• Tan Elise

2021 -- a Year of Growth and Experiments

Updated: Dec 30, 2021

In 2021 I have lived one of my darkest moments but also my brightest and most memorable ones.

Thanks to God, 2021 has been far better than I could ever imagine. Despite all the pain, I know I have emerged much better as a uperson than ever before and I'm grateful for everything :)

I gained Hope

Last year 2020 had been a year of loss. In the early part of 2020, I faced job loss. After I had found a new job, I thought the bad times are behind me but boy, I was wrong. At the end of 2020, something else happened, throwing me off course yet again.

As humans, we are naturally creature of habits. The change that took place forced me to change my routines and what I've grown used to for the past 6 years. I had to take care of my daughter on my own, learn new skills and unlearn several things I believed in as well.

One of the worst feelings that regularly surfaces countlessly is the regret that I would never be able to give her a complete home. Nothing I do would allow me to make up for it. As a mother, I feel a deep sense of guilt and pain. And she did nothing to deserve any of this.

I now know how it feels when someone's heart is wrenched.

The transition was not just painful but tiring. I realise that for months, I'm not just exhausted physically but emotionally and psychologically as well. It was a real struggle to balance work and looking after my daughter's needs. There were many discouraging times when she got sick or got injured as I wasn't with her for that split second.

Sometimes I wondered if my physical human body is made for this. It was so excruciatingly tough to manage my time and energy as well.

Somehow I survived.

As I looked back, for many nights in 2021, my pre-sleeping routine had been listening to Joel Osteen's sermons or worship songs and many times downing a glass of wine. I would begin the night struggling with moments of doubting myself, thinking that I‘m not strong enough for all this. That I will reduce into a mess again. Then finally in the moments before dozing off, telling myself that I'm strong and that I will make it through. It was so so hard.

I felt often times for every two steps I took forward and life made me take one step back. But somehow I persisted and just kept pressing on. Towards the end of 2021, I would say that I'm proud that I've triumphed and gotten used to the new routine.

Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

What had helped tremendously is that God has brought in the right advisors such as my counsellor Alice, coach Jimmy and wonderful friends who eventually form my support system. I might have gone through crappy times but he always reminds me that I‘m never walking alone. When I feel down, someone would text me and remind me I‘m so loved. I'm so grateful for everyone who has come into my life, even for a brief moment and given me hope to carry on.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

I realise that I'm capable of Change

At age 35, most would think they are “set in their mould” but I realise that there is so much I can improve on as a person. Firstly, I let go of control and embrace Flow. I also surrender to God,

Whatever will be will be and whatever meant to stay in my life would do so.

Secondly, I become more mindful of what I choose to spend my time on. I become more relentless in asking the purpose of whatever I end up doing. I also focus more on relationships instead of things, as they are what truly matters at the end of day.

Lastly, I learn to love myself more. When my daughter is born, I focused my 100% on her, putting my own happiness, needs and health in the backseat. It was so unhealthy and unsustainable. This year I make sure I have the rest I need, take it easier on myself and put myself first. It sounds counterintuitive but as I do that, and do less, things fall into place.

I‘m capable of Growth

Another significant change in 2021 is that I changed my job in August. It took a while for me to accept the offer and develop the faith in myself that I can handle the new role as the scope was larger than my previous one. I was just doing investor relations back in my previous company and now I'm leading communications and community. There were times that I stumbled but I'm so grateful for the support of my manager and colleagues as well as the doors that opened for me (thanks to God).

As I‘m writing this, I’m reminded that because of how we are wired, it’s hard for women to believe in ourselves that we are capable of more.

What gave me the confidence to take the leap of faith into my new role was my first assignment, A Note on Nium becoming a Unicorn. My task was simply to make it better. When I first read it, I recognised that it was a such a beautiful story, but like a diamond in the rough, it required some polishing. I worked on it for hours and felt it was so satisfying to be chiselling the rough edges, scouring the surfaces so that they eventually shone and dazzled. The draft was very factual at first but I realise readers would identify better with it if it was written in a story-telling style. And that means balancing it with emotions and more intricate details.

After finishing the piece, it dawned on me that perhaps my mission/ purpose/ calling isn't just to help entrepreneurs to fundraise well from investors. Perhaps my calling is simply to help identify the strengths of people and help them become the best version of themselves or present the best version of their work.

I was given the opportunity to experiment with different kinds of content (both written and video) at Vertex Ventures and I’ve learnt so much. I‘m so grateful for the opportunity.

2021 is also the year that I created Makan For Hope with my cofounder, Andrew Tan. There were so many miracles that helped us to eventually reach our charity fundraising target of $120,000 (3 times that of Mentor For Hope in 2020). It was truly exhausting but fulfilling. I met so many smart, warm hearted and wonderful people like Thibaut, Caroline, Boon, David, Chi, Adeline.

I realise I'm good enough

The subheader may have sounded silly to you but despite all my achievembers, I honestly thought that at the age of 35, I wasn't good enough in anything anymore. After being reminded of my weaknesses for years by someone close to me, I actually started thinking quite lowly of myself. I wasn't sure that whatever I was capable of before, I could do it again.

I guess what also happened is that over the past years as I got married and became a mother, I realise I've forgotten who I am, what I was capable of. My subconscious mind tried to remind me with flashbacks and intuitive thoughts but it took me months to realise I'm still the same person I thought I was - with the same strengths, passions and drive.

It wouldn't have been possible without the help of my old and new friends like Janet, Gwen, Subin, Jimmy, Jamie, Bryan, Charlene, Pam, Andrew, Nicole, Charmain, Lynette, Kris, Leigh from Every Nation Church, I was pulled out of the rut and the negative thinking cycle. They reminded me of my strengths and reiterated what I have been doing well. Eventually, I‘ve come to embrace myself, all my strengths and my weaknesses. Thanks to you all who have been my rocks 🤘

In God's eyes, all of us are unique and we are his masterpiece. And trials and tribulations do strengthen us and more importantly, chisel our slab of stone into the piece of art God has intended us to become. And it’s okay to be imperfect as we are all work-in-progress. What happens is that we continue to work on ourselves everyday, slowly but surely. God- he got us. I can't help but teared as I type this.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Parting words

I was listening to #highlysoughtafter podcast by my NUS Overseas College senior Eric Feng — the episode in which he interviewed TikTok influencer Zoe Chu. He said that because Zoe went through the struggles of a sleep deprived parent of twins that she would become a sleep expert today. He reminds us that the pain we go through serves to strengthen us and so we might even become the survival guide for others.

2021 would be remembered as a year

  • when I looked deeply within myself and grew as a person

  • got to know God, draw closer to him and got baptised

  • spent more time with my parents

  • grew and strengthened my support network

I wish all who are reading this a great start to the new year :) May 2022 be a year of tremendous growth for us.

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