Who are you? Describe the people, places and experiences that make you who you are today.
Former First Lady of the United States, Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “I am who I am today because of the choices I made yesterday.” I agree with her as the choices we make in life often define us and determine our destiny. Apart from that, there are also other important factors that make us who we are today. In my sixteen years on earth, a few people, places and experiences have made a profound impact on me and influenced my outlook on life.
A person who plays a significant role in my life is my older brother, Andrew. He is special. Born with one less chromosome, he has problems with learning and speech, which makes it difficult for him to be independent. Currently, he attends a school for the intellectually challenged, learning basic skills such as simple arithmetic. At home, he sometimes throws tantrums in an attempt to get attention, and these episodes may occasionally be violent. As his brother who has lived with him for so many years, I have grown to be more tolerant of his random outburst. I love my brother dearly and I try to spend as much time as possible with him despite my busy school schedule. Personally, I feel that I am more mature than others in my cohort as I had to step up to be the “big brother” and help to take care of Andrew from the tender age of three. I am who I am now because of Andrew and I feel very privileged to have him as my brother.
A place I visited last year has also shaped me as a person. It was a small, impoverished village in Cambodia. The trip was part of my school’s community service project and I was there with two teachers and all my classmates. To be honest, I got a rude shock when I first arrived there. The place was practically made of sticks and stones. It also lacked basic facilities such as clean water pipes and sanitation. It was hard for me to get used to the living conditions there as my life back in Singapore was worlds apart compared to the shed where I stayed in for a week. Nevertheless, I took it in my stride and worked like a Trojan, repainting the only school there and even mending a leaky roof. In retrospect, my trip to Cambodia really opened my eyes to the outside world and allowed me to see how fortunate I am to be living in an urban and affluent city like Singapore. In the past, my life was rather sheltered and I was blissfully ignorant of the many hardships in this world. Now, I am an adolescent with a social conscience. I will always remember Cambodia fondly and I hope to go back for a visit in the near future.
Finally, an incident that happened nine years ago has profoundly affected me and made me who I am today. It was a typical Saturday morning and I was at a grocery shop with my mother. Back then, my parents were very strict and they forbade me from eating sweets except on special occasions. However, being a young and simple-minded seven-year-old, I furtively grabbed a handful of candies from the shelf and hid them in my pocket. When we left the shop, I felt elated that I had gotten away with the theft. Upon reaching home, I went to my room to feast on a few candies and kept the rest in my pocket, which I soon forgot. The following day when my mother was doing the laundry, she found the remaining candies and immediately questioned me. I lied that I had picked them up on the road. Needless to say, she did not believe me and demanded to know the truth. As her big eyes were boring into me, I was scared stiff and confessed my crime. She then dragged me back to the grocery shop and insisted that I apologised to the grocer. To teach me a lesson, she even suggested to the grocer to alert the police as I must pay for my mistake. Thankfully, the grocer was a magnanimous man and I was forgiven on the spot. Since that fateful day, I have learnt that stealing is wrong and that our actions must always square with our conscience.
To conclude, I am who I am today because of the above person, place and experience. I am grateful for them as they have taught me valuable life lessons and moulded me into a better person.
GCE O-Level, 2014, English Tuition