Or maybe the title of this post should have read why do I try so hard to be someone I am not? Just 4 months ago I was so excited and on top of the world. I had been successfully admitted into the docent training program in the National Museum of Singapore. Having tried last year and been disappointingly turned down, this was a cause for celebration for me. Of course I didn't go around celebrating. It was a rare moment of quiet joy. I thought to myeslf - finally things are taking off in my life. There was some direction. I have had enough of being a stay at home mom/home maker and the never ending chores. I got a live in helper (or a maid we call here in Singapore) to help me with my housework, since I was going to be busy in my new life. Or so I thought.
When I started the training on Sep 14th, I couldn't have been more content. All the new friends from so many different countries of varying ages. The training twice weekly in the mornings where we would listen to lectures from historians and go on field trips to so many interesting historical places in Singapore which I would have never visited or turned back to look if it not had been for my docent training. The hours of research and the readings it involved was - how do I put this simply - it was like giving food to a very hungry man. I agree it is a lame metaphor. But I was hungry for knowledge, hungry to be thought of as not only a housewife or a stay at home mom. I was hungry for that validation that I am more than what you see. By whom? Well, a lot of people including my own family but let's not go there.
And when I gave everthing I had into my research, my papers turned out exceedingly well. All the years of knowing inside that I am capable of so much more was channeled into my research. My group leader Linka - a lovely Dutch lady - vouched that I'm one of her best students and I'll do well as a docent! My fellow group members praised my delivery of my practice talks and added that I'm so natural. With all that compliments in my head, my confidence grew. I started planting thoughts of working in museums. Those thoughts grew and became bigger. Why not then do a masters degree in art and history. That should boost my chances of getting a job?
I was so naive. So innocent. Living in my own dream world. I did realise soon enough that all these things are what I want others to think of me. 'Wow, Nilo is doing her masters' Wow, Nilo is working in a museum, after all these years as a housewife!' Its not what I wanted to do on my own for myself. Why was I pretending to be someone I wasn't? I'm not cut out to working in a 9 to 5 job again where the travelling and the office politics will ruin the whole job exeperience. Plus who would employ a 45 year old who has been unemployed for the last 17 years? If I'm not going back into the workforce, why the need for a masters degree? Why would I waste my hubsnd's 27K even if I had wanted to learn for the sake of gaining knowlwdge? Why do I want others to validate me? Why is there this constant internal frustration because of the comparison to friends and family who are successful in their lives?
As the year rolls around to an end and when I look around I see people merry-making over meals and having special gatherings to mark special occasions and all the commercialism that comes with it- the gift giving, the shopping, the mingling, the drinking... I don't know. I maybe wrong I feel its all just a farce. Its just not who all of you are. It is just a mask all of you are wearing and you are all dead inside. We all put up an act and pretend to be that fun lively but still an intelligent person to please others so that others will like us. Aren’t we all guilty of that? And why is drinking a glass of wine at a social gathering so in and when you don’t why do people judge you and make you feel like an alien? When did that happen? Why does being invited to a party or a gathering an indication of how well liked you are?
Friends are only present in your life at that period in your life where you have a certain connection with like for example when you are doing a particular self improvement course and they are your coursemates. After the course ends and when you don’t have a common thread that connects you, you slowly lose touch and they vanish from your life after that. Out of sight out of mind. Rarely, they become close friends. Just like my new docent friends. They are a bunch of fun but serious when it comes to training ladies. I was very excited when I first met them. I started harbouring dreams and hopes of finding a lifelong close friend/s. Told you I was naive. I do realise now that I won't see them weekly after March next year when my training ends. I have learnt that I shouldn't place too much hope on most casual friendships..they just don't last a lifetime. If you have found that certain friend or a group of girl friends who you do everything with, you are blessed. Please hold on to that friendship. Don’t ever let go.
So recently, like hot stones, I dropped everything - all these silly ambitions that have sprung up in the last 4 months. A wiser mature person I have become and I’m glad for it. I'm not going to pretend to be someone I am not. I do not have to prove anything to anyone. If you think I'm just a boring old housewife, so be it. You don't know me. I am contented with my housework and looking after the needs of my family, no matter how routine it can get (I have sent off my helper when I realised I don't really need her afterall). This house work - it keeps me grounded. No fancy dreams to float around in. With innocent hopes of finding that one true friend out of the window, I have spun my own little cacoon around myself. Who said you can’t be happy in your own company? The words of the song 'Me, Myself and I' by Bebe Rexha comes to my mind,
Oh, its just me, myself and I
Solo ride until I die
Cause, I got me for life
Oh, I don't need a hand to hold
Even when the night is cold
I got that fire in my soul
Yeah, I do!!
My home is
usually in a mess and has dust settled on almost everything. But I believe laughter and love will win the day. In 20 years, my girls won't remember how messy the house was but will remember the time we spent together and the love they felt...