“This might come as a surprise to many, but I’m actually quite a shy person. I won’t open up to you unless I already know you, and that’s why being a clown was great; I could hide behind this character that I had created for myself.

When I was clowning for a talent agency many years ago, I would put on dramatic saltimbanco makeup and transform into Sally. Sally was my version of Sasha Fierce, and I loved being in character and putting smiles on kids’ faces.

I was also a radio deejay for two years. I loved that experience because people didn’t have to see me or deal with my awkward personality. All I had to do was brainwash people into listening to good music.

I guess I’ve been shy since I was a kid. I was always taking part in concerts and what not as a child because I loved the world of entertainment, but the minute I was around people, I’d shell up. That was why joining Singapore Idol was a big challenge for me.

I was on Idol around the same time I worked as a clown. That whole experience was very intimidating because I couldn’t hide behind a character when I went on stage to perform. I really had to work on my confidence. Somehow, I managed to make it all the way to top six.

Looking back, I’m surprised that I was capable of achieving everything that I had achieved. After Idol, I picked up the guitar and started doing gigs to develop myself as a proper artiste, and I really grew into my voice, my style and my identity as a young woman in her twenties.

But that life is so yesterday. I’m now happily married to a husband whom I love to death and a mom to two wonderful kids. The miracle of giving birth really made me a more spiritual person. Funnily enough, I’ve also went back to being a more private person.

I’m not showy anymore, and I don’t need that sense of acknowledgement from people either. I used to get an applause whenever I sang in the past, but I don’t need that sense of gratification now. I don’t even need likes on social media.

It was a colourful life and a nice taste of what could have been if I had continued down the path of a performer, but I guess I understand what’s truly important now and I’ve become much more content with my life today.” – Nurul, 31

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Arman Shah

A former travel writer with fond memories of solo adventures in Southeast Asia, Arman is now Founder of The Everyday People. He's also the co-host of Channel Empathy, a podcast about the marginalised in Singapore.