“I had no direction & no meaning”: Stefanie Sun reflects on her struggles in 20-year Mandopop career
"These falls and bruises, these enriching experiences at every stage of my life, and the people who walked with me -- they are worth every limp," wrote Sun.
Singaporean Mandopop star Stefanie Sun will be celebrating her 20th anniversary as a singer this year.
In the run up to the celebration, the 41-year-old Sun has penned a moving reflection on her journey in the entertainment industry.
Demanding celebrity schedule and desire for freedom
One of the things she talked about was how she was thrust into the demanding work schedule of a celebrity when she moved to Taiwan as a new singer.
For the first five years of her career, Sun released at least one album per year. There were years when she released two albums in a year.
“The work of a singer is like a mountain — so unimaginably immense,” she wrote.
Sun also wrote about her desire for more freedom amidst her non-stop work, and how her family brought meaning and focus to her life.
And now standing at the cusp of her 20th anniversary, Sun says that she treasures all of the good and the bad:
“I tell myself that all the experiences I’ve accumulated over the years — the emotions, the love, the darkness, the abundance, the emptiness — they are worth keeping.”
She ended her note with the assurance that she will “keep running forward, until the sun sets”.
You can a translation of her post below.
Sun’s reflections, translated
I started my career in 2000.
It was a dream come true for me, then a mere bathroom singer.
Back then, Taiwan was the epicentre of the Mandopop industry. I packed my suitcase and left Singapore for Taipei.
“No 22-year-old woman sings like her!” Who would have thought that my 20-year journey would have been kickstarted by this simple remark.
The work of a singer is like a mountain — so unimaginably immense.
Every newspaper (yes, I am from the generation that read newspapers) wanted a unique scoop — even having takeaway for lunch can be a story (it also extends to eating dumplings, glutinous rice balls, and every food item from every season. Yes, “Readers love these types of stories!”).
Caught in a traffic jam? Why not speak to a reporter?
Promotional activities ended! Just in time to catch the evening commute/dinner crowd.
“Three live news programmes OK — It’s time for us to go on a TV programme — Great! They provided food — Wait, quick come say hi to so-and-so — If you don’t understand anything, just smile — Don’t worry, you can relax very soon — Because your next engagement is with a radio station — You know that radio stations have the highest listenership in the dead of night.”
At night, I removed my make-up, only to apply back on the next day the appearance expected of a female celebrity.
As the years went by, my work in Mainland China increased. The time spent flying became my happiest moments.
I sprinted forward relentlessly like so for a few years. I’ve been broken, appeared on the news and become more reserved when possible.
In the end, if I were given a choice, I would have chosen freedom.
The void became where I felt most comfortable.
I tore at it, widening it bit by bit and in that space, I was able to soar freely and talk freely.
I wasn’t sure what that freedom could bring me, but I felt like I wanted to run with my hair in the wind.
Was it an escape or freedom? The line that separates them is a little blur.
I had no direction, and no meaning. And in the end, I lost my focus too.
Later, I found myself a partner, and gave birth to two adorable kids.
My life found its meaning and I slowly established my focus.
Even though I was wholly unprepared for my new role — I felt that I couldn’t do it, I wasn’t enough, and I wasn’t good enough — I continued to work hard. My flaws became obvious.
I started to dislike the Stefanie in real life.
Slowly, I also grew to dislike Stefanie the celebrity.
In the last seven years, I’ve also learned to be a mother.
At this very moment, I am striding towards my 20th anniversary in the industry.
I tell myself that all the experiences I’ve accumulated over the years — the emotions, the love, the darkness, the abundance, the emptiness — they are worth keeping.
These falls and bruises, these enriching experiences at every stage of my life, and the people who walked with me — they are worth every limp.
Sometimes I wonder if I will be just as successful if I were to do it all over again.
Let’s not think about that. I’m going to keep running forward, until the sun sets.
Top images via Stefanie Sun/Instagram.
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