You currently live in Melbourne, Australia. What’s the biggest difference between living in Singapore and in Australia?
Australia likes to portray itself as an egalitarian society and I think this is mostly true. Not that there aren’t any distinct classes but society is very inclusive as a whole. I’ve personally found that people are generally very lovely and respectful. I wouldn’t say one country is better than the other, but you definitely get the sense that in Australia you can be whoever you want to be without judgement or expectation.
You also recently completed your Doctor of Medicine. What’s next for you?
I’m starting work in January in Melbourne, and we actually just celebrated my son Charles’ 2nd birthday here in Singapore. I haven’t been back since the pandemic started, so it was great to reconnect with friends and relatives.
Currently, I’m pursuing a couple of my other hobbies—fashion and photography. As someone who’s never been particularly confident and always felt like I didn’t fit in, I feel like fashion has really helped me to grow more comfortable in my own skin, and also allowed me to express myself in an authentic way. Plus, it’s also a great conversation starter. I’ve been slowly building a small collection of pieces from my favourite designer, Yohji Yamamoto, whilst also downsizing and simplifying my wardrobe. Consistency is simplicity. Or maybe I’m just driven by a continual need to reinvent myself because I’m discontented with who I am.
What’s one thing you’d like Charles to always remember?
Have courage and be kind. Yes, that’s a quote from Cinderella and it sounds like one of those cringey “Live, Laugh, Love” frames you’d see on a wall, but that simple motto says so much. It’s so easy to get lost in all the noise which makes it so important to have the courage and conviction to stand up for your own values and beliefs. Recognise that we all share this earth and that no man is an island. Everybody has their own story and struggles, and a little kindness goes a long way. Most importantly, practice self-compassion and be kind to yourself.
I think this is the hardest thing to achieve and it’s very often neglected. Not that this is exclusive to Asian cultures, but very often the male figure in an Asian household is just expected to remain strong and not show any weakness, to cope with whatever comes. But I would like Charles to remember that it’s okay to admit that you’re not okay. Vulnerability creates connection.
How much of yourself do you see in Charles?
Charles is very loud, sociable and energetic, whilst I’m much more quiet and reserved. According to my mum though, at that age, I was just as obsessed with trains and cars and the like, and I absolutely hated getting haircuts too. I’d be pretty concerned if someone told me I had similarities to a 2-year-old boy, but to be honest, sometimes I think I have the impulse control of a child.
If you had the chance to switch lives with someone for 24 hours, who would you choose and why?
I would choose Charles. I think it would be amazing to return to that state of innocence and naivety—to experience the world through the eyes of a 2 year old and feel that sense of childlike wonder and love for life; to really live everyday in the moment and not worry about the past or the future. I’d love to be able to do that.
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