To Old Ends & New Beginnings

Over the past 3 months, I’ve gone through a roller coaster of emotions, physical changes and new experiences. I was always told that going to college was a big step, and the first step into adulthood and the so called “real world”, but I never imagined it to be as monumental as it has been. I feel like the whole process first started with graduation (graduation post linked below). Walking across that stage and holding my diploma was the end of one part of my life, and naturally began the next. Summer was interesting, to say the least. And don’t get me wrong, summer was super fun, maybe even the best summer so far, but it came with a lot of reflection. There were days where I couldn’t wait to be in college in my new life, and then in the very next minute I would be sobbing hysterically at the thought of leaving my family. And there were days where I would spend hours getting excited about all the new things to come and there were other days where I would find myself missing high school beyond imagine. But no matter how I felt or what was happening, I couldn’t escape the fact that I was counting down the days until I was in college.

At the end of our summer vacation, we had flown back into Singapore. For me, the next time I would be doing this would be Christmas, after the first semester of my first year in college. At that point I only had one week left in the life that I had always known. It was an emotion week, to say the least. Every time I said goodbye to a person I had a relationship with or every time I left a place I loved for the last time, my heart sunk a little. 2 days before I left, I went to one of my favorite places in Singapore: the Marina Bay. My family and I stood outside Marina Bay Sands and took pictures while soaking in the beauty around us. In that moment, I was overcome with gratitude. I was grateful to have been raised by such a beautiful, open and diverse little island.

The next 36 hours were not the same. I was not grateful but I was sad, angry and depressed. I said by to my sister as she left for practice at 5 am. I buried my head into our couch and bawled as she walked out the door. I said bye to my doggy as he left for a walk and we waiter for our cab, the same time I said by to the house that I called my home. I said bye to my dad, standing outside immigration at the airport as I sobbed and made a scene. I said bye to Singapore as our place detached from Singapore soil, crying into my moms shoulder. And I cried again as we landed in LA, already missing my home. And finally, I said bye to my mom, one of my best friends, as we stood outside my dorm. We laughed, hugged and cried for a solid 10 minutes, before we forced ourselves to say goodbye. It was the end of a 3 month process of closures and goodbyes. I was emotionally exhausted by then and was missing everyone and everything I said bye to. I felt like I had gone through a lifetime of tears in those 3 months.

Sitting in my room, just minutes after saying by to my mom with tears still streaming down my face, I began to think about the magnitude of what all the tears and goodbyes meant. It occurred to me that what made the goodbyes so hard was also what made me the luckiest girl in the world. The goodbyes wouldn’t have been so hard if I hadn’t had so many people and places in my life that cared about me, inspired me and loved me. And while I still missed everyone and everything back home so much, I chose, in that moment, gratitude over sadness. Just like at graduation, I chose to be grateful for the relationships than to be sad that they were no longer right there. Because just like Winnie the Pooh says, “how lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard”. And by choosing gratitude, I allowed myself to open up for a brand new start, a new adventure, knowing that all the people, places and things I said goodbye to were always standing right behind me.

Graduation post: https://swimeatlove.com/2017/07/09/a-goodbye-to-high-school/

A goodbye to high school

So I graduated high school. That still feels so weird to say, or, I guess, type. As of today, it’s been 37 days since I walked across the big stage in Singapore, in front of all my friends, teachers and family, to receive my High School diploma. It’s honestly surreal. I’ve tried to write this so many times over the last 36 days, but for some reason I’ve been unable to. It’s evoked too many emotions that I couldn’t handle so soon. There were days when I felt too disconnected from my high school life to write this. But usually, it was because I couldn’t accept the fact that I had graduated. Now, I know that may sound weird, but let me try to put some things in perspective.

I was born in Singapore and have lived here my whole life. I went to one school for Kindergarten, but since first grade I have gone to the same school, Singapore American School (SAS). I still remember every single teacher I’ve ever had, every tryout session for the school’s swim team, and every milestone I accomplished at school. When I was in fourth grade, my sister started the same school as me. Suddenly, SAS became my family’s life. We spent countless weekends at school for swim practices and swim meets, I spent so many after schools going to watch dance shows and drama performances that my friends were in, and I spent 13 hours five days a week at this place that very quickly became my second home. School was the place I met all of my friends, all of my coaches, and all of the teachers who inspired me. It became my life. I loved working at attending sports games of all kinds and wearing my SAS gear. I was proud to be an eagle. And this wasn’t just for the four years of high school, this was the 12 years I spent as an eagle. So when it came time for me to graduate, I quickly realized that I wasn’t just graduating from high school, but I was graduating SAS and this chapter of my life. After all, this moment in my life is the peak of change. When I leave for college, I will no longer be living in a house with my family, I will no longer walk down the streets to see many familiar faces, I will no longer walk into school each morning greeted by the friends and teachers I had known and trusted for years, and I will no longer have this place to call my second home. It’s not one individual person or a singular place, but it’s my life. And honestly, speaking right now in this moment, I don’t think I realize that until right now.

The night of graduation was chaotic, emotional, and well…wonderful. It was chaotic simply because of the sheer number of people. My graduating class had 287 students, most of whom had brought an average of 6 family members and friends to graduation. Add that to the hundreds of faculty members and staff, and you have a humongous group of people. The commencement ceremony lasted around two and a half hours, and that was followed by an hour of picture taking with all of the people squished into one small reception area. That was chaotic. It was also extremely emotional. From the time I put on my dress at home to the time I hugged my mom, dad and sister after the ceremony, all sorts of emotions were constantly rushing over me. Saying goodbye to teachers and some friends who had changed my life was so sad. Standing there with all of my classmates around me, for the last time, as we through our caps in the air was bittersweet. And walking out of the theater, leaving high school behind me was devastating. But while graduation night was all those things, it was also wonderful. I knew going in to the night how hard it was going to be for me to close that chapter, so I decided the day before that instead of being sad, I was going to be grateful. Instead of being upset that all the things I loved about high school were going to be over, I decided to be grateful that I had something so special that I didn’t want it to end. Instead of crying after saying goodbye to my favorite teachers, I decided to be grateful that I had adults in my life that inspired me and motivate me every single day. And instead of thinking of the final goodbye I would have to say to my friends, I decided to be grateful that SAS gave me a place to meet all these people who quickly became my second family. Now, I can tell you that there were moments that I was sad, there were moments I was angry, and there were moments where I cried uncontrollably, but choosing to be grateful made everything worth it.

I was once asked the question, ‘What is your biggest regret in life?’. Well, some people may think that an 18 year old isn’t old enough to answer that question whole-heartedly, but I don’t think that’s the case for me. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking of my answer to that question, and I think I have one; one that’s simple, but also really complicated. My answer: I have none. Just like I chose to be grateful for everything high school had to offer me, I also decided that I wasn’t going to regret anything I did, but be grateful that my mistakes helped me learn and grow as a person. When I look back at all the highs and lows of high school, I don’t regret a single thing. Even if the lows were preventable, I don’t regret it. And I don’t regret I because out of every low came extreme growth for me.

I know this post may seem a little convoluted and disorganized, but in a way, that’s how my high school experience was. It wasn’t simple, it wasn’t easy and it didn’t always make sense. But looking back on it now, it has been life changing. I learned from mistakes, I formed relationships to last a lifetime, and I was inspired. I’ve been trying to find closure, a way to make sense of this crazy journey, and writing this now, I think I’ve found it. So to those of you who still have part or all of this entire journey to look forward to, take advantage of it. Don’t wish for it to be over, because once it is you will be wishing for it to still be there. Don’t beat yourself down about the little things, but learn from your mistakes. Allow yourself to fall and be inspired. That’s what I did, and like I said, I have no regrets. I’m sitting here now with tears in my eyes and a huge smile on my face. High school, thank you for everything, I’ll miss you.

almost time

I’m sitting here, tick tick tick, counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until the moment I walk across the stage to receive my long-awaited diploma. It’s almost here. Ready or not, it will happen. There’s no postponing it, there’s no stopping it. Will it be a sad day, will it be an exciting day? I don’t really know and I won’t know until I’m in the moment. But I do know what it’s like right now. Exactly 3 weeks, 2 days and 20 hours away from walking into the theater in my navy blue cap and gown. It’s scary, it’s sad, it’s exciting, it’s every feeling you could possibly feel. I’m thinking back to my first days where I would cry getting on the bus in the morning to go to school. Now I’m crying thinking about getting on the plane to go to school. Back to my middle school days when I didn’t really care about my grades, but more about having fun. I think of all the fun I’m going to have on my new adventure. I remember my first day of high school, being extremely intimidated by the upper class-men and seniors, and I realize I’m going to be in that exact same place stepping foot onto my college campus as a freshman, again. I reminisce about all the memories I’ve made with my swim team, my second family. It’s only going to get better, and I imagine that I will soon find a new family with my college team. I’m thinking about right now; right now in this very moment. It will go fast, everyone said. Don’t forget to stop and appreciate it every once in a while, they said. I always took that into consideration, but also never fully took it into consideration. It went by so fast. I was just a first grader, then I was just a middle schooler and a freshman and now I’m here, 572 hours before it’s all done. I can only move forward in one way, with no regrets. No regrets for anything, even my mistakes. Because thinking back on it now, out of my lowest of times came my highest of moments. Am I ready to move on? Am I prepared to take on the “real world”? Whatever my answer is doesn’t matter, it’s going to happen. All I can do now is be thankful, thankful for all the people who got me here; friends, teachers, coaches, and family. Thankful for the moments that brought me joy and the times that made me grow as a person. While I don’t feel ready to leave, to move on and start a new journey, it’s going to happen and I am as prepared as I will ever be. 3 weeks, 2 days and 20 hours. Tick tick tick, it’s almost time.

One to Go

I’m sitting here writing this on a Friday after school. The end of the day, the end of the week, and the end of the first semester of my senior year. It’s very weird to think that I have gone through (and survived:) 7 semesters of high school. The thoughts and feelings going through my head right now are super weird and random. While it’s not quite time for me to leave home, there is a lot of closure happening. It’s been hard, I’m not gonna lie. And while I wish that I could freeze time and stop everything from moving too quickly, I know that it’s just life and something I have to deal with.

I’m excited for the journey that lies ahead of me and know that life will take me on a miraculous adventure, but for now I just want to “stop and smell the roses”. Remember every single person, place and thing that has impacted my life in ways I’ll never be able to express.

As my favorite quote says, “So I close my eyes to old ends and open my heart to new beginnings.” – Nick Frederickson

Teaching at 17? #2

Today I did something really exciting: I led a whole group fitness class from start to finish! And it was such a good feeling. I started writing the workout about a week ago and worked on it little by little up until today. There was a warm-up, circuit, challenge, and warm-down. In addition to that, I also created the playlist to go along with the workout. I definitely learned a lot today and I’m looking forward to teaching again in the future so I can see how I improve.

So for today’s workout, I wanted to do something a little different from what we had been doing (body pump), so I decided that we were going to do a circuit. I started by splitting the class up into groups. Although it seems like such a 3rd grade thing to make groups, I think it’s extremely effective in this context. I spent a good 20 minutes picking the groups. I started by making sure that there was a good mix of boys and girls in each group. I then made sure I split up the students who I knew were friends, and put them with people that I hadn’t seen them interact with a lot. I wasn’t sure how this was going to work out, but I think it did! There were exercises that required partners, and I really saw some students going out of their comfort zones and working with people they normally wouldn’t work with. So then it was time to create the workout. I went into the storage room where we have all of our equipment, and picked 5 pieces that I wanted to work with. I then thought back to all of the workouts I’ve done before and picked my favorite exercises using each piece of equipment, and there was the workout.

 

Main set: Circuit; 2 rounds straight through 2 min water break}repeat  (45 seconds on, 15 seconds off; 5 mins per round)

5 groups of four (mix up, 2 girls 2 boys)

  1. Squat/Burpees
    1. All rounds: 5 squats holding weight overhead (arms stay straight), 5 air burpees w/ push-up
  2. BOSU Ball push-ups
    1. Round 1-2: regular push-ups (with knees for regression)
    2. Round 3-4: push-up with bounce (if too tired or want a regression, regular push-ups)
  3. Kettle Bell Swings
    1. Round 1-2: Both hands
    2. Round 3-4: Singles, switch hands at top
  4. Med balls
    1. Round 1-2: Bounce w/ chest pass
    2. Round 3-4: Sit up w/ OH throw
  5. Ladders
    1. Round 1-2: Quick feet, shuffle on the way back
    2. Round 3-4: Hip switches, shuffle back (switch sides each time)

 

After we finished the circuit portion, everyone seemed pretty tired, so I had planned to do a couple yoga challenges. We did a few of them and they were really fun. I had the class get into groups of 2-4 people that they felt comfortable with and we went on. The challenges we did were the push-up chain, plank pyramid, and the box sit-up/pike.

Students trying the push-up chain challenge!
Students trying the push-up chain challenge!
Students trying the push-up chain challenge!
Students trying the push-up chain challenge!

Overall, I think today’s workout went really well. I recapped after class with my mentor and we talked about some things that went well and some things I could work on for next time. Can’t wait for next time! And stay tuned to stay updated about a 17 year old teaching PE!

SG52- The one year countdown

Exactly one week ago from this second, my plane from Haneda, Tokyo landed at Changi airpot in Singapore. ‘Ugh, back to school, back to reality’, was my first thought as the plan cruised down the runway. But as time passed, as I got off the plane to see all the workers in the airport, as we lugged our 9 suitcases into a taxi, as we passed all of the familiar HDB’s, work buildings and malls that had surrounded me for the past 17 years, it hit me like a ton of bricks. In one year from that moment, I wouldn’t be going back to reality or familiarity, but I would be starting a new life. That was an interesting day for me. Not only was that the last time I would return to Singapore from a summer vacation, but it was also National Day as the nation celebrated it’s 51st birthday. While I was dreading the thought of getting back to the 6am grind, there was this weird sense of comfort. That comfort was a feeling I had never felt before. Yes, I feel comfortable back in California with Americans around me who share the same believes as me, and yes I feel comfort when I’m at my lake house in Japan with all of my American friends around me, but this was a different type of comfort. In that 30 minute taxi ride from the airport back to my apartment in downtown Singapore, I realized just how much this beautiful country I get to call home had influenced me and how it will always continue to influence me. It’s the little things that I have been learning to appreciate more. The old Chinese lady at the supermarket who yells the amount I owe at me until all the money is on the table, the taxi driver who doesn’t understand what I’m saying, then takes a wrong turn so I have to go all the way around again, or the smell of the local wet market. All of those things used to bother me or annoy me, but now all I want to do is to be able to be around that for the rest of my life.

It’s weird, the idea of only having one more year left in this little island. And while I am extremely excited to begin my new journey as a college students, there’s a part of me that never wants to leave high school. Not only has this little red dot influenced my life, but my school has shaped me into the person I will be for the rest of my life. Being able to attend a school for 12 years that thrives on diversity and cultural competence has make me as open to new cultures as I could ever be. The teachers who I’ve formed relationships with, who have taught me just as much outside of the classroom as they have in, the friends I’ve made who have come from all of the world and will be by my side for the rest of my life.

So while I look forward to watching Singapore grow another year older, I am also dreading the next national day. This place is my home and will be my sense of comfort for decades to come. I’ll be saying goodbye to this place in one year from now, but I know that won’t be the end. If I’ve learned anything from my 17 years in Singapore, it’s that you never know where you’ll end up. I will be beginning a new adventure, and will have a structure for four years, but after that, who knows where I’ll end up. Singapore, you might just pull me back in!!