I was born on the 5th of April, 1985. For those who are interested, that makes me an Arian Ox–this means nothing to me though.
As far as I can remember, my childhood was defined by: toys, imagination, varying degrees of creativity, friends, some bickering, falling off bicycles then getting back up, a scar on my chin, console games, Magic: The Gathering, Lego(s) and desktop PCs.
I believe that luck and opportunities played big roles in my life. On hindsight, my actions, intentional or not, had set me on this path. A large amount of time spent exploring varied interests inevitably sowed into me a thirst for knowledge and the will to experiment.
The Early Years
Like many, I went through kindergarten, primary, secondary and tertiary education. However, I stopped short of entering university.
I entered Huamin Primary School after kindergarten. In those days, I had no electronic devices of any sort to entertain or distract. I had books instead. I studied in the same school as my sister. In primary one, I read her primary three textbooks. I would go on to read her materials every year before the start of the semester even if I did not understand the content.
At Huamin, I discovered Bookworm Club. My mum spent money on buying their short stories while I spent an inordinate amount of time reading and fully immersing myself in the adventures of the Bookworm gang. (Thanks, mum!)
More so than being a Bookworm, my dad played a pivotal figure in arming me with literacy skills, despite not being educated himself. I remember sitting on his lap after dinner and listening to him read passages from my textbooks. I must have bugged him incessantly. (Thanks, dad!)
Those days, the government instructed everyone to speak English. My parents complied to the best of their abilities. My formative years were thus spent speaking, thinking and writing in English. If my mum spoke to me in English, my mother tongue had to be English, right? Suffice to say, my capacity to speak and listen to Mandarin dwindled in proportion to my growing ability to converse in English.
Some time between Primary and Secondary school, my dad bought a desktop computer. He showed me how to use the mouse and keyboard, and connect to the “internet”. We used modems to “surf” the “web” at speeds measured by baud rates. Phone calls were very unwelcomed.
The First Turning Point
The desktop computer and its interactivity unlocked several interests in my young mind. I discovered:
- Computer gaming on a Pentium Pro 133MHz. Minesweeper, Solitaire, SkiFree, Doom, anyone?
- Web design through rudimentary HTML. I hosted my site on a free account at www.freeyellow.com/jacklepop. I even named it “JacklePoP’s FunWorld”.
- Browsing the bundled CDs that came with the PC.
That was just one of many moments that would forever alter my life’s trajectory.
Education is Secondary
I entered the Express stream at Northland Secondary School. As my interest in reading waned, I launched into gaming on the Sega Saturn and Sony Playstation. I made friends, 5 of which still remain in close contact till today.
If the first decade of my life was marked by books, the next decade would be defined by games.
I did badly for my O-Levels. As a result, I could not select the courses I wished to attend–nevermind that I had no idea what I wanted to even do in the first place–despite having three rows of courses to choose from.
So, I did the most logical thing: I retook my Os as a private student but spent that year playing computer games instead. No prizes for guessing how I fared the second time.
There was a faint light at the end of the tunnel though; I improved my English grade from B4 to B3. That has to account for something. I visited ITE but applied for studies at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) at a friend’s behest. That would certainly be the better choice right?
Entering NAFA would also alter my life’s trajectory.
NAFA accepted me in 2006 just days before I got drafted into the armed forces as an infantry. That same year, I deferred my enlistment and got immediate approval over the counter; That had to be my first tensest moment.
I made friends.
CMPB wasted no time calling me up for National Service. I donned the blue uniform instead of the green. However, I would serve the nation by taking care of the office matters and instructing recruits at the Basic Rescue Training Center (BRTC).
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Entering The Corporate World
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A Generalist Mindset
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Stepping Into A World of Signs
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