From young I was always the quiet girl who just stared at the TV, folded tissue paper at the dining table, helped her siblings complete their art assignments and bought cross-stitching sets from the school bookshop. A large part of my dexterity is hereditary, which makes me love making just about anything that looks nice.
If you were to ask me when I was young what my ambition was, my answer would be "I don't know". At 21, I was a year 3 architecture student with pretty report cards throughout my formal education, but sadly I didn't have a genuine thirst for knowledge and was just working for the 'A's to earn some self-reassurance. I felt like I didn't belong where I was when I watched those in class enthusiastically talk about building tectonics, forms and what not. Those people could tell you confidently what they wanted to be when they graduate, but if you were to even ask me what's my favourite building, I would be tongue-tied.
During my post-O levels holiday I picked up basic sewing skills from my aunt who had a run-down industrial sewing machine. I sewed my own rubberised-waist-cotton-skirt (very trendy at that point of time) and got hooked so I made a few more and tried to sell it on Livejournal (popular online selling tool then). It took a certain extent of aggressive promotion to sell the first piece and I think I barely sold more than two.
Fast forward to post-A levels and I was back to sewing again, this time trying simple sling bags because I wanted one. In my freshmen year, I made a faux leather tote bag for school use and made a few more because it was addictive to cut and sew and make something come alive. Once again I tried to sell these extra pieces, but this time on Carousell (a buy-and-sell mobile application where I first used @gsews as my username). I received a handful of interested buyers at the start. When one of them asked if I could add a pocket inside the bag, I thought "OH YES WHY NOT". When the next one asked if she could choose a different inner lining, I thought again "YES SURE I can go hunt for nice fabrics and sew according to what you like!". Overtime I slowly had more of such requests and it got me really excited thinking and making things that these people wanted, so much so that I got increasingly distracted from school work.
In Semester 1 of my third year in the course, the assignment was to design an infrastructure at Pulau Ubin and naturally we had to do some fieldwork there. On one of my trips I approached one of the uncles at the bicycle rental shop to ask for some directions. Out of curiosity he asked what I was working on (judging from my camera and sketchbook) and started rambling about the uninterested students who have been roaming the island for the past few days, just passively taking photos of the place. I didn't have anything to rebut so I just nodded but his tone escalated to a point that I felt he was reprimanding me for being another one of those uninterested students. I walked away and broke into tears while feeling resentful yet at the same time I knew what the uncle said was right. Unsurprisingly, I left school shortly after that, not because I was bitter and shaken but because the uncle catalysed my decision to choose to do what I enjoy.