Updated: May 24
Until two months ago, I have lived my whole life in another city, never imagining that my life would take on an unexpected trajectory on foreign soil. But to understand why a plot twist is considered so, one must retrace the steps leading up to the latest chapter.
Flash back to 8 months ago, I was laid off from work. It wasn’t an advanced notice either - I went to work one day, and unceremoniously never did again. I fumbled into a drastically different pace of life, stripped of duty and purpose, my daily schedules faded into the void, transforming into a decimal place in the unemployment index.
I did not show unease, as I always hadn’t. Like countless others, I shook the habit of showing weakness at some point, to become someone you may look up to, but never look down upon. I wasn’t preparing to be lost, not one bit.
But unemployment implied something else. Whilst I was relieved of office duties, commitments that previously made way for work were no longer negligible, like receiving a notice from your phone saying that it is finally running out of memory, as an awe-stricken you finally realize just how much junk you have left unchecked. In this case, the junk being blemishes in my relationship with loved ones.
The natural habitat of jobless me was home, where I stay with my parents, who now see me as who I am everyday, instead of the person who vanishes for 8 hours a day and come back on energy saving mode. They appreciate the extra hours we now share, but to me, it felt vulnerable being in the loving scrutiny of the two people who care for me the most.
Each day of joblessness was a straw landing on a pile of insecurity – you never know which is the last. I spent years not showing a true self, and reciprocally I never knew how people saw me, never mind a jobless me. Am I receiving judgement for not securing a job? Have I failed expectations I never got to find out about? The uncertainty was so much that any word uttered at me felt like an attack, mostly (and especially) from my parents. I spent my days defending against imaginary assailants.
At this point, “departure” was an alluring idea – move out, live your own life. Personal space, individuality, that’s the hip thing to do now. Be your own person. Run free.
The other option was to face the junk in the phone.
It was very confrontational when I fought out of insecurity. We clashed, we wrestled, we wept, but then things started to change. By being confrontational, I spoke my mind to my parents, and they in turn got to speak theirs. There was a conversation, one that has been absent for years.
Then the man said “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.” (Genesis 32:28)
God isn’t one who reprimands His subjects for willing differently. He named his people Israel – literally “he wrestles with God”, in full anticipation that we will challenge His resolve with ours. We will be given a choice, to submit or to be our own person. Both of these paths entail His love for us, just as my parents’ do for me.
As fate would have it, as soon as a rapport bloom in our family, I was gifted a new job, in a new nation, a new adventure. Only this time, I know the distance is merely physical. Only this time, it is a departure blessed by God himself.