It’s never too late to pursue your dreams

Posted by Sophia Tan on 18-Mar-2022 11:45:00

Years ago, my youngest uncle told me that my father used to paint when he was a student. In fact, he enjoyed Chinese painting and was quite good at it. It was something I had never known about my father. He appreciated art and we had a few pieces of artwork hanging around the flat, but nothing made by him.

He had told me before that as a youth, he had a dream of becoming a radio host. He applied for a position at a local radio station but did not get selected. Back then, dialect on radio was slowly being phased out in favour of Mandarin-speaking channels. My family spoke mainly Teochew, and Mandarin would not have come naturally to him.

Going to school, I had to learn both English and Mandarin from scratch. My primary 2 form teacher called my mother because she noted that I was clueless in class. I did not understand what she was saying at all. Gradually I started reading simple books from the school library and understanding how to speak and write English. By primary 4, I wrote well enough for my English teacher to pick my compositions as a model. That was the time before computers and I would carefully write out my compo on lined paper to paste on a vanguard sheet before my teacher pinned it on the notice board.

It was positive affirmation for me to keep writing and I was delighted to see my writing printed in the school magazine and the now defunct Young Generation magazine. I told myself that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. By the time I was in university however, practicality prevailed and I chose to become a teacher instead. I still wrote articles for the school magazine, and passages for school exam papers, but I stopped writing for fun. After leaving MOE, I joined a publishing firm to become an editor. I contributed passages to the school textbook and published five assessment books subsequently.

One day, one of my friends asked me, “What is one dream you wish to fulfil before you die?” and I told him, “To publish a children’s book.” However, I have often been filled with self-doubt before I ever got started- ‘Would anyone want to read my book? What if I publish a book but it does not sell?’

My father passed away a few years ago, and with that, the possibility of fulfilling any dreams of becoming a painter. I guess that I must have inherited some creativity from him though and death constantly reminds me that life can be cut short any time. Telling stories fills me with joy and with the internet, I can now publish my own writing online easily without having to go through a publisher or printing on paper.

Last year, I wrote about my father in this very blog, and was over the moon to receive a restaurant voucher in a competition. The event organiser at St John’s home encouraged me to keep writing, and so here I am. Not only do I get to volunteer remotely as a blogger, but I also get to take one step closer to fulfilling my dream of becoming a writer. Perhaps I may never be as prolific as JK Rowling, but it is never too late to live towards one’s dreams, even in small steps. What about you- what is one dream you wish to fulfil before you die?

Contributed by Sophia Tan


Topics: Family