Becoming a self-taught developer (part 1): The girl called Wing

1990: Her first cry

Summer. Well, it is always summer in the place she was born. Greenery all year round. Cats were strolling and lazing along the pavements. Doctors and nurses were working at the graveyard shift that she was born in. 3am, the umbilical cord was snipped off by the doctor. First cry. Her first day. A girl called Hui Ying was born. Hui, for intelligence and Ying, as a representation for flower.

2002: Primary to Secondary

Tiny baby grew to a height of about 1.5m. Primary school was a silent period for her. Her good friend left for another school when she was 8 and she slipped into a state of non-existence childhood friends. Nobody really recalled why, but they saw her day after day, repeating her daily recess ritual of standing at the same spot. She just looked. Looking at the group of strangers playing among themselves. This was her childhood.

When she graduated from her primary school, she wanted her life to be different.

"When I am in Secondary school, things will be different. I will change and I will make friends."

That year, things were different. It was a new environment and she had moved out of her shell of exclusivity and aloofness. From that spot, she had moved on.

2007: Polytechnic

In her teens, with a great 'O' level results of 7As, she decided against what most of her peers did. Rather than going on the well-trodden path of Junior College to University, she deemed that it will be better if she was to gain practical skillsets. Enough of academics, she will move on to projects and skillsets based learning. Being 17, young, curious and clueless, she chose a novelty course of an industry that she had barely came across. The idea of being a pioneer batch of the cohort was sufficient to romanticise her into the course.

She gave herself a new name: Wing.

3 years in Polytechnic, she made a lot of friends. Different from where she first started as someone with almost no friends in her younger days. Still, the concept of having close friends eluded her. She thought about the purpose of life and the future. But there is not many who she could reconcile and bounce her thoughts off.

"Is life just about the rat race? Is going to university the only way to succeed in life? What does success in life actually mean?"

2010: Graduation

One month before graduation, she looked back at her encounters. While she had taken a leap off academia life to lead a more fulfilled life, she still can't help but feel that she was not where she needs to be. But where exactly was the place that she needed to be? She spent hours looking through personal development and coaching blogs. The stories about how people achieved their success in the unconventional ways intrigued her. Maybe there was a possibility that was never taught in school. Maybe, she could take the chance as well.

Maybe she will find herself if she was to travel to far-fetch places, just like what she read on the blogs.

"I will spend a year to find myself and to unearth the greatest mysteries of life that bog me. I will not be part of the rat race and I will pursue my dream."

But what dream does she holds? At the tender age of 20, what does truth hold for her?

Regardless, she started planning. She worked 9 to 10 months in the zoo to save up sufficient amount to travel to Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, then New Zealand.

"This is the key to the grand scheme of life. In each travel, I will give myself a challenge. This is an experiment to prove that money will not and shall not be all."


To spend only 500 Singapore dollars in Japan while being there for 7 days. 500 dollars was inclusive of accommodation, entertainment, meals and all other relevant travel related expenses.


To spend mindlessly and purchased things as she deemed fit in Taipei. No restrictions. She will only be there for 4 days. The point was to experiment on the point that mindless purchase will not make her happy.

New Zealand

To gain a new sense of independence. To push herself to accept rejections. Most importantly, to survive. At the back of the head, she hoped that the trip to this magical land will provide answer to life greatest mysteries.

End 2011: Back to her reality

She was on her way back, from the land of the beautiful nature, wine and affable people. It was a land of rich memories but the steadiness of time had ultimately caught up with her dreamy state of life. The results of her experimental trip: life mysteries remained ever elusive.

"City life, what a culture shock", she thought, when she first reached Singapore, her home.

Home? But was that really home for her? Does she ever feel rooted to a place to call it home?

Nevertheless, the spirit to uncover answers lived on.

21 to 25, she will prove that she could live an unconventional life and still succeed. All she believed was that, she needed to firmly trust in her talent and resolution. At the end of the day, that journey will pan out to success.

"Most people don't succeed in their dreams because they don't work hard enough", she was fixated with this statement.

So she found ways to prove herself. Ways to show that she had the capability to achieve great things.

She started a blog to interview social enterprise in hope to uncover the goodness and passion of the little red dot. But she burned out and stopped the activities. She was juggling with work, earning enough money, writing a book, managing a blog and hoping that one day her blog will make her rich and famous. But the hope that she placed on the blog never materialised.

"Never mind that, let me be a yoga teacher, or a sports instructor. I will be really good at it."

So she embarked on her next adventure while working as a chef in organic food. It was a whole package deal in her life. Organic food, yoga, compassion and treating people with respect. But she never managed to really make ends meet.

2016: Realisation

Age was catching up. The years to fulfil the potential was running short. In a few years time, she will hit her 30s. Then people will stop investing and believing in the "potential" of the person.

People will start to view her as a fraudulent person who fell short in her life, despite having a great start in life. Though it doesn't matter to her anymore. What scared her was that despite of her youthful book smart, she had failed to be a productive member of the society. She had failed as a human being.

She had to pivot fast. It was too much of a cost and time to head back to university. The late twenties were the years of productivity. She was starting to waver, to have doubts on her idealistic lenses of life. But most importantly, to pragmatically review her life. So what if giving an hour of lesson could earn her what some people earn in half a day? It was never enough to reach a sustainable monthly level. And that was what mattered right at this point onwards.

The feeling of being on the spot day after day, staring at people having fun. The feeling back in those primary school days. She can't stay on the spot. Just like how she decide to change when she progress to a new environment, she decided to move on, fast.

This is the beginning of the blog series of Becoming a self-taught developer. Read part 2 of the blog series as I revealed how I transit to the tech industry.

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