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PERSONAL ESSAY

Annabelle Fabia de Arroz

#25otm

“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get” is a memorable line of the lead character, Tom Hanks, from the movie Forrest Gump. Perhaps, with the hindsight of the present and very much like the unpredictable life of Tom’s character in that movie, my own life’s journey can be best described by the same line.


In 2014, I was included in the very first Get Lucky anthology with my submission, Inexplicable. In that essay, I did a narrative of both my hubby’s, Albert, and my first 14 years in Singapore. It tells of finding redemption in the maelstrom we both find ourselves in, with our new life in Singapore becoming our anchor. I assumed that narrative would be the apex of my story here, having convinced myself that, perhaps, no other life events would eclipse what I was able to experience during that time. But the years 2014 to 2020 evolved into a succession of dizzying changes of the life we are accustomed to because of technology being an increasingly ubiquitous part of our daily lives especially in the manner we communicate. The disruptive character of those changes have been insidious for some and rendered some careers in obsolescence. But for me, it became the platform of something I have always wanted to do, to become a journalist, more specifically, someone who highlights the accomplishments of people that I could admire and respect because of their exemplary contributions to humanity. As continuous enhancements marked the platform, especially in the realm of social media, it coupled with an ever-widening audience reach, too. 


I still could vividly recall the exact moment the idea formed in my mind, that is, to finally put my dream into a reality. It was during a regular meet-up with Akshita Nanda, Arts Correspondent with the Straits Times (Singapore) at Cedele, Velocity Mall Novena sometime in October 2018. We were in an animated conversation about her book, Nimita’s Place, and her application for another master’s degree when suddenly, just like a bolt of lightning, it struck me. The thought was like a movie playing in my mind and I just blurted out that I have an idea, a plan, to do features in my Facebook page of remarkable, fascinating individuals and I asked her if she could be my very first feature. She readily agreed. 


I first met Akshita in 2015 when I was finding my way to Michael Sandel’s talk, a political philosopher from Harvard University, at an auditorium inside the NUS. I was quoted in the article she eventually wrote about the event. But it was in July of the following year in 2019 that I did my very first interview with her, when I finalised the visual concept of my feature. 


But still, it did not come out in July but in the month to follow, August, for even though I had an idea of the visual presentation of the feature, I didn’t know how to edit the video aspect of it. The main concept was to do an interview in its rawest, simplest form by using my smartphone but, more importantly, it should capture the essence of the featured individual with much brevity for easy reading or watching. I managed to find a video editor and communicate how I would want it edited. Maximising the opportunity for anyone to access all of my features succinctly, I used the social media # to put all my features in a single page and partnered it with numerical numbers and letters with as much uniqueness I could think of and thus, was born #25otm, meaning I will post my features on the 25th of the month and all of it can be accessed on Facebook through the #25otm. Through my own efforts and initiative, I will now be featuring fascinating, remarkable individuals whose work, passion or interest either uplift, ennoble or inspire people. I also credit my hubby for the support he has given me in this journey. Having noticed the limitation of the microphone aspect of my hardware, he helped me beef up my equipment by augmenting the choices I can make depending on the location of my interviews. He also encouraged me to learn how to edit videos and I enrolled at Inspizone, International Plaza Tanjong Pagar towards that end. To date, I am now able to do the complete feature independently, from the write-up to video editing.


I felt an inexplicable joy to finally be doing my dream and it was because that dream found a suitable platform. It only took my boundless and unlimited imagination to put everything in place. I already featured 16 fascinating and remarkable individuals—a novelist, two lawyers/public speaking enthusiasts, two scientists, a marketer/author, an author/publisher, an educator, two poets/educators, a clinical nurse, a visual/performing artist, an entrepreneur/educator, a medical technologist/educator, an international off-shore oil drilling and aerospace industry expert/entrepreneur-trainer and a chemical engineer/community volunteer from Singapore, China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines. I am very grateful for their trust to be part of my initiative. I look forward to highlighting more of them in the future and expanding to other social media platforms. It has been a fulfilling, awe-inspiring and motivating journey for me. 


Life, indeed, is replete with unpredictable twists and turns and just like what the lead character in the movie said, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get.” It is up to you to use your potential in seizing the opportunity to evolve into someone you dreamt to be.

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