01 Mar Emily Sin
Emily Sin is a chemical engineer intern at Jurong Island by day and a champion “Wushu Warrior” by night.
“Wushu Warrior and Chemical Engineer” no doubt, makes for an unconventional combination. But it describes National Wushu athlete, and our second #happybeing ambassador, Emily Sin, to a T. UNSAID caught up with Emily and heard about her experiences growing up with a rough-and-tumble sport, the pride of representing Singapore on an international scale, and her hopes for the future. Here’s what she had to say!
Overcoming familial objections
When I first started Wushu, my relatives questioned my parents on why they let me join such a “rowdy” sport. And why I’m like this – gestures to her clothes – why I don’t dress up. My Dad wanted me to join ballet and piano. But I didn’t budge. I just continued. And now they see that I am achieving. So after a while, they just stopped doubting and they became more interested in what I do – both my parents and relatives.
It’s just a technicality, really…
I’m a woman because I have reproductive organs and that’s about it – that’s what I think. I see humans as humans.
1. Choosing an “unlady-like” style of Wushu.
Wushu has different styles, there are more girls in taiji, which is the “softer” kind. Or like chang chuan, which I personally find is the “nicer-looking” and more “dancey” one, but I specialize in nan quan, so it’s more like URGH! I scream, and do unlady-like things. And I’m always joking like, “I’m a woman, I can’t do this!”
1. Hard work trumps all else.
My coaches have been training in a team where there are women as well. So, they are always saying you can do this. It also helps that when I first joined this sport, my coach was a woman. And all my coaches, be it male or female, they have never doubted my capabilities as an athlete. So I had never thought that as a woman I can’t do this and I can’t do that. I just have to really train hard if I want to do something. There is pride when you do things that not all guys can do.
2. Shorter careers for women athletes, but same competition standards for both sexes.
For male athletes the age to retire from competitive Wushu is usually about 30+ years while for girls it’s about 25. Guy athletes are physically more capable. They use the same standards to judge both male and females, so it’s obviously harder for a girl to perform the same difficult move. Maybe, one day they will allow mixed categories!
2. Taking heart in how far she has come.
Back then, when I was first starting out and struggling. But I’m not complaining. I really wished I was a guy. It would have made things so much easier. But now that I’m doing fine in my sport, I don’t feel that way so much anymore. So.. life’s good!
3. Navigating passion and uncertainty about the future.
I’m at a stage where I’m trying to figure out myself. It’s like what my boss said, to me one day, “Emily, isn’t it sucky that as youth, you don’t know what you’re doing?” So I thought about it and said,, “Yeah, but isn’t that normal for youths?” Also, my mom and dad are conservative Chinese parents, so they have an idea of how I should behave as a woman. They’re still concerned about whether or not I will get married and whether or not they’ll have grandchildren to carry.
3. Following where the winds take her.
I think I’m at a stage where I am exploring who I am. Of course, as my parents’ child (and only daughter), I don’t want to disappoint them. I try to be true to myself and I just be. Nothing major has happened so far, so I’ll just go with the flow and see where it goes.
It’s how you look at life that counts.
Happiness to me is contentment with wherever you are right now, and whatever you have right now. So I don’t think I have that, but I try to have a positive outlook in life.
1. Dedication, no matter the costs.
I’m interning at Jurong Island now, as part of my engineering course. So I leave home at 6:30am in the morning to travel in to Jurong Island and then I do my internship from 8am – 5:30pm . Then I’ll go straight to my training at night, and I’ll reach home at 10. That’s my day!
2. Only female engineer in electricity generating plant.
Interestingly, the place where I am interning now – maybe because it is an electricity generating plant – so there’s more electrical engineers and mechanical engineers. So, I’m the only female engineer there. Out of a 100 or 200 plus employees, there are only five women, and most of them are either HR or lab assistant or lab researcher.
Own who you are.
Be true to yourself. That’s something I would have told myself a few years back also.