01 Apr 2019 The Perseverance to Achieve My Dreams
Yong Jing Yuan
Young Women Division Leader
Joined SSA in 2007
It was in 2007 when my friend, Si Min, invited our group of friends to a concert held at the SSA Headquarters. Since all my friends were going, I decided to tag along.
During the concert, I was captivated by the youth’s vibrant performances. Knowing that I love performing, Si Min asked me to help out in the cultural items at discussion meetings and Future Division meetings subsequently. I readily accepted her requests.
At that time, I was troubled with friendship and academic issues. There was some misunderstanding between my good friend and me. The problem persisted over two years of my secondary school life. I became the victim of cyber bullying where she would post blog entries about her negative feelings towards me and it worsened to the point where every action of mine became her target of cyber bullying. Her group of friends would give me weird stares. Once, they threw staple bullets at me during lesson. I felt extremely lost and all I could do was to cry.
Due to this, I was not able to concentrate in my studies. I would confide in Si Min about my troubles and she would always encourage me to chant.
At one discussion meeting that I attended, a leader shared the Gosho in a comprehensive manner which made me realised Buddhism is logical and I can put it into practice in my daily life. After much sincere encouragement and many home visitations from my district leaders, I finally began chanting. Little did I know that this small step was going to change my life forever.
My First Victory
After chanting I felt joyous, calm, and courageous. I could feel that my life condition improved tremendously. I no longer felt sad, but instead felt an indescribable sense of joy welling forth. I stopped visiting my friend’s blog and had the wisdom to focus on my studies. In addition, I also had the courage to consult my teachers and friends when in doubt with my studies.
I was so happy that I scored a total of 14 points for my O-Level examinations. It was a great improvement compared to my school preliminary examinations. With this result, I was able to enrol into Applied Food Science and Nutrition course in a polytechnic.
Nevertheless, after I enrolled into the course, I constantly felt it was not suitable for me. I have always like the performing arts but was too fearful to pursue it. Furthermore, there is no such course in any of the polytechnics and if I were to go to a private institution, it would be too costly for my family.
To Dare to Dream
In 2010, I decided to attend the audition for the Soka Youth Musical. I felt I did not do well so I chanted earnestly for an opportunity to be involved in this event. Weeks after, I was overjoyed to learn that I bagged a role in the musical. I was very grateful that I forged precious comradeship with some of the casts, and my bond with SGI President Ikeda had also deepened.
After I completed my diploma in 2011, I explored other fields. I tried jobs related to Customer Service and Events Management. However, I was not happy in my pursuit.
In 2012, I joined the Soka Youth Dance Crew (SYDC). In 2015, SYDC was preparing for the dance production—Reflections, and I was very fortunate to be chosen as part of the main cast. Other than dancing, there were portions where I had to act. To my surprise, not only did I look forward to every training but for once I felt my heart was so full. There and then, I knew what I wanted.
I had dialogue with a comrade in faith who was helping with our dance production. She guided me in exploring the acting industry. After sending out numerous emails for audition and casting, and chanting fervently for wisdom, courage and confidence, I finally got my very first gig!
I used to work in a non-governmental organisation where we encouraged our activists to go for their dreams. Working in this environment led me to ponder about my own dreams too. When my colleagues knew about my interest in acting, all of them encouraged me to go for it. President Ikeda always encourages the youth to dare to dream. “Nothing is irredeemable in youth. Rather, the worst mistake you can make when you are young is to give up on yourself and not to challenge yourself for the fear of failure.” Ultimately, I have the Gohonzon, there is nothing to be afraid of.
After chanting abundant daimoku for my mission; engaging in numerous dialogue with comrades in faith; reading into President Ikeda’s writings; and discussing the matter with my parents, I finally decided to quit my full time job and start my freelance acting career in May 2017. Though my parents were worried, I assured them that I will do my best. I was convinced that acting was what I wanted.
Already in my mid 20s, with neither professional acting background nor a stable income, I was determined to base myself solely on faith. I chanted earnestly for at least two hours daily, as though “to produce fire from damp wood” and “to obtain water from parched ground”. I believed that discipline is key to achieving my dreams. I would start my day early with morning prayers, then proceed to send out resumes.
Never Give Up
To start is easy, to continue is difficult. I sent out many emails for audition opportunities, however, more often than not, I did not get any reply. There were times when I got invited for auditions but was too nervous and could not perform well. For the next one to two months, I did not secure any shoots at all and started to tap into my own savings. During that bleakest period, I was constantly doubting if I would be able to pull through. In addition to that, my family and friends started questioning if I was capable of doing this as a career.
There were days when I just felt like giving up, however, President Ikeda’s guidance was my source of motivation. President Ikeda said, “The course of our lives is determined by how we react—what we decide and what we do—at the darkest of time. The nature of that response determines a person’s true worth and greatness.” It’s inevitable to face deadlock in life but do we lament and do nothing about it or take actions? I resolved to take action to change the situation for the better and not give in to fate.
I had never been so eager to study The New Human Revolution. It encouraged me to bravely strive in my chosen path. Knowing that President Ikeda is working hard for every single member and has never given up no matter how harsh the situation, pushed me through the difficult times. It made me resolve to strive to become a proud disciple of President Ikeda. Furthermore, my leaders and comrades in faith have always been my pillar of strength, giving me valuable advice. They have never doubted my capabilities.
I started setting specific targets for work and kosen-rufu. I brought two friends to my district discussion meetings last year (2017). I realised that as I work hard for kosen-rufu, casting opportunities came knocking on my door.
Currently, I am working as a part time retailer with a former colleague, who is very supportive. I am grateful that with my flexible part-time job and filming assignments, I do not have to worry about my finances now.
Towards the Future
President Ikeda said, “If you failed yesterday, strive to win today. If you are defeated today, strive to win tomorrow.”
Every day is a brand new day to win and to achieve unprecedented breakthrough for me. Every day, I resolve to do better than I had done the day before.
I am determined to win together with my mentor in this Year of Brilliant Achievement in the New Era of Worldwide Kosen-rufu (in 2018). I will continue to strengthen my bond with my mentor; show actual proof in my work; and have the conviction to share Buddhism with my friends and family.
(Adapted from SSA Times issue 579)