LOL Mondays: How Was 2023 For You?

Does this year feel long or short for you?

By Alywin Chew        4 December 2023

And just like that, another year has passed.

For me, this was a year that went by rather quickly. Why? I suppose it was, in the grand scheme of things, a pretty good year on all fronts.

Everything went smoothly on the career front, the wife and I survived another year without throwing each other off the building, and I even managed to learn a lesson or two about life.

One of the most important lessons I learned was how almost everything in life is relative.

Take for instance me feeling the year has gone by in a flash. I reckon those of you who have had to endure a terrible year would be feeling the opposite – you just can’t wait for it to end, and for 2024 to begin.

The same can be said of field camps. I don’t think anyone has ever complained that a field camp passed too quickly. Especially if you’re someone who, like me, prefers to, ahem, do his business in a proper toilet instead of out there somewhere in the jungle. 

Trust me, a five-day field camp feels like a five-month torture session when you’re holding back all that combat ration in your system. This reminds me of that time when my platoon sergeant was reprimanding me for not filling up my mock grenade (which was a Yakult bottle wrapped in blue tape) with sand.


“I did! I guess the sand just somehow leaked from the bottle!” I replied.

“You’re full of sh*t!”

“Well, sergeant. That I am.”

Good things we experienced during NS, on the other hand, always seem to pass too quickly. Case in point? Canteen breaks, weekends, sleeping hours and Attend C and romantic relationships.

On a more serious note, I urge all of you to view wealth as something that is relative too. Believe me, doing so will likely help you find that elusive thing called contentment.

Don’t be like Harry, my friend from NS – he’s a millionaire who thinks he is “poor” because all his friends are billionaires.

No, contrary to popular belief, there isn’t a monetary threshold you need to cross to be considered wealthy. No, you don’t need to have a million dollars to lead a good life. 

You just need to move to a neighbouring country.

Another lesson I learned this year is that the effects of aging are inevitable. 

Seriously. I feel no older than 24, but my body vehemently disagrees. I miss the days when I could play football thrice a week and still have enough left in the tank to ace the IPPT. These days, just passing the IPPT is a challenge because of all the physical ailments I have.

The most annoying of them is tennis elbow, which apparently is caused by the overuse of the forearm due to repetitive activity. Here’s the thing: I don’t even play tennis.

Yeah, well, I’m just going to leave it at that.

Another problem caused by aging is balding. My hairdresser says my hairline is receding and that the hair atop the head is thinning. I don’t know about you, but going bald is really stressing me out. I’ve been spending a lot of money on health supplements and funky shampoos that claim they can arrest hair loss.

None seem to work.

“I think you might be losing hair due to the stress of losing hair,” joked my hairdresser.

“I’m really quite stressed. I hate this aging process!” I said.

“Look, you can’t fight the inevitable. Just embrace it. Besides, you don’t have to worry too much because you’re tall.”

“Wait. What does height have to do with this?”

“Short people like me won’t know you’re balding because we can’t even view the top of your head!”

I suppose that was a valid point.

I would also like to think that I look way younger than my peers of the same age. Then again, I realised even this is somewhat relative, because a secondary school girl on flag day duty approached me last week and called me an uncle.

“Excuse me, uncle, would you like to donate?” she said.

“Did you just call me an uncle? Seriously, do I look that old?” I replied.

“Erm, you look old enough to be my dad.”

“Fine, call me daddy and I’ll give you a dollar.”

“Ok uncle, that is completely inappropriate. I think I will call the police instead.”

LOL Mondays is an ongoing series of slice-of-life stories from freelance writer and NSman Alywin Chew. Look out for the humorous tales which will be posted every first Monday of the month, to help you drive away your Monday blues!

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