After we released the teasers of this article, our DMs were flooded — people were asking questions or shouting things excitedly into cyberspace, adding to a commentary they’d already been a part of: The commentary of success story Timothee Yap.
He doesn’t say “I am a success story”, but the multi-talented artiste, athlete and lawyer-to-be seems to keep running towards his dreams, and eventually breaks past the finish-line in first place. His Instagram is filled with portrait shots of him leaving Singapore to represent our nation, or him in action, or working at places in Singapore, all accompanied by reflective captions on his work or understanding of himself and the world.
Back to our DMs–our followers shouted their support for Timothee, or highlighted how they’d been waiting for a feature on him, or how they admired his work ethic. Someone asked “eh isn’t this the lawyer sprinter actor spoil-market guy?” in good jest. Timothee Yap has a reputation, and we realize that it’d be more apt to describe him as a diamond instead of a gem of a man, because the community often enthuses about the multi-faceted nature of his many talents.
Timothee Yap / Instagram
We’re eager to understand how he holds himself accountable for his dreams and goals, the key driver to his always-in-motion frame. “I’d say: stay disciplined, focused and hungry in the pursuit of your dreams, and never give up when you are hit with adversity. Take adversity as a motivation to work even harder, and do even better.”
Being someone who has truly delved into a few trades, namely acting, athletics and law, we couldn’t help but suspect that juggling the three could result in some difficulty or hardship. Usually, people have different strengths and interests and often hope to embark on a certain path for the long-term because it allows them to expound on that specific strength or passion, yet Timothee took on three such diverse yet taxing aspirations.
He told us in an opening line that ended in a rhyme. “To be honest, I sometimes receive flak when I don’t perform on the track. Detractors would say that I am distracted by acting and my media-commitments. But that’s not true at all. Athletics was always my priority and I never missed a training session due to my media-related commitments.”
We are in an age where the term “side-hustle” is thrown around as liberally as “side-hoe” used to be, and the “rise and grind” mind-set has caught on and carried many people into their new-age careers and lives of 2020. Sure, there are ways to achieve that inner-calm and people who practise minimalism of the mind and life, but oftentimes we see YouTubers do five hundred different things in a day, going to various practises or meetings, all while being a full-time student. While it is enjoyable to have a fulfilling and productive life, it is exhausting. Timothee agreed on a certain level, noting that “Another conflict I face is the lack of time to balance all 3 of my commitments plus spending time with my friends and family and getting sufficient rest.”
But surely, there must have been a set of reasons that gave him the desire to branch out into different paths. “Athletics has always been my passion since young. I truly enjoy training, competing and pushing my body to the limit and I always had the goal of being the fastest man in Singapore. As for reading law, I like how the study of it is multi-faceted and is highly relevant in our daily lives. It is interesting to see how the laws shape societal, economic and cultural norms.”
He finishes the break-down for us, “As for acting, it came to me fortuitously. I never really had the aspirations of being an actor but as a person that lives by a ‘YOLO’ mantra, I seized the opportunity when I was presented with it. I enjoy acting but due to my other commitments, it has become more of a ‘hobby’ to me.”
It seems fitting that athletics is his first-love and first-named passion, as a highlight of his entire journey thus far has been “representing Singapore at the 2016 Rio Olympics and in particular, competing and interacting with Usain Bolt in the second round of the 100m”. As young people in Singapore, perhaps we’d all remember going through the gruelling NAPFA examinations, and finding the 100m shuttle run a difficult task – our competitor was either ourselves, the P,E teacher, or the stop-watch. Timothee’s competitor? Usain Bolt.
We close off on a bitter-sweet moment — because there is a downside to being directly in the public eye, in the vision of most Singaporeans. It’s the scrutiny of the public, the external judgement that might be present.
“Has there ever been a moment of self-doubt or caution that you felt about putting yourself in the public eye?”
Timothee answers evenly, “Not really. In fact, I use it as a motivation to continue giving my best and upholding high standards of myself. This includes refraining from any sort of vices, partying and being open about any relationships that I have.”
We stan a man of discipline and pride in his own work. We stan the man, Timothee Yap.