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On Having Courageous Conversations

December 3, 2017

*This is my last column for The Standard after writing for the newspaper weekly for 8 years. I was their longest-serving columnist.*

 

 

Summer 8 years ago, I was about to enter my final year of secondary school before university. A boy I was infatuated with at that time was teasing me about how I am a spoilt girl who didn’t need to work a summer job, so out of pride, I declared I am working hard at finding one.

 

I clearly wasn’t. I knew I didn’t want to work at a coffee shop or a restaurant, so I asked myself what I liked (Answer: writing), and decided somehow it made sense to send The Standard an email titled ‘5 Reasons Why I Should Have a Column On The Standard’. Perhaps there was an overarching sixth reason – why not?

 

Throughout the 8+ years I have written for the Standard (longest serving columnist on Standard I’ve been told!), I have transitioned from a final year student at Li Po Chun United World College, to a fashion design student in New York, to a fashion designer and entrepreneur running her own headpiece label, to now, a time when I couldn’t give you one word to exactly what I am – a writer, a designer, an artist, an advocate for sustainability in fashion and female empowerment. But I could tell you what I pride myself most in doing: it’s not that I always have an opinion, but I am constantly curious, and with that, I am always not afraid to ask. I am curious not just about what I believe in, but also why someone else believes otherwise – and I think this is increasingly important because in this world of labels where you are what your Instagram or LinkedIn description says you are, being certain of where you stand has perhaps become more important than learning how to stand. Learning, asking – takes curiosity, but more than not, it takes courage – it means risk failing, looking stupid, being uncomfortable in unfamiliar territory, and after all that work, not really getting the answer you need.

 

But you might win it all. You might discover what you’re meant to do. You might find sweet, brilliant love. And this brings to mind a slogan on a New York Subway ad my friend took a picture of the other day: “If courageous conversation is not your thing…. Sorry not sorry.” You don’t owe anyone such a conversation, but you do owe one to yourself: Why haven’t you done that thing you said you were going to do but you haven’t and why not?

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