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.