6 tips for making new friends after 40s

Most of us are at the stage where we have different commitments in our 40s - building careers, taking care of our families and having other pressing commitments. That leaves us too exhausted to think about our social life. Socialising would be the last thing in our mind.

However, making new friends is beneficial for us, especially if we are single. It benefits our physical and mental health. That would also mean widening our perspective and network.

Here are six tips on how to make new friends:

  1. Reach out to long lost friends

The easiest way to start off would probably be reconnecting with our old friends with who we have not been in touch for a long time. It is easier to catch up as you would have common topics to renew the friendships.

  1. Make friends over social media

In 2020, during the lockdown, I have made more online friends than I ever had in past few years. Start off by engaging through their posts and be interested in what they do. You may find someone who has the same interest as you. I have met a few lovely friends from Facebook and became good friends.

  1. Think beyond your “what-ifs”

One obstacle of middle age singles to make friends is that we are worried about what others think of us. Instead, we should learn to be open-minded and be interested in knowing about them. Our new friends would also be interested to know about us too.

  1. Join a local interest group

It is much easier to strike a conversation with people who have the same interest. You can join a local interest group where you can meet like-minded people. I recently joined a walking group that brings people with similar interest. I also learned some new walking routes that I can explore.

  1. Make friends with people who are engaged in your life

When I found out that my hairstylist was a regular marathon runner, we started exchanging fitness ideas and running tips. My insurance agent became more than just an agent. She became my good friend which we could always pick a call to one another for coffee.

  1. Volunteer

This is another great way to know new friends. It’s a great way to give back to society while socialising. People with the same mindset come together for a meaningful would be a great platform to start a new friendship.

So good luck in making new friends!

Close up interview with local emcee, actress and voice actor - Shannon Zann

I have the pleasure to invite Ms Shannon Zann, our local freelance emcee, actress and voice actor. This multi-talented lady also conducts classes on camera videography for adults and students.

During this interview, Shannon shares how she stepped out of her comfort zone as a 9 to 5 salaried worker into her freelance journey.

Janus (J): Hi, Shannon, thank you for accepting my interview.

Shannon (S): My pleasure!

J: How did you get started on this journey as a freelance emcee, actress and voice actor?

S: Before I was in the entertainment industry, I was a social worker, working closely with children and delinquent youths

At that time, I was actively involved in my church’s musicals. I really enjoyed it despite being new and nervous. I then took up acting classes to see how it’s like, and the director told me that I have a flair for acting. I was pleasantly surprised and I took it as a confirmation from God that I can actually pursue this journey! God also put people from related industries including emcees and other performing artists on my path to share with me their experiences.

J: Wow! Why did you choose this journey?

S: I remember when I was in primary 1, my mum brought me to The Times Bookshop at Centrepoint. I got bored and started dancing and singing in the bookshop. That drew the attention of the other shoppers and they started clapping for me. Although I was embarrassed by the attention, I believe God paved this journey for me then.

As mentioned earlier, I enjoyed performing and with the affirmation of my talent, I decided to leave my job as a social worker. As much as I enjoyed what I was doing, I got burnt out and no longer enjoyed my work. I would like to give a shot in the entertainment industry.

J: So, are there any projects that are coming up?

S: Yes, there are a few events and shoots coming soon, watch out for them on my social media!

J: Can you share with us, as a freelancer in the entertainment industry, what are some of the challenges that you have faced?

S: Although this career has widened my social circles, it seems to be an obstacle to my dating life.

My job gives the impression that I have no lack of suitors. On the contrary, many guys were intimidated by my public persona. They shared that they are intimidated by my confidence and outspoken character. A guy friend whom I know recently said that I have this “intimidating vibe”. But, you know, I am not that!

Even ladies shared the same views. Previously, I joined some mass dating events. They were surprised why I was there as they felt that I shouldn’t be in this kind of events. They told me that I was of a “different calibre” and “too high up”. I should have lots of suitors out there. But sigh… I’m really just an ordinary gal looking for love, that’s why I was there.

J: Haha… I totally hear you. How did you overcome them?

S: To work on this, I thought I should find a more effective way of portraying the feminine side of me in the dating arena. I may have portrayed myself as too masculine sometimes. I did some inner work and got books to learn how to exude my feminine energy. I think it does make a difference.

J: Good to hear that you see a change in that. So back to your freelance career, who is your role model and why?

S: I don’t really have a role model, but this singer Jeff Chang (张信哲) did have some influence on my career. I love his songs. Like any hardcore fans, I would collect magazines, pictures and information about him. He, together with musical theatre, played a part to inspire me in my entertainment career and my journey as a Christian.

J: That’s a great influence. What are the motivating factors that keep you going on this journey?

S: I enjoy interacting with people, be it my guests on stage or with the audience. I have had feedback on how they like my voice and the way I speak. I felt rewarded to see them entertained and even encouraged in every event that I have hosted.

J: Would you like to share a personal story about it?

S: Oh yes, I remember one time when I hosted a pageant, a contestant came up to me after the event. She thanked me for being an empathetic emcee. It happened that she was very nervous that day, but by me just smiling at them all the way on stage, made her feel more comfortable and less nervous. This made my day and I realised that I can help and impact a person even by just giving an encouraging smile.

J: That’s indeed very encouraging. But have you met people who shared with you their perceptions towards your career?

S: Most people would think that this industry is very glamorous. You know, the limelight, looking pretty and surrounded by celebrities. They may think that it’s a lucrative job, earning lots of money and we lead a high life.

J: How would you like to address these perceptions?

S: The truth is behind all these glamours that you see, there is a lot of hard work. Sounds cliche, but it’s true. Imagine the work behind the scene, for example, as an emcee, I have to run through scripts with clients and manage their expectations. Sometimes, when there is a mismatch of expectations, I have to remain composed and professional. So it’s pretty much like any other jobs - down to earth and nothing glamorous actually.

When others can go into their snooze mode after their work hours, I have to be conscious of my public image. Being an introvert by nature, I would like to just retreat into my mental cave and recover. However, I realised that I do get recognised by some members of the public, so I still have to maintain that professional image (or at least not a total resting bitch face!) till I get home. I guess this regulation of wearing a mask in public benefits me in a way and allows me to hide behind it.

Also, going for auditions, getting rejected, memorising scripts, getting scolded (ok lah, not so bad!), long hours, burning weekends/ holidays etc. It’s not all flashy.

J: What is the rewarding factor that keeps you going?

S: I think this journey is a calling for me. I have seen God’s goodness and His provision in my 11 years of my career. I believe that He wanted me to impact people with my voice.

I remember sharing this testimonial in the church that my voice and hands are for God. He uses me to make a difference in others’ lives through what I say on and off stage. This was proven along the way and it keeps me going.

J: Thank you for your sharing. Before we end this interview, what advice would you like to give to those who want to embark on this journey?

S: I would like to just say “Just go for it! Pursue your dreams”, but let’s be wise too. There are basic needs to be attended to. Hence, I would say come out with a plan.

Do have enough savings to last you for at least six months. You need to manage your finances. Don’t spend every cent that you have. This is a common mistake made by a lot of freelancers. There are peak and off-peak seasons in our industry. Look at how many of them were impacted by Covid-19 last year. Be prepared to do some side hustles to supplement your income if there is a need to.

Give yourself a timeline, say one year or two and review your journey. If it doesn’t work out, you have to decide if it’s worth the while to stay on. For me, I told myself if it didn’t work out for me, I would go back to my full-time job. I would rather have tried and failed, than not try and wonder what could have been.

I’m so thankful that I pursued this dream God has put in my heart. Let’s be brave to explore the next journeys of our lives together!

Follow Shannon on:

FB / IG: @shannonzann

Youtube: Shannon Zann TV

Linkedin: Shannon Zann

Video review: I am a Teacher

Warning: Get ready your tissues before watching the video.

This 30 minutes video is about a school teacher, Soot Beng, who was terminated for trying to cover up for her students for cheating as she did not want their future to be ruined. As a result, she has difficulty looking for a job in other schools. Apart from that, she was also a single mother going through a struggling relationship with her daughter. With the pressure that she was facing, she decided to take up a job as a waitress in a restaurant.

This video reflects the struggles of many divorced women. Aside from being responsible for bringing food to the table, they have to face the pressure of raising their children. They constantly live in guilt for not able to give their children a normal family life. Behind the strong front that they have to put up, they struggle with their emotions.

In this short video, Soot Beng started off trying to convince every school she went for an interview that they should employ her. However, no school wanted to take her as they doubted her reason for the sudden departure of her school. She was denied another chance to work for her passion which was teaching. Out of desperation, she got a job as a waitress at a cafe.

Initially she was very ashamed of what she was doing. She did not share what she was doing with anyone. The producer planted a boy who was often at the cafe to do his homework. Soot Beng helped him with his homework whenever he has any difficulty. Unknowingly, he is the son of a tuition centre owner. After helping the boy overcoming his schoolwork, his mother offered her a teaching position in the tuition centre.

Another unexpected person who helped her was the restaurant owner. He offered to pay her in advance upon learning her financial situation. He even encouraged her to take up the teaching job when he overheard her rejecting the offer of the tuition centre owner. He knew she rejected it as she has promised that she would commit at least 6 months in the cafe.

The video started with a lot of disappointment slapped onto Soot Beng’s face. Most people would be able to identify with Soot Beng’s initial denial of the situation when a sudden change of life events. Like Soot Beng, we keep trying to get out by doing what we know what to do best. It is only when we give ourselves chance to take a different route, opportunities will unfold in a different way.

The heartwarming content of the video makes up for the average acting skills. Tan Jianhao, the producer who is known for his quirky contents about teenagers, has wowed me in this production. It was a 180-degree change to his usual production.

It's an uplifting video which I would recommend anyone who is struggling to make sense of the lemons thrown at their face to watch this short video.

Opinion article: Mental wellness program for parents and children

Another news on youth suicide on 3 April 2021 when two teenage sisters, 15 and 16, were found dead at the foot of an HDB block on.

As modern as Singapore may seem to be, for a long time, the topic of mental health has often been swept under the carpet. Unlike flu, mental illness shows almost no physical signs. Not only the children but even the adults, do not know or too embarrassed to seek help. Such ignorance on how to handle depression may continue to lead to more youth suicides if they are not taught how to handle it.

During the pandemic last year, the government are announcing programmes in the school curriculum to create awareness for the students. It would be projected to kick off this year. The government are helping making changes in the school system to place emphasis on mental health ( How Singapore will target mental health in schools, GovInsider, 22 April 2020).

This initiative comes in timely as we can see a rise in youth suicides. As reported in The Straits Times, dated 3 August 2020, there was an increase in youth suicide rates, age between 10 - 29 in 2019. There are more calls to the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) hotlines during the pandemic. The most common source of stress comes from emotional and psychological struggles from their parents. This can come from abusive parents or parents who are too hard on their children.

As much as I applaud this move, I think parents should participate in this program together with their children for the following reasons:

1) Parents play an important role in the family

Children live with their parents most of the time and the people who have the most influence would be their parents. I strongly encourage that parents and children can go through this together. This way, it will foster a better understanding between children and parents, emotionally and psychologically.

2) Detect early signs of distress

Parents can learn how to detect early signs of emotional distress and attend to the children. Through education, the parents can know when to seek professional help before it is too late.

3) Engage in active listening

How the parents speak matters to the children. If parents hold a one-way communication, the children may not feel heard. The only way to avoid getting into trouble is to keep quiet and try not into trouble. Parents may miss the signs of any emotional distress. Instead, parents should learn how to practice active listening, so that they have a better understanding of their children.

4) Create a safe space

Home should be the safest place for children to be themselves and be heard. Children growing up in this type of environment are more likely to grow up with better emotional intelligence and more confident.

5) Benefits from other aspects of life outside parenting

Going through this kind of program can help parents to manage other aspects in their life. They learn to recognise their own signs of emotional challenges be it from work or their own personal life. They, too, can apply this skill at their workplace. Hence, lessening people conflicts at work.

In conclusion, by having parents in this learning journey, it can not only help to them in their parenting but also in other aspects of their life.

6 ways of overcoming imposter syndrome

Many people have gone through a stage of imposter syndrome at some stage of their lives. According to Harvard University Review in one of their articles Stop Telling Women They Have Imposter Syndrome, even famous women like Sheryl Sandberg, former USA First Lady Michelle Obama and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has gone through this phase.

What is imposter syndrome? According to the same article, it is defined as “...doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud. It disproportionately affects high-achieving people, who find it difficult to accept their accomplishments. Many even question whether they’re deserving of accolades.

This can affect anyone at any point in our life, regardless of our background, education or social status. If it is not well managed, it may sabotage our success.

Here are some following clues that you are having imposter syndrome:

- You screw yourself over the smallest mistakes that you made.

- You believe that you are just lucky to have it right.

- You take constructive criticism personally.

- You fear that people may see you as a fraud, even when you are truly an expert in certain skills.

This may result in negative thinking, self-doubt, and self-sabotage that may affect our personal and professional relationships with people around us.

So what can we do about it? Here are some steps that you can do to overcome:

1) Share with someone that you trust

This could be a mentor at work or a friend who wants to see you succeed and yet do not sugar their words. Ask them for their honest feedback. It helps to dispel irrational beliefs about the feelings which run wild in our head.

2) Journal your thoughts

When things remain in our head, the thoughts will run wild. Keep a journal and pen down your thoughts. This helps to externalise your thoughts and reveals your hidden emotions behind the actions.

𝟯) List your achievements

Make a list of your achievements. They are good reminders of what you have done well and will help greatly when the imposter syndrome strikes. They are real proof of your work.

𝟰) Seek for action and not perfection

Sometimes imposter syndrome may happen when we are too harsh on ourselves. We may start to doubt our abilities to do it right.

Instead of seeking perfection, choose to start and improve along the way. Track your progress and reward yourself for taking action.

5) Stop comparing yourself with others

Instead of envying how well others perform, ask yourself what can you learn from them. When you come from the learning perspective, you will start to focus on your progress and not competition.

6) Practise mindfulness living

Mindfulness living can help us to be aware of imposter syndrome when it happens. We can immediately change the content of our inner dialogue.

It is inevitable that the imposter syndromes may pop up every now and then. Learning how to harness it can help you to learn more about yourself and manage when it arises.