There was a time where I used to lament how I can never seem to gain weight, much to the envy (and annoyance) of my older friends and colleagues.
10 years later and the roles are reversed. At 27, I am now the one sighing at my 20-year-old friends or interns when they complain about feeling fat.
Hello. Wait till you reach my age then you know.
It’s funny how PE lessons were once something we look forward to as an enjoyable ‘break’ from classes back in school. Once you start working, the only physical activity you will willingly engage in is running to catch the bus.
Once adulting gets real and work becomes life, it becomes harder and harder to stay in shape. Especially when you spend the 8 hours at work glued to a chair.
The hustling will leave you so mentally drained that all you want to do after 6pm is laze at home and do nothing. There are so many other distractions more exciting than working out and finding the motivation to even hit the 10,000 steps a day challenge is a challenge as itself.
As we grow older, it is only natural that our age and environment change us, be it for better or worse, through our shirt sizes or our mindsets. Curious to see what age, time, and work have done to other millennials, I reached out to 8 millennials. These is what 10 years have done to them and the wisdom they’ve gained in the decade.
1. Being Less Emotional And Laughing More
I grew up fat and got a lot of nicknames. It started with “Eugene Sohfat” in primary school, then “Hugene” in secondary school and “Tub of Lard” in polytechnic, and I used to feel insecure when I go to the beach cause my white tummy felt like a pile of forgotten yoghurt. Now I just laugh at it.
I’m a lot more confident and generally less emotional about things now. I think the older you get the more well-shaped your perceptions and opinions are. I find myself being more truthful to strangers and people in general, and not having to worry so much about judgement too.
– Eugene, 27
2. Finding A Purpose In Life
I’m 30kg heavier with stretch marks as far as Jurong to Pasir Ris but instead of running away from it, I choose to embrace it.
After I graduated, I starting to find things I could do. I switched many jobs and went from DJing to emceeing to influencer marketing and now, media and advertising. Besides my weight, I’d say the main difference is having found a purpose in life, and that’s more than enough.
– Dew, 26
3. Confidence Opened Many Doors
I used to avoid a lot of physical activities because I felt like everyone was scrutinising my thighs and arms if I wear sportswear or swimwear. I don’t think anyone really notices about these things but I can’t help thinking that they’re judging me for being fat.
When I was around 18, I would work out almost every day and eventually lost 10kg. It was a painful process, but I’m glad that it happened.
Although I’m not as fat as I was previously, I still feel it (body insecurity) and am very afraid of putting on any weight, but I am definitely more confident than before.
I can definitely see myself ageing (skin not as bright or taut and crown of hair not as thick) at my current age too. But that’s just part of life. More importantly, I found ways to deal with my skin problems and became bolder in experimenting with style, eventually finding the type of ‘look’ that suit me best.
All these adds up and really changed the way I carried myself. People always say that it’s the inside that should count but you can’t deny that a good hair day or a nice outfit makes you feel better about yourself. And when you do, you’re braver to try new stuff or engage yourself with people you’ve always felt intimidated by. And this has opened doors for me in many ways.
– Mel, 28
4. Denying Insecurity From Power
I was teased in secondary school for having a ‘baby moustache’ and was very concerned about my physical appearance. My forehead acne and blackheads bothered me too and it made me feel very insecure about my own body.
I didn’t really know how to deal with all that back then it got worse when puberty started and hair started growing at my arm pits. I even cried every other day. To make myself feel better, I did things that would make myself look more womanly, like drawing my brows or wearing heels.
Even though I am still not completely satisfied with my looks despite knowing how to manage my skin, I’ve learnt to be contented with what I have. My confidence could be a mash up of maturity and laziness, or it could also be that I simply care more about what I think about myself than what other people think about me.
I do worry and do try to prove myself to people still but I don’t give these insecurities as much attention or as much power over me as it used to. When I was younger, everything felt like the end of the world because of how unexposed I was. In hindsight, a lot of my worries weren’t that big of a deal. That’s how I take life nowadays: I try my best but if I suck or if I fail, it isn’t that big of a deal.
– Isabel, 21
5. Handling Situations With More Maturity
I was picked on by seniors in secondary school because of my small frame. They would cut my queue during recess or do other mean things. Besides that, being physically unfit meant passing NAFA was a chore.
I started bulking up. And I started keeping facial hair as it makes me look fierce. It’s a good deterrence when I want to do my own things without people disturbing me, like when I’m trying to avoid an insurance agent waiting at the foot of an escalator. But partially also because I got too busy and lazy to shave during submission period in university.
If I can go back in time, I’d punch the younger me for being a little wuss. I’ve learnt to be tougher, more disciplined, and more focused on what I want to achieve in life. Religion and supportive friends helped, but it was all the experiences I’ve gone through that made me more able to handle situations more maturely now.
– Janielson, 26
6. Your Thoughts Are Your Choice
My high metabolism makes it really hard for me to gain weight since young and I’d always look skinny and fragile. People would point out how skinny I am whenever I wore shorts and that made me feel even more self-conscious, which affected the way I behaved. I was very shy and would hide my true self in social situations because I didn’t want people to think bad about me.
I eventually met people whom made me feel comfortable being my authentic, quirky and playful self.
It’s your choice whether you want to accept people’s comments and learn from them or carry those negative thoughts with you. I choose to look at the positive side of things.
– Raymond, 21
7. No Need For Constant Affirmation
People often teased me and called me “blackie” because I played hockey a lot and got really tanned. It didn’t help that my fair-skinned cousins made me feel like I’m the odd one out.
I never liked to smile with my teeth because I didn’t have very straight teeth. My eyebags were a problem too because people often asked me why I haven’t been sleeping when I’ve had more than enough sleep. And in a time when a lot of us were going through puberty, trying to accept ourselves, and where it was all about fitting in with friends, I felt the constant need to change myself to please others. I was affected by the things people say about me because I didn’t want to be an outcast.
I’m a lot less tanned now, thankfully, and I grew taller, but I grew bigger sideways too. But now, I have other priorities and don’t see the constant need to please others.
The insecurities will probably always be there but I’ve learnt to accept and deal with it and not let it affect me as much. Instead of criticising myself and changing myself just so I could fit in to the norms of this materialistic world, I realised that true friends will stay and accept me for who I am and that eventually taught me to love and value myself more.
– Candice, 23
8. Turning Weaknesses Into Opportunities
I had the whole inferiority complex where every little bit of me didn’t seem good enough in my own eyes and I didn’t know how to navigate that. For example, I would feel inferior wearing glasses and felt the need to wear contacts so that I look better. And because I was always afraid of wearing contacts, I just didn’t bother turning up for social gatherings at all.
I am definitely more confident now and care less about what others think of me. It’s a much easier life to live. I’d still wear contacts when I want to impress girls or on dates but it’s more about boosting my self-confidence than finding a way to feel ‘sufficient’.
I have other insecurities like having white hair, but I see it as an opportunity to just play with my hair: toss in different colours to make the most out of a perceived weakness. So, it’s a matter of loving yourself and embracing every little bit of your ‘flaws’.
– Andrew, 26
Make The Best Of Change
Growing old is inevitable and the stresses of a job and age will catch up on you but what matters is what you make of it.
Today, I avoid body-fitting clothes altogether for fear of looking like Michelin Man. Those clothes are packed into an obscure corner of my wardrobe – testament of the 15KG I’ve gained and the denial in which I will never fit into those tiny pieces of cloth anymore.
But like most millennials I spoke to, my personal and emotional growth outweighs the 15KG I’ve gained and are changes I’m proud of. The collective lessons from the experiences through the years gave me invaluable takeaways and formed the mature, confident, and happy-go-lucky personality that is me today.
Do you have insecurities growing up? Don’t be being bogged down by them. Embrace them and find your confidence instead!