Thoughts #1

I have stopped writing for some time, because I cannot really afford the time. I wanted to focus on what I needed to do, which is to pass my degree. The last two modules that I have taking in order to graduate is exceptionally tough, and I am afraid that I wouldn’t make it after all.

But I started again. Because writing helps me to think. Time and time again, I have closed and restarted my blog. To the outsider, it might seem like a loop. But can it be a spiral instead?

Anyway, what have triggered some thoughts today, is because I met my mentor during the CNY period. He was a teacher in the primary school that I was in. Although he never really taught me, he reached out after I got into some trouble in school. Over the years, he has guided and assisted me. I regularly consult him when I face problems in life. It’s been almost 20 years now.

I met one of his student, a young chap who just did badly for his O levels. He wanted to go into early childhood, an image inconsistent with his double earrings on his left ear. I was glad that the young man has a passion, and I encourage him to explore further. His other passion is nursing, which is also a promising and meaningful direction.

When I meet young people like him, I cannot help but talk. Sometimes too much. They remind me of my past, and I know how troubling it can be when you are constantly belittled and told off because you are not as on track as your peers. Exactly where are we heading? Where exactly are we rushing towards? And when we are all going toward a different destination, how do we know who is behind?

I shared with him my story, of how I made the top 204 students possible when there are only 205 students in the cohort. But I try not to make the story about myself. It is about him, of how he wants to craft his journey.

I truly believe in the Steve Job’s mantra – You cannot connect the dots looking forwards. Because of my challenging youth, I was able to connect better with the youths whom I instruct today. As much as I do not want to glorify my past, because it is not necessary for one to have been to hell in order to be an angel, sometimes it helps to reach out to them. More often than not, they listen better knowing that you have gone there and came back, rather than someone who has not. But not every educator has to pitch using this strategy. I am using this because it is convenient for me, available as a tool that I can leverage upon.

Like what Steve Jobs said, there are many things which I did that benefitted me in ways that I did not expect. I took PDVL license a long time ago, in case there is a day in which I have to fall back on something if I were to lose my job. Many people who have a stable career don’t bother. During the COVID period, it helped me, and I was able to do more for others if I wanted to, like ferrying medical professionals to and fro the hospital if I wanted. I also went to take up the licensing modules to be a security guard. During one of the classes, I met someone who was a retired senior officer. He said that he is impressed with the way I view things, because I happen to share my views in class. We talked extensively over coffee, and he introduced an opportunity which is underway. At this point in time, I do not know how would this turn out, but regardless, I think the opportunity and network alone is beneficial already.

And finally, the so-called “perspective” that he is impressed by, is nothing more than the insights I have gathered along the way by making mistakes, stumbling here and there. If I had not made the choices that I have made, which is sometimes controversial, perhaps I will not be able to crystallise these experiences into perspectives which I rely upon today.

Going back to the young boy I met, when my mentor was spiting him for his poor results, I said it is no big deal, which the young boy repeated. Not wanting him to trivialise things, I quickly added that it is not a big deal if you are able to bounce back. All our mistakes will remain mistakes if we do not learn and reflect on it. But it becomes an invaluable lesson if we are able to reflect on it and learn, then chart a better path forward. It can also become a tool, which I demonstrated how I leverage upon. So reflection is important.

This brings me back to my starting point – that writing helps me think. So is my article repeating itself or spiralling? I leave it to you to decide. =)

Categorized as Thoughts


Hi, I am Benjamin. I am a Singaporean son, born and bred. I came from a modest background, just like most Singaporeans and went to mainstream schools like most middle-class Singaporeans. What makes me different is my unconventional choices and journey in life, giving me more profound insights. Entering a secondary school infested with secret societies in the earlier days exposed me to a different side of Singapore. I graduated well despite having a volatile phase. I chose one of the youngest polytechnics despite having a score good enough for JC, even as others tell me it is not recognised, and I would not make it into university through that path. During my National Service, I also went through a difficult phase of rediscovering the purpose of serving. My university was another defining chapter, spanning over nine years, involving many adventures and endeavours. As you can see, I seldom bother myself with dogmas. I strongly believe in Steve Job's speech at Stanford University. I hope to lead others by example, inspire them to do the same and empower the decisions they have to make in their lives. Reach me at

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