One of the memories from childhood that I remember very vividly, is when my parents gave me the autonomy to make a choice on which secondary school I’d like to attend. (Looking back, they were really cool and open-minded parents! Still are.) My mum had hopes of me going to one of the most popular schools around, Catholic High (the KL one, not the boys school in Singapore). I was, however, browsing all sorts of catalogues that were sent to my home, and I had my eyes on a boarding school in Genting (yes.. lol). My choice was decidedly an unconventional one. I remember that it was based on the fact that Genting is up on a highland and hence chilly – yasss – and that I would be away from home. But we all know how the story went. I ended up across the causeway in Singapore instead, very far away from home.
But I enjoy the fact that I have a distinctively different experience than the majority of my peers back in primary school.
When I had to choose which junior college to go to, I chose VJC, because all my roommates, and many many friends that I know from my CCA, chose HCJC. I just had to be different. I was also restless to be away from the boys whom we grew up with in HCIBS (the boarding school that houses the HCJC kids too). Since everyone I knew was going to HC and/or staying in HCIBS, I decided that I would not be the same.
Then came university. I chose to go to Tokyo, largely because I knew no one who went there. UK? US? Australia? They are simply too typical. I applied to local Singapore universities too, but those were not quite within the radius of my consideration, because most of my friends were heading there. I wasn’t even keen on Japanese pop culture or language or anything before I lived there. I was simply looking for an experience that is unlike anyone else’s. When the time to choose where to head to for my 1-year exchange came, I chose the UK instead of China, despite China being my first choice previously, because my best friends chose China.
As you can see, there’s a clear pattern here. I had always made decisions about the path my life should take based on how different I could be from everyone else. I didn’t like the thought of being “one of them”, I guess. I don’t know if it’s a desire to be different, or a fear of being mediocre at work here, but it has guided me through most of my life so far.
But I had a revelation, that became very clear to me today, that I haven’t been this way for the past few years. After Japan, I started wanting to be average, just like everyone else. I don’t know whether it’s because I somehow, somewhere in the 2015 – 2018 timeline, have started to subscribe to the common notion of success – having a stable career in large corporations and starting a long term relationship and settling down. (When I say settle down, I don’t mean to settle for, fyi.) These have been what I wanted all along, but seeing how everyone else around me are achieving them already, I feel left behind. I wanted to be just like them. I went in for the chase. I wanted now, to be average. To be successful. Maybe it’s reality catching up with me, maybe it’s adulting, me realising that any decision I make will now have an impact more significant than before.
That’s probably why I have been living my life in a series of miserable episodes, since I came home. I think that was the start of me getting lost. I sometimes look back, and wish that I hadn’t choose to go to Japan, but stayed in Singapore or went to the UK (full-time) like everyone else.
But me quitting my job and embarking on this one-month self-discovery workcation, I think I do not want to be mediocre after all. (No one really is, I guess.) I don’t want an average life, but there’s still an ongoing conflict within me. I do want to be grounded at the same time.
I’m not making sense, am I? I’m still figuring out how this could be.