The importance of support

Date written

19 December 2021

Reading time

7 minutes

At the beginning of the year, I set a list of resolutions that I wanted to accomplish. Among them was "to be a better developer" — whatever that meant. Back then, I knew that I had a lot on my plate for the year that was to come. As a Secondary 4 student, I had the Singapore-Cambridge GCE O-Level examinations to face, and that was the culmination of the past four years of secondary school education.

Even so, I've found that one of the best remedies to stress is support — and not just support from others around you, but those who believe in you and, most importantly, yourself, too. I wanted to balance my school life with my personal life. I knew that I had to study hard. Still, I hoped to maintain and strengthen friendships in our last year together, spend more time with my interests, and overcome life crises that may arise.

I would argue that teenagehood took a heavy toll on me, as I've come to realise as the year went on. I've met many friends — particularly online — while struggling with my own inner battles from time to time. I had to focus on one of the most important examinations of my life thus far, yet I wanted to catch up on missing out on the social front of life. I had multiple crises along the way, questioning who I am and being riddled with insecurities. Still, the most important lesson I've taken away from all that happened this past year is that support matters.

Supporting yourself

The most challenging parts of the year were undoubtedly when insecurities overwhelmed me. It became easy to undermine whatever was left of my self-esteem and self-confidence. Two parts of me were readily confronting each other with opposing viewpoints, and all I could consciously do was continue the day unusually silent. I was confused about what to do and definitely took a mental beating as a result.

Even so, there were pockets of time when I was allowed to cool down and get my mind off. I would feel significantly relieved of a pressure I hadn't realised was there before, and I could spend some time to cheer myself up. These moments come and go, but in the end, they allow me to collect myself and reflect on what has happened and how I reacted.

During moments like these, I came to realise the importance of supporting yourself. After all, whatever anyone else says (and that includes commendations and praises) might mean nothing if you're not with yourself. This is certainly something I still have yet to learn, and the process is undoubtedly arduous.

Self-esteem and self-confidence were concepts unfamiliar to me; all my life, I've had the idea of putting others before myself. It was late to see that to put others before myself, I needed to make sure that I was okay first — in this case, mentally. Being able to support me meant that I should reach out whenever I feel like I'm losing control instead of the more natural response of wanting to keep it in. While I'm still on the journey of learning and understanding more about myself, it's certainly an important learning point that I hope to put to use in the future.

Reaching out

I've done many things this year that I never imagined that I would be able to do; among them is the ability to reach out. Be it reaching out to get some help or reaching out to seize an opportunity, reaching out hasn't been something I was good at.

I found reaching out more manageable if I mustered up my courage to begin reaching out — whether it's typing out an email or message or checking out whatever I have to do to reach out. I would say that I still lack the courage to be proactive in taking the lead and taking action, and I'm prone to overthinking things. Usually, I'd spend too much time pondering over an opportunity to reach out until the window eventually closes. I still aim to work towards improving that and hopefully will improve soon!

I had an experience of reaching out that worked exceptionally well for me, as surprised as I still am. Reaching out then eventually led me to become a member of Hack Club, a non-profit network of high school coding clubs and students worldwide. I still recalled finding an active Hack Club member — Sam Poder — making a pull request (which appeared on the globe found on GitHub's front page) and decided to reach out.

I recalled spending over half an hour drafting an email to send to him, fretting about more or less everything. I didn't know what would come out of this — sending an email — and I didn't expect anything either. No matter, I drafted an email, maybe even rewrote it a few times, then sent it over to him. He was friendly in his reply and definitely showed that he took the time to develop well-written answers to my questions. However, what I hadn't expected was an invitation to Hack Club.

That was in January. 11 months later, and here I am where I am today: I am reasonably skilled in React and Next.js thanks to Hack Club (I was introduced to them there!), and I've met many new people from all over the world — none of which I would've anticipated. I've collaborated a few times with people more than halfway across the world, and I'm excited at the enthusiasm people there show.

The main point here isn't so much about Hack Club, but it's more of seizing the opportunity to reach out. If I hadn't emailed Sam that day in January, I doubt I would be where I am today! Now, I have the support from a community full of talented student developers just by reaching out all those months ago.

Supporting others

For some reason, I find supporting others much more effortless than supporting myself. It's really dependent on your personality and who you are. Still, I believe that it's definitely a necessary responsibility to be there for someone when they need it. It is easier said than done, but doing something as simple as listening to a friend in need can do wonders — not just for them, but perhaps even for you.

I came to realise that sometimes, though, some factors that would make supporting others easier are beyond your control. I think one thing that has allowed me to support others easier is the fact that we 'click' with each other much easier. That makes it easier for me and my friends to understand each other, or be an option for each other when we need an avenue to let our thoughts out.

If you're fortunate enough to have a friend group — no matter how small — appreciate the little moments you share with each other! This was a realisation I wished I had realised earlier; instead of being a suck-up to people who may not even have the thought of wanting to be my friend, I should've appreciated what was already with me. Now, at the end of the year, I'm slowly starting to be comfortable and spend more time with the people who chose to be with me instead the people I desperately want to get to know.

It's easier to go through periods of turmoil and personal difficulty when you have others around. My view is that if you're close to particular people, and know that they'll be there for you when you need someone, then why shouldn't you do the same? To me, friendship is about trust and understanding. Companionship is about going through the roughest of moments together as one.


There's still a lot for me to develop as an individual, especially on the social front. However, from this year that's just about to end, one of the biggest lessons I've learned was to learn to support yourself, reach out to get support, and help others. I hope to use what I've learned next year and beyond when I'm starting out on my journey as a student anew.

Support can go a long way for an individual and interact with. For me, I hope to continue supporting whenever I can — because why not?