Personal | Stories

How I Ended Up Dating My BFF 6 Years Later (Happy Anniversary!)

By on September 2, 2016

11.9.2016

On this day, 1 year ago, Singapore had its general election and the world commemorated the 9/11 bombing. 360000 babies were born and 151600 people took their last breaths, while an infant started to mumble papa (or Ipad I don’t know). Among the hustle of an ordinary day, there was also a man named Steph (in short) who climbed out of the ‘friendzone’ 6 years later.

When I was 16, I fell in love with a guy, J, and we roughed out the happiest and saddest moments for over five years. He was the memory of counting all our coins just to catch the last train home because we spent it on catching sweets. Until one day, he got his driver’s license at 18, and I got my first ‘proper’ job.

I remember our first snowfall in Beijing and when he called me to celebrate his results as he studied just to enter the same school as me. We practically shared a life even as a family on overseas trips.

But people grow up, grow out, and unfortunately grow apart sometimes.

Being in love and being in a relationship are two separate things. Love is a language to be learnt: the feeling alone doesn’t guarantee a happy relationship if you don’t know how to love the way your partner needs.

Though J & I were what they call, ‘childhood sweethearts’, our relationship became an unhealthy obsession I had to leave behind. Maybe because we loved each other more than how we knew to love ourselves at 17 years old that it drove us mad. Or perhaps we were too young to settle our incompatibility.

As I grew older, I got to know myself better and who I wanted to be, that it rippled through every aspect of my life including what I look for in a partner.

Growing Up

Steph on the other side of the galaxy was never “my type”.

On the surface, I was usually more attracted to slim pretty boys. But Steph? He’s that fully tattooed macho man with facial hair who makes me cringe every time he does that chest dance in his cartoon tee. When he speaks, he can sound like a 40-year-old gentleman from the 1930s–like the time he came to my house to seek permission from my parents to date me.

He loves romance novels, old jazz music, dinosaurs, hiding his feelings for me (c’mon 6 years you owe me), family time, and helping people. Two days ago, he ran out of the car to help a McDonald’s guy with the boxes. Despite being physically strong, the masculinity I see in him is the way he kisses his mum goodbye and puts others before him. Never petty, always logical in thought.

It’s funny how taste and opinions can change so much. All of a sudden, your favourite eyes are the ones that look at you with such love when your breath stinks in the morning, and your favourite body is simply the one that feels like home.

But we didn’t go from 0 to 100 that quick.

Met in 2010

In early 2010, J & I were at a friend’s birthday dinner and Steph was a mutual guest at the party. That night was the first time I met Steph, only to discover he was joining the same school that J & I were in.

We didn’t speak much, of course. Who becomes best friends overnight except drunk girls in club toilets or professional networkers who’d pounce on you with their 99-year insurance plans? Like most people, we faded into the anonymity after we said our goodbyes.

Until one night, I bumped into Steph in town–on the night I broke up with J. “Are you okay?” he asked. From that question on, we never stopped talking.

Though Steph was the God-sent pillar of support I needed at a shitty phase in life, I never believed in a rebound, nor do I like girls who play with feelings and act dumb about it. To avoid sending the wrong signals, I was always made sure I kept a distance. 

Looking back at our old conversations, I sounded like an older brother poking fun of his little brother’s porn stash. There was no way he could treat me like the regular girl, I thought.

To put it bluntly, I didn’t want him to fall for me. I tend to place relationships, infatuation, lust, and love in separate boxes. Even if I think I like someone, my feelings don’t dictate my actions. In my case, I still loved my ex so it wasn’t fair.

As days passed, Steph became one of my closest friends and we would spend school breaks together, skip school to play with cats, drive out till 6.00am, and talk about anything and everything.

He spoke to my ex on how to get me back while I asked him to suggest any girl he was interested in. I waited for him at his rugby games and we even watched films in his room–not even “Netflix and chill” where everything has to be sexual these days.

It was the simple enjoyment of communicating, sharing silly experiences, and laughing over nothing in particular.

Some time down the road, people started to ask us if we were dating but I openly said “no lah he’s just a bro haha” just to avoid any awkward silences. That’s why he never told me; he knew I bro-zoned him. Oops. I thought that if he had the remote chance of liking me, he would have backed off by then like most guys would.

But even as months and years passed, he became that guy who not just asked if I was okay, but made sure I was okay even if I said I was. No person has ever seen me cry over a guy the way he has because I’m usually too vain to waste my mascara.

“Idiot” I’d think, for putting his heart out like that. “Does he like me? Is he gay? Maybe he’s just really nice.”

He was the one I could call at 3.00am, the one who’d surprise me outside the club so he could drive me home because he knew I had an anxiety issue over a phone call. And the one who drove me to my ex’s place and secretly waited for hours at the carpark (silly him) on the night J wanted to meet me to get back together.

He was someone not many knew about because he wasn’t the one standing beside me in a club, but the one who made sure I got home safe after the party ended.

Alas, we never spoke a word about things between us and I eventually decided to get back with my ex the second time. Steph started to drift a little and I admit I felt a weird tug in my heart but I brushed it off.

He entered his first relationship with a girl shortly after, which I felt was a bit too abrupt, knowing him. Nonetheless, I was happy for him even though we both knew what that meant. Simply put, you can’t hang out till 6.00am as per normal with a platonic straight friend and watch Family Guy in bed once we’re attached to separate partners.

There was one night when Steph wanted to meet up a year later but my ex surprised me at my place so I called it off. I didn’t know Steph was already at the carpark that night. As weird as it sounds, he would text me out of the blue when I felt bluest. But I guess we weren’t at the right place at the right time.

So we carried on our lives as per normal and I got busy with work while he entered the Air Force.

May 2015

In May 2015, I broke up with J for good.

The very next day, Steph had to text me to accompany him to an art exhibition. It turned out different from what we expected so we left early and headed nearby for some beer and grub, where Steph had to ask me about J too. So I replied him, “Oh yeah he’s good!”

That night, he told me about his split up with his ex a year ago and I eventually broke the news about mine. I told him that this time it felt different. It felt real, like as if it ran its course and I accepted it with no struggle. I felt older, tougher, and more self-assured.

In the past, I felt too crazy for him so I always thought he suited less vocal girls. I also needed him to understand that yes we burp, we fart, we pick our noses, and we go short circuit sometimes. Maybe that’s why many of us choose wrong relationships because we blindly match ourselves on the surface; crazy to crazy, good to good, never really finding out the core values, visions and chemistry we share deep down.

But as the years passed, I found the ‘older him’ more attractive, mentally and physically. When I wanted to be that independent woman who needed no man, he went lifting the heaviest furniture and helping me with chores. When I told him about emotional problems, he’d give me logical solutions.

He basically made me feel like a useless maiden in some frilly dress but I respected the things he could do that I couldn’t. I mean, have you seen those post-gym shoulders? Or maybe I was just bribed by his home-cooked porridge packed for me in a tin can.

I started to understand the difference between “husband material” and “boyfriend material.” But of course, there came the ‘P.S. Just Friends’ notification buzzed the hormones out of my head.

After the breakup, I was encouraged to go on dates with some great guys but I found myself wanting to tell everything to Steph at the end of the night. I found some solace in just being all kinds of ‘me’ around him, the way he showed genuine interest in even my lamest hobbies.

I didn’t want to answer get-to-know questions in some swanky bar with strangers. I just wanted to be with the realest company and to speak my mind without worrying if there was chilli stuck between my teeth.

August 2015: Perth road trip

In August 2015, we flew to Australia for a road trip with a friend and on the plane home, he hinted his feelings to me for the very first time.

Steph: “Hey um Yuan asked me if I liked you.”
Me: “Haha so what did you say.”
Steph: “I asked her, what if I do?”
In my head: *a piano solo of Gymnopedie No.1 went off key* *a potato dropped from a passenger’s mouth* *a frog choked on his croaking* *a wine glass topped over* *silent mumbles of Hokkien cusses* *Morgan Freeman squealed*

Me: “Oh haha. Yeah, she asked me too but I said I wasn’t intending to date anytime soon.”
*everything that halted in my head started to scurry around hurriedly*

You can probably imagine what happened the entire month with my girlfriends and colleagues. A friend said, “I’m not urging you to be with him just because I like him, but because I see how happy you are with him. You’re not giving your heart a chance.”

One of my best guy friends said, “He can never be that best friend once there are feelings involved. I am that friend but sorry he does way more than that. Trust me, I notice the way he looks at you.”

Few days later, Steph met me for dinner to explain everything to me–the girls he pretended to be interested in when we were in school just to make things less awkward between us, his friends who knew all along, and that he lied he was near my place just so he could deliver me medicine when I was sick.

With feelings out in the open, our friendship was on the line. I couldn’t live in that safety bubble of denial anymore. But in September, I chose to change my life.

But in September, I chose to change my life.

It was because I chose to have a positive relationship with myself that I could share it with another. I chose to leave my doubts behind and give a good man a chance.

Taylor Swift can sing all the love songs she wants but we know the cycle; if you think someone else is going to save you and sprinkle you with happiness, it will probably end up in manipulation not love.

It’s been only a year, but a year that took 6 years to figure. And every day I wake up with appreciation because I have someone to share the same humour, music, nature and principles as me. I have someone who is willing to try to make things right, even if things aren’t perfect.

Nothing is permanent. But in this temporary life, I want to be with the person who reflects the best version of me. My rule is, a partner has to treat you better than a best friend would. And I don’t think anyone could do that in my case. He ruined my expectations.

So is there ever a “type” of person meant for us? I don’t think we’d ever know. But that doesn’t matter. What we assume we like may not be what’s good for us. And it’s only when we start being good to ourselves deep down that we can realise what’s good in the first place.

There are many kinds of love but the best ones are those that add value to your own life when you’re already complete.

Thank you, Steph, for loving me and my morning drool. Happy anniversary.

With all my soul,

The human who creepily stares at you in your sleep because I’m paranoid that every day could be your last.

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Stories

LASIK in Singapore: Truths & Misconceptions To Know About Vision Correction

By on August 7, 2016

Photo model: bibi my pet bear (no animals were harmed in the making)

Few months ago, I finally decided to zap away my 500-degree vision with the latest iDesign iLASIK technology that’s pain-free and bladeless. I did it with Dr. Natasha Lim Eye Center at Mount Elizabeth Novena as she’s 1 of only 2 clinics offering iDesign iLASIK in Singapore, and her results are published worldwide on the iDesign iLasik Registry to provide guidance to iLASIK surgeons.

The main reason why I did it was because spectacles tend to give me a headache and having a digital-centric life, I need my contacts for an unhealthy span of 12-15 hours a day. I also hate to spend money on eyesight checks and changing lens degrees.

There were a lot of misconceptions about LASIK which held me back, particularly the cost and whether I would be able to wear colored contacts again (because I’m vain like that). But after finding out more through friends who underwent various LASIK surgeries, as well as Dr Natasha, I hope this post will benefit those who might be considering LASIK.

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Stories

How To Live Happily: Advice by an Indian Yogi

By on August 5, 2016

While addressing a group of students in Chennai, India, Sadhguru answered a question on how to maintain joy and happiness regardless of the external circumstances. 

Questioner: Good evening, sir. I listened to a lecture of yours that talked about joy and happiness. You said joy depends on oneself, whereas happiness depends on others. I tried a little while to practice it but what I found was that I was not able to sustain those small moments of joy. I could experience joy when I was completely into it, very passionate about what to do, but somehow when an external person or entity recognizes what I do, the joy is just out of my life. So how do you sustain those moments of joy and not succumb to pleasures of happiness? If you could…it would be nice if you can share the difference between joy and happiness to this crowd too.

Sadhguru: Let’s say your Dean tells you, from tomorrow, what kind of clothes you should wear, immediately there’ll be protests in the college. If your Dean goes further and tells you, ‘everybody should get up at five o’clock in the morning.’ Let’s say he put ten different rules like this, physical things to do, you will think he’s trying to convert you into slaves and you will shout and scream for your freedom, isn’t it? But look at yourself and see.

If someone else determines what should happen around you, you feel like a slave, but right now somebody else is determining what should happen within you. Is this not slavery? Somebody can decide whether you’re happy or unhappy, is this not slavery?  Just because everybody is like that it seems to be normal; it is not. It is not normal. As a human being, life will never happen hundred percent the way you want it, and it should not happen; because if everything happens the way you want it, where do I go? I’m very happy it’s not happening your way.

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Stories

This is Why We Grew Up & Got Bored

By on July 25, 2016

I stumbled across this writing by Samsaran titled, “boredom” and it went, “why is it that small children and babies are rarely if ever bored? It is because they live in a state of full mindfulness, or living in the now.”

As Samsaran put it, mindfulness is our natural state of being when we are young. It is only later that we start filtering everything through our conscious minds. When we do this, we translate and reduce our direct sensory input to abstractions and symbols.

Thus, that lovely rose becomes not the thing in itself but an abstraction. A kind of amalgamation of “roses I have experienced before” and an abstract concept known as “flowers”. So we don’t see that particular flower with its own individual beauty, color, shape, scent, and imperfections. When we are in this state we are bored easily unless our experience is either very new, very intense or very unique.

One of the things that happen to people when they experience their awakening is that they get caught staring at a flower or a stone intensely for a long period of time. Friends may ask “what the heck is wrong with you it’s just a rock”. But to the newly awakened it is not just “a rock or a flower” it is “THIS rock and THIS flower.”

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Personal | Stories | Travel

A Stranger’s Kindness…When I Lost My Phone in Kyoto

By on June 4, 2016

A few weeks ago, I landed in Osaka airport and hopped on a train bound for Kyoto.

Along the way to our AirBnB apartment near Karasuma Oike station, my boyfriend and I bought bento sets at the nearby convenience store to satiate our post-jetlag hunger.

It was approximately 20 minutes from Kyoto station to our apartment when I had a brilliant idea of documenting our first meal in Kyoto with my iPhone.

But here’s how shit unfolded: It went from “Eh? Where’s my phone?” to “Hey is my phone in your bag?” to “WHAT THE FUCK I LOST MY PHONE!” real quick.

To my horror, I realised I had failed technology…for once. My phone was lost in transit when it fell out of my bag I had placed on top of my luggage while rolling through the terrain.

Me being me, I said “die lah” and embraced my unfortunate fate of losing my phone for the first time, on the first day in a foreign land. Well, at least I did not curve into a fetus position and cry my problems away.

My partner, however, preserved his sanity with logical decisions hardwired in him.

As I was ready to prepare for my iPh-uneral, he grabbed the portable wifi, called my phone, slipped half his feet into the shoes and ran down to comb the area. I joined him soon after, not to find my phone, but to assure him it was okay to ~~let it go~~. 

Pretty sure modern-day Elsa would’ve frozen her words if she had lost her phone. Dat bish ain’t gonna be Zen.

After 50 meters of hyperventilating inside, I prayed to Steve Job’s soul and a miracle happened: someone picked up my boyfriend’s call.

I couldn’t remember the exact conversation I had in broken English and Japanese but it went something like,

“Hello? This is my phone. Yes. Can you speak English/eigo ga hanasemasu ka?”

“Eh..hai..Where you? I give… you back.”

Karasuma Oike eki (station) desu.

“Give me 20 minutes… you wait for me there.”

“Thank you so much!” x 20

As we waited at the gantry area and watched salarymen tap in and out of the station, my inner cynical Singaporean started questioning if he would return it.

Every second felt a hundred times longer than it took.

But minutes later, I felt Guan Yin Ma sprinkle water on me as a slim bespectacled boy in a polo tee and baggy jeans ran towards me with beads of perspiration glistening on his forehead.

Although I was standing beside a huge heavily-tattooed man who forgot to cover his inks with a jacket when he ran out of the house, the boy flashed us the most genuine smile and handed me my phone.

There was nothing I could do but bow repeatedly, saying, “Oh my God thank you so much, thank you so much. This means so much to me. I don’t know how to thank you.”

He told me he was three stations away when he saw my phone on the floor near Nijo Castle. Till today, I’ve no idea how it ended up there because I only travelled from the airport to Karasuma Oike. He also told me he was a student in Kyoto and his name was something along Kenshiro.

Lost in disbelief, I forgot to take a picture with him.

I told him I had just arrived from Singapore and he shook my hands saying, “Enjoy your stay in Kyoto” with the warmest smile.

There are things in life that we learn to be grateful for; we say thank you, we pray, we find the good in bad days. But there are deeds of kindness far greater than we feel we deserve that hit us on days we never expect.

The small deeds stop us in our tracks, so we can evaluate ourselves and remember how one tiny action can make a huge difference for another

So along with many others who make a lifelong impression in someone’s life, he will just be another kind soul, never to cross paths again.

My kind soul was just a stranger in a foreign place who took a train three stops away to return a phone on the floor while perspiring in the 17-degree weather to make sure he met me on time.

I doubted him because we all know people who cheat/lie to others and it’s sad how our culture snowballs the good and bad.

But each time we receive a kind deed by those who expect nothing but the personal choice to do the right thing, all we can do is simply pass it on.

To K,

Domo Arigato!どうもありがとう

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Relationships Don’t Last Based on Feelings, But Choices

By on March 28, 2016

Credit tumblr source: x

“A lot of people ask me what my biggest fear is, or what scares me most. And I know they expect an answer like heights, or closed spaces, or people dressed like animals, but how do I tell them that when I was 17 I took a class called Relationships For Life and I learned that most people fall out of love for the same reasons they fell in it.

That their lover’s once endearing stubbornness has now become refusal to compromise and their one track mind is now immaturity and their bad habits that you once adored is now money down the drain. Their spontaneity becomes reckless and irresponsible and their feet up on your dash is no longer sexy, just another distraction in your busy life. Nothing saddens and scares me like the thought that I can become ugly to someone who once thought all the stars were in my eyes.

After my teacher introduced us to this theory, she asked us, “is love a feeling? Or is it a choice?” We were all a bunch of teenagers. Naturally we said it was a feeling. She said that if we clung to that belief, we’d never have a lasting relationship of any sort.

She made us interview a dozen adults who were or had been married and we asked them about their marriages and why it lasted or why it failed. At the end, I asked every single person if love was an emotion or a choice.

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Why Van Gogh Drew

By on February 12, 2016

[Excerpt] If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence & Spirit

When Van Gogh was a young man in his early twenties, he was in London studying to be a clergyman. He had no thought of being an artist at all. He sat in his cheap little room writing a letter to his younger brother in Holland, whom he loved very much.

He looked out his window at a watery twilight, a thin lamppost, a star, and he said in his letter something like this: “it is so beautiful I must show you how it looks.” And then on his cheap ruled notepaper, he made the most beautiful, tender, little drawing of it.

When I read this letter of Van Gogh’s it comforted me very much and seemed to throw a clear light on the whole road of Art.

Before, I thought that to produce a work of painting or literature, you scowled and thought long and ponderously and weighed everything solemnly and learned everything that all artists had ever done aforetime, and what their influences and schools were. And that you were extremely careful about *design* and *balance* and getting *interesting planes* into your painting. And so on and so on.

But the moment I read Van Gogh’s letter I knew what art was and the creative impulse. It is a feeling of love and enthusiasm for something, and in a direct, simple, passionate and true way, you try to show this beauty in things to others, by drawing it.

And Van Gogh’s little drawing on the cheap note paper was a work of art because he loved the sky and the frail lamppost against it so seriously that he made the drawing with the most exquisite conscientiousness and care.


In her 93 remarkable years, Brenda Ueland published six million words. She said she had two rules she followed absolutely: to tell the truth, and not to do anything she didn’t want to do. Her integrity shines throughout If You Want to Write, her best-selling classic on the process of writing that has already inspired thousands to find their own creative center.

Cover image: Source

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Inspiration | osho | Personal | Stories

Immature VS Mature Love—Osho

By on November 11, 2014

“In fact, a mature person does not fall in love, he rises in love. The word ’fall’ is not right. Only immature people fall; they stumble and fall down in love.

Somehow they were managing and standing. They cannot manage and they cannot stand – they find a woman and they are gone, they find a man and they are gone.

They were always ready to fall on the ground and to creep. They don’t have the backbone, the spine; they don’t have that integrity to stand alone.

A mature person has the integrity to be alone. And when a mature person gives love, he gives without any strings attached to it: he simply gives.

And when a mature person gives love, he feels grateful that you have accepted his love, not vice versa.

He does not expect you to be thankful for it – no, not at all, he does not even need your thanks. He thanks you for accepting his love.

And when two mature persons are in love, one of the greatest paradoxes of life happens, one of the most beautiful phenomena: they are together and yet tremendously alone; they are together so much so that they are almost one.

But their oneness does not destroy their individuality, in fact, it enhances it: they become more individual.

Two mature persons in love help each other to become freer.

There is no politics involved, no diplomacy, no effort to dominate. How can you dominate the person you love? Just think about it.

Domination is a sort of hatred, anger, enmity.

How can you think of dominating a person you love? You would love to see the person totally free, independent; you will give him more individuality.

That’s why I call it the greatest paradox: they are together so much so that they are almost one, but still, in that oneness they are individuals. Their individualities are not effaced – they have become more enhanced. The other has enriched them as far as their freedom is concerned.

Immature people falling in love destroy each other’s freedom, create a bondage, make a prison. Mature persons in love help each other to be free; they help each other to destroy all sorts of bondages.

And when love flows with freedom, there is beauty. When love flows with dependence there is ugliness.”

— Osho

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buddha | buddhism | Stories

The Paradox of Our Age—Tenzin Gyatso

By on March 21, 2013

THE PARADOX OF OUR AGE

“We have bigger houses but smaller families;

more conveniences, but less time;

We have more degrees, but less sense;

more knowledge, but less judgement;

more experts, but more problems;

more medicines, but less healthiness;

We’ve been all the way to the moon and back,

but have trouble crossing the street to meet

the new neighbour.

We built more computers to hold more

information to produce more copies than ever,

but have less communication;

We have become long on quantity,

but short on quality.

These are the times of fast foods

but slow digestion;

Tall man but short character;

Steep profits but shallow relationships.

It’s a time when there is much in the window,

but nothing in the room.”

— Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

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