3 Things I’d Tell My Teenage Self

Sunday’s walk down memory lane happened at Island Creamery. My alma mater, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, is just a hop and skip away (approximately a ten minute walk) and back in the day, this was the place that was real popular with my tutorial mates. We’d pop by for our ice cream fix when we could squeeze in a trip to Serene Centre between tutorials or lectures. It was just the hipster equivalent thing to do before being hipster was a thing.

Ice cream parlours used to be such a big deal back when I was in school. I was a part-time Scoopy at Ben & Jerry’s and that was way when the concept was still new, shiny and exciting. I recall the other ice cream place that other young people really talked about was Island Creamery. The ice cream there was affordable and they were so inspired by local flavours. I mean, there was also Udders, but, well, Ben & Jerry’s and Island Creamery were “cooler” places to hang. It’s so cheesy recalling all these details!

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Island Creamery’s Cookies & Cream on a cone ($3.50)

While the Ben & Jerry’s outlet I worked at has since closed, it’s a nice surprise to find out that through the years, Island Creamery at Serene Centre has managed to survive and stay the way it was.

Come to think about it… Poly days? In a blink of an eye over eight years has passed.

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Cooling off with an ice cream cone

The F Man and I ordered an ice cream to cool off in this hot weather, and I had an ice cream cone ($3.50 for a single scoop, $5.50 for a double scoop) while he had an ice cream waffle ($6.50 with a single scoop).

Fun Fact: The F Man and I were both from Ngee Ann Poly, and even if we were studying there, in different faculties, during the same period, we never met on campus. We led very different lives during our school days and we only met several years later when I was in my early twenties through friends.

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Nutella Ice Cream on a Waffle from Island Creamery ($6.50)

Since I’m on a nostalgia trip, there are a couple of things I learnt only after I left poly. Honestly, it’s hard to see the significance of what happens in the present, until they have passed and for this reason I thought I’d just share them, in case they help you make sense of that roller coaster you’re going through right now. If anything, they’re things I wish I could tell a younger me with my straight across bangs, volatile emotions and irrepressible passion.

1. You’ll Never Have as Much Free Time as Now

Max it Out on Exploring Anything You Remotely Love

If you’re an under-20 young adult reading this post, let this zeh zeh (older sister) convince you to enjoy your young, carefree days to the max. Go take up tonnes of hobbies, join lots of clubs and societies! Can’t dance? Go try. Can’t run? Go accompany your friend in some track activities or kickboxing.

You’ll never regret it even if while you’re at it, you may be feeling a bit emo (omg, do you guys even listen to this genre or use this word at all anymore), because you get caught up in club “politics” and feel generally miserable at times from the darnest things, but trust me, there is no better time to be young, passionate, broke and lost all at the same time.

2. You May Feel Alone, But You Aren’t

Everyone still hasn’t got it figured out yet

I only found out years after graduating when I spoke to classmates I had always considered the “cool” people, that they were also facing their own struggles in poly as well. While I felt kinda alone and a bit of an awkward outcast, and looked at them with some admiration for being able to fit in so easily, I found out, that they actually felt exactly the same. The funny bit? They never thought I was someone who felt like an oddball or was unhappy in school. (And there I was, listening to Death Cab for Cutie or Daphne Loves Derby and writing emo Livejournal entries filled with cringe-worthy, rather depressing poetry, while feeling all by myself.)

This realisation led me to understand that we’re not so different at the end of the day and that there is absolutely no need for envy. Everyone has their own fight, even now as an adult, it is no different from when I was a teen. We’re all still figuring our lives out, finding our own place in this world. We’re only 17 once. We’re only 21 once and we’re definitely only 27 once too. This applies at every age and every milestone.

It also makes sense that I just go out there and make friends from diverse walks of life even when it feels a little “unnatural”. I do a lot of things on calculated impulse these days and it has a lot to do with this.

3. Years Later, You’ll Be The Same, Different Person

But what happens right now, will shape who you are in future

Someone who knew me in my teens, and who I left behind to grow into who I am today, will probably be a little confused by who I have become. Because while I am still the same person, I have really changed bit by bit with each passing year. At the end of eight years and so much that has occurred during that timeframe, I am such a different person.

The thing is everything that happened in my younger years, made absolutely no sense to me and it felt painful when there were huge changes in my life, but now I look back and I kinda get it, you know? It all had to happen the way it did.

Every setback and trying circumstance, all played a part in building a me that is now so incredibly different. I’m a courageous, strong and open woman, but once upon a time, I’d be reluctant to meet people from my past, in fear of what they would think of the me now, because of who I was. Right now though, I’ve come to terms with who I was, and I think I would love to get to know them again as the me of today.

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Don’t forget to remember, because the joy you’ve forgotten to experience, you’ll experience when you do

So come what may, things may be tough now as you try to find your footing and get past heartbreaks, broken youthful promises and friendships, and deal with disappointments, but it is all so worth it. Most importantly, go and make it so.

Finally, don’t forget to remember, over a familiar treat or by visiting some place you’ve almost forgotten.

Even if you can’t appreciate or find joy in today, one day you’ll look back, and you’ll feel and see the beauty you were too overwhelmed to. This nuanced emotion is hard to describe, but there will be a day, you’ll feel it too, in your own way. Perhaps, the closest would be the Japanese concept of mono no aware (物の哀れ)

Soundtrack of my teen years: Wonderwall – Oasis

Island Creamery
10 Jalan Serene, #01-03,
Serene Centre, Singapore 258748

Open Sundays to Thursdays from 11:00am to 10:00pm

Open on Fridays and Saturdays from 11:00am to 11:00pm

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