Happy birthday! You are 53 now and in your prime. It is a good age and also a good time for self-care and self-reflection.
Things that seemed so easy in the past are tougher now.
You are no longer growing with the energy and drive of youth. When you want to bring in help, your older children complain that there is not enough room for everyone.
Getting around can also feel more challenging at times, what with MRT breakdowns, roads flooding during rainstorms and pile-ups on expressways.
In your 20s and 30s and even 40s, we all thought you were invincible. You moved fast, acted swiftly and became a role model for other Asian economies.
Your fourth decade was hard, in part because of overseas bank crashes and recessions. Many things happened that you were unprepared for.
No one can prepare for everything. Be kind to yourself. You were knocked down but you got up again, shaken but wiser.
53 is a good time to take stock of your strengths and weaknesses. Build on the former, work on the latter. The goal is to get you to your 100th birthday in good shape.
It is time to build up transport muscle to prevent accidents in your 80s and 90s.
It is time to re-examine some of the cherished ideas that have got you this far. Are you still truly a meritocracy? Does progress just mean prosperity or are there other measures of success?
It is time to remember old stories, even the painful ones, because they are all part of your being. You came from explorers, adventurers, entrepreneurs and seekers of knowledge. It is time to rediscover that spirit by letting your children tell their stories in their own way – and hearing them out.
It is time to savour your most important success: that you are a country where almost everyone eats pineapple tarts during Chinese New Year or shares iftar dinners during Ramadan or lights sparklers for Deepavali or counts down to Christmas.
Some call you the Disneyland of Asia but you are a microcosm of what Asia can be, if all the members of your extended family sat down at the same table. Singapore, you are 53 and truly prime – you are indivisible by any external factors. Long may that continue.
Akshita Nanda is an Arts correspondent at The Straits Times. Her first novel, Nimita’s Place, is published by Epigram Books. It’s available at bookstores and at www.shop.epigrambooks.sg.
Image: Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash