I have been honoured to be invited by Patty Wolters to contribute to her project called “The Skilled Helpers Collaborative” where I and other talented writers share our life experiences, our stories and importantly, inspire others during difficult times like this.
I hope you will enjoy this piece that I wrote.
I love changes. For me, life should always be in balance of both ups and downs because only when we experience the low points in life, we can truly appreciate and treasure our wins and momentous events. I have gone through many difficult and challenging phases in my life that shaped who I am today, and I am extremely grateful that I can look at these changes as something positive and call them my epic adventures.
Please allow me to share some of my major twists and turns that I experienced over the years and taught me valuable life lessons.
A Major Change in My Career
I earned a stable, lucrative income as a jewellery sales consultant doing retail hours during my early twenties when a new opportunity, an admin assistant role, knocked on my door. Although leaving my sales job would mean a 50% cut in my salary, I knew that new work could be my opportunity to learn more and challenge myself in a different role. Not working during retail hours also means that I can do a night study in my spare time. It was a scary jump to an unknown universe as I felt inadequate for my new role. I was like a fish out of water, and nonstop thoughts and doubts were running in my head. Back then, I was not computer literate, so I was afraid that the new job would not work out in the end. The worst thing that could happen was I could never go back to my old job. Moreover, jobs like that, with high salary and low expectations, are hard to come by.
But honestly, the thought of being in retail all my life wasn’t something I fancied. I wanted much more than the job can provide. Being a jewellery assistant means 80% of my time included standing at a spot and waiting for customers to walk in. And that was the only time I can serve clients and do my sales pitch. After thinking about the cons and pros, and weighing all the possible outcomes, I made the jump.
Working as an admin assistant means I needed to work on some new skills, my computer skills in specific. I worked twice as hard as others, and I taught myself how to use Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint during my spare time in the office. I also asked a lot of questions, volunteered to run errands, stayed back late to help with marketing promos, and increased my network through clients and colleagues. Soon enough, my efforts paid off. My boss noticed my efforts and decided to groom me. He sponsored my further education and promoted me twice within the same year.
Results: I obtained my certification in business, and I gained experience as a first-time office manager. Besides that, I learnt lots of hands-on experience by dipping my toes into other departments like marketing, sales, customer service, etc.
If I did not take that step out of my comfort zone, I would probably still be in the retail line, and maybe jumping from store to store without feeling any satisfaction in my career.
And if I only stayed within my job scope as an office manager, I would never learn different things from the other departments. Also, I would never be able to expand my network within the company.
A Major Change to My Lifestyle
After a few years of working in my dream company, I felt ecstatic and comfortable in my role. My superiors appreciated my work and my team and coworkers enjoyed working with me. Within a year into the job, I was approached to take a new opportunity to relocate in Shanghai to be part of the pioneer batch that spearheads the first China campus.
Although my role hasn’t changed, I will be taking on a larger profile and bigger responsibilities in a different country with a different culture. As much as I love to travel as a past time, I didn’t venture to other countries outside Southeast Asia, and I have never lived on my own. It was a huge risk to uproot myself from the comforts of my home and be thrown into the unknown. Besides that, I just started dating someone new.
But the thought of moving overseas to gain exposure and experience was too much to decline. I know I will regret it if I didn’t take up the offer.
So, I moved. I hunted down the perfect apartment within walking distance to my new office. It was only a 10-minute walk compared to an hour of commute that I did daily in Singapore. I also made new friends, many of whom became lifelong friendships. I even switched roles, from sales to training and even to order processing role.
Results: I spent two years in Shanghai and had a memorable, eye-opening experience. I fell in love with the country, and I got to travel to many parts of China. I even met many people from different backgrounds, and consequently, my social circle got wider.
I matured exponentially during my time in China. To live by yourself is a luxury for Singaporeans because rentals are impossibly high. Moreover, you are only eligible to purchase affordable public housing from the government after you got married or reached 35 years old, whichever comes first. For the first time, despite the risk of sounding like a spoilt child, I did my laundry, cooked my food, and cleaned my house. I no longer come home to a meal set for me after a long day at work. I even fixed my own IKEA furniture and light bulbs.
I also got to experience the four seasons for the first time since the weather you can have in Singapore is either rain or shine. Unused to winter, I hibernated under the electric blanket in front of the heater whenever the temperature drops to less than 10 degrees. When my colleagues decked in sweaters during autumn, I was already wearing a winter coat and a sweater.
If I had stayed in my country, I will never experience all of these and come to appreciate how comfortable living in Singapore is and how fortunate I am to be a Singaporean. Most importantly, the 2 years I spent abroad was the test that strengthened my long-distance relationship.
A Major Change in My Status
During my stint in Shanghai, I was offered a huge change again. This time around, a diamond ring and a promise to love me forever. To close the gap of our long-distance relationship, I had to leave my dream career in my dream company to live in another foreign country and be with the man of my dreams.
Once again, I faced it with some dilemma, but I picked up my courage and chose to go to the unknown. I resigned from my job, packed up my bags, and relocated to Kuala Lumpur.
Results: I am now happily married for 6 years with an adorable 4-year-old. I am a proud servant of my 3 lovely cats. I am a founder of the career site MiddleMe.net, and I became a successful freelancer.
Life is all about changes. And change is scary – it is unnerving, it is uncomfortable. It is easy to just stay put where you are. But if we don’t take calculated risks to change our lives for the better, we will never gain memories that will last a lifetime. Staying stagnant, complacent, and idle frightens me more than anything else.
Check out other writers’ stories in this collaboration here.