I was born three decades ago in Singapore, a young, 50-year old nation whose pragmatic way of life was birthed out of necessity and a direct result of its lack of natural resources.
My beloved country is a small island nation whose founding prime minister Mr. Harry Lee Kuan Yew catapulted it from third-world country to first-world capital in less than a mere half a century.
Singapore’s rise to first-world status was carved on a foundation of focusing on the things that mattered to economic growth – industries which would be in demand in the next decades were given subsidies and encouraged to grow, and as a result, the nation prospered financially.
Yet, it is natural that in a country so determined on seeing economic growth, that there are things which get forsaken in the journey. Things like culture, and teaching kids to chase their passions – even if the passions do not later translate into financial gain.
I did my primary degree in Economics, and on the first day of Economics 101, we learnt that our limited resources have to be allocated in the most productive and efficient ways possible – and if success in life is measured on a financial and economical basis, it goes to say that our time and efforts should be spent on the activities that propel us most towards financial increase.
But there is a flaw in that, in my opinion.
One that does that take into consideration the intangible and unmeasurable joys that stem from us pursuing our passions and interests, even those which do not necessarily lead us to become richer or ensure us a place in a higher social status.
I’ve had the opportunity to live in Buenos Aires, Argentina, for the past five years, the good fortune to have done an overseas exchange semester in Mannheim, Germany, and of course, I have also lived 25 years of my life in Singapore.
While I may not have traveled as much as some of my jet-setter friends, I’ve observed that despite the country they come from, there are few people who truly have found a passion that they live and breathe.
I count myself therefore extremely fortunate to be able to have not just one but two passions – writing (since the tender age of ten), and most recently, food photography.
Writing found me and became a part of my life when I was still a little girl, so much so that I never really thought about it as a passion – it was to me as essential as breathing was to stay alive.
I wrote when I was sad, I wrote when I was over the moon, and I wrote anywhere and everywhere – on a piece of paper torn out from my notebook, on my iPhone, standing on the train, sitting at the bus stop, on a hammock in the middle of nothing but fields and horses. I later recognized it as a passion that I’d acquired since my English classes at Morris Allen Study Center when I was still barely ten.
I thought I would only have one passion – because I already felt lucky enough to have one, compared to so many who don’t know what they love in life. And then, some time in the last two years, I stumbled over something that would forever change the way I saw food – food photography.
When I first picked up my DSLR camera, it was with hesitation and fear (too many buttons, too long a manual, and the camera somehow felt way too professional for me).
I spent one full year using my DSLR in program mode (procrastinating over and over again) before I finally decided to sign up for a basic photography class in May 2014.
You could say that knowledge is power, and knowing how to manage my camera has increased my love for photography a hundred-fold (I no longer feel like a hypocrite! I know how to manage ISO, aperture, and shutter speed! I even know what they mean!). Being able to control the manual settings on my camera gave me an enthusiasm and an incredible boost of confidence, and with that, it propelled my passion for food photography.
So today, on a typical day at home, I practice, as much as I can. If I have a couple of hours of daylight left, and some food subject to practice my shooting, I do it. I shoot pictures of food rain or shine, whether I’m in my PJs or in proper clothes. I work at composition, playing with light and angles, and try to outdo myself every single time.
(If you’re interested in food photography as well, here’s a post I wrote that’s full of food photo tips!)
Writing and food photography are almost as essential to me as breathing.
Both activities bring me so much joy and fulfilment, it’s hard to describe life before them. It may sound weird and ridiculous, but you know what, when you’re chasing what you love, you don’t get tired, you don’t feel discouraged, you just keep on keeping on. And so what if these passions never translate into financial gain? It would be nice, but does it matter? No, because these are passions I’d go after even if I wasn’t paid a single cent.
And I plan to chase these passions for as long as I live and breathe.
More importantly, I feel extremely blessed to be able to merge the two passions together on this blog, which many of you have so kindly supported, giving me the encouragement to push myself further every single time.
(If you’re keen on starting a food blog, here are my top 30 tips for food bloggers).
Thank you for your open-minded generosity. For that I am truly grateful.
And now, on to you dear friends….
Are you chasing your passions today?
Leave a comment and share how you’re chasing what you love… So many people will be so inspired! Thank you!