Another Week Beyond – 2308

Beyond Another Week Beyond, HeadStrong

Dear friends,

“What is it that makes you…YOU?” 6 undergraduates from the Singapore Management University (SMU)explored the question together with 7 of our youth. Any casual observer would see that these 2 groups of young people were different in so many ways and may even wonder if a meaningful conversation between them would be possible.

To move them to common ground, we screened “Soul,” a computer-animated   film produced by Pixar Animation Studios for Walt Disney Pictures. As people laughed and got teary-eyed, a felt connection and a sense of safety emerged that enabled a young person to reveal a rather peculiar strength. She shared that she enjoys observing everyday objects and can identify a unique characteristic about them. She elaborated that this would sometimes irritate those who are with her as they cannot understand her fascination with a wall for instance. “It is just a wall lah!” they would tell her. Many things are similar but seldom are 2 things exactly the same and she experiences a sense of competency and comfort whenever she establishes a connection with an object.

If anyone thought that the sharing was bizarre, it was not apparent, but it seemed to encourage others to speak comfortably about qualities, talents or habits that defined them. “I am also observant and because I have a sister with autism, I notice such traits among others. I am glad a friend did not get angry with me when I suggested he went for a check-up which confirmed what I had suspected.”

Sensitive, sociable, and listening were some other traits that were shared as strengths but the main message from the conversation was that regardless, we have it within us to lead a purposeful life. Our strengths are not our life’s purpose, and we don’t need to have a clear or spectacular purpose in order to live our life. Everyone is enough as they are, and   life is worth living and can be beautiful regardless of the path it takes.

Participants were then invited to reflect on what do they really care about and to write it down on a card we had handed out.  All cards were then passed around the room for people to pen down impressions they had of each other. The feedback was meant to help everyone to further reflect on their life purpose which will be discussed in more depth another time.

The SMU students  will join our youth in 2 other upcoming workshops to explore different ways to enhance mental health. With the understanding that we have enough regardless of how we answer the question, “What is it that makes you…YOU?”, we are confident that they will be experiences where there is much care, respect, and connection.

For peace and community,


Life is full of possibilities. You just need to know where to look. – Joe Gardner from Soul