Monday, February 17, 2014

changing thoughts;

i'm at the san francisco airport waiting for my connecting flight and have some time on hand so i figured i'd blog. and i just noticed that this is my 200th blog post! 
how time flies. i started this blog when i first got off my mission and look how far we've come haha. 
this blog has records of my happiest and saddest moments and has been a great source for me to think out loud and just let my words flow. 

anyway, i just spent 3 amazing weeks back home in singapore and therefore, have a lot to blog about.
i'll take my time over the course of the next few weeks/month to slowly update in more detail on chinese new year, river safari, vday, etc. but just wanted to take some time to record my overall thoughts on my trip.
as you know, i was extremely excited to head home and singapore definitely did not disappoint.
when i woke up on saturday morning a few days ago, i was so depressed that i was just two sleeps away from the end of my vacation. 
this trip really made me realize that singapore has a strong hold on my heart. 

last year i had the chance to head back to singapore twice but it was only this year that i felt a deep and big change in my thoughts and the way i viewed singapore. 
i recently read an article on buzzfeed titled "23 reasons you'd never want to be young again." i really agree with a lot of the points in the article. 
as i reflect on the thoughts that ran through my mind while i was back in singapore this time, i realized that this marked a maturity in my thinking and that i am indeed, growing up. 
while i always lament about how old i am becoming and how i just want to go back to the innocent and carefree days, i must say that if the depth in my thoughts is what growing up is all about, maybe i don't mind it so much. 

some of my thoughts:
1. i want to be around my parents all the time.
while i was cleaning my room this trip back, i read through some of my journal entries from way back and remembered how in my youth, i never really bothered to spend time with my parents because my friends were the most important thing in my life then. i also felt like my parents were always cramping my style and that it was not cool to be around them. 
as i've grown older, i find myself blocking out less time for my friends and often feel sad when i have to leave my family to go to something else. at times, i even want to cancel on my friends so i can spend more time with my family haha. i absolutely love the amazingly close relationship that i share with my parents now - a relationship in which i can share everything with them (even my fears and insecurities).

2. the role of a wife and daughter-in-law
in the past, chinese new year always just meant that i got to see all my cousins and feast on good food. this year, chinese new year kind of took on a different meaning for me as i thought about how a marriage brings two families together. as i looked at the actions of my mother, my aunts, etc., i thought about how being a good wife and daughter-in-law often requires sacrifice. in the chinese culture, the males are often more favored and as such, if you're a married woman, you will have reunion dinner on chinese new year eve with your husband's family. also, on the first day of the chinese new year, you visit your husband's family first and then you visit your own family on the second day of the chinese new year. 
growing up, my sisters and i have always been closer to my dad's family and so having reunion with his side of the family and seeing them on the first day of the chinese new year were always super exciting events for us. however, now that i'm older, it's beginning to dawn on me that when i get married, i will no longer be able to freely spend time with the family i love so much for the new year festivities. that must be so difficult to adapt to and therefore, i've gained a greater respect for my mummy and aunties who have done so well in their roles as good wives and daughter-in-laws. 

3. conversations about life, traveling and careers
when my friends and i were all still in school, our conversations revolved around the randomest things that were happening in our lives and often had no great meaning behind it. 
now, we have all been working for at least two years already and so we often find ourselves talking about career advancement opportunities, the singapore economy, amazing places we have traveled to, meaningful life experiences, etc. 
at times when we were having these conversations, i found myself being surprised at myself because it all seemed too deep and i never imagined that i would be in this position, having such conversations like i've seen the adults have. 
it's refreshing and a nice change that comes with age. 

4. i've become a guest in my own country
while back this time, i basically didn't have to pay for anything because my friends were all picking up my tabs because (as they all said), "you come from so far away! it's okay, i'll get the tab." to me, it shows that we've all grown up and are financially stable to actually even treat our friends. how did we get so old so fast haha. 
now, my friends, you guys have to give me the chance to do the same for you by coming to visit me here haha!

5. how do i find my way back to my home for good?
meet-ups with my friends this time revolved a lot around the central business district area and therefore, much of what i saw was the working class going about and doing what they were tasked with doing. 
being the absolute city girl that i am, i found myself wanting to be among them - to be able to work with these individuals and pick their brains from time to time. crazy i know.
i thought long and hard about my current situation and realized that staying and working here longer and longer will only take me further and further away from the home that i love.
no matter who i meet or date here, asian or american, he will not want to get married and settle down in singapore (unless he is singaporean as well). 
so why am i here if my long-term goal is marriage and a life in singapore with my husband and children. 
one of my friends gently reminded me, "a woman's youth is very precious and therefore, you should come back now and start looking for someone here."

one of my biggest fears of moving home to singapore is that companies would rather hire local grads but i've learned that they are actually moving toward hiring foreign grads to bring in more creativity and innovation. 
the other thing that i worried about was work-life balance but i've realized that having my family and friends close by triumphs having a work-life balance here and not having family close by to spend time outside work with. 
i was also worried about the spiritual environment of the church in singapore but as i've attended my local ward the past three weeks, i realized that being in a smaller ward (we moved to a different ward in recent years) where i'm not surrounded by people i've grown up with is actually so much better! it's much quieter and i can kind of mind my own business and focus on my own spirituality. it's so great. i think i would be able to survive fine in this ward. 

6. childhood memories plant the strongest and deepest roots in our hearts
maybe some people didn't have the best childhood but i think i had an excellent childhood and so each time i make a trip back to singapore, small things here and there trigger memories and make me want to stay even more. those roots hold me down and remind me why singapore is home. 
i can't even begin to describe it all but as much as i hated feeling stressed all the time in the singapore education system, i was happy. i clean my letters drawer every time i'm home and read a few letters here and there while doing so. each letter always reminds me of what life was like then: so simple and we actually took the time to pen things down instead of tweet something or write a facebook post on someone's wall. amidst the tests and homework, we had a connection with our friends that we will remember more than the countless things we memorized for our exams. 

7. i no longer worry as much about what everyone thinks of me or feel like it's the end of the world when a friendship ends
i love the freedom that comes with letting go of constantly worrying about what everyone thinks of you. youth brings a strong sense of insecurity where there is a constant need to fit in. age brings with it experience and an increasing sense of independence and security. 
since we were so insecure when we were younger, losing friends was like the end of the world because they were a sign of our social status and identity. but as i've grown older, i've come to terms with the fact that some friends just naturally move out of our lives and that no matter what, our families will always be there for us and that we determine who we are, not others. 

8. seeing the good in others and seeking to be the good in the world
this year i'm really working hard on not being so judgmental and trying to compliment others more. sometimes i feel so negative because i seem to always have a negative opinion about something someone is doing. i'm trying to contain it all in and look for the good and it has been so hard! but i think that looking for the good and happiness in the world will be all worth it when i feel the positive energy in my life.
also, while back in singapore, i noticed that many of the cleaners all around are old people. these old people probably had a hard life while they were younger and my heart really hurts to think that they have to work so hard even in their old age. 
children nowadays are so spoiled and entitled that i think they lose their ability to appreciate the sacrifices of the older generations. i must admit that i probably never thought much about this earlier as well but my parents have brought me up well such that i do at least have a sense of sympathy and a soft heart for these people. while i do not have the ability to change their situations, i do hope to be able to be more generous with my smiles when i see them and let them know that i do appreciate their hard work and sacrifices. 

alright, my battery is dying so that's all for now.


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