They helped me become more productive, connected and empowered.

As 2020 enters its final streak, I reflect on the books which made the deepest impression on me this year. I didn’t start off the year with a reading list, but somehow my picks for 2020 share common themes of productivity, human connection, and empowerment. If these areas interest you, I hope these books can also make their way to your shelves and spread their magic.

Photo by Maël BALLAND from Pexels

This book tears apart Steve Jobs’ advice to “follow your passion”, and instead analyses what he (and other successful examples) did right to achieve career heights. According to Newport, passion, fulfilment and control over…


To progress in our careers, going through the motions is not enough

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I’ve been in the workforce for 5 years now, and I’m entering that sweet middle point where you can reflect on your beginnings and ponder on any improvements for the next stage of your career. Here are some things I wish someone would have taught me when I first started working.

1. Observe — everyone can be a mentor

I used to be reluctant towards branching out my network; I’d rather stay within my comfort zone and work with only people I know well. In part, I felt inadequate and thought that I didn’t have much to bring to the table. …


In handling myself and relationships better

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Going through a heartbreak sucks (see my story here). We blame ourselves for not making the relationship work, and not being worthy of love. We compare ourselves to happy couples and think there must be something wrong with us for being so unlucky in our love lives. We stand in front of the mirror and think: I don’t want anything to do with this ugly, dejected, unaccepted self.

Putting yourself back together is hard work. Personally, it took almost a year before I could see my mirrored reflection smiling back at me with confidence. …


Let’s redefine what success for a woman means in this day and age.

Photo by Mateus Campos Felipe on Unsplash

Time and time again, I’ve watched the women in my life being limited by labels — gendered language designed to make us doubt (or even shame us on) whether we can be validated as females.

Here are four examples, each accompanied by a story I witnessed or experienced in the past.

“Bossy”

I was 13 and just transferred to a new school the year before. There was a girl in my class called Valerie. She was principled and wasn’t afraid to call someone out on their nonsense. We were at the age when defying teachers’ instructions was the norm; we desperately…


Where should I begin?

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Perhaps the day I first laid eyes on you. I’d heard gossip that you seemed like the melodramatic type, and kept to yourself most of the time, so a bubbly person like me wasn’t keen on the idea of mentoring you. When I actually met you, however, I thought your manners were impeccable, and you looked keen and attentive when I spoke, so I decided that my first impression of you was neutral to positive, at least not on the negative spectrum.

It could have been the moment I realised I was falling for you. I did not expect this…


Lessons learned from my 20s

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Six years ago, when I was 22 going on 23, I wrote a post about my struggles with the “ticking biological clock” following a conversation with a friend:

Me: Wow she is talented. Knows how to write, paint, write songs and even bakes absolutely gorgeous cakes.

Friend: Yeah well. Sucks that she still doesn’t have a boyfriend though.

Me: She’s only 23. I’m sure there’s still plenty of time to meet someone.

Friend: She’ll be 24 soon. And then 25. After a girl reaches 25, her marketable value will drop exponentially until it becomes impossible to find anyone in her…


And now is finally her time to shine.

Photo by Anfisa Eremina from Pexels

I’ve always known that there are three Brontë sisters. I’m also one of those people who used to go, “Sure I love their work! Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights…and there’s one more sister who wrote poems!” (Poetry being a shorthand way of covering up the fact that I did not know — nor bothered finding out — what work the youngest sister, Anne Brontë, produced.)

Last month I chanced upon a YouTube channel where the lovely creator, Lucy, raved about how much she worshipped the Brontës. Specifically, she said it was Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë which first introduced the world…


Live it now.

Photo taken by me in Tonle Sap, Cambodia

Most days I think I have it all together.

I’d be the person people go to for advice, the one who knows the best hangout spots (and how to ‘gram them in the most “likable” way, literally) and the girl who is always keen to upgrade to version 2.0 of herself.

My identity is grounded in this voice in my head which incessantly chimes,

“You know you can do better. Figure out how.”

I have to admit this insistent nagging works well for me, most days. I wake up feeling excited that I have new goals to achieve or challenges…


I probably cried a litre of tears.

Once in a very long time you saw a movie so beautiful and poignant that you are at a loss for words to describe it. It plucked every single one of your heartstrings without seemingly intending to, and before you knew it you were crying like you never knew you could in a cinema.

Still Alice is that movie for me. I already knew it’d be good — with a plot centred around an ambitious professor grappling with Alzheimer’s disease and some guaranteed exquisite acting from the newly crowned Best Actress— and that’s…


Balloons make the world go round — Graduation 2014

Through a new lens in 2015.

This post came a bit later than everyone’s hype with New Year’s Resolutions since I had exams at the beginning of the month, but as they always say, better late than never.

I love those first few weeks of January too, when I feel as if I were venturing in the desert with nothing but a vast expanse of time ahead of me. The possibilities seem limitless and I am at complete freedom to make the year ahead the best year of my life. Too optimistic? …

Annabelle Wong

Books. Feminism. Living life better.

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