Tuesday, 19 September 2017


I've been welcomed to the club by those who've been there. There was the usual outpouring of sympathy and empathy, and certainly no schadenfreude as the ones with whom I immediately shared a most recent life event were close family and friends. A few were envious and would swap places with me--for a considerable fee, of course. My advice was for them to be careful what they wish for, as I found myself unprepared for the position I subconsciously played in my head and which I am now in.

My cheese has recently been moved: I've been made redundant from my job of seven years. It's not unusual. It happens to the best of us, and more expectedly to the worst of us. I just didn't see it coming. Although I consistently went through hot-and-cold phases during my tenure, my misgivings didn't prompt me to quit without a well-carved-out back-up plan. 

But here I am, navigating a more competitive job market than what I knew from a decade ago, forcing myself to sign up for LinkedIn which I protested against for so many years as I viewed it as a vanity project for people who have nothing else going on in their lives apart from their impressive yet empty job titles, and finding out that even though I'm now considered a veteran in my industry, being unemployed is a social status leveller.

For the first couple of weeks, the question of what is next was rhetorical rather than sequential.

It's scientifically proven that our bodies undergo rejuvenation wherein our cells are replaced by healthier ones which in turn create a repackaged version of ourselves. As a former allied medical science student, I learned about the processes cells go through for renewal. Each type of cell has its own life span. The myth is that the whole process is a cyclical seven-year period, which is a random choice of time frame for the 50 to 75 trillion cells in our body. When I look back at mine (not my trillion cells, but my major life events from 40 years down), I had a realisation that I have been through several seven-year periods where I break my life down to the basics to rearrange my pieces back together.

It's now apparent that my cells are reconditioning themselves, or I'm blooming like giant Himalayan lilies do after being an unassuming clump of leaves for five to seven years. Whatever the case may be, unfavourable circumstances have been prodding me to reinvent myself yet again. 

I'm embracing the change by challenging myself to come full circle and confront what I've been running away from for a long time: getting a formal training in creative writing. 

I have not fully abandoned writing, from the time in my early 20s when the craft was my main source of income. But I drifted in and out, partly because writing alone couldn't pay the bills, partly due to myself moving to another country where my confidence took a slight beating, and mainly because I joined the rat race where I was actually more like a vole  squashed by marauding rodents. 

For the last seven years, I've been checking--no, I stand corrected--stalking the start dates for Creative Writing and Critical Analysis courses on the university's website while coming up with as much excuses as possible not to sign up. The excuses dried up. I secured one of the last two places. 

Together with at least 20 other participants from all over the world, of eclectic professional and creative backgrounds, and diverse age groups, we are finding and reinforcing our writing voice, constructively analysing our words and sharing our thoughts via our forums that are moderated by our tutor whose book I previously read to get a glimpse of his literary style. We all have one goal: to bare our souls through our written words.  To be physically naked is daunting; to mentally undress for strangers can be crippling.

I don't know if I've got what it takes. My attention is divided, my dedication rusty, and my patience deficient. But my desire is definitive: I don't want to regret passing up the chance to indulge what my core screams for. 

So, what's next? 
Your guess is as good as mine.

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