Teenage Magazine reviews and interviews the author of The Student’s Guide to Life

We’ve posted below an excerpted version of the interview with Andrew K.J. Tan which appeared in the Dec 2007 issue of Teenage magazine.

1) When you were growing up, what was the hardest lesson you had to learn, and how did you overcome it?

I think the hardest lesson I had to learn was gaining confidence in myself and building up my self-esteem. When I was a teen, I found it difficult to look people in the eye, or to talk to girls face-to-face! At the root of it was poor self-esteem. I had to build up my self-esteem over the years not only by training myself to view things from a more positive perspective, but also by developing my strengths – areas I could excel in. These two things – positive thoughts and positive actions – reinforce each other in a healthy way. This is something I talk more about in my book.

2) If there were 3 golden rules every teenager should keep, what would it be?

First, choose to delay gratification. This simply means to accept and deal with short term pain for long term gain. An example is to put off playing your favourite computer game until after you have finished your homework.

Second, develop awareness about yourself. Learn to look inside and think about your values and emotions. Why do you feel the way you do? What are the motivations driving your behaviour? Ask yourself questions and observe.

Third, lead a balanced life. It’s great to have an area you are passionate and can do well in – such as studies, sports or music. But be careful about becoming too extremely focused on one area such that you neglect the others. For example, bookworms should get out and make more friends. Athletes should take care not to neglect their studies.

3) How long and how did you research for this book?

It took me about a year to research the book and another year to write it. There are three sources of research for this book – my own experiences, my friends’ experiences, and from wise authors and experts.

4) What’s the best thing and worst thing about being a teenager?

I think the best thing about being a teenager is the freedom you have to enjoy and explore the possibilities in life. You are no longer a child (and hopefully not treated like one) but also do not have many of the responsibilities that adults have (like getting a full time job, taking care of children etc). It is an exciting time where you can learn lots of new things, make new friends, savour new experiences, and dream about the future.

On the flipside it can also be a very “angsty” and awkward time. Your body is changing, you are experiencing new emotions with the opposite sex, there are pressures to perform in school. You may feel unconfident and unprepared to deal with all these changes. Little problems may feel like the end of the world. As George Bernard Shaw said, “Youth is wasted on the young.”

5) Is there another book coming up? Can you reveal a little on what it is about?

Yes, I do have a few ideas for the follow-up book, but am still deciding which one to work on next.

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