Category Archives: work

The Art of (Not) Giving Up.

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My six-year scholarship bond with my company ended 11 days ago, on 31st March 2017. I looked back at the past six years with fond memories: of new found friendships, of self-discoveries, and of surprising achievements. There were several painful experiences, of course, but as with all wisdom of hindsight, I am now able to focus on the benefits of those unpleasant moments. I finally understand how it truly feels to run a marathon and see through it from start till the finishing line.

Now that it is over, I can finally admit how I almost surrendered, several times in fact, and was determined to break the bond. You will find the following account of my biggest meltdown, rather amusing, but I assure you that at those moments in time, it felt like the end of the world. And there was no way out, but to give up.

Breakdown #1/100:

2013, with slightly more than three years to the end of the bond. I drove to work in tears. I arrived, carried my two heavy bags, and instead of walking towards my office, I marched (tears streaming down my face) in the direction of our legal office. I knocked on the glass door of the Head of Legal, and sobbingly I said, ” I want to break my bond. Please calculate the penalty I need to pay please”.

Frankly if I were her I would have burst out laughing at this pitiful sight of an adult woman clutching on to her two seemingly overweight bags filled with documents, files, rubbish and a laptop, mascara streaks down her morning puffy face. I would have sent this baby to a doctor.

But she did not. She replied calmly, in a neutral tone, careful not to show too much concern, that she would check on the terms and conditions of my bond agreement and would get back to me within the day.

I thanked her, with the tiny bit of dignity left, and walked back towards my office, feeling even more wretched. I was really disappointed in myself for surrendering the white flag at the half-way mark. But I could no longer lie to myself that I was happy in a corporate environment. I am a free spirit, I should fly. Well, at least that was what I strongly believed in then.

Later in the day, I was told of the amount I was liable for breaking the bond. It was slightly around $600K. I immediately embarked on a quest to raise this sum. I was going to:

  1. Sell my studio apartment.
  2. Sell my car.
  3. Empty my savings.
  4. Take up a loan.

I would be left with nothing, only debts. But at least I would be free. Freedom is priceless.

It was a good plan.

It was a terrible plan.

What do you think? What would you do?

Well, you know what I did.

I walked shamefully into the legal office a second time, all my shreds of pride down the drain, and I apologized to the same Head of Legal for creating a scene that morning, and for wasting her time. “I don’t have the money to pay the bond. So sorry. I will continue to work till the bond ends”, I said, looking even more pathetic than ever.

I gave up twice in a day. First time, on my job. Second time on my gungho declaration to break free.

Epic failure, one would say.

Fast forward to current status. Bond is over. And I did not leave my company. I actually do enjoy chasing targets, building a team, having something to wake up for. I am proud that I have a job that gives me satisfaction in all its victories and defeats. Work is still (very) tough, but I am grateful for the many character-building opportunities I have been given. And all this, is priceless too.

It is ok to give up, you know? We are too hard on ourselves. A wise man told me that the usual “I must prove myself” pressure should no longer be that urgent at my age of 42. Moral of the story, things do get exponentially better. Allow yourself to be surprised. And once you’ve scaled a mountain, no one can take that away from you.

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Show Me The Money

Charity auction on https://shop.stylexstyle.com/sxsturns4 from 6-30 Oct. All proceeds go to the charity of each celeb’s choice. I pledge my portrait to http://www.scwo.org.sg/index.php/star-shelter the only secular crisis centre for abused women and children.

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When I Meet Trump.

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We face our own male and female Donald Trumps everyday everywhere.

Question is, how to do a Hillary Shimmy when you meet one.

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Code Red.

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Be a game changer in your own way. You don’t have to change the world. You can start with yourself first.

  1. Remember you don’t have to win every battle. Sometimes in defeat, you gain more than in victory.
  2. Be assertive. You will never need to raise your voice.
  3. See the bigger forest, don’t focus on one tree.
  4. Always extend an olive branch, even to your enemies.
  5. There are no enemies. Just teachers.
  6. Share. Share your love, your energy, your wealth, your joy.

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Peace and War.

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This picture was snapped 9 years ago summer school in Salamanca. The importance of education, Spanish, making friends from all over the globe and annoying authorities (see Professor’s face). Te echo de menos mis amigas. Even more so now when the adult working world I am in is rather disappointing. Nothing in school prepared me for the. type. of. people. I. face. in. the. course. of. work. Maybe on top of Maths and Science, we should make Philosophy a mandatory course of study. And everyone should learn 2 or more foreign languages. People should have a chance to study or live or work overseas for a considerable period of time in our life. It should be drilled into our brain that being kind is more important than being wealthy. And extending an olive branch is more gracious than screaming at each other. Everyone should read War and Peace. I am not any better. I don’t like myself either when I am in Singapore. That is the truth. I should not blame the city. I should ask myself why instead. My team looks up to me. They watch my every step and so I have to do the right thing. A good leader has to be a bigger person and look at the forest instead of focusing on a tree. So I can’t get mad. I can’t get even either. I just have to pray that each email I read will not break my morale further. Sometimes a good bottle of red wine help. Sometimes looking up from my laptop at the seaview in front of me helps. Sometimes taking a long hot shower helps. Whatever works. 

I hope WordPress auto deletes post like this after 24hrs like Snapchat. Everyone always feels much better after 24hrs.

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Anti-Oxidants 

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Star Style.

 

At the peak of her career in the late 90s and early 2000s, fashion was colourful and grungy.

It was the age of micro minis, halter tops and sky-high ponytails secured with a scrunchie.

But former actress-host Sharon Au does not regret any of her past fashion faux pas.

The 41-year-old told The New Paper: “When you don’t invest in timeless pieces, it is only natural to look back and find many items outdated.

“Our tastes change. It is a function of age.”

Au left showbiz at the height of her popularity in 2005 to pursue a degree in International Political Science and Law at Tokyo’s Waseda University’s School of International Liberal Studies. She returned to Singapore in 2011.

During her time abroad, she also lived in Lyon, France, from 2008 to 2009, on an exchange programme.

Her time in France, she said, is what shapes her style today.

Au said: “I was face to face with walking testimonials of French people who showed me that comfort and confidence trump all fashion trends.

“They’re always in the same look, same colours, with their hair windblown and messy, never styled.

“They don’t follow trends or ‘it’ things blindly, but what they exuded to me was much more precious and (something) money can’t buy – comfort in their own skin.

“They looked good in everything – just jeans and a basic T-shirt. There was nothing outstanding about their outfits, but it was their overall confidence and nonchalance that was beautiful.

“I came from the entertainment industry where everything was head to toe red carpet.

“So for me to go and see au naturel in action – I was very inspired.”

COMFORT

“Now, I wear things I feel very comfortable in,” said Au, who is assistant vice-president of Mediacorp.

She was so inspired by what she saw overseas that she started a fashion portal, styleXstyle, in 2012.

Her latest venture is the Style by Style Vibes café at the new Mediacorp campus at One-North.

TNP PHOTOS: CHOO CHWEE HUA
The Singapore Airlines sarong kebaya is special to Au, who was a Singapore Girl for 15 months before she was talent-spotted and quit flying for showbiz.

SENTIMENTAL SHARON

She paired the stewardess uniform with nude Christian Louboutin heels.

“I was 19 and fresh out of Hwa Chong Junior College. I had never travelled before in my life,” she recalled.

“I miss that time of my life because I was so young and sucked up all the experiences like a sponge.”

WORKPLACE SHARON

“When I go to work, my outfits are almost the same – mostly black, structured, neat and a little power woman-ish,” said Au, who usually adds a blazer to her Zara dress.

She accessorised with an Hermes Constance handbag, a belt from local designer Zenchi and jewellery from South Korean brand Stonehenge.

 

OFF-DUTY SHARON

Au keeps it casual and flowy for lunch with her girlfriends.

She opts for Hermes tassel loafers – she does not wear heels on her days off – and a maxi dress from Swedish brand & Other Stories.

She said: “Just because you dress down doesn’t mean you have to look sloppy. I like wearing something shapeless and relaxed.”

 

SEXY SHARON

She paired a simple Banana Republic white tank top with pants from Australian brand Satch, blazer from French label Zadig & Voltaire, Hermes Birkin bag and accessorised with South Korean jewellery brand Stonehenge.

“When I wear this outfit, I feel empowered, like I can change the world,” said Au, adding that high heels and a bold lip make a winning combination.

“To me, a woman is sexiest when she comes across as confident, decisive and opinionated.

“That’s why sexy to me is not revealing. It’s not about showing your shoulders or skin. It’s more of the attitude.”

 

Text by Natasha Meah

This article first appeared on The New Paper.

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