Making choices

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It was a Tuesday, and I was in the office, slumped in my seat. I was staring at my computer with multiple tabs open– one on iBilik, another on my Internet banking, another on my bills, and a few on my work. What I was paying attention to, though, was bills. My landlady failed to tell me how much I owed in utilities (presumably because she’s trying to shortchange me, but I digress), and I had been hounding her for weeks on end. I finally got my answer while I was at work, and it was a three-digit figure I never imagined I could accumulate over the course of slightly over one month. I checked my calendar– payday was more than a week away. However, my conscience did not allow me to be in debt, so I settled my bills on the spot. It hurt me to have to do it, but I did it anyway; knowing that although I would not be able to spend lavishly for the next week, I could be rest assured that I was not in debt.

It was a Sunday, and I had never felt more demotivated to work. I resented having to go to work on a public holiday, and working for 6 days straight. I was due to go on air, and my lack of enthusiasm showed while I was announcing my reports.  Undoubtedly, my poor performance came to bite me in the ass, and it all just went downhill from there. It was high stakes– working in the country’s top radio network and announcing reports to millions of listeners who were tuning in just made me feel so much worse about my job. Don’t get me wrong; people’s assumptions about working in radio is, for the most part, accurate– I get to meet well-known media personalities (I’ve met so many celebrities that I lost count), rub shoulders with key players in the industry, and get to go on air… But behind the glitz and glamour lies all the hard work that goes unseen… And because I knew, deep down, that broadcasting is not my calling, I knew I wanted out come the end of my internship.

It was a Wednesday, and I had just signed a contract with one of the top advertising agencies in the world to be their in-house copywriter… But as much as the word ‘writer’ appealed to me, I had a deep-seeded innate fear that maybe I’m not good enough for the role. Yes, I was headhunted; but will I be able to constantly develop creative copy, and for one of the most demanding clients in the industry?

It was a Friday, and it was a long work week. I was looking forward to finally going home and spend some time out, since I was cooped up in the office and at home for far too long. It was then that I received a call from my boyfriend, and he broke the news to me; shit hit the fan and there were problems I had to single-handedly fix with my living arrangement here. I ended up spending another night being trapped in my condo, and consequently, blew up at him. It was irrational of me, I admit… But it was far from unjustified. My inner voice told me that I needed a time out, and as an introvert, what I really needed was time alone to focus on myself. I then realized that I romanticized the whole idea of having a live-in boyfriend, and it really isn’t as easy as it looks; especially not for someone like me who enjoys regular time alone.

Those two weeks were one of the most tumultuous times for me since I got here. For years, I fought against my parents’ wishes for me to build a career back home. I stubbornly insisted on coming to the big city to pave my career (or at least, the start of it) pursuing what nobody and nothing else could offer me at home. I forcibly made my way here, fought tooth and nail to graduate, and now… I am living my dreams, way out of my comfort zone. There is a catch, though. The utopia of living my dreams was all in my head. Everything is much harder to do once you’re out on your own; when you’re forced to make life choices in the snap of a finger.

Every day is a difficult choice for me here– I’ve had days when I contemplated packing up my bags and going home at the end of my internship. I would earn significantly less working at home, but at least I would have the comfort of those around me. It’s those days, then, that remind me of why this choice was already made that many years ago… Dreams don’t come easy, but I sure as hell want to persist.

I have a long way to go, but I am happy with where I started… And that, in itself, is enough to justify my choices.

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Author: Natalie Ha

I remember being enthralled with the written word ever since my parents started reading fairytales to me at a young age. Seeing the power it has to influence behaviours and mindsets, I have learned, over the years, to translate my thoughts onto paper, in an attempt to positively disrupt the lives of others. Having my written works published in various forms of media has empowered me to weave stories that people can resonate with. I look forward to the life-long process of perfecting this craft, and hope to see my work touch the hearts of many in the future. This blog attempts to do just that - and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy penning it down.

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