(This article was written by Cai Ling, our intern at Kingmaker! Her StrengthsFinder® talent themes (Communication | Woo | Includer | Positivity | Connectedness) makes her a people person who enjoys mobilizing a fun-filled community with purpose and ownership. She enjoys meeting new people and is passionate about broadening their potential and building upon that.)
I think about my life a lot.
Kierkegaard once said that “life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forward”.
I think there is truth in retracting your memories, connecting the dots to understand why things seem the way they are now. Looking back, discovering my strengths has brought light to why I am able to find my passion in life.
If I had to describe how I lived my life before University, I will admit that I was risk averse. I navigated close to the planned pathways by the society. School libraries were my hideout from the humid afternoons, warm summer evenings were dedicated to my co-curricular activities and late nights were spent studying hard to ensure an eventual entrance to tertiary education. My teenage years, unlike some of my peers, have been wonderfully unblemished. For that, I am thankful.
It was only a matter of time before I found myself lost after trudging through the monotony of the education system for so many years. After A levels ended, I was lost and shrouded with a lot of “what’s next?” that I do not have answers for. It didn’t take me long to realize that I became a bystander to my own life, spectator to my own show.
I understood that the first step has to be finding a full time job, to be someone other than a conformist to the education system. There is no better time to do that before University starts.
What I did not know was that my strengths were manifesting themselves in ways that I could not appreciate back then.
While I was searching for a part time job to supplement my allowance, I found myself in the sales industry. I soon plunged into a world of salesmanship and meeting new people everyday. Meeting new people has never been an issue for me. In fact, I find joy in exerting social initiative during sales. I exhibited social energy and social ease which helped in my sales. Thus, I soon earned the title of being the top salesperson for the month. What I did not notice was that my top 2 talent themes, communication and woo, have come to life.
My life after A levels was finally strung together seamlessly. I was able to take a breather from the studying, surrounded by a team of motivated colleagues, and was supposedly living my life to my fullest! But I did not feel whole. Sales was too individualistic for my liking and I sought after a bigger purpose in life. I tendered my resignation soon after and embarked on another journey of self discovery.
As someone with positivity, the glass will always be half full to me. After I quit my sales job, I took on some part time jobs. This routine of mine continued even after University started. Given the flexibility in my timetable, my afternoons are always lined up with part time work for some extra income to ease my parents’ burden. While it is inevitable for me to feel worn out at times, the optimist in me will always serve as the impetus to keep myself going. Tired from working? It’s okay, I am honing my soft skills for my future career. Rejected my exchange offer due to high cost? It’s okay, I will have the opportunity to travel the world when I start working full time. For every negative thought that appeared in my mind, I opened up a pathway of hope in me. Cynics may reject my energy and label it as naivety but as someone with strong positivity talent, I want to channel my positivity to others. I aspire to open up pathways of possibilities for others, and lift the spirits of those in need.
My strengths unfolded overtime which eventually pointed me to a clear direction. By the start of my university education, I possessed a strong desire to work with youths. Being one myself, I recognize the potential latent in everyone. I want to be in the position to uncover and broaden that potential in youths. Coupled with the optimist in me, I became even more certain about making a difference to our education industry.
One incident that remained close to my heart at the start of my internship in Kingmaker has to be an encounter with *John, a Secondary 2 student. John was easily one of the more eager and enthusiastic student in his class. It was no surprise that he volunteered to help us pack our logistics once the workshop ended. While we were chatting away, John shared that he felt misunderstood in class because his friends viewed him as a teacher’s pet.
“No one likes me at all”, he told us.
I felt his dejection right in my gut and I struggled to find the right words to comfort him with the last few minutes I have with the class. I wished I had more time with him to help him out. At that point in time, a seed of determination was planted in my heart. I was reaffirmed that embarking on the education industry is the right thing to do as it can empower me to be that invisible hand that gives comfort to youths like John. Thinking back, I now understand why I didn’t feel right in the sales industry. One of my top 5 talent themes, connectedness, steered me to find a strong purpose beyond my humdrum life. I’m glad I found one now.
I was and still am a work in progress. There wasn’t any tumultuous moment that changed my life drastically,
but getting in touch with my strengths through strengthsfinder has guided me towards the passion in my life.
Kingmaker is the perfect place for me to kickstart my entire journey in the education industry and I anticipate for more to come.
Till then, I will continue living life forward.