30 things I knew when I turned 21, but only learned as I turn 30 today

Promise Sing, The Project J // July 2, 2019, 3:51 pm


Time flies. When I turned 21 years old, I felt like the world was my oyster. After I entered the workforce, I felt like I was the oyster to the world.

Anyone can relate? Instead of being the master, I was a “slave” to the systems of the world. Familiar with the term “they chew you up and spit you out”?

If someone had told me nine years ago during my graduation that I was gonna be moving into the entrepreneurial space, I would have screamed: “Nooooo way, you must be crazy!”

Because this was my plan: Graduate. Get a job in an advertising agency/marketing firm. Work for 5-7 years, keep climbing higher. Earn my own office space. With the experience, apply to teach at my alma mater, Republic Polytechnic. In the midst of it, earn a lot of money.

Remind me, what is at the end of this race?

Well, I kinda did follow the plan… for about two years, until I came to a turning point. I remember one Christmas when I went back to the office, at the advertising agency where I worked, to rush a project that had come in.

I remember sitting alone at my desk replying emails, when it struck me: “Is this what I want to do for the rest of my life? This is so purposeless, rushing every day to earn money for huge companies that do not add any value to my or anyone’s life.”

“Is there something else I can give my life to, other than climbing this ladder for myself?”

That night changed my life. The next seven years was spent serving children in need. Secondary school kids, primary school kids and unborn babies. It was challenging but very fulfilling.

How can I be a voice for change?

After I quit my agency job, I started by spending a year working in a student care centre. Then another six years pioneering centres for women with unsupported pregnancies, together with Jennifer Heng, and getting involved in the movement to shape the culture of life.

And two years ago, I stepped out of my official role in serving the children and into something unknown: The Project J, which provides resources that encourage believers to live life with a renewed mind through meditation on the Word of God.

There was a deep hunger and desire to see a generation reflect Jesus rightly – to shape culture the Jesus way. To choose the values and principles that Jesus would. That’s when I realised that the key to reflecting Jesus rightly is to know Jesus rightly.

Through the years, I have grown and learned much. So to cut the long story short, I’ve put together 30 things I knew when I turned 21, but only learned through experience as I turn 30 this year.

Out of this top 30 list (at the bottom of the story!), I would say the last is the most important point: When God is all you have, you will realise that He’s all you need.

I experienced this in my own journey of walking out of fatherlessness, bad habits such as drinking and smoking, and abusive relationships. I had a bad past. But when I felt like the world had abandoned me, God was there, always.

And as a bonus, here are the top two things I learned from running The Project J over the last two years:

  • Timing is everything. Doors that God has opened, no man can shut. Doors that God has closed, don’t even try opening!
  • Strengthening yourself in the Lord is essential for all dreamers.

Happy birthday to me.

This article was first published on The Project J and is republished with permission.


  1. What are some things you’ve learnt on this journey of life?
  2. Are you living the life you planned for yourself?
  3. What didn’t happen? How have you reconciled that with God?
  4. Where is God leading you in your work?