I turned 26 yesterday, and I have come to the conclusion that I am very difficult person to throw surprises for – and by that, I mean I am a horrible person to throw surprises for. Out of the 3 birthday surprises my boyfriend, friends, and team have tried to throw for me the past two days, I have successfully foiled all 3 by uncovering their plans beforehand.
Surprise 1: I went to Bangkok over the weekend with Imran to accompany him on his firm trip (which coincidentally fell on my birthday). He had planned for a bouquet of flowers to be delivered to our room while we were out. Before we left the hotel he paused for a second and told me to wait by the lobby while he “checks on something” with the reception. I remained clueless, until he repeated the exact same action before we went back up to the room. I mean, what do you possibly need to check with reception?!?! I then came to the conclusion that something must be in the room. Lo and behold, a bouquet of flowers. I did say thank you and um, planted him a kiss?
Surprise 2: We arrived back into Singapore the evening of my birthday. Daryl had planned with Imran beforehand to “surprise” me at my home after dinner with my family. I mean, by now I would think Imran and Daryl are hardly the duo to pull off a surprise. Throughout dinner Imran kept enquiring after my whereabouts – which he never does. He kept asking me questions like “What time are you leaving the restaurant?”/ “Have you left the mall yet?”. I pretended to remain clueless, and left for home. Apparently I traveled too fast from the restaurant to home that my friends (Daryl, Charlotte, Glenndon, and Keith) did not have enough time to prepare for the surprise. I arrived home to a shellshocked Daryl (who saw my car turning into the carpark and panicked) trying to light the candles in desperation. Charlotte was nowhere in sight because her Uber came late. Sigh. Guys.
Surprise 3: I was supposed to head out of the office for a morning meeting, but it got reshuffled. The rest of the team were not made aware of the change, and as I stepped out of the office to throw bulky rubbish away, I met them at the lift lobby, we exchanged awkward glances and questions like “ummm, why are you here?”, to which Priscilla replied “er…. smoke break” (they don’t even smoke -.-). Shilin, our graphic designer, was clearly upset that the plan had been ruined, and reluctantly sang a birthday song.
I don’t deliberately want to ruin surprises, I swear, but I guess it’s just hard for me to be surprised because I’m always aware of what’s going on. A little clue will tip me off almost immediately, but I do try to maintain some sense of “cluelessness”, and carry on with the show… most of the time!
Besides sharing with you guys how badly my birthday surprises went, I also want to share a few thoughts and announcements that I’m holding dear as I turn 26.
Early last week, I sat down with kikki.K founder Kristina Karlsson over an intimate dinner at The Warehouse Hotel. She shared with us an activity (coined “4Gs”) her family participates in every night. Over dinner, Kristina, her husband, and her children will share their 4Gs of the day – something Good that happened today, what you’re Grateful for today, what is the Goal for tomorrow, and what is the “Gram” – or image – of the day (this can be an image that summed up the day, or an image that inspires you creatively, or an image that made you stop and think!). I found this to be very meaningful – amidst the business and stressful environment of the day, we always tend to forget the good and positive things happening around us. I tend to focus on efficiency and the hustle, that I neglect the Good or the things I need to be Grateful for. My dad constantly champions this practice of daily reflection too – he regularly tells me I should pause and think about the things I’m lucky to have, and ever since meeting Kristina, I’ve been practicing my “4Gs” daily. I realised reflecting made me calmer: it helps me to focus on what’s going well (instead of what’s going wrong), and it helps me focus, like I know my Goals for tomorrow more clearly. Perhaps you guys can try this 4Gs reflection daily and let me know what you think!
On to the topic of Goals, there are many I want to achieve not just for tomorrow, but for this year and the coming years. There are two goals: one is growing the blog, and the other, giving back to the community.
I set out 2018 with the goal of building a team that could grow the dreachong.com brand with me. Realistically, there is only so much I can do and accomplish: on top of managing the blog and my social media, I have to oversee emails, proposals, pitches, production, editing, and content writing. On a daily basis, I find myself needing more than 24 hours a day. I concluded I needed help. I am so used to handling everything on my own and micro-managing everything, that I realised the only person standing in my way of progress, is me. I spoke to my friends who were business owners about my concerns and worries, and they all advised me to “let go and delegate” – I’ll admit I have never been great at that, even back in school. But there’s always a start to everything – it’s about planting seeds, working hard at nurturing them, and seeing the fruits of your labour.
Which is why I’m introducing contributing writers to the blog (like the previous article you read written by our contributing writer Priscilla!) Ultimately I want the blog to be a website every and any girl can read. You can read articles about well-being, fashion, beauty, travel, and tech every day (there’s fresh content Monday – Friday!). These articles are written by contributing writers from different backgrounds: there’s myself, Priscilla, and Daphnie. Priscilla is 30 with lots of career experience, and there’s Daphnie, 24 and currently an Animation Undergraduate. We aim to be a blog that caters to different people from different age groups and interests, and if you have any ideas or suggestions on what you will like to read, do let me know or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
On to the second goal, that of giving back to the community and being more involved in volunteerism.
Through my interaction with staff from the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), Singapore Girls’ Home, and charity organisation Daughters of Tomorrow, I discovered that many organisations are having trouble: 1) raising awareness of their causes, and 2) getting volunteers to help.
I also understand through many of you guys that you wish to help but 1) don’t know where, and 2) don’t know how. Which is why we are partnering with community development and involvement initiatives like OrangeAid, and social enterprises like Tinkle Arts starting this year. NTUC Income’s OrangeAid aims to help and support underprivileged secondary and tertiary students by providing financial support and/ or access to educational resources that they otherwise will not be able to get. Tinkle Arts is a social enterprise that specialises in Arts and Crafts, they are housed in the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS) Headquarters, and they employ trainees that graduate from MINDS.
I will be sharing more about my involvement with these two partners (and more!) in the upcoming weeks, so do stay tuned. Apart from all the fashion, beauty, and travel content, I find immense fulfilment giving back however I can, and I hope you guys will join me in giving your time to causes that are close to you, or sign up when we reach out for volunteers via our Mailing List!
Speaking of Mailing List, join here and you’ll get first-hand updates on giveaways, and you’ll be the first to receive any invites to events we are hosting internally, or with brands/ organisations. You will also receive weekly updates on new blog articles, Instagram posts, and videos!
Pardon the lengthy blog post, but that’s what I have to share as I turn 26! I am very excited about 2018 and I sincerely hope you will join us on this journey. xx