BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE

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So there was this video of this girl who was proclaiming proudly why she wasn’t proud to be a Singaporean that went viral.

Honestly, when I was watching the video, I had a mix of feelings. Most of the times I agree with what she had to say about Singaporeans- that we’re not nice people, we’re unhappy, we’re not creative, we’re not this and not that. It’s a sad but pretty much a very true fact, I won’t deny it. But as the video went on and the more she ranted, the more she complained, the more she so proudly exclaimed that she can’t wait to be out of the country, the more apprehensive I felt about agreeing with her (apart from the fact that complaining about Singapore makes her like a typical Singaporean).

It made me think about the 3 months I spent in Sydney. I LOVED IT THERE. Yes, the people in Australia are ridiculously friendly, the people in the front line of the service sector are annoyingly nice they make you seem like the grumpiest person in the world. and yes, if you have been following me on Facebook and Instagram, I love the beaches in Sydney. LOVE IT SO MUCH I’LL MOVE THERE JUST FOR THE BEACHES. When I was in Sydney, I did have thoughts about getting a job here, moving there and eventually start a family there. I mean, why not right? Since many Singaporeans are doing that already. Why get left behind? Other reasons besides the gorgeous beaches that Australia has to offer include the “sporty” nation they are commonly known as which serves as a good platform for my future kids to grow up in because I want them to be developed into good athletes without being hindered by the red tapes and other restrictions imposed by the goverment to become an elite athlete. Also, Rowing is a big thing in Australia, I’d wanna live there so I can row till I’m 60. There are just plenty of pull factors in Australia. And there is no doubt that Australia is a beautiful country.

But, even if I had the thoughts of migrating there, and even if my plans did materialze, there is no part of me at all that would say that I am not proud to be a Singaporean, because I am proud to be a Singaporean. I am proud to be travelling all over the world wearing the crescent and 5 stars on my chest with the word SINGAPORE in thick, bold fonts printed on my back. When people ask me where I’m from, I will proudly say, SINGAPORE! And they will usually go, “ahhh. nice, clean country” and there is nothing wrong with being proud of living in a nice and clean country! It’s a good image that foreigners have of us. So be proud of that, at least. Yeah being “nice and clean” is boring, but we should be freaking lucky to have potable water flowing out of our taps! But is that all that makes me proud to be a Singaporean? Of course not!

I am proud to be born in Singapore, with all its restrictions and challenges and downfalls and what have you. It may not be a utopian nation but that is where I grew up in, that is where I had my education, that is where my family is. That is where I call home, no matter how far away I am and no matter how much in love I am with another country. It’s like our mother, for instance. Sometimes, as we grow older, we may have disagreements with our mums because of the different perceptions that we have on things. Sometimes she may be the biggest challenge in our lives, and I’m speaking this from experience because my mum was the first person to disagree with my rowing career. We quarrelled over this countless times, so much so that sometimes I just listen to what she has to say and reply nothing. Sometimes, she just doesn’t scold me anymore because she’s tired of me not heeding her advice. She may not be the perfect mother for an athlete, I have to admit. She is not someone who will wake me up for training and prepare breakfast for me. She has her own flaws. But at the end of the day, she is my only mum and I will never have another one of my own, and I love her for who she is, no matter how much she dislikes me rowing, no matter how much she disapproves of what I do, what I wear, what I say. She’s my one and only mum. I don’t hate her and has no plans at all to leave her, just because she isn’t the mum I want her to be.

It’s the same for being proud of a country you’re from. The country may not be the perfect one to live in, but it is in fact the country that you’re born in. The country you learnt your ABCs in, had your first BCG in, the country you sat for your PSLE and O Levels no matter how much you hated school and exams but you still had to go through them for at least 10 years of your miserable life anyway. The country with bad taste of music for National Day Parade, the country which is not creative and where the inhabitants are irritating and unfriendly. The country which pays foreigners to play sports for us which makes their athletes (like me) look awful in the world media because they must be wondering, “are Singaporean athletes that bad that they have to buy athletes?” I totally disagree with the foreign talent scheme and I despise it. But that doesn’t make me any less proud to be a Singaporean. Singapore has its flaws, plenty of them for sure, but I can’t change the fact that I was born here and brought up here. And that makes me proud, with all its stupid policies and rules and what have you, because that’s what makes Singapore, well, Singapore!

In fact, if we all agree with what the girl in the video has to say and “cant wait to leave the country”, then Singapore is really a sad, sad place to live in because we always want to take the easy way out of things which is to “siam” or leave the problem instead of finding an answer to it. Singapore definitely needs to change some of its “systems” and yes it will take years and lots of people to crack their minds together to come up with a plan to change things around here but if we all believe that positive changes will happen, it will happen. Good things are worth the wait, they say. And we have to work extra hard to see changes that we wish to see.

So, I’d say that I will likely live overseas for a few years because the sports in Singapore is not ready to be a sports hub, or whatever they call it nowadays being the “centre of sports excellence” something like that. Like I will live overseas to train to be the best rower that I can be, for instance, because I know that the resources that Singapore has is insufficient to groom me to my fullest potential. But when I make the move, I will still want to be known as a Singaporean. I want to travel to gain knowledge, to learn what the other countries have to offer for their athletes, how they live, how they train, how they win. And then I will come back to Singapore and hopefully will be able to share my knowledge with other athletes. Oh it sounds like a good movie storyline where the hero comes back with good news and spread the love, but that is my dream and yes, laugh at it if you wish but at least I have dreams to help the country I grew up in change for the better and not leave it behind for something else.

Most of us disagree with the “paper chase” system that we gre up in. I did graduate with a Bachelor, one of the few in my family who did in fact, but that is not what I really want in life. Having a degree does not being me any closer to being an Olympian. But being known to the world as being “paper smart” doesn’t make me less proud of who I am. I am, in fact, proud to have gone through that phase. I am proud to be a survivor of the “paper chase”. I feel a tinge of pride light up inside of me whenever foreigners think Singaporeans are smart. Don’t you?

So yeah, we should be considered privileged citizens to be able to travel freely to almost anywhere in the world. (That’s one thing to be proud of as Singaporeans). It’s ironic how the girl in the video claims that she is unlike the majority of the Singaporeans who are narrow-minded, yet she compared Singapore to Sydney and Taiwan, but forgot to think about those countries which are less-developed and have lower standards of living but their people are still proud to be where they come from no matter how imperfect their country is. Having the luxury to travel might make us think that there’s always somewhere better than where we are now, and in fact, it might true that there is somewhere better. But that shouldn’t make us feel less proud of the country we are from. Singapore is already so small a country, and if all of us leave for somewhere better and not proud to be from here, what does she have left? Singapore needs us. Again, I shall repeat: We need to be the change we want to see. Giving up doesn’t solve the problem.

All in all, I’ll give her my credit LAH cuz it takes guts to put up a video like that. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions too. But I just want to say that I love Singapore no matter how shitty or hell-hole-ish people might think it is. And what makes me the proudest to be Singaporean?
The Majulah Singapura.
WAHLAO it made me cry when I sang it. You didn’t see meh?

lol.
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singaporean