10 things I learned in 2017: or how to live in 2018

  1. Prioritise those that prioritise you. Show up for those who show up for you. Don’t feel bad about giving antecedence to some people over others. Don’t feel bad about showing up for some people over others. Some people have reasons, some people have excuses, but either way the net result is the same. If someone is not present in your life, there is no need for you to be present in theirs.
  1. Time heals everything for me, and my fervent wish is that it does for you. Time will phase out the people who don’t matter anymore (even if they did at one point) and time will even ease the guilt you feel at not feeling too much pain over that. Time will open you and bring new people to you.
  1. Call out, admonish, destroy the people who have tried to silence you, erase you or just simply continue to disrespect you. If they did not want to be publicly excoriated, they should have behaved better.
  1. If you are a racial minority in Singapore who is not rich, obsessed with becoming as Chinese as you can, or willing to sell your soul to get ahead-leave. Find a way: just get out. Things really are better out there. Even living in Australia (a country with a horrible track record with refugees and indigenous people) has done so much for me. Not that Australians aren’t racist, but the daily indignities heaped upon us by Chinese people everywhere in Singapore can really wear us down. Here, I get smiled at on the streets, I get service in shops and I get treated as human everywhere. Go, get out, just run. You will be much happier outside Singapore.
  1. You either live a life of resistance or compliance: there is no in-between. If you are not resisting the structures that seek to violently dehumanise and ruin the lives of oppressed people, you are in compliance with them. If you are not actively working to better the lives of those in your community, you are working against them.
  1. Having said that, none of us can live lives completely free of compliance. Sometimes, in order to continue resisting, you need to comply. We use iPhones to organize, poor people buy clothes made in sweatshops in order to survive, and even vegans cannot live cruelty-free lives until those farming their vegetables are given fair wages. That’s okay, capitalism is a totality. Do what you can, when you can, but do not use this as an excuse not to do what is within your ability, and do not accept this as an excuse from people who have the ability to do much better.
  1. Learn the difference between critics and haters. Some people are just jealous and petty, and terrified of the power they see in you, of the impact you have on the world. Some people genuinely want to help you grow. It is not difficult really, to be able to make the distinction. As Cornel West says, “Justice is what love looks like in public.”
  1. Ignore the haters. Those people who show up with nothing to contribute. Loads of Chinese Singaporeans do this with me (and even some minorities who do not seem to realise that they are protecting a system that hates them). You do not owe anyone a debate, a conversation, a discussion, anything. If people come to you in bad faith, you have every right to walk away. Also, astronauts do not ‘debate’ receptionists at NASA over space travel. In order to have a conversation with me, you need to come with a basic understanding of what I am saying. Anything else means I am educating you, and you need to be paying me for that.
  1. Silence is the greatest communicator: if someone is not speaking to you, it is because they do not want to and their reasons do not matter. Take it, sit with it, and then leave it.
  1. We are the sum of all the people we have ever loved.




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