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Are we Inventions?

Clearly, we aren’t. However, I propose that we are very much both the inventors and inventions. 

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A constant in my life is that I’ve always had to reinvent myself. I wanted to pursue an acting career at a very young age but it was a rather hard sell to my parents when it came to doing an arts programme post-O-Levels.  I had to decide on the next step, one that I didn’t hate and had some semblance of passion for. 

So I did what I thought stressed adults did, I went to the beach. I thought about what mattered to me and why. What was it about acting that pulled me towards it?

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Two significant points arose from that retreat; I love giving a good experience, and I need to tell a story. I recalled when I was seven years old and my English teacher, Mrs Tan, said to me, ” Afiq, you’re very talkative.” 

That was a BIG word; it must mean something positive! She probably identified my one skill.  I took all of that and applied for a diploma in new media where I had hopes of being an installation artist. That was met with a  different set of roadblocks. I graduated with general multi-media skills. I should have enlisted a mentor very early on. But there was a lot i didn’t know in my 20s. The next step of my life was a blur; without any guidance, I was Dory out in the wild blue ocean. 



I took what I had and set new goals. How else could I make great experiences? Advertising and public relations answered that need. I did a skills audit and realised that my knowledge in the medium should be complemented with content messaging skills. 

So I took my next leap pursuing a generalist degree in Communications. Best years of my life. 

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And no. It wasn’t the parties or campus life which were both non-existent. It was the problem-solving. The literary reviews, late nights working on presentations. Coming together to achieve a goal!

Upon graduation, things had changed for me. I could no longer pursue a career in Public relations and Advertising due to certain “awakenings”.  I’ve always used my skills as a measure of what my next step should be. This time around, I decided to look at the data of my life to inform me of my next step. That data was my values. Values inform our character and I needed to find a space that would acknowledge, apply and expand my characteristics. For the next step, I made fit a priority over competency. 

Looking back, what I’ve learned is that although time may appear to be linear, and progress may seem like a rising line, the reality is that growth and change are multi-dimensional. Competencies grow and values change. At every pit stop of my life, I’ve had the opportunity to reinvent myself. I think its a privilege we all have.  

Reflection Series

Reflection. We’ve heard it everywhere. We know it’s good practice. But really, whats the point? Based on participatorymethods.org, reflective practices keep individuals engaged in the process of continuous learning. But what’s the lesson?

Life.

I genuinely believe that every one of us is assigned a unique syllabus; an amalgamation of challenges, experiences and occurrences. I hold that that syllabus is life and as long as we don’t learn the lessons of one phase of our lives, we are bound to repeat the same mistakes, not graduating to the next stage awaiting us.

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Personally, it is the reflective process that I feel is important to learn these lessons and to grow. My experience has enlightened me that there will be themes or topics that speak out to me for a period. These practice of listening to my life came from listening to Oprah saying something along the lines of ‘Life will whisper to you, and you must listen’. 

This series of reflections are just me documenting my reflections and the themes that speak out to me. Stories, calling my name. I hope this series can provide me with a greater picture of what is speaking to me. 

Feel free to start your reflection series, share with me your existing reflections and your learning.

Peace and ease upon you,
Afiq Juan