A Journey Home 0 551

My unexpected jump from the Big Apple to the Little Red Dot

When I first heard the news that I had to head back to Singapore, I was devastated to say the least. A life I had built for nearly 7 years came crashing down in a single phone call. What I had known and loved was being ripped away from me; all because of an unfortunate misdirection in immigration law – I was merely one out of the hundreds of thousands who had suffered this consequence. For weeks I tried to come up with ways that would allow me to stay in the place I felt in my heart, was home. Nonetheless, there was no way out of this one.

I was in such disbelief for the longest time that I kept this information to myself, away from my friends and family; it just didn’t feel real, I didn’t want it to be real. One would think that people in my position would be somewhat glad to return home after almost a decade of being away – not me. Returning to Singapore meant starting all over again, right as my quarter life crisis was about to hit. Although I am Singaporean, I grew up in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I had no friends in Singapore and not many close relatives either; even my parents weren’t living there. Additionally, due to COVID-19, I was barred from entering Malaysia to be with my parents during this transition. The thought of all of this terrified me. How does one make new friends at the age of 24 and even more-so during a pandemic? How lonely is it going to get, being so far away from those who I consider family? Will I even be able to get a job? Where will I even start? These questions swirled around my mind constantly.

As time went on, I broke the news to my parents, roommates and closest friends, then booked my one way ticket back to Singapore. Although I tried my best to stay positive and look on the bright side of things, that period of time was one of the hardest points of my life. Emptying out my room and storage unit was painful. Knowing in the back of my mind that I may never experience certain moments with my chosen family again was hard. All I could do at that time was be present and savour every minute of it.

I was set to leave at the end of January, so as each holiday passed, I saw it as a milestone towards my departure. When that dreaded last week finally came, there were many tears shed, heartwarming speeches made, and hugs that I prayed would last a lifetime.

During my quarantine in Singapore, I had a lot of time to think, plan and somewhat grieve that life I needed to move on from. Once I was done with my 14 day stay, I was out and about. Choosing to make the most out of this new adventure, I decided to take initiative and began exploring on my own. The country felt familiar enough for me not to be too intimidated, but it was evident I was unaccustomed to the way of life. Treating Singapore like it was a brand new country brought forth a culture shock that I didn’t really see coming – from the differences in social etiquette, to the language and the mannerisms. With that said, as time passed, it was a relief to see I was getting into my own groove and relearning a culture I had no idea I missed. Starting new hobbies and returning to old passions most definitely helped me feel more confident and comfortable in my new home. Before I knew it, I was meeting new people and making so many connections; it’s been one of the most exciting parts of this journey.

“The mental and emotional journey of it all has allowed me to claim ownership and have more control over my life than ever before. Letting go of the old and making way for the new can be painful in that moment, but may just end up surprising you way more than you expected.”

Looking back, I wouldn’t change any moment of this. All the emotions, turmoil and stress has proven to be beneficial one way or another. I’ve come to realise that most of the things I was worried about were simply due to the lack of confidence in myself, and fear of the unknown. Accepting the reality of the situation and taking it one day at a time has helped clear my clouded thoughts and count all my blessings. With all honesty I can say that this move was much needed; the mental and emotional journey of it all has allowed me to claim ownership and have more control over my life than ever before. Letting go of the old and making way for the new can be painful in that moment, but may just end up surprising you way more than you expected.

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Friends For A Season 0 438

I believe that in life, one of the most beautiful things that we can experience is friendship. It’s not a necessity that you can’t live without but it sure as hell makes the mundanity of day to day life tolerable and even enjoyable. I’ve always been a person who valued friendship above all else, of course, family tops the list but the line gets blurred with the friends who’ve been through it all with you. 

In my entire life, I’ve only ever had a couple of friendships implode and fall apart. Mostly some friendships fade over time with no hard feelings and some friendships stand the test of time and space apart. The world prepares you for heartbreak, we see it in movies and read about it in books – we know it’s a natural part of growing up. No one warns you of the deep pain that is felt when you lose a friend. It’s an underrated love.

My approach to friendship comes with the headspace that this will never come to an abrupt end. Maybe it will fizzle if we don’t truly connect, but it’s not going to be a huge dramatic break-up the way it happens with significant others. So the few times that friendships have come to an end in that way, it shattered my heart harder and deeper than I ever saw coming. 

It’s hard to describe the feeling of losing a best friend. It’s kind of like losing a piece of yourself. Your friends are the people that you are utterly you around, you don’t feel shy or insecure or embarrassed with them because they know who you are and love you because of it. You trust them with your ugliest side and depend on them when you can’t depend on yourself. It’s a pure connection because nothing is holding you together apart from the mutual desire to be in each other’s lives. There’s no romance nor sex nor children nor finances that force the relationship to be sustained. The two people are bound by nothing more than pure platonic love.

That kind of pure love is hard to find. Not many people will love you unconditionally and expect nothing in return. Good friends are hard to come by and when you have them in your life it makes the human experience richer and more beautiful. There’s security you feel in friendships that you don’t feel when in romantic relationships or even sometimes in familial relationships. It’s a chosen family that is supposed to stand by you through it all. So when a friendship starts to go sour, it’s so hard to recognize it and let it go. 

When one of my friendships went sour, it happened without me even realising it at first. I started to subtly feel the disconnect and imagining a life without this person, which at one point felt earth-shattering, became more and more manageable. I forgot the joys that we shared because I saw this person changing in ways I didn’t particularly like. 

The thing about being friends for years and years is that people change with time and if you’re lucky, you can grow together at a similar pace with a similar mindset and similar goals. However, there is the chance that you can grow apart, become completely different people until one day you realise that maybe the only thing holding this relationship together is time. 

It’s a tough pill to swallow when this happens because usually you only realise it when it’s too late. You don’t have the energy to fight for the friendship anymore because you’ve lost a lot of the joy that makes it worth fighting for. It starts slow, you first feel mildly irritated about things that you used to like about them. Then you start wanting to see them less, not putting in as much effort to ensure that they have a place in your life. Eventually, you start to feel like you don’t even want them around anymore and it can be so confusing because you don’t understand why you feel this way. 

With the experience I had, I let this animosity for this person stew and live only in my mind. I wasn’t enjoying our friendship anymore, but I also wasn’t willing to have a conversation about it or put in the work to fix what had gone wrong. I struggled to see things from the other person’s perspective and didn’t look at myself for the role I played in it. I was also scared that if we were to have a conversation, that it would result in our friendship coming to an end. A part of me knew that this was likely going to happen one way or another.

All relationships are a two-way street, there is no way to look at a situation and place blame on one person. I can try to absolve myself of responsibility for what happened but we know that just isn’t true. 

Only when the pot had finally boiled over and things had been taken too far, did the two of us have a conversation. I don’t know if I necessarily have regrets about how this conversation went, but I regret not bringing things up with this person sooner. Because when we spoke, the frustrations and anger that I was holding in my heart were also shared by her. It wasn’t just me that was hurting but her too. We had both avoided being honest with one another because we both knew that things weren’t working anymore. 

I had spent so long indulging myself in my emotions and painting her out to be the bad guy that I never took a second to think of how she felt. She was also growing apart from a friend that had been part of her life for so long. She was also experiencing the growing pains of changing and becoming who she wanted to be. I didn’t realise that we were both coming from a place of immense hurt. 

What’s crazy about this story is that the friendship ended at the same time my romantic relationship ended. I was heartbroken in lots of ways but if I’m being honest, my heart hurt harder and longer for the loss of my friend than the loss of my boyfriend. She had been a part of my life for so long and we’d maintained a friendship for over a decade.

We shared so many laughs, so many adventures and so many good times that when it all came to an end, it was hard to believe. I was disoriented for so long afterwards, my life felt like it had so drastically changed in a couple of days. 

“sometimes losing someone helps you realise that there is an ease that comes with letting go”

However, what did happen was the realisation that the people that stood by me and supported me through one of the toughest times were the ones who were meant to be in my life. Sometimes losing someone helps you realise that there is an ease that comes with letting go. All the time I spent thinking and wondering about this person was returned to me. I understood what I needed from a best friend and the tough lessons learnt when things fell apart also strengthened the friendships I still had. 

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is let go of something you felt was going to be permanent in your life. However you’ll realise that letting go brings a lightness you were seeking and as sad as it may be, some friends are around just for a season. They help you grow, teach you lessons and accompany you to the exact point in your life they’re supposed to. 

What I realised is that we have to be grateful for all the friends we have in our lives, the ones that stayed for a season and the ones that’ll stay for a lifetime. 

Aunty Babblings: On Masks 0 392

I am told that I babble and it has gotten worse with the pandemic and as I age! I figured that instead of my verbal babble maybe putting down these confused, excited thoughts may have a point. After all baby babbles turn to language at some point. 

The pandemic and with no work to boot gave me a lot of time to question the goings on in the world. These thoughts are not based on research but just an Aunty Babbling.

This babbling aunty rambles along on walks here and there every day. It’s really a great way to observe life and people who are living through a pandemic that just doesn’t seem to go away. I meet other regular walkers, and most if not all of them observe social distancing and if they don’t, I cross to the other side of the road or move a few meters away. 

Some wear masks and others don’t. I wear the mask as I am a senior citizen with comorbidities, because I am not taking any chances that may put me or the other at risk. Comorbidities by the way means a person with two or more diseases. A word I had to look up in the dictionary when I registered for the vaccination programme. 

Hmmm … may have been simpler to say “Tick here if you have two or more diseases”.  I wonder how many people especially the elderly etc. could Google it!

Coming back to walks and masks I’ve noticed over the past year or so that people throw their masks away wherever they like: on the road, along the grassy sidewalk, in common areas … wherever it is convenient to them. Surely, we can do better than this.

The interesting thing about these masks that are thrown away is that some are folded, fastened with the ear loops and then dumped. My question is, if we can go to all that trouble, surely, we can carry a bag, put it in there and dispose of it in a trash bin on the street or at home. 

The point here is that once again we’ve missed the point. 

Could it be that the global pandemic is here for us to learn the lesson of consideration for one another?

Yes, we should and must keep ourselves safe but we should consider the people who have to pick up after us. Are we putting them at risk? The point is that this whole virus thing is a two-way responsibility.

I keep myself safe, and you keep yourself safe and everyone can be safe. Remember the virus is blind to our man-made differences … all it takes are a few droplets from a sneeze or a cough for the virus to enter our body. Virus or no virus, there still remains the issue of littering.

I’ve seen blue, black, pink lavender and designed masks strewn all over the place and maybe it’s time to wear the mask knowing the task that is required of us. 

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