International women’s day

Dear fellow women,

We all know this is a day of celebrating Fearless Females, but ironically, this is today where I feel utterly defeated.

We are all for empowering women and letting them know they are strong, which is exactly what I strived to be by dressing up, and marching towards the event I solo-heartedly signed up for.

I hoped the make some friends, to network, or at least have one decent conversation tonight. But no.

Nobody talked to me. I was out of place and felt as if I weren’t really there. Don’t get me wrong, everybody there was exactly the kind of girls I want to be friends with, but after hours of waiting and hanging around, nobody took the initiative to talk to me, everyone looked like they were already here with someone, and I was too shy to approach anyone.

I blamed myself for being like this- too shy. The expectation was there, but it’s just so hard to walk towards someone. Out of a corner of my eye, I saw xxx, the founder of a design agency I respected a lot. This is my chance. By going up and introducing myself, who knows what will happen? I have been dreaming of a internship/job with them since forever. They didn’t get back to me. Should I go talk to her? I should, right? But what if the conversation goes awkward? I felt the pressure put on myself to approach her, but I just don’t know why, I won’t move. Because I don’t like this side of me, of being the initiator. I didn’t like the shameless act of having to sell yourself (except in interviews).

I was caught in a dilemma whether I should approach her. I usually stay Long enough at this kind of social events because I held out the hope of making friends at the last minute. I prayed internally, yet nothing happened. Eventually I grew more and more frustrated.

Then I left. I left not because I wanted to give up, but because of self love. I was always holding out this hope, that I can meet someone who has something to offer me- love, career elevation, connections, whatever. And it’s unhealthy. I don’t ever want to put myself in that position of mercy. And by staying, I am putting that unnecessary stress on myself.

Some people may have the luck of meeting a “贵人”, but perhaps this is God’s blessing and plan for me, that I can say in future, “I didn’t know someone who knew somebody, who knew somebody, who knew somebody. I worked hard from the bottom way up.”

This international women’s day, I spent it alone. Perhaps I will shine best as a solo act, I don’t know.

I hope my subsequent IWDs will be better, but meanwhile let me write this letter.

Love

Grace

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:( a sad day

I just sold my piano today and mum was not happy. To her, it was a hasty decision, and it seemed like a move out of desperation to gain in monetary terms. So congratulations, I am once in her eyes a fortune digging person.

It is of no doubt that she felt the same way as me in parting with the piano- we both felt sad and sentimental and unable to let it go. Even though I did not spend much time with the piano, it is with love and hope that I have chosen it- I remember it was with dad that I had bought it. I love my dad. He always gives so generously.

No doubt I felt as sad as mum did, but my mum channeled her sadness towards me in the form of anger. She began blaming me, shouting at me, that it did not make my sadness any better. I felt even more terrible. If I don’t sell the piano, she blamed me for buying it and leaving it there and not ever playing it. Well, now I’m selling it so that it will not go to waste, but rather will be at the hands of someone who would have the time and talent to use it properly. True, that no amount of money gained by this exchange would be able to comfort me, but that is the only reason in which I can find solace in.

So in order to flee from my mum’s wrath, I am now sitting downstairs. I left home immediately after selling the piano. I really think she would not cool down and I really dread going home- I would have to hear her rants for the rest of the day. I feel bad for her precisely because I can empathise exactly with how she feels. It is so painful parting with such a beautiful musical instrument. I don’t know how to express it except by crying. We often do not know the value of an item until it is lost and gone forever. I shall probably never see it again, and it is a pity I never did mastered the piano properly.

Besides praying for peace in our hearts, I not know what to do anymore.

I’m going home

I wonder if this was how Harry felt when he left Hogwarts to live with the Dursley’s over the summer. As the plane moved along the runway, I know it’s taking me further and further away from my comfort zone, further and further away from our little house on Wilson street, further and further away from Sydney city as the plane flew higher and higher, and my mind spun faster and faster. I never thought one day that Sydney would become my comfort zone, and Singapore the complete opposite.

This was not an unfamiliar experience. I’ve been on the plane alone many times before, being trained to summarise my life into a few suitcases. The feeling this time, however, was an unfamiliar one. It was one of being unhinged as the plane soared rapidly into the night sky. The city lights continued twinkling below me. I sobbed quietly into my pillow. It was a fairly clear night, with many stars dotting the night sky and a few clouds hovering above the city, the city that keeps shrinking until what’s left when I looked out of the window is the night lights, glistening in the distance below.

As we flew, the clouds begin to thicken. There wasn’t a single star in the sky.

Arrival

There was my mum, waving frantically from behind the glass. And dad beside her, holding up his camera like I was an animal in a zoo enclosure. They looked like paparazzi, and I guess it made me feel uncomfortable because I realised they’re the only people supporting me through life. If only my friends could even be half as excited. There’s really no need for my parents to be overly excited, their love made me feel uncomfortable in their presence. As an only child getting all the attention I never asked for, I wonder how long I can put up this act.

The next morning

I awoke, at 9.36am the next day. The air was thick, which caused my nose to block up. My skin didn’t feel dry anymore, it felt smoother than ever. It must have learnt how to supplement itself in the Australian dry weather.

I looked around and the past 1.5 years only felt like a very long dream. I certainly felt like Harry being back in the house of Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia, on Privet Drive. My mind worked recklessly, trying to think of things to do in the day aside from spending it at home with my parents. Write my London diary? Perhaps. My Melbourne travel diary? Or should I thread my eyebrows and get a new phone?

Yesterday I went out to my neighbourhood for the first time in many months. Singapore’s progressing very fast, everything has changed. Most of the shops have renovated, and other new shops have opened in place of some old ones. It looked vibrant and cute. The supermarket suddenly looked so small, unable to contain my previous experience of shopping in the giant Coles and Woolies back in Australia. I took a look at the bread. They looked so small. Everything looks clean and packaged, even the broccoli and the cauliflower, unlike Australia where all the veggies lie in a pile on a huge basket.

There’s a really peculiar feeling of being back in your childhood town, the town that raised you, the town you grew up in….after you experienced so much, after you’ve seen the big world out there and came back. It’s almost like going back to your roots and remembering where you came from and it humbles you. When I’m in London, I felt so small, so small in a big new world. Now, when I’m back here, I felt so big, almost like this pond is too small for me. As much as I love my hometown, I felt bad for myself that I have to come back here and return to square one. I felt like I was being demoted from an adult to being a child again.

My 2018 months in a nutshell

Jan: HOMESICK. slow, dragging, anticipating

Feb: I WENT BACK TO SINGAPORE. exciting, heartwarming

March: FORCEFULLY KILLED A HOPE. trying, painful, transformative

April: PRAYED FOR HEALING. restorative, turbulent

May: PICKED UP THE PIECES. Trusting, rest, peace

June: APPRECIATING THE GOOD THINGS. hopeful

July: WENT TO UK. Life-changing, adventurous, The best month of my life.

August: WENT BACK TO SYDNEY. Adapting, thoughtful, reflective.

September: WENT TO MELBOURNE. Rejuvenating, inspiring.

OCTOBER: SCHOOL LIFE. Dull, monotonous, stagnant.

NOVEMBER: THOUGHTFUL ABOUT FUTURE. Anxious, stressed, confused.

DECEMBER: BACK TO SINGAPORE. Culture shocking as I readjust, scary, reluctant.

My months in a nutshell- March was terrible. I cried Everyday when I woke up, and cried almost 4-5 times a day and forced myself to get through life.

Parks and walks

I watch her from a distance.

If I’m not careful, I might even mistake her for my mother.

There’s something just so familiar about the sight of a middle aged woman pushing a baby stroller. It’s almost like my mother’s trademark, an image etched in my memory of my mother, who has been a babysitter for 10 years.

I often complain that Singapore’s Parks are not as beautiful as London’s; that the weather is not as good and windy as Australia’s; but after a trip to my childhood park today, I realised it’s not so bad after all as I people-watch. Serangoon community park may be small, but it’s covered with much greenery, with jogging path laid out clearly by cobbled stones on both its sides. It reminds me of the park Tom Hiddleston’s character Bill Hazeldine jogged at on Suburban Shoutout; that’s when I realised it’s not so bad after all, it’s comparable.

I looked into the distance. I would be safe here. With the baby, she would never be able to travel that long of a distance away from home. Well, it’s still near my house, but it’s quite a walk as compared to the other park that is directly below my house. That’s the one mum would go to, there’s no way she could find me here. This feels like my secret hideout.

My mum brings about an anxiety in me that no other person on this earth could make me feel. I’m not allowed to do this, not allowed to do that; not allowed to stay in my room all day, but if I go out into the living room she’ll nag at me. She’d give me tactics and comments on how to network with important people in the design industry. Not only does that give me added pressure, but I already knew that as well. I just didn’t like her voicing out my next move. I’d like to keep in private, it’s the way things succeed. It has always been this way for me.

Today, I explored parts of the park I have never explored before. The last time I jogged here was still vividly etched in my mind, though I couldn’t remember when it was. I thought hard. That doesn’t seem too Long ago, yet I was perfectly sure that there was drastic differences between the old me that had visited the park and the new me now. It feels surreal to think like that; same place, different person.

After a good 20 minutes, I decided to take a rest. I sat facing the sun; in front of me was a huge clearing. It was like a pavilion, I would dance right there and then if I was a good dancer, but I’m not, so I sat on the stone steps and began to write.

I told myself if I clocked 10,000 steps it would be a great deal. All for those darn supermarket vouchers. I wouldn’t have done it for myself, but I know mum would appreciate it if I gave it to her, hence I’m doing it for her.

This little goal of completing 10,000 steps has become like a metaphor of overcoming a challenge in my life to me. Complete it, and I would be able to do anything later on. Maybe this is my idea of a confidence booster. I have been hard on myself lately, I know I have; but that isn’t to say I don’t deserve it. I don’t even know what I want in life- whether it’s photography or design or media or broadcasting or art- not only that but I don’t even know how to start. Adulting is real and building a career is real. All I’m good at is writing about myself and my thoughts and my life.

I just want to be as raw as possible.

Flashback

“I clearly remember that in those minutes I found myself looking out of the window, down into the blackness. Every now and then there would be tiny clusters of lights. At that moment I knew it was time to leave small-town life.”

You can read more about me leaving here: https://graysfoo.wordpress.com/2017/07/21/my-transition-im-leaving-singapore/

When was the first time you left your hometown for good? How old were you? What did you feel back then?