September is my favourite month, because it’s my anniversary month (by choice) and my birthday month (by default)! I can’t believe I’m 24 now – part of me still feels like a teenager. I have to admit that I do feel older than 24 sometimes – not many of my friends my age are married with kids. I am indeed blessed though – this is exactly how I would have liked my life to turn out.
That isn’t to say that I haven’t done things in my life that I do regret – rather, I prefer not to dwell on a past that I cannot change, but rather on a future that I can.
In conjunction with my 24th birthday, I’m going to list out 24 things that have happened in my life (which I don’t regret!):
1. Being born a girl! 🙂 At times, I wondered what it would be like to be a boy, but there are a lot of good things about being female. Like getting a guy to change your tyres by just batting your eyelashes. But I also love being a not-so-girly girl.
2. Growing up in Malaysia. Yes, I don’t have that British accent I always wanted (and I don’t think I ever will – I’m terrible at accents), but it was a good experience. While there isn’t much to say about things like safety, the education system, the drivers and the corruption, children get by pretty well and do enjoy themselves.
3. Learning to play the piano. This I give credit to my mother, who started me at the age of 3. I must admit that my piano is my hiding place – it is where I pour out the deepest emotion, and it’s one of the few things that can turn a bad day good again.
4. Dancing lots. One of the biggest things in my growing up was doing dance performances. I learned ballet as a child, but that wasn’t really my thing. I remember dancing to songs like ‘Bring it all back’ by SClub7, ‘Larger than Life’ by Backstreet Boys and ‘No Strings Attached’ by NSync. I even did cheerleading in high school.
5. Writing poems and songs. This formed a huge part of my later childhood and teenage years. It was a means of self-expression but also was something I took pride in. I sometimes look back on the collection that I still have to see where I was at that stage of life.
6. Going to both government and private schools. There are several stark differences between the two types of schools, but I had fun in both places. I remember running wild in my government high school – dealing with things like truancy, gangsters but building some of the best friendships ever. Private high school had its perks too, and probably helped me become a bit more serious about my academic achievement.
7. Winning a writing competition and going to Dublin. I met up with winners from Thailand, the Czech Republic and the US – we had a ball of a time! Goodness, I look so nerdy though:
8. Learning to drive in Malaysia. Believe me, it’s a challenge (and I think I’d be scared to drive there now, cos I’m so used to driving in Australia now). But we also can drive FASTTTT and not get caught. 😀
9. Starting my first job at 16. I was an ‘Aunty’ at Tumble Tots, which is a child play program – a funny choice for a person who had never dealt with kids before. It was good fun and I earned RM5 an hour. I think it wasn’t so much the money I earned but the ethos of the whole situation that taught me that money doesn’t grow on trees.
10. Learning Ninjutsu. And yes, I kid you not – it’s not some fictional art to turn me into Naruto. I learned so much in my journey – not just the actual techniques, but also how it made me grow as a person. It taught me how to carry myself and how to handle people in different circumstances, and is part of me. It made such a huge impact that I have a tattoo of 忍 on my back – it’s the ‘nin’ in ninja and it means strength & perseverance.
11. Going for National Service in Malaysia. What an eye-opening experience! We experienced insect and frog infested dormitories, using a squat toilet for 3 months, food that made us sick and activities that tested us physically but also emotionally (and perhaps racially). I did love my time and have made some amazing friendships there too.
Stop – coffee break time! Don’t overwork yourself or you’ll end up as tired as this:
12. Finding Jesus. I didn’t grow up going to church, but I was also searching for something more in terms of spirituality. And I’m so blessed to have found it, and also found not one but two loving churches (USJ SDA Church in Malaysia and Birdwood SDA Church in Australia) to accept me and help me grow.
13. Studying hospitality, particularly focusing on Food and Beverage. It is a vibrant, fast paced industry that is honestly not for everyone but I love it. I love how busy it can get; I love being run off my feet but in the end, doing a good job and being appreciated for it. The downside is that I have high standards at restaurants, and do not tolerate poor service.
14. Moving to Adelaide. I had the choice of doing the course locally, in Switzerland or in Adelaide. In retrospect, Switzerland may have been cool too (though I would have FROZEN in winter – I really hate the cold!) But I really do love Adelaide for its quaint personality, lovely people and the fact that I believe that I was always destined to be here.
15. Working in Port Douglas for 6 months. Yes, this turned out to be an amazing adventure for me. Imagine working in a huge resort, where you did housekeeping in the day and worked at the restaurant at night – exhausted myself completely, but managed to save up some cash. And it was from there that we went on an epic trip in Far North Queensland. I absolutely adore that area and cannot wait to be back.
16. Working in Melbourne instead of Dubai for my second work placement. I had a job offer from Dubai and was preparing to go, but then changed my mind and remained local. It was the best decision I could have made in terms of my love life, and my husband and I got engaged during that time.
17. Being Asian. That means I can get away with taking epic photos like this:
18. Having loved and lost before. I honestly don’t regret my past relationships, though perhaps there are some elements of some of them that I would have rather done without. But I think everything is a learning curve, and in some relationships, we have a mutual agreement that it was best not to be together.
19. Marrying the man of my dreams. And getting married young too – I was 21 when I walked down the aisle. But I honestly knew that he was the one, and we are more than happy now!
20. Having my wedding the way I wanted it to be. Obviously, everyone has an idea of a dream wedding – I knew I wanted my ceremony somewhere, either on a beach or in a garden. I wanted a smaller reception where I could be more personal with my guests. I also wanted to have a specially choreographed dance with all the fancy moves. And I got all that and more. 🙂
21. Honeymooning in Phuket. Staying at a gorgeous resort with a private plunge pool. Going on tours of the gorgeous coastline and islands. Checking out the markets and touristy attractions there, but also getting a local’s perspective from my friend Mann who lives there. And most of all, spending it with my awesome husband!
22. Getting Skittles. Yes, she is a menace. She has eaten more plastic than any dog I’ve ever known, destroyed most of our garden, run away and killed a neighbour’s chook, and the list goes on… But I love her to bits!
23. Buying our house. We had been shopping around for a bit and had seen a few that were really not up to mark. I’d driven around to a few real estate agencies and we were told we could view this place that very afternoon. Saw it and fell in love. It’s got a lot of great features, and I just love the fact that it’s so close to a lovely reserve!
24. Having a baby – who I believe is the most gorgeous baby in the world. Do you agree?
The moral of the story really is that I am so blessed. There are always ups and downs in life, but I do my best to dwell on the moments that make life worthwhile.