I’m a work in progress

This is nothing like Cheryl Strayed in Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail; or Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love.

This is me, when I took an extended vacation in New Zealand in 2011.

I was 29 at that time and unemployed, thinking what I am doing with my life for the past few years. I was out of love, out of money and have absolutely no idea what I was doing to myself. It was my quarter life crisis. Everything was dark. Nothing seemed to matter. I used to be a fun loving person, sociable and had loads of friends. I thought I knew what I wanted out of my life. But what I wanted was wrong for me. I gained a tremendous amount of weight. I was insecure, lost, out of shape and sad.

I desperately needed to turn my life around. I needed to live again. Not just breathe but to really live again. Get my bearings right. Start new.

Then one day, a text came. My only chance to turn things around, or so I deemed it to be. A friend asked if I was interested to backpack and work in New Zealand for a couple of months on a Working Holiday visa. I was stranded in open sea, and that was my life buoy.

It may have looked like I ditched everything to escape my “pathetic” life. On some extent it was, the escape part - I needed to be away from people I know. Away from familiarity and habits. Put myself out there in a foreign country, get uncomfortable, find out what I am capable of and what I really want out of my life. A drastic move, maybe. But the only one solution that was offered to me. The important thing is, it worked.

For eight months, I worked in casual and seasonal jobs around the North and South Islands. I met fellow backpackers and made new friends. I talked to people and learn from their experiences.

In a relaxed and slow paced environment, I had ample time to read quite extensively and ponder about my future life choices. I started to see things differently, gained new perspectives and probably the fresher air in NZ did clear up the haze in my head too. I learnt to be patient. I grew resilient to different enviroments and adapted to the physical and psychologial changes in and around me.

My homecoming year was spent easing back into the humid and populated Singapore. I definitely missed the seasons. Caught up with friends and family of the ongoings during my absence. I got a job. Still had that job.

My boss, now friend and mentor, has also guided me. We work hard, sometimes we slog, but at the end of the day, what are our efforts for? And at what cost are we paying to have a good life? To better our life quality but not at the expense of losing morals or principles while at it. Sounds easy. It’s not. Nor is striking a work life balance.

I am now 35. My life has changed since. I crave for constant learning, intellectual and emotional growth. I want to be a better person.

I try to explore a new place every year and read books of different genres.

I’m a work in progress.