This International Women’s Day, we seek to celebrate women along with their all-encompassing moments – the good and the bad; the beautiful and the ugly; their setbacks and their triumphs. At Choo Yilin, we believe in celebrating the failures – for those are what make an individual all the more stronger and wiser.
For this edition of Choo Yilin’s Empowered Everyday Women series, we’re proud to introduce Sheryl Lee who graced us with her story of embracing life and its ebb and flow. She epitomizes our brand pillar of ‘Becoming’ as she navigates through life with aplomb and a clear vision for pushing herself out of comfort zones and towards personal growth.
As Sheryl recounted her University days, we found out that her journey towards excellence and her emphasis on personal growth began years back in law school as an undergraduate. She was a champion mooter at school – even representing Singapore on several occasions – who eventually went on to work for one of Singapore’s best dispute lawyers as a fresh graduate.
Sheryl’s self-proclaimed immersive and ‘obsessive personality’ allowed her to flourish in stressful environments, which in turn led to thriving within her legal studies and work. However, it is not easy to survive – much less thrive – in an industry that requires steely concentration on mountains of literature, along with an aptitude for juggling legal jargon and concepts. Fresh out of school and knee-deep into private practice, Sheryl eventually found herself working 20-hour days with no weekends or public holidays to speak of. For a year and a half, she threw herself into her work and never took a day of leave – until the hours and pressure grew increasingly difficult to bear.
“I started yoga at a studio below my office and it saved my life,” she shared. It taught her the art of compartmentalization and how to simply observe rather than react. Sheryl dove right into her new outlet for stress management and found herself at yoga studios on a daily basis, embarking on a 30-day Bikram challenge, and eventually attaining a certification to professionally teach yoga.
True to her inclination towards intensity and fervour amongst her activities, Sheryl shared with us that the forms of yoga she truly enjoyed were the “intense, physically challenging ones” such as Vinyasa flow yoga. As an example of the intensity she enjoyed, the 30-day Bikram yoga challenge constituted practicing yoga in a controlled room, heated to 35-42 °C with a humidity of 40%, for 30 straight days. Between the long hours she had to clock in the office and the vigour required for the Bikram yoga, the 30 days served to instill an incredible sense of discipline within her and to push her a notch out of her comfort zone.
“When you are stressed, the one thing that you need is actually discipline. When you feel that things that are unmanageable, you need a lot of discipline so that you can go through everything with a sense that it will be done. It will come to an end and it will be done.”
Beyond this sense of discipline, Sheryl also credits yoga for teaching her a multitude of other life lessons such as mindfulness, breathing, and the art of letting go. This sense of calm and wisdom was prevalent as she spoke, when we probed her about life and her approach towards growth and failure.
“I think what’s very important at any stage of life is self-awareness. You need to know yourself and understand your impulses, the way you react and the reasons why you react this way. When you achieve that level of understanding about yourself, it helps you to identify how you want to grow as a person and it gives you a sense that there is something bigger than ourselves…we are all part of something bigger than ourselves. When you put it in that perspective, you stop focusing on the little things that make life heavy. Life can feel a little lighter that way.
For me, taking steps to actively walk away from your comfort zone is how you learn more about yourself and the way that you finally arrive at a point where you feel like you are making the most of your personal potential. It’s a journey of growth. If you asked me a year ago if I was happy with the person I was to become a year later – I can tell you, Yes. I have done many things, personally and professionally, that I would have never imagined doing if not for the fact that I decided to take a step out of my comfort zone.”
Sheryl’s advice is simple, down-to-earth, and yet resounding in its frank, honest nature. It is stripped of frills and fancies as she radiates sheer self-assurance in her words and the way she has chosen to live her life – dedicated to the development of the best version of herself; all human flaws and faults included.