30 things I knew when I turned 21, but only learned as I turn 30 today


Happy birthday to me. Time flies. When I turned 21 years old, I felt like the world was my oyster. After I entered the workforce, I felt like I was the oyster to the world. Anyone can relate? Instead of being the master, I was a 'slave' to the systems of the world. Familiar with the term, 'They chew you up and spit you out'?

If someone had told me 9 years ago during my graduation that I was gonna be moving into the entrepreneurial space, I would have screamed, 'Nooooo way, you must be crazy!'

Okay, because this was my plan:
Graduate. Get a job in an advertising agency/marketing firm. Work for 5-7 years, keep climbing higher. Earn my own office space. With the experience, apply to teach at RP. Be a facilitator and terrorise students. And in the midst of it, earn a lot of money.

OR

Study criminology and work my way up to be a detective + profiler, probably not in Singapore.

Well, I kinda did follow the first plan... for perhaps 2 years, then came the turning point. I remember one Christmas, I went back to work in the advertising office, rushing a copy and EDM. I remember sitting alone at my desk replying emails, and it struck me: 'Is this what I want to do for the rest of my life? This is so purposeless, rushing everyday to earn money for huge companies! That does not add any value to my or anyone's life. Is there something else I can give my life for, other than climbing this ladder for myself?'

That night changed my life. The next 7 years was spent serving children in need. Secondary school kids, primary school kids, and unborn babies. It was challenging but very fulfilling.

Two years ago, I stepped out of an official role in serving the children, and into something unknown. There was a deep hunger and desire to see a generation reflect Jesus rightly - to shape culture the Jesus way. To choose the values and principles that Jesus would. That's when I realised that the key to reflecting Jesus rightly is to know Jesus rightly.

And that's the beginning of The Project J story.

Through it all, I have grown and learned much. So to cut the long story short, here are 30 things I knew when I turned 21, but only learned through experience as I turn 30 this year:

  1. Health is Gold.
  2. No one is perfect, including you.
  3. It’s okay to fail.
  4. Fear of public speaking is real, but so is God.
  5. Instant rewards are not true rewards.
  6. I ... really don’t like ice cream.
  7. Missions is not just a good Christian thing to do, its a God thing.
  8. The value is in the courage to act on your dreams.
  9. Whining and complaining aren't gonna bring you anywhere.
  10. Too much sugar is really bad for you.
  11. Lions don't roar all the time. Lions roar at the right time.
  12. Giving thanks daily is the key for increase.
  13. Honour can’t be demanded, it is given.
  14. Self-praise is no praise at all. Don’t trust anyone who only praises themselves.
  15. Whose voice you listen to will affect the way you live your life.
  16. There is no mercy without justice.
  17. It’s good to plan, but always be ready to throw away the plan.
  18. Emotional highs and hype won’t last. (Spiritual) Discipline does.
  19. Surround yourself with faith.
  20. Family is important.
  21. Hate is a strong motivator, too.
  22. Love is a verb, love is a choice. Love others the way they feel loved, not how you feel loved.
  23. A soft whisper turns away wrath.
  24. Money and work is part of life, not your life.
  25. Don’t be jealous of people in their winning seasons. We have no idea what they lost during their losing seasons.
  26. Quality over quantity, anytime.
  27. When we incline our hearts to His purposes, we have no time for gossip, slander, and comparison.
  28. Scars give us stories to tell.
  29. Everyone will have comments about everything. It’s okay to disagree and still keep the peace.
  30. When God is all you have, you will realise that He is truly all you need.

BONUS:

Top two things I learned from running TPJ the last two years:

  • Timing is everything. Doors that God has opened, no man can shut. Doors that God has closed, don’t even try opening. Get away from it, as far as you can.
  • Strengthening yourself in the Lord is essential for all dreamers.

Thank you for journeying with me, with us. It's been an honour.

And honestly, I am still very keen on studying criminology and being one of the best detectives and profilers around. Do you think I have what it takes?

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