One of the things I love about New York is that you never know who you’ll meet or run into. If you try new things with an open mind and spontaneous spirit, you are bound to meet great people. Another great thing about New York is that it is only the beginning. The person you are while you’re here and the people you meet during that time will change and be different a few months or even years later and usually (/hopefully) all have moved onto only better and bigger things.
One person who has done exactly that is my friend and current Miss Universe Singapore. When I saw and heard that she was crowned Miss Universe Singapore, 1) I was not surprised (at all) and 2) I was inspired. It takes a lot of courage to put yourself outside of your comfort zone, where you are vulnerable, especially on a very public stage.
Seeing how much her life has changed since she left New York, in just a little bit over a year now, really made me think about how much (and maybe even how little) has changed in my own life. I looked at a photo we took together from when she was here and I can honestly say we look and are much healthier and happier now.
I caught up with Shi recently to hear her perspective. She has been incredibly busy preparing for the upcoming competition so I’m grateful that she took the time to answer my questions. I told her I have been lagging with my blog because I’ve been so busy and a bit uninspired (you can only write so much about yourself), so I’m excited to share with you my first interview!
To accompany the interview below, I have chosen photos that I feel best represent the Shi that I know- a natural beauty inside and out.
Who are you and what are you currently working on?
I’m Shi, I just recently graduated from New York University and have been working in a small investment firm in Singapore ever since coming home at the start of this year.
What made you enter the Miss Universe Singapore Pageant?
I wanted to reconnect with my homeland after being away for so long and it seemed like an interesting way to do so. I also wanted to learn more about personal grooming and what better way to learn than joining a pageant?
A lot of people, including myself, only heard updates about how you were crowned Miss Singapore but like most successes, we didn’t hear about the process or the difficulties. What would you say was the most difficult part?
Pageants are actually a lot of hard work. For me the most difficult part was eating healthy. I am a huge junk food junk and I love my fried chicken and chocolates. Exercise is a huge issue for me too and I need constant motivation to do it consistently.
Beauty pageants, to me at least, are really about being 100% comfortable in your own skin. It’s a sort of celebration of where you came from and where you are now and reaching a point where you can give back to world by doing good, being good and looking good doing it. How did you work on cultivating this comfort with yourself (a continuous battle I know that exists with not just me but everyone, especially people in their 20’s)? Perhaps it’s something you’re still working on and something participating in the pageant will help you achieve?
It is definitely a work in progress. I joined this pageant because I thought that I was confident enough in my own skin, but the journey so far has proved to me that I have not yet reached the level of self-assurance that I thought I did. I think I realized that my level of confidence used to be based very much on other’s validation, so now I am working on cultivating a self-worth that is based more on self-respect and my own perceptions of who I am as a person.
I recently came across a quote that said: “Confidence is being able to say “F–ck you, I’m the sh-t” (excuse my french) without opening your mouth- saying it with your walk, your smile and your entire being. That being said, what does confidence mean to you?
I think confidence means being truly comfortable in your own skin without any need for other people’s approval.
What are success habits you have (or try to do) everyday to set yourself up for a positive, successful, productive day and keep feeling motivated, inspired and passionate about what you do?
Feeling good physically is very important to me. I try to get a good amount of sleep in, eat healthy, drink lots of water throughout the day and take good care of my skin. Also, being a Christian, praying everyday helps me to put myself in the right state of mind for the day. Another thing that I do is constantly remind myself to appreciate in the moment instead of always rushing towards something.
What do you think makes someone beautiful?
Beyond the external, passion is what makes someone beautiful. When someone is in their element and enjoying what they are doing it makes them glow as a person.
How do you cope with negativity and haters? What are they usually hating on exactly, btw?
People just hate on everything, ranging from the way I look, to the way I speak and to me as a person.
Everyone tells me to just ignore them, but it is easier said than done. In the beginning, I really let them get to me, but after awhile, you do learn to ignore them. Amidst all the negativity, it starts to become clear to you those who truly support and care for you. And that love becomes so much more valuable and crucial.
Do you ever miss New York? If so, what do you miss the most?
YES. I miss the convenience of New York, how I can walk almost everywhere in Manhattan, how culturally rich it is, and how the old and the new can coexist without any incongruence.
Is there anything you learned from living in NYC that helped/will help you during the competition?
NYC taught me to be more outspoken and to display self-assurance
What were some of your favorite places/things to do in NY?
I really enjoyed going to the museums especially the Met. I also loved taking long walks and seeing where it would take me. Taking in the nightlights of the city by walking the Brooklyn Bridge or being by the water in Long Island City. Also, eating… lots and lots of eating.
Favorite Miss Singapore duty to date:
Visiting Bukit Batok Secondary School during an event and seeing how compassionate and full of energy these teenagers are
What does being Miss Singapore mean to you?
It is an achievement in itself, but it is also a responsibility because I am a representative for Singapore internationally. This means I have to conduct myself in a way I want the world to view Singaporeans
What’s your favorite thing about where you live?
Inexpensive and wide variety of local food
Currently inspired by:
A very important person in my life who is a great example to me of love and consideration
Currently reading Crazy Rich Asians when not busy prep-ing for Miss Universe. (oh hey- i recommended that book to her!)
What is your raison d’etre, your modus operandi? Here’s mine as an example
Opportunity favors the prepared.
Fill in the blank:
Can’t live without family in business and life
Personal style in 3 words
Comfortable, androgynous, leather
In business/public I am outgoing ,in life/private I am reserved
What is some advice you can give that applies to both business and life?
My dad always tells me that conviction and discipline are the keys to success.
Free time activities
Visiting museums, long walks and reading
Currently listening to/song recommendation?
Oliva Ong – Sometimes When We Touch (which I just listened to and am now playing on repeat (she always had good taste in music))
Love thy neighbor as thyself
What’s the last question you would ask if you were the one asking?
Is it tiring to smile for 5 hours straight on stage? How do you prepare yourself for that and how long after is your jaw numb for?
Last words?/ Anything you can share with us so people interested can stay updated? When can people tune in to see you compete for miss universe and what will you be doing to prepare?
Thanks for the interesting interview. It was a breath of fresh air after all the cookie-cutter interview questions I’ve had to answer recently.
The competition takes place on the 9th of November in Moscow, Russia and your support means so much to me.
Shi, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions and for being my first interview. 🙂
I think I speak for everyone when I say everyone here in New York misses you and will be rooting for you!
Surround yourself with people who inspire you to be fearless and to go out of your comfort zone. Do what scares you and be confident in the person that you are, or are becoming.
Here’s to the people who are doing awesome things- in business and life.
Cheers to you, Shi!!
TUNE IN on November 9th on NBC at 9pm ET (COMING UP!!!) to watch the 2013 MISS UNIVERSE® Competition from Crocus City Hall in Moscow, Russia.
Please feel free to leave messages of support and additional questions.
How did I do for my first interview? Stay tuned for more interviews with people that I meet during my adventures in New York!
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” – Anais Nin
“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” – e. e. cummings