A Brave New World

How time flies! It’s been almost six months since I made the big leap and turned my world upside down. Leaving a stable job and a comfy existence, I slingshot myself halfway across the world to Germany to finally be in the same timezone with the man of my dreams.

As you can imagine someone who was raised in a (very noisy) household of seven strong women, I was always taught to always flaunt my smarts and my strengths, no matter what anyone else thought. Of course, this giant shift from career woman to penniless student for me was not without doubts and scolding from my own subconscious. I thought, however, I would be holding back  a part of me, a part of me whose strengths I have yet to uncover, if I didn’t make this jump.

And so I leaped, and so far, no regrets. 

Although freedom from the rat race seems enticing, it would be totally dishonest to say that I don’t find myself missing the anchor of a stable pay every now and then. I remember my sister warning me before exactly about this. She said that when she herself once had to leave her job and then went on to pursue her own interests, there were times when she wished she still had steady money to bail herself out of roadblocks. That’s where I find myself now once in a while. I realized that too many times in the past, I have leaned on my income to make even the mundane unpleasant things go away. Having fewer resources to work with poses an interesting dilemma, or challenge, if you like. I know, it’s time to roll up those sleeves.

It’s interesting to note that I now actually have what I have always wished for: a wealth of time to see the world. However, it’s not at all the flitting-from-country-to-country, just-my-backpack-and-me adventure that I have once imagined. Now, each day I can bide my time, to the point that even seemingly plain day-to-day tasks seem to be spectacular. I now have a whole new appreciation of the unbelievable luck I have, by virtue of an unlikely chain of events that have led me to be right here, right now. I look at everything that comes my way the same way a child’s heart leaps when she discovers a shell on the sand. Yes, as I’ve said, I now have a wealth of time to let almost everything sink in.

I’m still wrapping my head around learning the language, though. Thinking in German doesn’t seem very natural yet, and the ideas don’t flow as easily. It’s quite ridiculous how much time I need to prepare for “trivial” tasks, such as getting a haircut or requesting anything from the town hall. I have to replay and rehearse multiple versions of conversations in my head, just to make sure I prepare my German for all possible scenarios. On the flip side, though, I believe my pantomiming skills have improved radically.

I’ll never forget the first time somebody off the street asked me for directions, and I was able to answer (with a straight face) fully in German. SUCCESS! Little wins egg me on.

If there is one heartbreak, it’s whenever I go into a bookstore. Bookstores have always been my mini-wonderland, but now I feel powerless to literally understand or appreciate anything when I’m in there. It’s like walking into a cave of wonders, knowing everything is shiny and gorgeous beyond your wildest imagination, but not being able to glimpse upon anything. So close, and yet so far. I’ve gotten myself a library card though, somewhere where they thankfully have a small English collection where I can console myself. I do hope that once again I can delve into any book my heart desires. Soon.

The novelty of this new life doesn’t mean that I don’t look back longing for things I have once taken for granted. Constant sunshine, for one. To my fellow Southeast Asians, know that it’s such a blessing to only concern yourself with just one wardrobe for the whole year. As I feed myself with the staple bread, sausages and doner kebab, I find myself daydreaming about the humid, savory mist of Singapore hawker centers.

At the same time though, I’ve learned to appreciate new blessings that I haven’t experienced before. The onset of spring. Fresh asparagus. Frequent warm home-cooked meals by yours truly.

What my life will look like in the next six months, I don’t know. But what I know is that I’m no longer afraid to let go of my anchors, to be fully responsible for the next big choices I shall make. I now know, that it is never too late to take a completely different direction in life. That knowledge alone makes it all worth it.

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