I live in a world of negativity surrounding me. In my youth, it has always been ‘study hard or you’ll end up as a road sweeper’ and not ‘study hard so you can help poor folks like the road sweeper.’ As a typical Singaporean, there are endless competitions between child to child. Even when you are all grown up, the topics surrounding your peers will always be how much you earn, where are you working as and where you live.

So it is sometimes surprising to people around me that I can be so positive and cheerful about dire situations. I always aim to think that there are always shining light at the end of the tunnel or at the flip side of a bad coin, is the good side or there are always goodness in someone. I don’t believe in burdening myself with sadness, doubts or anger. Yes, I do get pissed off and depressed at times but I am determine never to let those times last or affect anyone else.

Growing up in Singapore, it is like living in a pressure cooker. You are constantly reminded that you are never good enough and everything you do is never enough, you should do more, be more. My parents brought me up well, with a lot of room for me to grow into who I am and just enough breathing space to explore what I want to be but I have met a lot of my fellow Singaporean friends who are, what I like to call, a hamster on the training wheel, endless running without seeing the goal at the end. Many are in the rat race, only the fittest survive. You can’t be a General Practitioner, you must be a Surgeon or at least, a Specialist Doctor. You can’t be a mere teacher, you must be a Lecturer or a Principal.


With so much amounting pressure, you probably will be amazed why we didn’t go crazy. The reason is simple. We are used to it. From schooling days where we didn’t just have study classes, we have tuition, swimming classes, ballet, piano and art classes. (I’ve heard that this generation’s kids have fencing, tennis and golf as their curriculum classes.) We are programmed from young to be multitasking and to squeeze as much time as possible out of 24 hours. Yes, we are in the first world city with first world problems.

In the midst of all these stress, I’ve taught myself to look at positive outcome rather than dwell on the negativity. Instead of lamenting on tax increases, I celebrate our country’s economic growth. Instead of whining on our strict unbending laws, I bask in safety and security of our streets. Use different angles to look your situation differently and you will come to realization that it is not about how green is on the other side of the grass but how you can grow green grass on your side.

Perhaps where you live, education doesn’t come easily, children are playing on the street, carrying a hope in their hearts that maybe they can go to school one day. Whereas our children are in class, looking out from the window, wistfully looking at the football field and wishing they can stop school for one day…

33 replies on “Growing Up in The Negativity City

  1. Wow, I’d heard about your competitive & perfectionist culture, the way you describe growing there is tough though. It does explain your drive and dedication to your blog πŸ™‚ and it’s good you stayed positive. If it’s any consolation, the upside is that Singapore is admired and held up as a model of safety, organization, cleanliness etc. and personally I’m so impressed by your architecture I’ve seen on many documentaries….

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The last paragraph is the story you will find very easily in my city.

    This post brought back an old mathematics rule in my mind: negative + negative = positive. As two like signs become a positive sign.

    Whereas two unlike signs become a negative sign. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I also feel that I am living in a city of negativity sometimes. I feel pressured to study because its either that or ending on the streets.
    It really inspired your post πŸ™‚ Keep up! you are talented

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I absolutely loved this post! I do not know much of Singapore’s culture. Thank you for the insight. Unfortunately the city of negativity is everywhere. Especially for those born in the 80-90’s. I believe their parents have pressured them to be better than they were. They see the economy change and the world being up for grabs but don’t realize the unbearable amount of pressure they lay on their child. It’s one thing to believe in a child and encourage and another to threaten with a less than desired life.

    With everything said – I loved your post. It’s the very first one I’ve ever read on WordPress and I couldn’t have picked a better one. You’re incredible!


    1. Thank you so much for your encouraging and uplifting comments. It is still super crazy now from the way I have seen my nieces and nephews being brought up. Getting an A is no longer good enough, you need to get an A and be the top 3 in your cohort. It is a wonder why kids don’t run away from home..


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