Stay or Go?

That has been the question that plagues me for at least half my life. I feel like I’ve been living a nomadic existence for a long time, with 5 major moves since I was 13. Perhaps it is this feeling of impermanence that made me feel distant from the people around me. Like I feel like we will be gone before we know it and I’ll have to start from scratch again. Maintaining and creating new relationships takes a lot of mental energy for me.  But as my little guy entered my life, I find myself changing and trying harder to make those connections and create a social network. Next year, I’m even joining the dreaded PTA which I’ve scoffed at just two months ago. I feel the need to push myself out of my comfort zone and learn more about myself and relating with others.

For the longest time, I’ve had (and probably still do to some extent) a fixed mindset that was telling me that I’m just the way I am, I can’t change. Recently, I’ve been reading Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset and also Angela Duckworth’s Grit, in an effort to learn about how to instill grit and a growth mindset in little C. I feel motivated to go out and explore myself further, to take risks and in the process, learn grit myself. What better way to teach your child than to first absorb those lessons and live it.

Regardless, the fact that we are migrants makes our lives here possibly transient. It’s hard to feel satisfied with every aspect of life and I wonder if I’ll ever find a place where I say, “This is it. We are staying here for good.” Perhaps this is the dissatisfaction that has motivated me to move in the first place. When we were back in Singapore serving our bond, I was disappointed by the lack of intellectual stimulation and the non-existent work life balance and that propelled us to move away. Now that we are here in the US, I worry about the education that C will be getting – the lack of rigor and anti-intellectualism – and more importantly, racism. I’m wondering if we should move back during his secondary school years, in part to prepare him for the inevitable military service.  Or maybe instead of trying to escape, I need to work on the issues where they are and deal with them as they come.

Because all that moving makes it hard for us to set down our roots. It’s hard to decide to buy a house for example. On the other hand, I’m also happy with the flexibility of renting and not having to deal with major housing maintenance of which I know nothing of.


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