Hola, welcome to my humble site! My name is Jane and I’m from the sunny island and country of Singapore.
I started this blog partly with the intention to document my travels (I’m leaving for Argentina without an agenda of what’s next), but primarily to share my thoughts, experiences and learnings from my interaction with people all over the world. I deeply resonate with the ideologies of humanism, and have an unfaltering faith in humanity. I am a firm believer that if every human being is willing to put his heart and soul into understanding another fellow human being (who is actually always more similar than different, if we take the time to learn and empathise), the world will be filled with love, hopes, dreams, desires.
Everyone deserves the liberation to be who they are and who they want to be. We only live once. So let’s love, give, accept and be free.
I decided that for a first post, I will share an article that I had contributed to a friend’s Facebook page called The Firestarters Collective. Started by a group of dream seekers who no longer believe in the pursue of mindless gratifications either from corporate or social expectations, they seek to promote the freedom and courage to dream big, go with the heart and live a life worth pursuing. So here you go, enjoy 🙂
“When Pearlyn first approached me to do the next writeup for the series, I jumped in without thinking, enthusiastically letting my heart led in the decision. I was all riled up over sharing the South American journey I will be embarking two months from now. I thought, piece of cake to just share my thoughts and dreams, isn’t it?
And then I realised – hell no!! Ironically, I have been procrastinating and delaying writing this article thereafter. I always couldn’t find “a good time”, didn’t have “the feel” or simply did not know where to start. And I had endless “should I do in the morning or night” or “how should I start and end the article” or “what if I have a mental block”…yader yader…Until today. Today, I decided, ok enough. Stop wussing out let’s get started! So here I am.
Co-incidentally (or otherwise), the above paragraph sums up how I came to my decision of quitting my job (my boss has very kindly offered me a gap year instead so I am very grateful) and travelling through South America next year – implusive, passionate, but not without a fair deal of mental agony and self torture 😛
Hello! My name is Jane and that was a pretty apt introduction of who I am. I’m known as “The Crazy Girl” to some friends and “The Queen of Hypothetical Situations” to others (no prizes for guessing why).
I’ve always loved performance arts since young – I remembered I had my first singing performance when I was 5 years old and my then-teacher commented that I had the natural flair of performance, an open book when it comes to expressions. I was in the school choir pretty much all of school life and singing is naturally in my blood.
When I was 13 and first got introduced to Shakespeare in my English Literature class, my love for theatre blossomed and I decided to break away from the norm and went to the only Junior College then that offered Theatre Studies and Drama as an examination subject. Never mind the bus rides that lasted 1.5 hours each way to and fro home, never mind being in a new environment where I had zero friends; I went with my heart and that was reason enough. That little voice inside always has the answer.
The next two years were amazing. I was a full-time theatre student, part-time singer, and zero-time college student. I spent all my time in the studios, rehearsing scripts, analysing plays, thinking of artistic directıons, like how I should design my stage and work my lights/sounds. Otherwise I will be burying my face in musical scores, attempting to sight-read, trying to be pitch-perfect and understanding the nuances to what make the pieces so beautiful.
I found my first love in musical theatres and excelled performing roles that were expressive and strong. I was carefree, curious and lived each day with wide-eyed wonderment. The sense of naivety was beautiful and I lived each day feeling alive. And thanks to teenage angst, the emotional roller coaster of joys, pain, excitement and disappointment has been nothing less than intense. I wouldn’t have done it any other way.
I’ve always had a jarring curiosity for understanding people too. When I read scripts, I always asked myself reasons for the characters’ actions and what went on in his/her minds. What motivated him/her to do what he/she did. When I interacted with people, I try (sometimes too hard) to read the motives behind people’s actions. Whenever I meet people who are vastly different from me be it in terms of cultures, backgrounds and social makeups, I get an overwhelming desire to understand their lives and understand their come-froms. I have always believed that people function the way they do for a reason and understanding why they do what they do is important.
When my family wanted me to take a respectable regular desk-bound job at a government agency (I reckon a dream come true for many Singaporeans) during the school holidays, I excitedly took on a bartendering/waitressing job at a bar instead. My come-from was simple – I wanted to meet people. The curiosity was overwhelming.
When I was 18, I remembered I had a crazy idealistic concept of forming a global village. I thought it will be a really cool social experiment to bring together a group of children from every continent in this world, bring them up without preconceived notions of social/cultural discrimination and have each individual be brought up as an equal. I truly believe in the concept of being a global citizen and that to me, was a great way to eradicate discrimination and conflicts of any sense.
While I had endless dreams and visions of the world I wanted to create and work towards, at some point in time, I begun selling myself out. I basically, started giving in to societal pressures and ended taking the path of the “Singaporean Dream”.
As much as I was grateful for the education I received in high school, the beliefs of the Chinese school I attended was never about attaining dreams – it was about being a great moral citizen, and putting the community and family before self. Even though I was largely a moderated rebel in school, the teachings did make me feel guilty when I have these crazy dreams. I thought I was being really selfish to have a different mindset or opinion of what I want to do.
To add, I also grew up in a very humble, traditional, middle-class Chinese home. We made do with little, but I was never deprived. My Mom was both a paternal and maternal figure, doing the best she could to bring my brother and me up in my father’s absence (he was hardly home). That being said, it also made me realised how hard she had been working to pay the bills and bring us up, and the least I could do is to be sensible in my life choices.
As such it came as a surprise to many that right after my passionate time in Junior College, I opted for a Business Degree in University instead – I told myself the it’s time to moderate the fun and get real with life. I need a decent degree. However, I refused to let go of my loves, I was still singing, both in choirs and jam bands, was acting, both semi-professionally and for schools. My time was stretched but it made me alive.
When I started work, the first few being in a bank, I got MASSIVELY bored being desk bound. Sure I was good at my job because it was people-oriented and I earned a decent amount, but it was not enough to keep the curious wide-eyed wanderluster locked in place for long.
When the chance came for me to globe-trot with Singapore Airlines as an air stewardess, I jumped at it. After all, this is the same girl that took off for Europe immediately after her Mom handed the rights of her bank account to her. I only came back 5kgs lighter and looking like a malnourished kid after I depleted every single cent off my bank account, but I had never been happier.
It was a wonderful 4 years as I travelled, explored and experienced life as I never had. And it seemed perfect then – I managed to reach moderation, no? Here I was, earning a decent amount, I could still help pay for the household bills, I could save and I could travel! And I even gave myself a new goal: once I saved to a desired amount, I would quit flying and study musical theatre. Everything seemed perfect.
Just that on the day I reached that goal, I did not quit to study musical theatre. I quit and went to a ground job. I chickened out.
I sold out.
I sold out because I told myself I’m too old for this shit. I sold out because I told myself that I should stop being idealistic and get real with things. I sold out because I thought I could save the money and get a nice swanky apartment instead. I sold out because I did not want to leave my parents behind in Singapore because my brother was already overseas. I sold out because I was scared. I sold out because I lost faith in myself and I did not think I could do it anymore.
I told myself that my desire for the unfulfilled dream will go away as I grow older. After all, I was nearing my big 3, had a relationship and the only logical thing to do was to settle down and lead the Singaporean life that everyone else was having.
I felt like I should stop sticking out like sore thumb and just make life easier for myself. That I should not waste anymore time hallucinating dreams that were far-fetched. So I trapped myself in the Singaporean Dream, most willingly and obligingly, by myself.
I bought a modest car, I got myself a horde of designer bags and watches. I was on my way to saving up for a nice condominium. It seemed great, I was finally on par with my white-collared peers, working in professional jobs that allowed a really comfortable life. I did not fail. I was doing my parents proud.
Just that while all that was happening, my dreams did not die. They were stubbornly persisting, as stubbornly as I was resisting them. What a futile struggle.
The thing is, I am great at moderation. I justified my Singaporean Dream by being in jobs that I had interest in. The last job I held was doing Learning and Development for a reputable MNC and I excelled in facilitation. I revelled in the belief that I was living my vision by developing my colleagues to their fullest potentials.
However my heart kept telling me I wanted more.
I wanted absolute freedom. Not in moderation, but in absolute full faith, unreasonably and illogically.
Truth be told, I was afraid to take the plunge initially because it really didn’t make sense. However at some point, I realised breaking free from chains, without fearing the “what-ifs” and “what-nots”, will never make sense, and it’s ok. I felt like I have come to the edge of the cliff after all these years, and my choice was simply, to jump or stay stationary.
So I decided to quit my job and go to South America. Why South America? Because I’ve never been there and I’ve always wanted to be there. I always have a hunch that I’ll love the place, people, culture, attitudes and vibes to bits.
Of course life is not a bed of roses, I faced resistance, the biggest one from my traditional father who thought that I was the most unfilial child on Earth to give up a comfortable salary, a life of stability to venture into the world of unknown (it doesn’t help that SA is known for her crimes). My mother and brother, although accepting, are obviously worried too.
Truth be told, I am torn. I feel extremely guilty for being the free-spirit I am on some days, and for not being the daughter/sister my parents/brother would have loved for me to be. That I had to be such a trouble and a worry to them. I’ve lived half of my life tormented by this conflict day in day out.
But like what I’ve said, I’ve come to the end of the cliff. I either jump or I bury myself deeper into my hole.
Just last weekend, I had a massive fallout with my father for my decision and I felt like the biggest bitch for creating discord and unhappiness in my family. I hated myself for my selfishness. But for the first time in my life, I decided: so be it. Let me be selfish. Let me be me. I have finally accepted myself for who I am. And I can only hope my family, especially my father, will one day accept me for who I am.
For now, I want to fly. No more clipped wings. I want to be the global citizen I am and fulfil my global dream. To learn about cultures. To form connections. To live amongst others. To promote peace and acceptance. To learn new dances. To sing my heart out. To live a life that I never dared to dream.
Of course I’m sure there will be days where I’ll be scared but as what my dance teacher @karen lacey always reminded me when I’m in the middle of dance routines, “Don’t be afraid! Go for it! When you finally do it then it wouldn’t be scary anymore!” I will only experience new levels when I conquer my fears. Thank you Karen for your weekly tough love – it has created a big impact in me.
So here’s my story. Go with our hearts. We only live once. Let’s live a damn good one. What’s yours?”