No-Pay Leave: Day 365

In the blink of an eye, it’s been a year since I’m on ‘No-Pay Leave’ to ‘accompany my husband overseas’ for his studies.

It was November 2011 when I first had an inkling that I would be either leaving the service or going on leave in 2013. I spent 2012 not only preparing for my wedding but also preparing to leave. Along the way, there were many people who thought I was crazy to leave my life of stability for a life of uncertainty. There were times when I doubted myself as well and thought I was absolutely insane to be taking a running leap into the abyss of unknown. Honestly, I did consider continuing to “climb the career ladder” while the hubby studied. However, despite my reluctance, my departure was relatively smooth-sailing – I believe it was the plan of God to close doors at home and open doors for me overseas.

I was jaded, kind of:

Despite having direct superiors who scaffolded my “learning” as a beginning teacher and though I enjoyed teaching as well as loved my students, I was somehow worn out in the final months of my bond and could not wait to get out of the system for a break.

I lost my identity:

Feeling drained by the system, I was absolutely thrilled to finally “leave”! It was time for me to repay the sleep debt owed, enjoy my cuppa coffee/tea and simply slow down to “enjoy” life. 1 week into that life and I was became upset – I missed preparing for lessons, I missed school and goodness, I actually missed attending meetings! Or so I’d thought… Looking back, what was happening to me then was that I had lost my sense of identity – I had spent some time identifying myself by my job as a teacher and was then afraid of who I’d be without it.

When I was job-hunting and filling out applications, I had a tendency to talk about my job. Even when talking to people, I would always bring my job up, even though I wasn’t actually in it anymore.

I found my identity:

Over time, I’ve learn to realize that even though my (ex-)students still greet me as ‘Ms Tay’ when they text me, I was never defined by my job. Not being fully employed in Australia meant that my schedule was more flexible since I have more time on hand (kind of), I now have a closer walk with God. I suspect a reason why God closed the doors back home was not only to have me draw close to my husband but also to draw close to Him.

I’ve learnt to rely on Him and him:

Being so far away from home with no family by me meant that I had to rely on God. Some people think I’m leading a “tai tai” life away from Singapore and as much as I’d like to believe I am, I’m not; but of course, life isn’t all that tedious – God did not promise a bed of roses but He did promise blessings when we work hard with Him. Thank God for His provision – we have food to eat, a shelter over our heads, a car to get from place to place conveniently and because I’m not a “tai tai” here, what I work hard to earn meant that we can travel!

Being away from home also meant that the hubby and I only truly have each other for support when the world is against us. I believe our marriage has grown more when we’re away from home than it would have if we were back home – we’ve had to house-hunt, ensure we have enough money to pay bills, buy groceries, do laundry, do household chores – “little” but essential things we overlook at home because our parents/grandparents/domestic helper would see to them. More importantly, the trials and tribulations that we’ve gone through together also meant that we’ve drawn closer to God together as a couple.

My horizon has expanded:

My life now is far from structured and certainty. I may get a phone call/text message/e-mail to cancel my “odd job” (tutor, PA, babysitter) for the day. However, the flexibility of my work here meant that I get to meet people from all walks of life – I’m seeing a variety of tasks given to the students to hone their learning yet engage them, I’m learning how the Aussies parent their children and I’m definitely learning to slow down and live in the moment.

He would give me my daily bread:

As much as my future is not certain, I look at what I have instead of what I lack and I count my blessings everyday. Although I worry about what my future holds, I know that God knows of His plans for me and when the time comes, God would provide.

Though I miss school and the structured life I had, I would cherish the remaining 1.5 years of ‘No-Pay Leave’. I don’t truly know why God has sent me to Australia but I believe it is for something bigger and better in the future.

Go, smile and take a running leap into the chasm of uncertainty:

To anyone out there who may be in the shoes I was in, standing at the edge of the cliff and hesitating the leap, here’s my advice… Take a deep breath (make the decision to jump off), take a few steps back (pack up and get ready for the leap), smile and run forward into the valley of unknown with arms wide open (be positive and welcome what lies ahead).

There can only be true growth when you’re out of your comfort zone. If what you jumped to try fails, I’m sure you can always return to where you were; but if what you jumped to try succeeds, you’ll find yourself in a whole new world you would never have encountered if you remained where you were.

Insanity is not leaving your comfort zone. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.


One thought on “No-Pay Leave: Day 365

  1. Pingback: Teachers’ Day Message 2014 by DGE Ms Ho Peng | Hu's Married!

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