The most significant changes of the year was the removal of my “single” status. I was never ready to be grounded because reality was cruel and that money was as important as oxygen in Singapore; I didn’t want to take up responsibility that I couldn’t shoulder. Without money, I didn’t have time. For the past countless number of years, I had been alone not because I hadn’t met any nice girl, but because I wasn’t ready and thus didn’t take any action. In year 2015, while career was still vague, I still wasn’t ready yet.
As a photographer, I had countless interaction with pretty and hot girls. Most people would probably think that I was a typical superficial guy who would only go for “super model” type of girls with hourglass figure and flawless looks. Looks would fade but every aspect I loved about her would stay. She wasn’t my ideal type of girl by looks for I had always favoured the athletic build or “SYT” types of girls but her intelligence proved to be more tempting. Nobody could understand me more than her, although nothing and no one was perfect. She had also showed her thoughtfulness and tolerance towards me. Our communication was great and it was rare for anyone to achieve that with me. She had been my personal doctor and English tutor, displaying her excessive talents and appreciation for her imperfect boyfriend.
The biggest problem was that she was extremely clingy, which I liked, yet couldn’t afford to enjoy due to work. My mum often acted as if I was jobless, in fact, she treated any job without CPF contribution from a boss not a job. Therefore, the amount of time I had to spend on the two women was really killing me and sometimes I wished I could just give up on everything and laze around at home just to entertain both of them. There was a few times we got to meet each other for seven days straight. She was also a superwoman who could multitask and text me regularly. Work got piled up as my production rate declined badly. I couldn’t do some of my internet marketing work while I was forced to delay some essential tasks, such as posting my work within the golden hours. My private photographs taken with friends during outing would be delayed for many months before I could squeeze some time to work on them. Whenever she behaved like a little girl while showing her appreciation to me for doing some things, I felt more pressurized than ever for she was unintentionally expecting me to do even more when I had already pushed myself to the limit. Her optimism was a double edged sword for the positiveness would influence me; however, she took things far too easily, which differed from my style of doing things.
The journey to adapt to each other’s flaws proceeded beyond the end of the year.
I continued to be the free receptionist of the family since I was at home most of the time. Everyone, except my mum, had been purchasing items online and the delivery-men would trigger the dogs’ (Luckie and the neighbour’s crazy dog) barking often. Salesmen, surveyors, flyer distributors and retired neighbours were culprits too. No matter how much you loved a dog, sudden loud barks would definitely make you “jump”. I was also abused by telephone calls from weird friends of my family even though everyone already had a mobile phone to attend to their friends. Luckie continued to bother me by waking me up with his barking and then pestering me either for food or to bring him down for a walk. My only break-time was when my elder brother reached home and until my sister-in-law went to sleep – Luckie would be locked out of the bedroom, which finally saw a change for the later half of the year. My mum would even call me just to check the location of anyone or if she had forgotten to switch any appliance off. Very often, she would also turn back to the gate after leaving home to ask me to pass her her forgotten items like mobile phone or keys. Instead of calling my mum directly, my elder brother would sometimes text me to tell my mum when he wasn’t coming home for dinner. Despite my mum would always go to my younger brother to seek help, nobody realised I was the one who had spent most time entertaining her since my elder brother would be inside the room whenever he was at home while my younger brother was not at home most of the time and slept before my mum got home from work. I was the one who had to listen to her grandma stories multiple times because she would tell me directly, loud over the phone to her many friends and then to my siblings. I even had to answer to my mum over any new or misplaced item in the house since I was home most of the time and she expected everyone to notify me everything. The list of problems was too long to be remembered. The perfect job of working from home was soiled badly, affecting the progress of my work.
The harmony was shaken a few times throughout the year in the low income family, having too many people squeezing inside a small house of two bedrooms. The biggest argument was about fairness. We spoke up our minds and finally, around five years since Luckie joined our family, my elder brother started allowing him to sleep inside the bedroom instead of bothering me at night when I was working.
My younger brother had his own way of pampering my mum that I totally couldn’t agree on, because it caused my mum to be extremely over relying on us while he wasn’t at home most of the time. My mum was often simply behaving like a kid and thus it was definitely more challenging. Being filial didn’t have to be overdone, even though most people would agree to over-pampering her since they didn’t know the full scenario. I was the quiet observer in my house who stayed at home most of the time and nobody knew what was going on better than me. I knew there should be a limit to everything and besides, I had my own limit too. To put it in simple words, I wasn’t as capable as my younger brother in term of money-making and I really sucked at it.
I owed a lot to Gilbert. He appeared most of the time in my monthly hero list. Often, I felt stressed for I knew I could never help him as much as how he had helped me, including all the small kind gestures.
The most depressing thing was when I tried to get back the money I lent to my old buddy years ago for his marriage, he suggested paying me back through installment but didn’t even make the first payment. I often recalled that time when he promised me to return me around two months once he received his salary, it dragged on for countless years without receiving any cent from him while his son was already three years old. The most ridiculous fact was I was probably the lowest income earner in our group of friends and I was the only one who lent him a hand. I felt betrayed and it caused me sleepless nights. I learned to be more careful with whom to help in future.
I made new friends through photography but unfortunately, I didn’t have time to meet up with most of my old friends. It was such a pity to drift away from friends who had been through a lot with me in the past. There were only a few volleyball games and thus I could only meet up with the guys once every few months.
My tuition agency was giving me more headache than ever. Apart from the daily chores, I also had to build up on security for the website. It was endless trouble that most people wouldn’t know the effort and doing things behind the scene was making me feel helpless and unappreciated. The problem was that I could see many things had to be done but it was going to be a hell lots of work. All the automation and information would require time to work on, and yet without doing them, I would be doing some same boring stuff often. To sum up, the effort and time I had spent on the business overwhelmed the revenue. Eventually, it was years of effort that I couldn’t give up.
There was some slight improvement in my photography work but it didn’t make much difference though. The fund generated was not even sufficient to cover up the cost of buying the equipment. I couldn’t take up too many projects for the time I had to spend on post-production was too much. I spent more time on marketing than the actual shootings. Although I did meet many kind clients and nice models, I had also encountered many time-wasters online, in fact, more of the latter.
Fallback in Photography
I got badly slashed on the route to expand my photography portfolio when one of my younger brother’s friends showed her true colours. During the early days of my photography journey, she volunteered to collaborate with me for a couple shoot with her then boyfriend. As she was an educator and they were together for quite long, I didn’t anticipate any problem. I spent weeks to do professional post-processing work for the album and gave her ridiculously large amount of photos that would cost over three grands for the standard. Obviously, in the name of building a portfolio for couple shoot, it benefited the couple much more.
Unfortunately, they broke up a couple of years later and she asked me to remove the photos entirely because it would somehow hurt her whenever she got to see them, like as if she would even visit my portfolio. I explained to her professionally, including the fact that male and female models who didn’t know each other would take up couple shoot projects together. She probably knew the facts that I had the copyrights over the photos even though I didn’t raise the point, and she resorted in using bitchy lines to try to insult my professionalism. She was so disgusting that I could feel the chill deep inside my bones that I decided to take down the photos because having a bitch inside my portfolio would tarnish my reputation – not because I was afraid of putting my younger brother in a difficult position or what.
Alas, she got what she wanted, from the start, a free professional couple shoot which many young couple were dying for and yet couldn’t afford, and eventually, the removal of the professional work when she no longer thought they were useful to her. However, this spoiled brat had also displayed her true self – someone who could be very nice to friends during good days but could do anything to them if they were to go against her childish demands, especially during bad days.
It was a gigantic damage to me because the shoot covered three locations and I had been trying to do photoshoot in different parts of Singapore to add to my list of beautiful places in Singapore. I could persuade my clients to shoot at the same locations but every shoot would occupy weeks of my time and I could only take up a few shoots per month.
Another hurtful thing was some friends took pity of the bitch just because she broke up with her boyfriend, likely due to having different directions in life and definitely not due to any unfaithfulness. None had considered the effort and time I had put in for the entire album of over 70 professionally fully edited photos for the couple who didn’t have professional hairstyling and makeup on when the gentleman had quite bad complexion. The travelling around with the heavy photography equipment and the weeks of frustrating effort to produce the final work were taken granted for. Even the lady who had insisted me in doing commercial standard of editing photos was soft on the bitch. Even though at this point of time, my equipment and skill in photography had already far exceeded the quality of that album, the master pieces of work were already better than most of the outdoor pre-wedding shoot albums I saw in Facebook.
Despite doing freelance photography, the income generated from the shoots was entirely spent on equipment upgrades and replacement. My main income source was from the tuition agency, which could hardly cover my monthly expenditure. Dating put further pressure on me even though my girlfriend wasn’t the type of girl who would demand good food and branded stuff. From a near zero spending staying at home to having to spend for two people made a very big difference.
My younger brother unintentionally placed huge burden and pressure on me since years ago by upping the sum of contribution to the household. I had to turn down wedding invitations and I didn’t even want to renew the ridiculously expensive Singapore passport. Years of having extremely low income together with the high expenses was a torment to my brain. The most ridiculous thing was that my monthly contribution to the family and mum was a few times higher than the combination of my elder brother and his wife’s, while their combined income was a few times higher than mine. Their reason was they had to save up for their new house. Nobody had probably given a thought that I had to save up for marriage and to get myself a house, which I was dying for, in near future as well.
While my mum’s fiance health was extremely good with the extra contribution from my younger brother, nobody seemed to know what she had been spending the money on other than lottery. Often, when I came to know that she had bought useless things after being conned by strangers or friends, I would feel very upset because I couldn’t even bear to pay for some essential things for myself; even when I had to carry 18 kilograms of bulky equipment out for work, I would rather risk injuring or over-exhausting myself than to spend money on cab.
I didn’t know how I managed to survive as there were months that I had to “eat into” my saving.
Weitat organised and paid for using the indoor court at the OCBC Arena a few times. However, my shoulder and feet injuries (could be plantar fasciitis) made me a cripple during my last two games with them. It was terrible to feel the pain before I could even take off to do spiking. I couldn’t jump to my usual height and even if I could reach the peak, my shoulder injury forbid me from doing the swing to hit the ball. It was pretty useless to explain about my conditions when everything I said was treated as an excuse, or at least I didn’t appreciate much of the sarcasm.
Alas, I was also quite unlucky that I was always placed in the same team as one of the most competitive and inconsiderate guys. He played as the setter most of the time and I didn’t get to spike even when I was playing as the main spiker. When I was lucky, he had no choice but to set the ball to me, which happened at most twice during every set of game out of 25 points. Since it was a “no choice” situation, the ball was always delivered badly while I had already given up and thus unprepared. Playing volleyball under such situation killed my confidence. Besides, he was quite a show-off and decided to waste lots of opportunities by dropping the second ball over, as if he had a high scoring rate. Of course, I didn’t voice out since I didn’t want to make anyone feel stress or awkward over such leisure games. I hated being there just to make up the number although my main motive was to spend time with them.
I got seriously ill for only a couple of times, which was much better compared to the previous years. However, more injuries plagued me as it further affected my mood for the worse. My right shoulder and feet injuries were the main devils while my girlfriend was able to reduce the pain of my back injury with her skill learned from a Taiwanese physician. She also brought me to a Chinese physician at Ang Mo Kio who further eased the pain caused by my back injury. I felt weak as all the injuries restricted my freedom of movements.
2015 was certainly one of the worst years ever. I was mentally stabbed and robbed of my calmness and patience. There were many lessons to learn from and the most important thing was become stronger and not give in to shit.