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  • Writer's pictureElise Tan Yee Ling

Difficult seasons are there to bring you to new levels

Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings was one of the movies I enjoyed watching the most in 2021. I'm also amazed by how humble the main actor Simu Liu is. His career journey has been so inspirational: despite the bumpy journey he went through, he persisted and then finally clinched a role that propelled him to stardoom. It's always heartening to read about someone who follows his heart and makes it one day.

When I saw his post on April 12th, it struck the chords of my heart.

I was just listening to Joel Osteen's podcast the night before, "Blessed in the Dark Places". Joel said

"God can use difficult seasons to take you to new levels. He knows how to turn the trial to your advantage."

Simu shared that ten years ago, when he was fired from Deloitte, he thought his life was over. He thought that he wasted all the years of education and didn't live up to his parents' expectations.

I felt it resonated with me, because ten years ago, I didn't pass my probation at Procter and Gamble, where I was a finance analyst. I never shared this openly, as I honestly felt ashamed of that. It was also pride. I never liked the job, as it required me to work on my laptop for long hours, working on numbers non-stop. At times, it was really stifling because of my extroverted nature. Desk bound jobs de-energized me. I felt me being in my role was trying to force a square peg in a round hole.

I was experiencing extreme levels of stress at the job, as I didn't like my job and my manager wasn't the nurturing kind. I lost a lot of weight then and even had UTI. When my manager told me that I didn't pass my probation, though I expected it, my mind blanked. At that time, I didn't take it well. I was telling myself that I had always been a straight As student and that I would excel at anything I do. I couldn't believe that I can't pass my probation. For years, I just buried this memory deeply in my mind, not willing to believe that it actually happened.

Ironically, it was a blessing in disguise. Because I needed to move on from Procter and Gamble, I started asking myself what I truly felt curious and passionate about. And I told myself it's my chance to try out something new, as I was still in my twenties and I had no financial burdens. Coincidentally, one of my NUS Overseas College friend reached out and asked if I would like to set up the Singapore Chapter of Startup Leadership Program,a not-for-profit accelerator program with him on the side. I thought it was an interesting idea and my role sounded fun -- bringing in mentors who were investors or serial entrepreneurs. Halfway, while organising the 4th out of the 12 classes, it dawned on me that maybe helping entrepreneurs to succeed is my passion.

It was 2013 and the startup ecosystem was nascent in Singapore. I didn't know where to start so I went back to my alma mater, NUS, and joined the department which created the NUS Overseas Program which seeded my passion for startups. I started as an investment manager and I felt energized at my job everyday. It allowed me to use my strengths and was a fit for my extroverted personality. From the role, I progressed to working for entrepreneurs and then to venture capital firms. The rest is history.

The time at Procter and Gamble is now behind me but I'm still grateful for the experience. The one and a half years was very helpful in preparing for my role in venture capital, as it helped acquainted me with financial knowledge. In fact, my team's lead told me that I would be happy leaving the role, because I was not in a role that brought out all my strengths. He was right.

In his podcast, Joel Osteen shared that we can't grow being in the light all the time. It's during the darkness that we truly grow. King David also said in Psalm 4:1 that God enlarges me in my time of distress.

This painful period also prepared me for the other valleys that I experience in this journey of life. Like most people, I would cry, melt down and feel down whenever I go through "dark times". But now as a Christian, I have the faith that tough times wouldn't last forever and trust that this is preparing me for something tougher in the future. It sounds hard to believe but I now go through difficulties with a positive attitude, and keep my eyes open, figuring out the lesson that is meant for me.

Like Joel says, "you will not be buried, it is to bring out the seed of greatness on the inside." Amen :)

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