“No one is as invested in your life as you are, and when you make it clear where you stand, everyone benefits greatly.” Letters to my younger self: Joy Wang, Jigger and Pony.

Joy Wang. Image credit: Jigger & Pony

At 23 years old, Joy Wang has accomplished a lot. She holds a First Class Honours in Psychology and Linguistics from Oxford University. A creative at heart, she was appointed the lead designer for the Oxford Artificial Intelligence Society. During her time at Oxford, she also launched a mental health student startup. Joy also taught herself UX design and won a few hackathons along the way.

With a name like Joy, it’s impossible not to feel obligated, or even burdened, to constantly be joyful. However, that comes naturally to Joy Wang. In reality, making people happy is what motivates her the most. 

She has a passion to pursue new experiences and enjoys meeting new people. It’s no surprise that a bartending job ad on Instagram would, somehow, find its way through the algorithm to her. She recalls, “I’m pretty sure the Instagram algorithm knows me better than myself because I had never considered bartending before. I didn’t even drink cocktails! But that ad stayed in my head for a few weeks, and it came at a point where I was considering my next step. I got in touch with a friend who was a bartender (shoutout to Poh) and he brought me and a mutual friend to Jigger and Pony. My mind was blown by the level of hospitality, and every element of the experience – drinks of course, but also the menu, music, interior design. The rest is history.” 

In order to be promoted from being an apprentice to a bartender at the award-winning bar Jigger and Pony, every potential bartender has to go through an internal test. Recalling the experience, she shares candidly, “Most people fail it on their first try, as I did. On my second try, I expected to come out of it feeling more confident, but when it ended I felt like a nervous wreck. Less than 5 minutes in, I already had to remake an Espresso Martini because the washline was low. Yet at the end of their deliberation, they decided to pass me.” Surprised, she asked the team why they decided to let her pass. Her Bar Manager, Giovanni responded by saying that even though she was clearly a little bit frazzled, by remaking that Espresso Martini, Joy showed that she held herself to a higher standard, and it was that integrity that made him feel comfortable calling her a bartender.

Other than sobbing for happiness at the staff meal area right after, she spent a lot of time reflecting on it. Joy learned a crucial lesson not only about being a bartender but also about being solely responsible for our own work and lives. She shares, “Sometimes now when I still feel myself getting lazy or thinking “that’s not gonna hurt anybody”, I always think back to this moment to remind myself to stay on track.”


Dear younger Joy,

You are just about to leave the safe nest of university and venture into the world of the adult. I know you’re worried. The pandemic is underway and you don’t know when you’ll see your friends from uni again. I’ll break it to you – you won’t see most of them for a very long time. You planned to be working overseas, and that’s also not going to happen for a while.

 Yet because you are stuck in Singapore with a pandemic raging on, you have a real treasure on your hands. You have the gift of doing whatever you want without anyone questioning your choices. Take it and run.

 You are going to become a bartender, clumsy person that you are! And at one of the best bars in the world. At first you will tell everyone around you that it’ll be a short stint, six months max, but all of a sudden you will blink and be wearing a shiny new jacket, hanging out with new friends, and 15 months would have passed. You will discover so many things about yourself, good and bad, and you will make many mistakes. Stay humble. Focus on learning. That’s the only thing that helped you make it this far. But if I can warn you in advance, ask around before you throw any contents of a jug down the sink!

 Hold on to your creativity and find projects that help you exercise those muscles. Take those photos, write those articles, cook those feasts you dream of. Bring it to work too – you will find yourself doing video editing and graphic designing for Jigger & Pony. 

 You have always worked full steam ahead for the things that mattered to you, and I’m so proud of you for that. Be careful about your deep-rooted need to please everyone in the process.

No one is as invested in your life as you are, and when you make it clear where you stand, everyone benefits greatly.

So don’t beat around the bush, and don’t take your foot off the gas pedal. Just go.

 One more thing! I know this is what dad says all the time, but promise me that you will have a sip of water for every sip of alcohol you take. I guarantee you it will save your ass in the morning.

 All my love,

Joy from the future


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