Monday, March 25, 2013

A Singaporean I can Identify With

Here is an individual I can identify with, but not because our situations are exactly the same. On the contrary, I was considered a "success" in my early life in Singapore. Now, I would probably be considered a "dud".

Thankfully, if there is anything I have learned from my time here in the USA, I'm not going to let this damage my sense of self-worth. Nowadays, I am fairly confident where my talents lie, what I am good at, what I can potentially pick up, and how quickly. Most importantly, I am also more aware of what I am comfortable doing, what I am willing to compromise on, and more aware of my sense of self. The latter, quite frankly, does not feature highly on the list of priorities with the powers-that-be in Singapore. Their loss:

The things I can empathize with were:

His inability to return home to attend his grandmother's funeral. The same happened with me and then again with my grandfather's passing. Thankfully, my parents were understanding of my reasons why I could not make it both times.

His feelings as an individual getting trampled on as a "non-performer". I've always felt that way, even if I could be "rated" as "good". In all my time, in Singapore and in the USA, I have encountered individuals who may not do well or even be educated, but whose talent and sharp intelligence shines through in conversation.

Turning to a recent source of annoyance on Facebook - I wonder if the idiots venerating the other idiots who enjoy (and write about) calling other people "bozos", would have referred to Mr. Lim in the article as one too?


Kevin Jang said...

Our worth is largely more than the materialistic standards used by Singaporean society. I believe that somehow, even after having achieved greater success than before at least on a non-material front, people back there would still see that as a 'lack of achievement'. I call it leaving the Matrix called Singapore, where we are able to undo what it has left on us by virtue of being out of it physically. So rejoice in that!

Kevin Jang said...

That guy reminds me somewhat of myself, insofar as I was terrible in the sciences and Math no matter how hard I tried. People would think that I was dumb to specialize in the arts and humanities, back in Singapore, since to them, there is no 'value' in humanities anyway. Then, when I became a PhD and decided that my life is not revolving around academia anymore, there would be those in Singapore who think I am stupid to give up staying in a stable state of being(financially and geographically) to try finding my own career and calling in life. But seriously, Singapore is Singapore. I never belonged to it to begin with, and see less and less of a need to explain myself to others over there. If asked, "What do you plan to do? Where will you go next and settle down?", I just say, "Can I choose not to answer that?" That might sound curt, but it basically defines my boundaries and limits for me, protecting myself from unnecessary malice or negativity(if not criticism or ostracism).

I do know though of some people who took part of their lives to live a life that the interviewed guy did(study overseas because they could not be accepted by the system that they were brought up in), and then returned to it becoming more and more for that system--ironically--as well as more and more for the authoritarianism and stifling environment that they had left for a while. The point is, it is largely inside the mind. If the person is already deceived by the Singaporean system, even if they venture overseas, then they will only stick within that 'matrix' inside their minds, in forms such as criticizing the local government of the place they re-settled in, sticking around only with other Singaporeans and speaking Singlish or Singaporean English, and not fully finding a new home. That is called F.O.B mentality.

Chee Wai Lee said...

Yah, I'm glad I'm currently out of the system. The trick is really to stay out. I'll admit to being infuriated by what some of my friends and friends-of-friends say.