to and every time I see progress, I would feel extremely satisfied. I somehow used that sore and pain to divert the attention away from my mental health-being. 

2016 marks my first overseas trip (not counting Malaysia) since 1998, and my first trip to Hong Kong. I was at Hong Kong for a school trip and it wasn’t a relaxed one. I’ve got an integrated project awaiting to be completed. And for that project, my team and I basically had to rush all over the place and made a few visits to the Legislative Council Complex to conduct our interviews and filming.

 ROLLING: Interview with Mr. Bruce Lui, senior lecturer in Hong Kong Baptist University’s Department of Journalism and former award-winning reporter at HK Cable TV and TVB.

QUESTION TIME: Interview with Legco member and social activist Mr. Leung Kwok-hung. 

DRAFTING: One of our drafts for the poster for our e-book project.

FINALLY: Posing with our poster during the day of presentation.

We really worked very hard towards our final group project in our CMC life. I always tell myself this one thing: As long as you’ve given your all, there will be no regrets. You will embrace whatever results that you are given because you know, it’s the experience and life lessons that count.

On 23 October 2016, I finally reached the big 2.

It is the start of a new decade of my life, whether it be good or bad, it’s all up to by doing. But I believe, with the support I have around me and the lessons and experience that I’ve accumulated in the past 20 years, I am more mature towards facing my future – despite how unpredictable it might be.

Really thankful for those who had celebrated my 20th birthday with me, and here’s a virtual toast to our future friendship.

And thanks to those who’ve accompanied me through the final 3 years of my teenage life at NP.

My post on Graduation will be up soon so stay tune!



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