“So, Tell Me About Yourself…”

Whenever people ask me to tell them about myself, I would hem and haw while having back-and-forth conversations at the back of my mind about what to talk about.

You see, I don’t like answering vague questions. And honestly, who enjoys getting sized up by strangers?

Furthermore, what exactly are people hoping to learn? What I majored in at school? What I enjoy doing for fun? Or whether I’m a dog or cat person?

Eventually, feeling overwhelmed, I would stammer ambiguous responses like, “Ehhh… I don’t know? What would you like to know?”

In retrospect, I acknowledge how bad that made me sound. And that’s why I’ve decided to come up with four different ways of answering the dreadfully open-ended question of, “So, tell me about yourself…”

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1) When I was a kid, I wanted to be any one of these when I grew up: Pirate, Writer, Bandit, Explorer, Crazy Professor, or a Mad Scientist.

This might sound like an insane list for the uninitiated, but if you study it carefully, you’ll discover why loving what I loved as a child has been so critical for who I eventually turned out to be.

I believe in order to create a meaningful life, we need to identify the skills and talents we’ve always loved to use, and find the right form to channel that love into action.

Let me explain:

  • Pirate / Writer
    • Every so often, you come across someone like me who believes pirates are just like writers. Whenever I think of pirates, Captain Hook comes to mind — and being a pirate is like being a writer because every good piece of writing needs to have a hook which grabs readers’ attention and suck them into the story.
    • During my “News Room” days, I buckled up and approached strangers on the streets for article quotes. My quest for completing an article as factually as possible made me do the craziest things like conducting interviews in a public restroom.
    • In 2011, I taught myself some copywriting and launched a small writing business. To date, the oddest commissioned piece I have ever written for a client would be to sell his eBook teaching people how they could get an ex back.
  • Bandit
    • Growing up, I was fascinated with Robin Hood and aspired to be a vigilante. I was enthralled with the idea of stealing from the rich to give to the poor. Today, while I am still a law-abiding citizen, I have channelled the desire to save the world through more appropriate avenues.
    • For example, in 2009, as part of Project Reach, I campaigned for HOPE Worldwide Singapore and put in place sustainable strategies to help the elderly be more self-reliant.
    • In 2011, with sheer grit, determination and working alongside each other, my team and I raised a six-figure sum of money for a heart operation in the States.
    • And in 2012, I volunteered my Saturday afternoons at One People Singapore, educating children from low-income families, before packing my bags in the second-half of the year and heading to a third-tier city in China to teach.
  • Explorer
    • Wanting to be an explorer demonstrated how I viewed life to be a grand adventure.
    • Some of the fun ideas I adopted and incorporated while teaching in China have been documented in my Flickr.
  • Crazy professor / Mad scientist
    • I’m always learning, growing, and challenging myself. When not tinkering with CSS codes and building sites like TeknoKyo.com during my free time for my dear husband to showcase his customised action figures, I would be writing controversial papers (for fun) that amazingly get picked up on syndication sites.

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2) I can summarise who I am in three words: Creative, Passionate, and a Thinker.

  • Creative
    • In 2012, I worked as an English-language teacher in one of China’s top public elementary schools. My team partnered with the local Chinese government to develop the English curriculum and create meaningful classroom learning experiences.
    • I was effectively the leader, every day, for 40 minutes per session, in front of three different groups of excitable students, and developed practical classroom management skills as a result.
    • I learnt to think on my feet, invent games, and make up stories spontaneously.
    • Some of the learning materials my team and I have created can be viewed here.
  • Passionate
    • Looking back on what I did throughout my life — all the personal and professional ventures I undertook, the roles I assumed, the grind I put myself through for no apparent reasons at the time — I am now able to see the core themes about who I am and what I love to do continually recurring.
    • I was always passionate about expressing myself through writing, getting to the “bottom” of issues, understanding human behaviour and motivation, and adding value and meaning to life.

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3) The quotation I live my life by is: We are sometimes taken into troubled waters not to drown but to be cleansed.

  • I have a deep appreciation for living life to the fullest, and have created an ever-evolving list of  “Impossible” things to follow through on.

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4) My purpose in life is to be loved by children and respected by all; to be kind to people who can do nothing for me, and to live with no regrets.

  • As I go full throttle through life, I continue to be humbled by the numerous experiences life throws at me. I genuinely believe as long as I stick to what I love doing (i.e. anything which adds value to life), I will always be happy — and being happy is one of the simplest things anyone can do to make the world a better place.