Chasing Your Passion and Learning to Be In Touch with Your Emotions with Natalie Ho
Natalie Ho is a passionate athlete who is part of Team SG and Team captain of the Singapore women’s hockey team. She is also a full time Physical Education Teacher that works with young children.
Natalie’s day-to-day gets pretty hectic as she trains 5 times a week while working full time during the day. Despite the busy schedule, she expresses that she wholeheartedly enjoys what she does and the stage of life she is in currently. To keep up with this lifestyle mentally and physically, time set aside for self-care, healing and hobbies is extremely essential to her. As a travel lover, Natalie often spends her free time reading travel blogs and exploring new interesting itineraries that she can try during her next trip.
Natalie shares with us about how she has been balancing her busy lifestyle while making sure she doesn't lose the passion and love for what she does. She highlights the importance of putting time aside to take care of yourself and fueling your soul with activities and people you love.
I started hockey as a CCA in Secondary 1 back in school. Before finishing my GCE ‘O’ levels, I went for the U16 trials and got called up to play for the Pacific School Games (U16 team). From there I debuted with the Senior Women's Team at the age of 17 and have been playing all the way for 13 years now. Up to date, I have played 90 games for the country and am currently a two time South East Asian Games medalist.
After getting my degree in Bachelor of Education (Early childhood) I became an educator, I started off as an assistant teacher that assisted in the daily life of children in English, math, science and unit of inquiry. 2 years later, I had the opportunity to broaden my teaching scope and went into teaching physical education. I enjoy teaching children and they bring me lots of joy.
My day to day schedule is usually very busy as I juggle full time work and training. I usually get up as early as 6AM to get ready for work as my class starts at 8:30AM. I get to do a lot of fun and interesting things with my children such as rock climbing, bouldering, ball skills, gymnastics, swimming and cycling. My work day ends at 3:30PM and I head home for a short rest/nap before heading out of the house for my regular national training at 7:30pm. I train 3 times a week on the hockey pitch and an additional 2 times a week at the sport singapore gym. Once training ends at 10PM, I then head home, get a shower and have a good meal. I end the night by winding down before getting ready for bed.
Just last year, I have started to focus on loving myself as I have realised how important my feelings can impact on how I look on the exterior and it shows in my behaviour towards people. Also despite how busy I am every day and week, I make it a point to have some time to myself to do the things I enjoy doing as a form of stress relief.
There was a point in time in my hockey career where I had a burn out. It happened after the 2015 SEA Games held in Singapore where I train everyday except for Friday. It was the period where I was still studying in Uni and doing my Bachelor of Education in Early Childhood. I went off on a 6 months hockey break and did fun things with friends and family and picked up my hockey stick again half a year later.
There was also a rough period where I struggled with enjoying all the things I do regularly and I was really thankful that I had friends and family around me to help me cope. They were all very understanding and especially attentive to how I was feeling and behaving. Regular check-ins with them and whenever I need to destress, they will always be there to help me with that.
After experiencing those periods of my life, I learnt that having time on my own and reflecting helps a lot. It certainly requires a little bit of time but having even a few minutes can do magic. I tend to be more relaxed, more calm and realise that it made me less tired and angsty towards people too. Whenever I do this, I also find out new things about people and myself, such as my friends and families behaviour and how I should react to them while making sure they are feeling alright too.
Thankfully I did not experience much biasness and I think Hockey and my job plays a big part in it. Doing sports really helped me in all aspects of my life and I certainly believe that women can also do what men are good at.
Sports helped me in my daily life and connecting with people. I like the idea of competing overseas and meeting new opponents. We are rivals on the pitch but off pitch I do have a couple of friends from Malaysia, Hong Kong and Japan where we do travel together and have a holiday. Besides that, sports have helped in terms of my confidence too. Growing up, I have been in an environment where I experience both winning and losing a lot. This taught me how to accept failure in life at a very young age. This was especially crucial as failure does not only happen in sports but also in our daily life in every other way. I am glad I got to experience all these emotions as early as I can which made me the strong and confident adult that I am right now.
Keeping the passion alive is important especially if it is something I am doing daily. Finding time to destress and having time for yourself is important too. Winding down is something I enjoy doing and there is no better place for that than in my own room and space.
There is always something to learn everyday and every moment. And anyone can teach us something. Because I work with children as young as 4 years old, they teach me the most simple thing in life. Seeing them try their hardest in each lesson to perform a skill for the first time and when they finally achieve it, the smiles on their faces are the brightest ever. Even when you are having a bad day, children say the most innocent thing that brings a smile to your face.
A person that I look up to will be Tiffany Young. She carries herself really well and is confident in all the things that she does. One lesson that I always remember is that everything happens for a reason and there will be times and events that happen in your life that will bring you down or question your capability at things. However, everything happens for a reason and it will only make you a stronger person at the end of the day.
Be who you want to be and what you want to be, do not let others try to change you. Always feel confident and good about yourself and once you have that everything else will flow.
I have always gone with a style that is simple and comfortable and I lean towards wearing sleeveless a lot as the weather in Singapore is so humid and hot. As long as I am comfortable with the clothes, I feel good in them and that is when I feel confident about myself.
*This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Photos c/o Augustine Yuen