Opportunity absent? Create it!

Shared by: Lim Yan Pin, Singapore Management University, Year 4

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Confucius said “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”.

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I’m sure we have all encountered our share of people who have less than enthusiasm for the work that they do. It may be a rather uncooperative project groupmate who spent half of the time out of contact and the other half making up for the lack of sleep. It may be your fellow serviceman in National Service who spends more time cursing the officers and the institutions than he does actually finding something meaningful he likes to do. It may be that unhelpful service crew who deftly pushes away every job that comes her way like a taichi master while adhering to her own narrow job scope of painting her own nails in front of customers.

Sometimes, we may even be that person ourselves!

I find that what has helped me from falling into that trap at the various stages of my life so far has been to examine closely at what I like to do, and to work at it. If the opportunity is absent, create it.

From 2012 to 2013, I got the opportunity to work in two leadership positions; the first as president of SMU’s Japanese Cultural Club (JCC), and subsequently as president of International Connections (ICON), JCC’s parent body.

My time in JCC allowed my committee to share Japanese culture within SMU, and to use this common interest to bond students regardless of their background. Our events were tailored such that even those who do not speak Japanese, like myself, could participate in the club’s activities without feeling alienated. We also created opportunities where students who are keen to share specific aspects of Japanese culture should be able to do so, without being constrained by whether they are committee members or not.

With my sister at a JCC event
With my sister at a JCC event

When it came to saying ‘sayonara’, I knew that there was more I wanted to contribute, so I decided to run for ICON’s executive committee. I did not expect to be elected, much less as its president, so I was both pleasantly surprised and humbled when it came to be. Being president of a larger student body, however, meant that I have to dedicate less of my time and energies to the daily operational work and more to the strategic work to ensure that the organization’s efforts meet its objectives and are sustainable. At the same time, we are always looking for ways to empower students, to give them opportunities to explore and express their interests.

If there’s one thing that struck me most about my two years of presidency, it’s that people work best when they are in a position that they are most motivated to do their best. Having attended the camps and events of different Cbds and CCAs, I have always been impressed by the amazing work that comes out from secretaries, directors and subcommittee members when they are given the creative space to explore their potential and express themselves with minimal intervention. Whether is it Oscar-worthy event promotional videos or freshmen performances that make our stomachs hurt from laughter, empowerment can produce wonderful results beyond the imagination of the leaders.

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Not everyone wants to be, or is cut out to be, presidents or chairpersons, and that is perfectly fine! Instead, find out what your values and interests are, and just do it.

I am glad to say that my two years of presidency have been nothing short of fulfilling, because they fit with my values system and interests. Every one of us is unique, and we all have different dreams and aspirations. Whether or not you are in for the whole hog or on an ad-hoc basis, the sports, the arts or a missions-based organization, or even if it exists or not, find what you are passionate for and do it. The worst shame would be to say “I’ll give up my dream for someone else’s”.

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Everyone is unique and special. Share your story too and help others find out their own unique individuality. We welcome all undergraduates to share their story with us here.

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