It’s been a little more than two weeks since I moved to Paris. When flight SQ334 landed on the morning of 19th March, I marvelled at the snow that greeted me, even when Spring was just round the corner. I thought to myself as the plane touched down the runway, that the world was ending, there was no time to waste.
Savour life, I say, and make things happen for yourself. The watchword being: self-imagination. Or else your story will end up like one of those indie films, where pretty much nothing really happens, and the characters grow old and die. Not sad, but not exciting either. I realized we’ve got to foster our dreams, the way we nurture relationships with the people we care for. And this balance between life’s practicalities and hopes constantly kept me on my toes. I am in Paris, because I do not want to surrender to the limitations of where I came from. I expected more out of a lifetime, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with harbouring a desire for a bigger, better, brighter you. No matter what they say.
And so here I am, dancing and drowning in spontaneity.
For now, before my next adventure begins. I am in no hurry. Can we stay this way for a lifetime? I believe, that when a woman sheds her armour of self-importance, she becomes stronger. You can no longer hurt her with your cynicism. “Today’s news is tomorrow’s history”. I no longer take what is said about me, about anything or anyone seriously. Being Sharon Au suddenly seems pretty fun and distinctive again without all these self-image baggages. You will not hurt me with your words. Not for too long anyway.
If an ordinary girl from Singapore who grew up from a broken, poor and unprivileged family background could receive a good education, be awarded Best Trainee of Singapore Airlines Batch 364, win 11 Star Awards trophies as a TV host and actress, study abroad in Japan and France in my 30s, contribute to the media and fashion industry after graduation and arrive in Paris, I believe nothing should ever stop you from stepping out and stepping up. Live with vigour!
This is not the end. I want to see you fly.
(Photos by Yujia)
The first thing I did in the year 2018, was to quit my job. On the second day of the new year. I left a company I had been a part of for 22 long years. It was the second best thing I have done in my life thus far. The first was in 2005 when I left a 10-year showbiz career to pursue a university degree in Waseda University, Tokyo. That was without a doubt, the scariest, bravest thing I have done in my life. And, yes, it changed my life. After all, huge risks, are the only ones worth taking.
To anyone who is pondering on whether to stay, or leave…if you are wondering where does this courage come from…this is how I found mine. Twice.
Block out the noise, and listen intently to your own voice. Your body (and soul) has a natural defence mechanism to self-heal. We could not hear them because we are drowned by social construct. I say, purge all the layers of externalities, and for once, have a conversation with just yourself.
I can’t tell you what and how the dialogue will go. We all have different stories. Let your body tell you hers. But I say, don’t wait for a tragedy to strike, before it shakes you to want to live better. A mentor of mine recently bravely fought nose cancer. He was so positive throughout his 33 sessions of chemotherapy he brought laughter to the other patients in therapy. A close friend of mine just suffered a stroke. He goes to the gym every day in the week, eats mostly boiled vegetables and fish, doesn’t smoke. We all have constant reminders like this. We see and hear enough. No one needs to tell us any more, that life is short, vulnerable and unpredictable.
Don’t wait too long to be happy. We might not have the time.
And then, go forth. and never look back.
You said, “there is life and there is work”.
From as long as I could remember work was everything to me. I derived immense pleasure from the challenges I face in the course of my career and I prided myself to being the needle in the haystack, not the haystack.
But as we enter the year 2018, a year which would have me turn 43 years of age, I thought to myself, that I should perhaps choose “life”? And maybe if I see enough and write it down, I would finally remember what it means, to be me. For me, living is a glittering lure, of surprises and opportunities, where you meet people who change your direction, or force you, to take a pause.
Wish me luck as I embark on a new challenge: to love and understand the people in my life, including myself.
Have a joyous 2018, and may we all get better with time.
Life is nothing but a series of hellos and goodbyes. Smile anyway.
I’ve stopped dreaming. I just do. Do all that I’ve been thinking of. Make it happen. I don’t want to play the “what-would-you-do-if-you-have-6-more-months-to-live”- game anymore. I don’t want to die a dreamer.
You will never be ready or ready enough. To make a leap you have to first jump. No amount of preparation will be sufficient. You can weigh all the pros and cons you and your friends can think of. But you will never advance, if you do not make the first step. Jump, and regret later.
The thing is, there is no regret. Once you braved your fears and move from that stationary point you held on to so desperately, you will laugh at how unnecessary your hesitation was. There will be no looking back. I did it. Now your turn.
Everyday we struggle between the sensitivity of art in front of our eyes and the conneries of the world. Parents, there is absolutely no way you can protect your children from materials you deemed inappropriate on TV or online. I encourage you to teach them to be open and discerning instead. I don’t have children hence you might say I have no right to talk about upbringing. Alors i was brought up in one of the worst circumstances myself. When I was 5-7 years old I even stayed with my grandma in a brothel because she ran the place.
And content creators, if you don’t have any point of view, you are just a messenger conveying what everyone already knows. You are wasting our time.
New beginnings are blessings. They come from endings. Remember that.
On my way to Monoprix, my thoughts were startled by a cheerful “Bonjour Sharon!” and I saw Vincent, hands full of groceries, beaming at me. Vincent runs a café which I frequent every morning, just because he makes the best Sharon’s café in the world, 3 shots of espresso, a dollop of crème, and a dash of familiarity.
This is the quality of life I seeked, where you settle into a healthy routine, sans drama. Where you make friends with the boulangere, with the restaurant owner, and maybe your neighbour’s cat. You no longer rush to shop and to visit the crowded places-of-interest, but take your own sweet time to picnic at little charming gardens you chanced upon along the way. Nobody here knows me. I can do whatever I want. I can be comfortable with myself, my plain old unglamorous funny self.
Sometimes, not saying anything at all says everything. I found the strength in keeping quiet at last. I am good to let things end.
Because Alexander Venheijer said, “when a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower”. So with the same courage I took to leave show business in 2005, I bid farewell again to a toxic relationship with a city, and packed my wounded heart, and my two luggages, for the second time.
Now, your turn.
The waitress who served me, it is her first day at work today. Her earnestness is obvious. Like her, I am starting a new chapter in life too. And I can feel her heart beating as fast as mine. What a wonderful thing it is to be alive, healthy, working and supporting oneself.
I suppose she chose to work here because of the positive vibes. I chose to write here for the very same reason. I get to see Elie and I am inspired by the people who frequent here to share a fragment of their life.
I also had to leave my apartment because I did not want to get in the way of my cleaning lady. Safia is Moroccan and she seems kind and sweet. She is chatty. And I prefer to be quiet. As I just had an unpleasant cyber morning with some people at work.
Every other day, I find myself negotiating with you, your imprudence sense of entitlement never failed to shock me. I often unknowingly trapped myself in the abyss of such semantic-unpleasantness, unaware that the sooner I exit, the better it would be for my health, until it was too late. I guess I am simply too naïve. I thought you would want to learn the ways of the world, seeing that your generation is supposedly the more open, liberated one than mine. Now as my new policy I no longer want to negotiate with terr-ible people, ever.
Frankly despite my encouragement, you were insipid when I needed you to be creative at work, and equally uninspiring over small talk. You only become truly alive and articulate when it came to demanding for terms and conditions. I strongly believe if you show the same amount of expectations towards your own performance over the next 10 years, I am confident you would get very far, way ahead in life than this. Do not, however, jeopardize your own paths with bad manners. Use your brains more, and your phones less.
Sometimes it’s stick, sometimes it’s carrot. I await to see you again, when you hit 40, 45, even 50 years of age. Let me know if you are still finding the perfect job.
The best solution in these situations is to go for a walk and see how beautiful the rest of the world is. We have to learn to surround ourselves with kind and positive people, and purge the petty ones.
Watch word: Purge.