Not the first mistake I ever made, obviously, but the first I ever seriously wrote about.
I prefer window seats. I like staring out the window as the vehicle I’m in zooms past the place I’m leaving behind. I want to be by my lonesome, anticipating my next destination or reflecting on a just-ended trip.
Mostly I want to limit human contact to one side only. It’s easier to sleep there too.
But I’m a cheap person; I don’t pay extra for anything. So I should be thankful that I was assigned my favorite seat (I can see the wing!). For free. Instead, my mood was glum, my nerves frayed, my mind a mess. Just like the weather outside: rainfall, strong winds, with thunder and lightning. I wondered which was more turbulent.
I stared back at Singapore. This is the place I’m trying to leave behind (for the 2nd time, by my last count). I’ve outgrown it. Not all of my experiences here are pleasant, but I can’t deny that it opened doors, exposed me to things I would not have otherwise experienced. I definitely made a pseudo-family of sorts there, one that’s probably better than the real one. Singapore served as the backdrop for my eroding career outlook.
That’s the thing. Singapore and work are synonymous to me. That’s why I went there: to work. I can’t separate the two: which I hated first, if my feelings for both are mutually exclusive, if it goes hand in hand. All the toxic observations I have amassed about my career and the industry I belong to is mostly based on Singapore’s advertising culture. Continuing to work, in SG and/or in advertising, doesn’t sit well with me now, and I don’t want to still be there in 2 years time. So questions:
- Why did I take the Jakarta stint?
- Why am I trying to go back to SG again?
I’ve always known the worst possible outcome after doing all the stupid stunts I’ve pulled in my lifetime:
- Not study = bleak future
- Get high = jail time
- Bungee jump = die
- Drive drunk = kill someone and/or die
- Travel alone = get lost, get kidnapped, get raped, get locked up abroad, die
And if I die, my parents will have a windfall. Win-win in my book
One thing I can’t (or won’t) imagine is running out of money. In my simplistic mind, no stable source of income = no more stupid stunts.
Of course this is not true. How many stories do I need to I read about people abandoning security in pursuit of their own thing? I’ve even met these people in action. Still, this is the ultimate adventure I can’t seem to carelessly jump into.
I am on my way back to my temporary residence. Just an hour away from Singapore, it’s the place I secretly hoped would cure me from my professional disenchantment. The place I’m increasingly associating to mistakes.
It’s not as safe as Singapore, but it’s safer than being unemployed for an indefinite amount of time. Nevermind that I’m not learning the skills I hoped to learn to parlay into whatever odd job I can get after. Or that my life goal hinges on not sitting in front of a computer 24/7.
Obviously I can’t shake off the feeling that I shouldn’t be here. That I am wasting my time again. That I should be sitting in some random train, looking outside my window and staring mindlessly at the scenery as I pass by, not a care in the world.
Maybe it’s not just Singapore I outgrew. Maybe I’ve outgrown advertising too.
And going back every so often doesn’t make it easier: I see the comfortable life I am leaving behind. Goodbyes get harder. I am reminded that, despite having supportive friends, at the end of the day I’m alone in this, and it’s easier to just give up, break apart, and let the world swallow me whole.
These are lessons I’ve already learned from leaving my birthplace: limit the number of times you go back and when you do, don’t stay too long or homesickness will follow. Keep your eye on the prize. Don’t give in, because “it takes ten times as long to put yourself back together than it does to fall apart.”*
When will I learn that probably, maybe advertising is not for me, that it’s time to look for something that makes better sense? How many times do I need to turn my back on something flawed before I listen to myself? To the universe?
Just pack my damn pack and jump to a plane to wherever
The weather in Jakarta when I landed was worse than Singapore. Delayed flight. We had to leave the plane by bus—no vestibules. In my chucks’ current form, my feet got damp. Traffic was bad.
Arrived at my friend’s place, laughed as John Oliver took down FIFA yet again, watched Sepp Blatter announce that he “will resign” live (#agenda), and I rejoiced with the Internet. My Chinese-Canadian friend whom I met online shared with us his good news, and invited us to his wedding. Despite the muddle in my head, I’m still lucky to have good news. I should focus on those.
These questions, it will probably never stop. It’s probably going to be the theme of my life, if I dare call it this early. Stay in a stable but spirit-draining job vs. throwing caution to the wind. Settling versus…who knows?
*I just need a reason to insert a mockingjay reference somewhere haha