Weddings and Baby Showers

At twenty-eight, I fluctuate between being secure about where I am in life, and being extremely uncertain about it. Most of the time I feel really happy seeing my friends get engaged and getting pregnant, and giving birth and decorating a new home. I also feel very comfortable being on my own and enjoying the solitude that comes with it. Then there are times when I wonder when the time for me to experience love and have a kid and visit Ikea and do all those adult things will be.

Tonight we dug out this Bengawan Solo baby shower cake voucher for a walnut cake (yummy!). We all thought it was from a friend at church until I saw my name on the envelope. It was a friend more than half a year ago in November. My mother’s eyes widened, “Your friends have kids?”

There was an awkward pause and all I could afford was a “yeah?“.

Her next line was “When is it going to be your turn?” “You are almost 30!”

Then, “Are you seeing anybody right now?”

I really wanted to walk away. The aftertaste of the conversation lingered in my mind – and trust me, it wasn’t pleasant. Those questions made me feel that I should be happily married and about to give birth to a child anytime. It made me feel that I was living on a different timeline that was moving years too slowly compared to my peers – who by the way, have about 2 kids already.

I was insulted because she seemed to expect me to be seeing someone, although if she had taken notice of my life, I have been bogged down by one thing, and one thing only: schoolwork.

It really doesn’t make sense to drop such comments instead of help me remember that His plans for us are perfect. It is hard enough already making sure I remain vigilant and prayerful, and be a good friend and teacher and daughter and sister.

Advertisements

Restlessness

4340091-Restlessness

I googled “restlessness” for apt images related to my current status and settled on this discomforting photograph of an empty bed, sheets unfolded and creases intact. Whether it is a scene of a person’s bed before, during and after sleep we cannot tell. We only know as much as the fact that it is in media res, it is at a point of incompletion, it mirrors the yet to be.

They say the three year mark is the point where one wavers the most in their career. You either choose to stay, or choose to leave. We are at our most volatile, because we crave for more – more excitement, more drama, more adrenaline rushes and challenges. We crave for differentiation and change, we crave for new things to anticipate, we run away from stagnation, from the mechanics of routine, and we try not to remain in the same place at one time.

This restlessness is hard to put in words. But I shall try.

I do not know what God has in store for me at this present moment of my life. I am twenty-seven years old this year, and yet I have no clue what God wants or what I want to do with my life. I am beginning to feel boredom in the routine of things we do. Do not get me wrong, I still love being in the classroom and interacting with my students. I find all that meaningful and valuable time spent. I glow when I see the students grow. Yet I feel weary at the writing of reports, the meetings, the presentations, the emails and the office politics.

I have been urged to consider moving ahead in the leadership track in education. I have been encouraged to think about my professional development. I have been blessed to be looked upon rather favourably by the leaders in the school, and hence given opportunities to attend workshops and developmental courses. But when I stop to consider what I want for myself, I cringe in confusion. I don’t think I want to pursue further study in Literature or in teaching Literature. I could – but at this point I have not gathered enough experience to make an informed decision about my interest and capacity for it. I could take on CELTA to earn myself an added qualification from BC, but the teaching of English Language does not fuel my soul and interest. I have had moments where I thought of going to childhood or preschool education, or special education, this (more of) idealism stemming from my inspirational mum, who had an undeniable passion for those two areas in education.

I am in charge of the career guidance programme in my school and yet I remain so tentative and unsure about my own future and career progression.

Recently I surfed around some websites and found a specific area of interest – children’s literature. For some reason, this specialisation calls out to me more than others. It seems like an intersection of some of my favourite areas of interest – Literature, childhood and sociology. If I was keen, I might be able to make it through the applications and interviews to get a postgraduate scholarship, enough to finance most if not all of my further study. If the application failed, I may still likely be able to secure a study loan at the very least. The catch? Children’s Literature seems like a rare breed and I have only read of courses overseas in the UK or US. Thinking of a year abroad to pursue a Masters degree is even more imminent a decision to make.

I also want to carve out some time to well, be available. The elusive new friend I met at the end of last year still creeps into my mind at times and I wonder when God will allow Mister Shao to come into my life. Perhaps I am not yet ready, and my heart and soul is not yet settled in the Lord.

Restlessness? What better word than to describe my current state of being?

 

 

Tonight I Just Feel Lonely

Tonight I just feel lonely.

Mum had some guests over for dinner so I made spontaneous plans to meet a friend for movie and dinner. Watching “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” again was surprisingly satisfying – the motifs enhanced, the thrill still very real. Then our dinner conversation drifted to our personal future plans – which stirred up these weird sensations in my stomach.

She has been persistent about my signing up for a “prestigious” dating agency, or for me to go out there and “socialise”. It is not the first time and usually when people raise the idea I brush it away quite expertly. I do believe that God is sovereign and in His time, I will meet someone, and I tell them that unflinchingly, I do not need to spend time or money searching for someone because the idea of “seeking out” a partner seems like a path dangerously wrought with land mines. A partner should first and foremost be a friend, and if two people could be attracted to each other only after one meeting, the questions of what you are drawn to and what the attraction is based on closely precede. It was not so easy to explain this idea in person though, and for a good ten minutes, I was stumbling over my words, a somewhat tenuous but desperate attempt to explain my reasoning, and yet staying very firm to what I believed.

Then she said something that stunned me – because it rang horrifyingly but potentially true – what if, what if I grow old without getting married, without ever experiencing love, and end up like a number of my colleagues at work – single, hard hard workers, who are so alone and narrow-minded and frigid in their thought it scares me. They could possibly be a startling reflection of who I may become in the future. I gasped at the horrendous possibility, and my heart sank at the plausibility of the scenario: twenty years from now, living alone, working alone, and (I can’t go on).

For the whole drive home questions plagued my mind, and strange feelings, almost akin to despair, tugged at my emotions back and forth. I do not usually give in to my feelings in this way, but all of a sudden, I realised that this desperation, this desire for a life companion, is normal and is real. I have had friends talking openly about their fears and hopes in the past, why was it that I could never quite relate to their honest thoughts in the same way? I may have been running away from an idea of “love” for some time, fearing that I could not, or did not know how to accept, respond to and reciprocate that emotion. Given that I don’t exactly have a pair of happy parents to model what true love is since my parents’ divorce, I guess I do find myself wondering how a relationship is actually suppose to work.

There are also these little moments in time when I question my own worth. Am I good enough for a person to spend the rest of his life with, really? Am I nice enough? I find myself thinking sometimes. I also think I do not trust easily. I act like an open book sometimes but the truth is I am extremely selective about what I choose to reveal and how much, and I swing back and forth between hot and coldness. Today, I am just feeling cold.

I turn to the only person I can trust to share all these feelings and thoughts with. Someone who could best understand my apprehensions and fears, my hopes and dreams, and my confusions and conflicting emotions. We were suppose to meet before the new year, but given the busyness of the pre-new-year season, she had to postpone it. Gosh it is awfully selfish of me to feel disappointed, but the truth is, I am. It feels like someone tried to lift but dropped a heavy rock back into my heart (ha).

It is silly. I have begun germinating this dream to live on my own with an adopted dog as a best friend to accompany me through life. I have even began reading up on breeds of dogs and HDB rules on keeping animals as pets. But everyone I share this dream with says it is way too sad a dream to be pursuing.

I have honestly no clue. What should I do to get out of this rut?

Don’t Know Where To Go

About two weeks ago I went to Changi Airport to send a friend off. He had come at the beginning of the year and was assigned to work with me. At first a little aloof, we soon warmed up to become friends. It was comfortable working with him and exchanging different opinions. He was also sweet, giving little gifts like a birthday and teachers’ day card, and graciously accepting mine as well. Being able to work well and honestly with someone is something I have learnt not to take for granted. He was a blessing in 2013, and may we go on to bless others as well.

As I sat in the car after, air-con at full blast, staring at the iconic Singapore Changi Airport control tower from down below, watching the number on the clock switch, it suddenly all fell into place: I had no idea what I wanted to do, nor where I wanted to go. I had planned to find a quiet spot in the airport to do some reading and writing, I had brought my novella, my school readings (just in case), my journal, and had even spent hours debating whether I should have packed along my laptop, cable and hard disk (just in case). I was such a person – one who could not really figure out what she wanted, and hence was better off preparing for anything and everything.

Wherever the tides would take me, that would have been my motto. I would do what my heart felt like doing. Well, it turned out that that morning, I had no idea what my heart felt like doing. Maybe it did not feel like doing anything. So I sat there in the car, thinking about where to go and what to do the entire rest of the day, and wondering what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go in my life.

In the past, it was easy to sweep away the residue that accompanied the difficult questions and say, Let’s just wait and seeMy priority to teach became my verbal promise to whoever asked about “my future plans” and a weak excuse for my indecision. That really meant that I need not make any effort to get what I wanted, heck, I was too lazy to even decide what I wanted to do. Making decisions require effort, and the actions that are required to follow after can persuade one to run in the opposite direction. But at this moment, I had a few options presented me and they all require me to make some kind of effort.

Further study? I need to do some research, plan some budget, speak to some people, fill up lots of paperwork and apply for the courses. Some of my colleagues and friends have done that – I look at them juggle the workload and I think them mad. But secretly I applaud them for their desire to translate their dream into reality.

A managerial position? I need to do some soul-searching, set some objectives and clearly defined goals, then work towards equipping myself if I prayerfully want to contribute in that area. This scares me because I do not see any like-minded colleagues working with me, in fact, the opposite is true, and the politicking is stifling. But if God calls you to play a particular role, there is nothing shunworthy about it, is there.

Just a teacher, more and more effective? I really enjoy interacting with the students and teaching them. But can I stretch myself in this aspect in this school?

Transfer? There are just so many reasons shouting against it, but I am dying of curiosity to see how other schools are like and if I would enjoy it better there.

Stay? Can I stay and be a more resilient and effective worker, able to contribute to the students and the school?

On a less serious note, a last option would be to focus on finding a partner and settling down. Ha ha ha. Decisions, decisions, decisions, aye.

Everything Else and an Absent Groom

I can assure you: I am not mad and have not lost my mind.

A few years ago, sometime after I began serving in the Toddlers’ Ministry team and after my teaching stint at a kindergarten, this unique, indescribable maternal desire started to blossom and grow. I kid you not when I say I watch TV series and when I see a cute kid, I dream of tucking my own child in bed, or reading him or her bedtime stories, or planting a kiss on their cheek. There came a point of realisation when it dawned on me that not everyone feels a surge of maternal instinct and the desire to have a child when they see a happy family portrait on TV; and it dawned on my sister that I was potentially mad.

Then came the house. When we went Ikea shopping, I began to visualise how my own home would look like in the future with a family. I would flip through Ikea catalogues in my spare time and imagine what kind of dining room, bedroom or family living room I would like to have. I would even imagine walking down the aisles shopping for furniture with Mr Shao. I recall that there were instances when I wondered if I was normal.

About a year or so back, my friends, being in their mid-twenties, began to get married, one by one. They fussed over wedding decor, the bridal gown, the bridesmaids’ dresses, floral bouquet, the reception, the decor again. But I love weddings because they are such whimsical beautiful things that makes you feel all hopeful and mushy and happy all at once. Since then, I began to pay a lot of attention to the details of a wedding too.

First of all, I have decided that my wedding gown will be as simple as I can help it – I hope it doesn’t have the poofy cagey things which makes it so difficult to walk. I also don’t wish to have everything elaborated and highly-ornamented because a wedding is suppose to reflect the celebration of joy and a life formed together before God, but those things need not be massive exaggerated affairs, do they?

I mean, sure I would like to have those lovely photographs and frames and guest books with ribbons, roses and sprinkles all over – or something to that effect. But please – let the bride be comfortable enough to participate in her joyous special day.