Why you should not say you’re “passionate” about something unless you mean it

It’s so common to hear someone saying that he’s “passionate” about something. In fact, so common that sometimes, it has become a lip service. What exactly is passion? If I were to summarize in one word, I would say it is “persistence”.

Let’s not go too far and use a very close example: me. Some of you know how I got started as a novelist, that it was never, ever a bed of roses. When I was seven, I had already written stories and let my brother, who is my first reader, read. But then again, it’s my brother, so he would definitely read. The first setback hit me when I was thirteen—certain that I had learnt enough to be published, I sent manuscripts to all publishers in Singapore. Most publishers replied, rejecting but encouraging me.

Thirteen—imagine having high hopes of being a published author at thirteen, and being dealt with a blow like that.

But I persisted. I continued writing, and that was when mIRC, an online chat program, became popular. I made an online female friend (of course lah…which boy will befriend a boy in mIRC?!) and sent her the first few chapters of a science fiction.

And she wanted to read more. I had my first stranger reader! Of course, eventually, we became real friends, but what mattered was that she wanted to read more when we were not real friends. And it was not the typical (and sometimes, insincere) “nice!” or “awesome!” made by friends of new aspiring authors—she was literally asking me when the next chapter would be completed every day. I’ve lost touch with her now, but in case she’s reading this, it’s you, Man Yi (nick was Elf)

When I was fifteen, I submitted a homework in which I wrote a novel. Yeah, no one would submit a novel as a project. My teacher was impressed, and went to approach a publisher. Yeah! I thought I’ve finally seen the light at the end of the tunnel.

The teacher was transferred. I continued my role as that failure who tried hard to gain one more reader, for all I had was Man Yi as my reader.

Demoralized? You bet.

Then I went to poly. In the years before that, I’ve read so many books on writing that ALL the books related to writing in the libraries of Jurong (Jurong East and Jurong West) have been read and borrowed by me—literally. And so, when I was seventeen, I tried again.

I’m not going to go on (unless many request lah), because I still suffered many setbacks before I gained more readers. However, my point is simple: From seven to seventeen, I had got more failures than achievements. Correction: it should be achievement, because I had got only one reader. Yet, I persisted. Again, and again, and again.

I’m not trying to seek for approval for anything, but trying to show you that persistence does pay, but it pays later. Many of you must be at the verge of giving up on something now—and I hope that with this, it will motivate you to kill that thought immediately. Remember, if someone has done it before, you can, too.

This Singapore love story set in the 90s shows you why you should never wait for tomorrow. Watch it without crying:

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