Sunday, May 17, 2020


In my effort to document meaningful conversations and to preserve them as more than just a fleeting moment, I've decided to pen down a conversation I had with my best friend, Hui Sze or fondly known as Hoho. As people often say, our perception of time really does speed up once we've gone past the 25-year mark and the experiences that I have documented on this blog seem to live clearer in my memory than those that I had not.

Saturday, 16 May 2020
Irina, London 12:04 PM
Hui Sze, Singapore 7:04PM

What started as a mindless rant on my obsession with perfecting yoga poses turned into something far more enriching than I had expected.

There were several learning points:

1. We might lose our way but we never lose ourselves.

“Life peaks?” “When was the last time you peaked?” I’ve always wondered about my potential. To which, Hoho and I both wondered - Are we growing, or are we regressing? 

Hoho shared on how a book, StrengthsFinder, came into her possession and her experience with it. The book includes a strengths assessment to determine one's five core strengths. "The results are pretty accurate!" she exclaimed. 

How serendipitous - back in 2016, I had been gifted the exact same book by a wonderful friend and I too had done the test. Oddly, at the time the results didn’t pique my interest and I didn’t look further into it. In hindsight, the 2016 Irina was perhaps more certain of who she was.

Fast forward to today. When I found my account login details, I revisited the test results (did I mention that while the meat of the content was in the StrengthsFinder book, the test was conducted online? 21st century!). As I fiddling through the website for the right tab, I was curious and slightly skeptical - will I still be able to identify with these qualities? I found the tab, finally. My core strengths, as highlighted by the test, felt familiar yet foreign. “Wait, I was this person?” “How was the 2016 Irina so chill with this?” 

With work becoming more and more demanding as of late, I’ve been pushing myself harder towards perfecting my craft. These feelings, albeit not the healthiest, have somehow served me well. These high standards have made me good at what I do. However, I'm aware that this obsession is not sustainable. I haven’t been kind to myself, so much so that I felt slightly emotional when I saw these five strengths - as if my knee jerk reaction was to think myself undeserving of such affirmations.

My strengths are Relator, Activator, Empathy, Strategic and Command. 
So, this is a healthy reminder to myself that I’ve always been all of the things above. 

As we grow up, the self-inflicted pressure to live up to expectations becomes more pronounced. Hoho mentioned that we’d be much more readily to offer our five weaknesses, rather than our five strengths when asked by other people. She continued with an analogy: We are all born with rough edges. Over the years, we work hard to smooth them out to avoid offending those around us. Yet, we remain unfulfilled by these journeys of self-improvement because we don’t feel like we’re developing what makes us unique. 

2. Do you take compliments well? I don't.

One of the consequences of me being too hard on myself is that I am absolutely horrible at receiving compliments. It's become more apparent recently and I often flat out fail to register them. BUT, that doesn’t mean I don’t like external validation. Funnily, friends who know me well seem to have a tweet to sum me up: 

Memebase - compliments - All Your Memes In Our Base - Funny Memes ...

One of the very few people whom I can’t refuse a compliment from is Hoho. She read her strengths aloud to me over Zoom, and one of them is Individualisation. What that means is that she has the ability to better see each individual for who they truly are, for all their quirks and flaws. She gets what separates that being from another and doesn’t have it in her to generalise. In my 15 years (wait, has it been 15??? wow) of friendship with her, her compliments are often well-supported with anecdotes. 

Instead of, "Yeah, I like that about you, Irina!"
Typical Hoho would go, "Yeah.... you know, Irina, you've this thing about you. Remember <this exact scenario that took place which involved both of us>, I was <clearly articulated her feelings in relation to my actions>. This is special because <reasons why this is out of the ordinary> and <more examples to show how my actions have been consistent and it's not a one-time off observation>."

I would squirm in these instances but I would not be able to bounce the “You’ve to say that cause you’re my friend" usual slice of nonsense back at her. As I learnt about this strength of hers, I realised my relationship with compliments is not as adversarial as I thought. I figured I highly value compliments that are distinctive and well-thought-out. In those rare scenarios, I easily resonate with the feedback and I will find it in me to articulate a heartfelt response.

I think we all can learn a little from Hoho. Instead of fueling the current state of compliment culture, we can try to go below the surface the next time we choose to dish out a compliment.

3. We all need answers to things.

I revisited some parts of the conversation with Yi Ming after the call. He is so very different from me in this aspect. We digest information very differently.

I enjoy digesting information that is related to me and my world. He particularly enjoys seeking information that is external to his world. For example, news or history. This doesn't mean that I don't enjoy it. I do but I'm pretty sure I derive more endorphins when I engage in a soulful conversation. 

Anyway, as human beings, we’re always in pursuit of new ways to understand the world - even subconsciously. We want answers to everything - why are things the way they are. Recently, a friend sent a podcast on Imposter Syndrome my way. The podcast dissects this unique, documented behaviour and how it covers five different types. The hosts of the podcast offer helpful insights into the topic. Listening to it, I felt like I was finally getting diagnosed by a doctor. These answers help me understand and become aware of certain red flags within me. For example, if you've had troubles running and never knew it's because of your knee, you'd never know that you would need to put on a knee guard or see a physiotherapist. With a diagnosis or even some kind of explanation, you can better watch out for yourself. That is what this experience felt like for me.

I’m not sure if you share the same sentiments around being too hard on yourself or having Imposter Syndrome, I suggest you have a listen: here. It might offer you the inner peace you never knew you needed. I didn't think I was looking for an answer and it was just there. Also, it helps to know that you’re not the only person who’s carrying this weight. 

Just to be clear, this is not a StrengthsFinder book promotion. I just wanted to write again, I guess? These points might not resonate with you now but hey, who knows... maybe you might find them helpful four years later.

Take care x

P/S This has taken me several rounds of editing because I wanted to make sure that it's at a place where I'm happy to click 'publish'.... after all, these are very personal thoughts. Yet, now, it feels... polished (ugh!). We're our own worst critic. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


Warning: If you intend to watch 13 Reasons Why, please exit my blog and come back when you're ready. If you're done watching it or don't intend to ever do so, then.... feel free to carry on reading.

Disclaimer: This is not an entry where I debate if 13 Reasons is a shit show or glorifies suicide. I am neither encouraging nor discouraging anyone from watching the show.

I just finished watching the show and I'm..... disturbed. I'm not the sort to be easily shaken by out-of-the-norm graphics or gore. However, one scene in particular from the last episode really got me hard. I gagged a little watching.

It was a sexual assault scene. I believe we have all seen sexual assault scenes onscreen and we're not new to this - or at least, I'm not. I watched Sinner on Netflix. There was a rape scene. I was disturbed, but it was on an emotional level - I was connecting with the character and empathising with her as a fellow female. But this... it was an experience/a feeling I've never felt before.

The sexual assault in question was inflicted onto a boy in the show. Not that this is news in itself (however, a lot of such cases definitely go unreported). It was the way the director, and/or the team who shot the show, decided to portray the scene the way they did to send a message across.

I watched the interview where the executive producer spoke on Beyond 13 Reasons Why. He explained how the victim who got assaulted was not a popular character. He was the kid that was labelled negatively in school - loser, 'Peeping Tom', stalker etc. His character is unrelatable to the masses, compared to the others. Then... they built the whole thing up to this scene where he got violated with a mop handle. The stick was shoved in behind him and when pulled out, you see how much blood was on it - that also illustrated how deep it went. The executive producer explained the tactic they employed was called "radical empathy" where the scene was shot deliberately for viewers to feel pain with Tyler - for us, to be in his shoes too.

Another lady was also interviewed, she mentioned how 1 in every 6 boys in America was assaulted and it is much harder for boys to speak up.

Long story short: the victim then proceeded to become a school shooter. I watched the last episode with my mom. I explained to her, I'm glad that they highlighted gun violence issue. I've read articles where authors think that only people with mental illness arm themselves with gun(s) and the intent to hurt. 13 Reasons Why clearly depicts how one can be a sane person and still end up behind a gun with the intent to harm. Anyone, if pushed too hard to his/her wit's end, can become a shooter.

I talked to my mom about why the victim would, quite naturally, choose not to speak of the problems he had with his parents. To preserve whatever dignity they have left, how can one bring him/herself to tell their parents that he/she was bullied? raped? violated? etc. If I were Tyler, I would still want to maintain some normalcy in my life and for my parents to not treat me weird. Sometimes... you just want to hide. I completely get where the character was coming from and why he did what he did (disclaimer: not that that made his actions justifiable or okay, I do not condone gun violence in any shape or form).

I don't know where I'm going with this but I knew I just had to write to make myself feel better somewhere. Lastly, as cliche as this is gonna sound, you never know what the other person is going through or where is that tipping point..... let's be kind to one another, including ourselves.

Love you guys x

P/S Reread the post and thought how my entry is bland and essay-like(?). I wanted to pen down this piece quickly while I'm still emotional. Maybe its how heavy the subject matter is - the delicacy of the issue has probably weighed down on my writing, and I feel like I'm a little more sombre than usual. Over the years, I've grown accustomed to let such feelings pass and they're usually fleeting. In times like this, I no longer know how to explain how I feel....

Monday, May 07, 2018


.... it was a good break.

Hey, you people! How have you been?

I haven’t blogged in awhile (lol I say this a lot, sorry!) and I have quite a bit to say so I thought why not just do up a short entry? Moreover, this has always been the safer and more intimate space for me to share my thoughts.

Before I set out on this holiday, I knew I wanted to create more content. There’s this part of me that constantly feels like I’m not doing enough - which is true. I have full time job commitments and it’s not easy juggling that with being an influencer. But there’s also this part of me that acknowledges the fact that I don’t have it in me to be the full-on-typical influencer. On weekends, I’m a total sloth. I spend most of my time in bed - Netflix and chilling, and/or cuddling with Ming. Many have asked, even during job interviews, why I don't choose to stick to my Instagram as a full time job. If you guys have followed me for long enough, you should know that this has never been my goal.

It did feel weird recording IG stories again, and posting them after not doing so for awhile now. But you guys are so sweet. You guys always have a way to make me feel like.... online is home? Thank you for responding actively to my mini vlogs on IG story.

When I was still in university, I used to say that I’ll delete my IG once I have a full time job. Guess what? Here I am. The funny thing is I started this blog to write about the ups and downs in my life. Fun fact: some of my friends say that I’ve a memory worse than goldfish. So, my blog not only helps me remember but naively, I wanted to build a community to support each other - to make sure that no one feels like they’re alone for what they’re going through. You gotta admit, at 18, it can feel like the end of the world when a boy breaks your heart haha.

And NOW, I have you guys reaching out to me, sharing LDR stories/ break up stories/ self love stories, it’s amazing. Funnily, I feel less alone in this process. I’ve always championed this phrase: women supporting women. To have experienced each other’s strength and vulnerability through anecdotes really inspire me.

This Instagram thing can get hard but I thank you, my dear Internet friends, for giving me the strength and support I need. I know it is a great blessing because not everyone in the world get to do two of what they like anyways.


(me writing this post and mom saw)
Mom: Ah! You're blogging? Japan?
Me: Ye...
Mom interrupts: Video? Photos?
Me: No la, mom. No video this time.
Mom: Why? Lazy?
Me: ......
Mom: I was looking forward to it.. *and then switches to talk about Angelababy's plastic surgery news*

For everyone, including you Mom - cause I know you'd be reading this, thank you for always giving me motivations and good vibes to continue creating genuine content.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017


Hey Internet friends, I've been busy with my job-hunting and I hope the first quarter of your 2017 has been productive! In the meantime, I'm leaving this right here hehe. Will check in into this space again when time permits (hopefully soon!!!!).

Wednesday, March 08, 2017


.... to all the women who're born as a female or the ones who identify as a girl.

I've something very special and exciting to share with you guys. The Tinsel Rack, a local fashion label, whom I've worked with for a while now and have asked if I'd like to do a collaboration with them for IWD. Trust me, I was beyoooooooond happy!!!!!!!!!

I've collaborated for interviews a couple of times but I'd say this is the most meaningful one I've done. I really poured my heart into it and I hope you guys would like it as much I do.

(Also, the fully designed editorial is on TTR's mailer.... I don't know how to copy the whole thing here *shrugs* so let's make do with this: view here)

Do you have any female role models? 
Why do you love them and how do they inspire you?
Ugh I have so many! The one that inspires me the most would probably be Angelina Jolie. She is one of my biggest role models. The world knows her for her acting ability, beauty and even her wild younger days. However, to me she’s more than that. 

She is a mother to a large, diverse family. She is a reputable humanitarian who has been to more than 40 countries for mission trips. And most importantly, she is a woman who defies social norms. Her actions in the political and charity scene inspire me to make a change and better the world in my own way, within my own capacity. 

What do you love about being a woman?
Even though I enjoy being a woman (cause it’s the only thing I have known since birth), I do not see it as a superior OR inferior gender. There should be no distinction or discrimination. 

While we celebrate International Women’s Day, I wish for my daughter(s) a world where:
- She could walk down any street in the world without being harassed
- She could choose to be a housewife and no one undermines her decision for it
- She could also choose to be a career woman, get to play on the same playing field as everyone else in the corporate world and be paid the same
- She holds the rights to abortion, to vote, to work, to marry the person she wants
- She shows her emotions and people do not use her weaknesses against her
- She could breastfeed in public without being shamed
The list goes on. I wish for the day where everyone embraces each other’s differences. As much as today is about women, we're all humans afterall ♡

Any interesting quote you wanna share/thoughts about empowering women!
There is post I saw on Instagram but it has been removed. It goes, “I want my friends to to understand that “staying out of politics” or being “sick of politics” is privilege in action. Your privilege allows you to live in a non-political existence. Your wealth, your race, your abilities or your gender allows you to live a life in which you likely will not be a target of bigotry, attacks, or deportation, or genocide. You don’t want to get political or you don’t want to fight because your life and safety aren’t at stake. 

It is hard and exhausting to bring up issues of oppression (aka “getting political”). The fighting is tiring. I get it. Self-care is essential. But even if  you find politics annoying and you just want everyone to benice, please know that people are literally fighting for their lives and safety. You might not see it, but that’s what privilege does.” 

As women living in Singapore, we are blessed with having a lot of opportunities. However, we have to constantly remind ourselves to always consider for others and remind grateful for the people who’ve fought hard before us (think Suffragettes - watch the movie if you haven’t)! 

Remember: women should always support women ♡

Lastly, thank you Joyce (founder of TTR) for making this happen!
It's always a pleasure working with you - you know it *wink*

Here's the direct link to the editorial on TTR's fb
if you want to show some love: here you go

Thursday, March 02, 2017


....I hope you don't stumble upon this before you're supposed to....

(please kindly exit this page, play dumb and act surprise later)

Hopefully now you understand why I was stressed out about all my work entries I have, because I really want to do this for you - S U R P R I S E!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This year's birthday is a momentous one. Well, I mean, all of your birthdays is equally significant la. However, this might just be a little extra special because it is possibly the last time you'd be celebrating your birthday without your family and I by your side (fingers crossed)!! (Also, I'm really glad because it is sooooo hard to plan LDR surprises ugh)

Ok so I've said all that I wanted in the letter you've just read. Instead of giving you a mixtape like usual, I thought of doing a blog entry to relive some of the experiences we had together. I feel like, through this, I'll be able to reaaaally celebrate your existence and be reminded how lucky I am to have you in my life (also when you drive me mad).

Sometimes (if you are like me), it is very likely that you might forget an event that has occurred in your life, and I think (at least, for me) pictures help to remember better. To give you a perspective on how absent-minded I can/might be: even when a picture is shown to me, I might not be able to remember the details that followed - "wait, when was this????"

One thing I find fascinating about photographs is that not only a moment is captured but every dominant feelings lingered in the air is locked in along with the visual. Albeit not remembering the details, I'll always remember how I feel in that moment when a particular photo is taken.

On how Ming and I met

This picture was taken on the night Ming and I met. We met in Bangkok. I was there with my girlfriends and I happened to know my good friend, Lucas, was there with his friends as well. We girls were interested to hit the club but we thought it might be too dangerous so I asked Lucas if he'd like to join us. Then, he brought his friends and Ming was one of them. And so, we met.

Serendipity I

I didn't have it easy in my previous relationship. It ended slightly after the one year mark. Then, I took another year to really make it all about myself - self discovery, self love and all that. The journey had been nothing but enriching. I didn't know I was missing out so much on understanding who I was and what I could achieve. 

I remember Lucas reaching out to me every now and then during that period. He knew I was still hurt and was trying to get me out of it. Lucas was very active on Tumblr, and so was I. We always had our mini conversations about how we were so damn single. We both were (laughing nervously now bc y'all might just judge me) pretty into the idea of a Tumblr girlfriend/boyfriend. The people on Tumblr, imo, seemed a lot more sensitive, woke and appeared to be on the same frequency as us. 

Lucas had always been pretty well aware of what I need cause he was there to hear my off-and-on rants. I wouldn't say "my type" cause sometimes we tend to go for things we shouldn't like e.g. we love junk food but it's not what our body needs.  

So, one day (around the late 2013 or early 2014), he said: "Hey Irina, let me intro you to this guy. He's definitely tall. And, he's a good guy."

But................................... I was still not ready to meet someone. So, I said no.

Ming, on the other hand, also ended his relationship in 2013. He was also asked by Lucas if he wanted to be introduced to someone. He hesitated and also declined cause "it was too soon" (or sth along that line haha).

Serendipity II

But somehow, we found our way to each other and we met anyway.

I hated events, and you were always so willing to be my plus one. This event I didn't mind cause it was for Singapore Kindness Movement. It felt extra meaningful that you were there and part of it.

On how Ming asked me out

That very night after Lucas and Ming sent my drunk ass back to my Airbnb, they went back to their hotel (side track: that also explains the ugly ass picture on the night I met Ming). Ming then asked Lucas if it is alright with him if he wants to get to know me. 

I am a very protective person and that has an effect on my loved ones. (Disclaimer: this is not something everyone gets because I've spoken to people about it and not everyone understands. Lucas thinks otherwise of my opinion too. So, it's cool whichever way you swing.) If... I introduce A to B, I'd love to hear about them going out from they themselves instead of being kept in the dark or know about it through a third part, or worse, social media. 

When Ming told me about what he did after the several dates we've been out on, I knew we are on the same page about respect and he probably would understand my protective instincts. I am that kind of person... when a good friend introduces me to his/her good friend(s), I would be cautious and I wouldn't cross certain boundaries. I would definitely not hang out with the new friends without the knowledge of the person who was so pleasantly inclusive and had brought us together to know each other in the first place. This concept might be foreign to some, but I subscribe by that belief and I'm glad the people in my inner most circle do too.

I just respect Ming sooooooo much after knowing what he did. Not only did he display respect for me as a woman and as Lucas' friend, but also show a huge respect to Lucas as a bro.

I love you so much for that, Ming. You're one amazing human who gets me (thank God!).

Also, speaking of being on the same page....

On people I love

While I'm protective, I also love dearly and deeply. My family and friends mean a world to me. They're all my 'person' but sometimes, it is hard for them to see. My mom would assume that my boyfriend is my person BUT she is my person. My boyfriend would then think my best friends are my 'person' BUT he is my person. And yes, my best friends would have the impression that my boyfriend is my person..... but hey, you are all my people, people whom I love.

Before Ming, I made sure the guys I date understand how important these people are in my life. So much so that I believed 'a boyfriend' is of a lower tier than my family and best friends. Reason being, they had always been there for my heartaches and heartbreaks. They were there to catch me when I fell and they would never dump me like a boyfriend would. So, if they called and needed me at any point of time, I'd drop everything to be with them. Before I got to vocalise that to Ming, God put him to a test.

Context (I might be wrong cause yknow... poor memory but... I'm telling this story anyway cause I trust my gut): We were set to go on a date on June 11. I had it all planned out that day.... I was gonna plant a kiss on him as an affirmation for all that he had done for me and that I did view him as more than a guy friend. On that morning, my best friends also told me that they happened to be free and would like to meet! So, I was put in a dilemma. 

Being the generous person that he is, he was willing to share his time with me with my best friends. We spent the whole of afternoon till early evening with my friends and he offered to send them back at the end. Yishun dam is one of my favourite hang-out spots (pictured below) so I brought him there for the first time. We talked a lot about everything and anything but truth to be told, in my head I was just all like, "omg when's a good time/!!??!?!?!" I'm sure y'all feel me, sister!!

When the sun set and I thought it would be a better time to make a move....... and then, a friend called and said, "I lost my cat!!!! Help!!!" I knew I had to go. I knew I had to apologize and end the night earlier than expected. He was very cool about it and instead, he offered to go with me.

Long story short, I did give him the kiss that night. He deserved it :')
I like that he wasn't threatened by the relationships I had with my close friends. Instead, he was willing to be part of every bit of them.

On when I knew I was falling

I got a taste of what LDR could be like with this guy when he travelled to India with his best friends. There were day(s) when he couldn't be contacted. It was so tough. When I found myself going slightly crazy over the absence of a guy who was not even my boyfriend yet, I knew.... I might be in trouble haha. 

Ming handled my newfound emotions well when I couldn't even articulate myself or make sense of what I was feelings. He always dealt with the baggage I paraded from my previous relationship with wisdom and great patience. Before he left, I wrote him letters for him to read daily (in case srsly no contact for almost 2 weeks how), along with a mixtape. He came back with a notebook replying to everything I said. Tell me.... how... could... I have stopped myself from falling.....

Thank you for always helping me out with work ♡

You also knew how much these kids meant to me and you committed yourself to them too. 

You brought me to get a taste of my hometown cause I often miss the food there so much.

The mixtapes I spoke of that we always give each other hehe.

Finally, came a time when Ming officially asked me to be his girlfriend. It was on the ninth of September 2014. He played the guitar and sang me our favourite songs. Shortly after, in October, he had to leave for school.

Even when he was away, I always feel him with me. He has never made me feel alone or lonely. I always have him to count on. His unexpected letters, his random i-love-u texts, his food delivery for me when my mom is not home. 

People ask if LDR is as difficult as it seems and I always say, "It is difficult but it is a liiiiiiiitle easier when you do it with the right person." And I think, well, I mean I hope, you are my right person. I love you sweetheart. Happy birthday once again. 

Also: I thought this will be the longest stretch of our LDR and the longest we'd go without seeing each other but Ming has booked himself a flight home. So, I'll get to feel that face in my hands again this coming 20th March. Till then.