I think I was more precious when I was far far away.
Hi guys. So. I’m home, back from my overseas exchange. It’s been a week. Home sweet home…to a certain extent. Something has changed, I think. I’ve made and left a bit of a home in the UK, and now I’m trying to get used to the one I’d left.
Just slightly, slightly suffocated by the weather and the people.
The weather tho. It had been positively stifling the first day I came back. It still is. The air is so thick. I broke out into some sort of a heat rash. I didn’t even go out of the house and had to take something like three showers in the day. Still trying to get used to this weather.
And then there’s the people, mostly mah fam.
No offence, I really do love my folks, but lately I’m finding them just a fraction…too much. I think it’s just having to get used to living with them again. It’s trying.
I was so happy when they came to the UK to pick me up. They’d cabbed all the way to my residence and pretty much showed up on my doorstep. Tears of joy. I still love that feeling, that memory, of missing someone and having them fly all the way there. And then showing them around, how I’d been living. That was fun.
But, I dunno. We came back, and suddenly I’m in a house full of people that I have to be accountable to, people who are close enough to run my life and can take me for granted again. I have no doubt they love me. But still. Feeling rather second best.
No space to be me.
I did learn to be somewhat independent and get on living by myself that I find being accountable to so many people stifling. There’s no other word, it’s stifling. It’s funny, when I went, I was worried about being a grown up because I was always the child that was being taken care of. And now, I’m back, I don’t want to be a child anymore. I had thought it a privilege, a luxury to be a child. And it was. But I’m outgrowing it. And it’s uncomfortable. I never thought’d I want to outgrow it.
Here, I have to take up all these roles again. I can’t just be me as an individual and do what I want. I have responsibilities that encroach on me and drive me into corners and boxes. People are imposing on me and that would have been fine if I wasn’t aware of it, but I am now. And it’s not to say that I shouldn’t have responsibilities. I should, it’s only right, and I do. It’s just getting used to that difference of being responsible for yourself being amplified to include a whole lot of other people.
I think the biggest load on my shoulders now is to be a considerate daughter. The weight of being eldest child who is trying not to fall behind.
So I just turned 21. Like a legal adult. And my whole professional future is flashing before my eyes.
Just some context, my folks are really eager to thrust me into what society considers a well set-up adult. That is, basically, (1) getting married and (2) getting a job that can support me and them, not that they have lost their earning power, but just something in which I can show some filial piety and repay them for bringing me up. Which is fine. It’s only right. They have given me a lot. It’s only right to be able to support them. And I want to support them. I want to be filial and take care of them. I don’t think it’s wrong to expect these things from their child. It’s pretty reasonable-ish. It’s just that they’re weighing upon me so heavily. Gah, quarter life crisis.
Regarding (1), I’m very much single without a glimmer of any potential romance anywhere just yet and I think that’s fine for now but it’s ain’t that fine for them. Just met up with a couple of my old school chums relating their latest break up with a psycho ex. She wasn’t bothered by it too much because he was really weird and psycho which I thought was pretty cool of her, even though he’d sent her like a 40000 word email insulting her then apologising and wanting her to take him back (she filed it as spam). Her words of wisdom was just to wait for a good dude and to not lower my expectations haha. But anyways, this isn’t the one weighing on me at the moment.
What’s weighing on me is (2). My entire professional career and yes, my life, is flashing before my eyes.
So I’m studying English Literature which in current society, is considered a very ‘soft’ subject and really has no direct route into a profession (ie engineering students become engineers and accounting students become accountants. Even if not, at least they have that profession as an option). What does an English Lit student become?
A teacher. Bang. Every Chinese New Year, relatives prophesy it over me again and again and again. I’m gonna scream.
I don’t want to be a teacher. I don’t.
“But what else can you do besides teaching?”
And I can’t answer that. I can’t say that I’d like to write a book, write for TV, start a mag.
I can’t say I’d like to write a book.
I’m trying not to blame them for the mindset. It is the most logical route. I don’t know if I’ve a right to be angry. I think I’m just mad that English Lit is seen to be less useful than a proper maths/science subject, with less of a future or something.
Also, not that I have anything against teaching. It’s just that I’ve done some teaching in a secondary school and I just can’t. I can’t. I have the highest respect for teachers who have to somehow educate a class of forty 13 or 14 year olds who don’t want to be taught. Truly. And I don’t like to say this and excuse myself for being a weakling but I’m really not cut out for it. I don’t suppose anyone is from the start but there’s gotta be something there to start at all and I don’t have it.
I also don’t wanna be a teacher because, I dunno, I feel the job closes you up. You learn some things, skills and how to deal with unruly children, but I feel like the world shrinks, because you’re teaching down. Yes, you’re learning people skills, but your mind, your own horizons, I get the impression that life becomes small, and you kind of become a frog in the well.
I’m not exactly willing to trade my horizons for people skills. I want to live a big life. Granted, your definition of big could be different from mine.
It is a noble profession. Honestly. Grooming the next generation and impacting lives. And it’s not easy either. But I want to touch lives another way.
If anything, I’d like to teach in a uni. I would like to teach something, lots of good somethings, to people who want to learn. And with Lit, I’m even a bit iffy to teach in a JC, because there isn’t time to breathe, to think, like how Lit should be thought, like in a uni.
I don’t want to just go with this flow because it’s remotely close to my qualifications. I want to do something because I want to do something. Is that wrong?
Maybe not. But it’s gonna cost, and I don’t have the basic financial resources to support dream chasing and making room for any failures.
Yet, after all of this, I fear that that’s going to be my life. And I fear I may never get the strength or courage to leave that security and do what I want.
I really conceded that that was going to be The Path. Just grit your teeth and hang in there for the first several years to get that financial stability and to repay your parents. My mother did that. She became a banker after she graduated to earned and be filial. She hadn’t always liked it. It was a really stressful job. She did excellently though, a real professional. Now with her kids all grown up, she’s doing stuff she really likes, counselling teens in school for their careers and stuff. And I thought maybe that’s the path I should follow. I can’t have everything I want all the time.
But. I just don’t want. Teaching. I have been much disillusioned from my Sound of Music days. So no.
That’s a lot of what I don’t want. Now for what I really want in my perfect, ideal world:
I want to write books, lovely storybooks that will be turned into movies or musicals or as literary classics in themselves.
I want to sing. I want to perform. I want to be on a stage and have a giant spotlight on me. I want to become another person in another life, bringing you into another world and making you wish you were there with me.
A long time ago, in a past life, I had wanted to be a conductor conducting full orchestras.
I want fame. I want fortune. Yes. I am that materialistic. I want a big life. I want to do stuff, create things, be valued for my musicality or artistry or whatever it is I have. I want the world to notice me.
And yet. And yet.
What do I have? Do I have anything besides my vanity?
Want to sing? Want to perform? Says the girl who can’t even handle a short piano solo for the doxology in church?
I don’t know. I don’t know if I know what I want. I don’t know whether I am enough to achieve all that, if I ever have the potential too. I only know that I’m darn stubborn.
Mother had met one of my ex-piano teachers in church today. She’d told her that I’m back for exchange and that I’d been taking some musical theatre singing lessons there (which were awesome by the way I really have to tell you all about it). My ex-teacher had frowned and said “That’s not her.”
And Mother said “I said the same thing! I told her so!”
And all I could say at that point of time was “That’s why I’m not learning under her anymore.”
Sorry, I have been scarred by that teacher and I’ve really lost whatever respect I’d had for her before and I know she doesn’t have any expectations of me in the singing department, not that she’s ever taught me singing. I wished I didn’t care a tuppence of what she’d said. But I did. Because both she and mother. Mum.
I don’t really care for the teacher anymore, I don’t. But Mum. You who think you know me so well, so surprised that I want to sing and want to perform. You who didn’t seem to hear what I was saying I wanted. Because you know better. I want to take what you’re saying into consideration because you have brought me up and you know so much about me, things I can’t see about myself.
But I can’t take this. I don’t know how. I can’t take you saying this is not me. I’m telling you it is. And even if it isn’t, it is at least, me now. It’s important to me. If I went all the way to the UK and took singing lessons on my own initiative, do you really think it doesn’t matter to me? If I want to come back and continue to sing, doesn’t it count for something? Am I not serious?
I really want you to support me. I never had that support that when my friends actually bother to sit down, listen to me sing and encourage me, I’m just. I’m. Amazed. I become a different person. I suddenly have hope. I dunno. I want to sing for you. But you don’t want to hear, it’s a chore for you, it’s never good because it’s me, just your kid.
I wish I could go for what I want all the way so that I’d know where I’d stand, where I could go. Either go the whole hog, make it big and prove them wrong, or forget those foolish dreams and keep your feet on the ground. Now, I’m in the middle trying to reach higher and missing, paying the price to try. Not getting anywhere.
That all happened before the service so I was feeling crappy during worship and stuff. And then I recalled some stuff God had given to me during an Easter conference I’d attended in the UK.
So the theme of the conference had been about your calling and God’s plan for you, all that sort of jazz. On the last day, we did an imagination activity where we all imagined our future exactly as we wanted, having accomplished all our goals.
I imagined bookcases filled with books, my books, my name printed on all their spines and covers. I imagined becoming a performer and a singer, becoming everything I wanted to be. Since we were at it, I imagined myself as a conductor too.
And then the facilitator was like now imagine God commending you as a good and faithful servant. And I just felt like everything I’d ever accomplished in my my imagination was absolutely worth nothing to get that kind of approval from God. What would get approval like that? I imagined something else I thought worthy of that kind of commendation. In my head, I saw people with whom I’d share God with, people I loved, moving in and out of a church, serving God and just fellowshipping together. People who have accepted God because I played a small part in God’s plan.
Seeing those images side by side, me being a writer/musician etc and me sharing God’s love, really revealed to me which one was worth more to me.
It was the second image. It may sound cliche in words but seeing people I love being included into God’s kingdom filled my heart with so much joy that nothing else could match up, no not even writing or music. And that means a lot. But no. Nothing.
And I was reminded of this in the service, and I felt God asking me whether I would still love Him and follow Him and trust in His goodness if He (hypothetically) took away my writing and my music, my two other loves of my life. He confronted me with these, the gifts He had given me. He wanted to know if I loved them more than Him, the giver. He wanted me to re-evaluate myself and my priorities.
Remembering that second image then, I said yes. And the next song just happened to be “Christ is Enough” lolol. Christ is enough, whether I felt like it or not. He was and He is and He will always be. For now, I’m trying to take comfort in that, identifying myself as His instead of on what my career’s going to be. I hope I will always say yes to that question, and put Him first in everything.
I just wished people, my family, would believe in me and not doubt me. If you believe in me, maybe I can actually go somewhere. But I don’t want to blame you for not pursuing my dreams. It’s just hard like that.
I digress. I was going to talk about feeling a mite second rate but I had to get all of this out first. Anyway.
I have an amazing younger bro. And I feel that he’s better than me in a lot of ways. He’s more considerate, more patient, more sensible. I’ve become the baby of the house. He outgrew me.
Everyone in the house is fussing over him. Because he’s been in and out of army and he’s become the pride and joy of the family. And I am proud of him. He’s a good kid. I just feel. Slightly. Sidelined. A bit. I know it’s stupid. He was probably sidelined when I was prepping to go overseas with everyone fussing over me. And now I’m not the one being fussed about, unless it’s about getting a job or beefing up my portfolio for getting a job.
I know, much vain. Still.
Also, he’s going to be an architect once he gets out of army. I’d asked him if that was really what he wanted to do. I knew he really liked History, and I thought he would go for it. I asked him why not History.
“Because it’s too soft.” He’d said. Like my Eng Lit.
“So if I didn’t take Lit, you’d have taken History?”
He chose architecture for stability and Chinese New Year bragging rights for mum. She’s been trying to brag about me taking Eng Lit as is the custom every CNY but it’s an uphill task. It’d be easier for her to brag about her architect son. See? Considerate child. Ugh horrible older sibling. Not that he is doesn’t want to be an architect. He’s actually pretty into it so good for him.
I miss living by myself. Not really by myself but kind of. I miss cooking. I miss having designated me time with the fam where I get fussed over over Skype calls. I miss taking singing lessons with a teacher who believed in me, surrounded by supportive friends who are too nice to criticize my singing. I miss being myself.
But. I don’t want to miss this. This season of tying up last season’s strings and prepping for the next. I’m glad to be back. Somewhat.
It’s really all the catching up with friends I’m looking forward to. People like Sam, for instance, makes me feel like I’m not a nobody. I can not be a somebody in the world and she’d still love me more than I feel like I deserve. I don’t know why you missed me so much Sam. I don’t think I was worth it haha. Love you more than I can say. I’m so glad I have you. I imagined once that I’d changed lives with a stranger and I met you and you didn’t recognize me to love me and I just died inside. Cry.
Now I’m drunk with hot chocolate and a too-bready supper. So. Um. Goodbye. Goodnight. Thanks for reading. Much rant.