By: Cheryl Chiew //
When I was a kid, I remember watching a movie where Jackie Chan yells from the top of the mountain, “WHO AM I?” I remember giggling and thinking, “How can he not know who he is?” Everyone knew their name, so they must surely know who they are. He was Jackie Chan, a famous Hong Kong super star, and I was Cheryl Chiew, a Singaporean Chinese girl who grew up loved by her big, extended family.
As I grew older, I realized the question “Who am I?” was becoming terribly complicated. Suddenly, just being Cheryl Chiew wasn’t enough. I had to get good grades at school; deal with beauty expectations and struggle with acne; own my sexuality and learn how to date boys; manage my parents’ divorce and adjust my relationship with them; figure out what being privileged in Chinese-majority Singapore meant; get a job and pay rent and taxes. Navigating life’s changes is not always pleasant and along the way, I got lost. But thankfully, I always had my love of reading to seek solace in.
Reading helped me realise my questions, feelings and experiences were not unique. Across time and space, I had a huge community of people reaching out to me via their pages, discussing the topic of change and identity. The authors not only assuaged my fears on being okay with not knowing who I was, but also made me think, “How can I be better?”
“It’s okay to not be 100% sure of who I am because to be human is to always be in a state of change.”
Though I didn’t realize it at the time, these questions guided me towards majoring in sociology in University and later, taking on a content creation role with ZULA.sg, an online media publishing site focused around the millennial Singaporean female experience. While I am no longer a student nor with ZULA.sg anymore, I’d like to think these two periods of my life pushed me towards understanding myself better. Majoring in Sociology gave me the language to discuss what I was going through. In order to produce video and editorial content for the past three years, I had to deeply question my assumptions about the society I live in. And in the process, I learned community was truly not limited to a physical space.
I’ve come to the conclusion it’s okay to not be 100% sure of who I am because to be human is to always be in a state of change.
Now, when someone asks me to introduce myself, I offer five easy-to-understand adjectives—able, independent, intelligent, dependable, caring. But I also know I am so much more. I am a multi-faceted human being who, at heart, is an eternal optimist.
Through my writing with DRK Beauty, I aim to create content that will continue building community. From the POV of a cis-het Chinese Singaporean 26-year-old, I’ll share my experience being a woman in this day and age, and cover topics not limited to love, dating, wellness, mindfulness and beauty. Hopefully, through my words, others may resonate with what I’m saying, keep faith and feel less alone.