Where have I been?

You’re probably wondering where I’ve disappeared to. And I really cannot blame you for being frustrated, worried etc. The truth was 2015 was a monumental year for me. Watch this video to find out more.

I’m now blogging at elizabethtai.com.  

I’ll keep this blog up, but I’m now more active at elizabethtai.com. You can contact me here.


“I want some real information please!” Beyond the PR puff pieces about Australia


Many migrants – Malaysians and from other countries alike – are shocked by what Adelaide is really like.  No, I’m not talking about its beauty which is considerable. I’m talking about the Adelaide economy, the attitudes of employers and work culture, how the locals are really like, what are the nuts and bolts of getting a home and finding a support network….

When I embarked on this journey way back in 2009 I found many PR puff pieces on the Internet and from migration agents about sandy beaches, life in the sun, and the “booming” economy. Being a naturally sceptical person I searched for more “real” information about what life is really like Down Under.

The Whirlpool forums was a great place to start if you’re looking for more “real” information, but a caveat: Just because some people are having a hard time in Australia, doesn’t mean that you will. There are some folks that slide into life in Australia like a hand in a silk glove, but knowing what it’s really like on the ground will help you come up with strategies that will enable you to succeed as a migrant. I know it helped me.

Still, there’s no beating real-life experience.

For one, despite researching things very thoroughly, I was still surprised caught off guard by how reality didn’t match my expectations, and how tough the migration journey was!

The denialists

I created this blog because I wanted to tell people what life was really like as a migrant. What I found fascinating, however, was that there was a strong culture of “don’t say anything bad about Australia” among Malaysian migrants and Australians.

I still remember being hushed in a restaurant by a Malaysian migrant who cast a nervous look at the Australians at the next table when I spoke about SA’s economic issues and the parochial attitudes of its employers. Another migrant would literally tell me to shut up when I bring up sensitive topics.

When I wrote my post about sham contracting, I faced strong opposition from some Malaysian migrants who accused me of discouraging new or potential migrants. I sometimes wonder if this attitude was the reason why many people find it difficult to find solid information about the realities of life as a migrant in South Australia?

Tough love in print

Fortunately, there are people who are willing to speak up despite the opposition and disapproval. I recently came across the writings of one Malcolm King whose insightful, no-holds-barred opinion pieces I thought were really spot on. I wasn’t surprised when King came under fire from State Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis after he wrote a blistering op ed piece about SA’s unmentionable problems. It’s easier to deny that there’s a problem than to do something about it, eh?

He called Adelaide Amish in the piece Adelaide: decline and fall. And I’m sure many migrants would feel the sting of Hold skilled migration until SA economy improves. He said something not many people would say in polite company let alone in the public sphere:

Why would a state government spin SA’s charms to people in England, India and China, when locals can’t get a job here? The answer is – money.

In a broad-based and diverse modern economy, migrants pump cash into the state for rental accommodation, schools, food and utilities. They may take six months to a year to get a job and, when they do, they become ‘cash generators’. Migrants are a boon when the economy is going well for a raft of social and economic reasons.


Do read Malcolm King’s columns. You may hate what he has to say, but I think his opinion is valid and he does point out uncomfortable facts. For one, I share his concern about SA’s lack of economic diversity. For example, SA’s top industries are Healthcare and Social Assistance, Retail and Manufacturing. What it desperately needs is to build a knowledge-based economy or to create a dynamic entrepreneurial community.

Oh, Susan, why are you being such a downer? You may wonder. I’m just saying that you need to know exactly what you’re in for if you move to South Australia. (And I say SA, as I haven’t a clue about other states.)  It could make for a happier and smoother experience. (Hopefully.)

Others would say: why are you being so negative? Life is so much better here! No need to stress and work under bad bosses in jobs that demand 15-hour workdays. Hate to say this but you get them here too. Also, is a better lifestyle worth sacrificing a career that you’ve spent decades building? Some cannot fathom the idea and would be depressed by that. Some can and are more than wiling to do it. And some think that they can but end up realising that the couldn’t!

So nothing is more important than clarity when it comes to moving countries. You got to be sure what motivates you to make such a life-changing decision. And if you’re clear about what it is, remind yourself every single day.

To achieve clarity, you need information. Real information. Not just stories about the beaches and barbies in the backyard.

What to do when you feel down about your migration journey

I don’t know why, but mornings are especially hard for me. That’s when homesickness and frustration at my lot in life hits me the hardest. Yesterday I was finally made permanent at the second job (which I like), but it wasn’t a joyous occasion for me because I will now be a few hundred dollars poorer. You trade in security for less pay. When I first found out about this system I was at a loss for words. So, they like you so much that they want you permanently, but because you’re now given the privilege of sick and holiday leave, you’ll be receiving less pay.

But anyway, this morning I threatened to spiral again into a morass of despair about my situation when I said to myself, “Okay. Enough! Enough! What does self pity get you? An hour wasted thinking/moaning about the past and the future is an hour you could have used to advance goals towards your future/commune meaningfully with people and God/enjoy the present.”

So I snapped out of it and began working on my dream instead. I began emailing contacts (networking), writing this blog post, and plan for my e-book business.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve always dreamed about having my own business, to being a location independent writer/entrepreneur. I wasted a lot of time last year telling myself that it won’t work instead of doing something concrete towards the goal.

I’m happy to report that my short story, Blood of Nanking under my pen name Antonna Seton, is doing real well. I have another short story under my real name too, but it’s not doing that fantastic, most probably because of its genre and short length. But still, these products are earning me some money! A small start.

Well, what I’m trying to say is that instead of wasting time contemplating and navel gazing, which are not exactly productive activities, I decided to implement strategies to increase my business. Such as write another short story to sell or learn new things about digital marketing, which is an industry I’m keen to venture into.

So, when you feel tempted to moan and cry for a whole day about your situation, ask yourself this:

What am I sacrificing if I’m doing getting worked up about my current situation? An hour of this would mean that I can do less of …? Instead of crying/moaning about your situation

  • You could use that hour to build networks in Australia.
  • You could use that hour to volunteer and gain new skills.
  • You could also use that hour to connect with your family and create wonderful memories.

Sometimes that’s good enough to snap you out of it.

Look, I’m not saying that it’s bad to cry. But it’s bad to dwell for too long. I’ll tell you the truth, I’ve lost days to despair at times, and that’s not a good place to be.

Instead about thinking how bad your life is, think about ways you can improve it and implement them. It’s a better way.

Adelaide Hills ablaze

On Friday, as I was driving to a friend’s house in Northgate, I saw something that took me a few minutes to process. It looked as if a giant cumulus cloud was emerging from the hills in the distance. I frowned, leaned forward. It looked as if the hills were volcanoes, and they were erupting. Occasionally, an aeroplane would fly through the cloud, and I realise that this wasn’t a cloud that was hovering unnaturally close to the ground. The cloud could mean only one thing:


It was an unbearable 43 degrees Celcius on Friday, and poor me had the misfortune of being out the whole day. My job entails me to visit people in their homes, and although I love what I do a lot, this is one part I hate the most: Driving around in summer. (I love driving around during other months.) And to top it off: My car’s air conditioning decided to kick up a fuss that day. Ugh!

And true enough, when I checked there was a massive bushfire raging in the Adelaide Hills, one that is worse that the legendary Ash Wednesday. I live in the South, thank God, but the foot of the Adelaide Hills is still near where I am. There’s no guarantee.

Australia in the summer – not a fun place to be if you live in the hills.

Weekend Joy

trusty rusty

My trusty but rusty bike has taken me around Adelaide.

This morning, I had a “lie in”. I read a book “Until Tuesday” (a memoir if a service dog and his army vet human friend), then at 9am decided to take a ride around my neighbourhood. I hopped on my trusty but rusty bicycle which I bought two years ago from Gumtree, and headed to one of my favourite cafes in the neighbourhood. So here am I sitting with a up of strong, long black coffee, a muffin and a pizza and typing this.

So, yes, I’m happy to report that my mood isn’t as dour as before, and things have looked significantly better. It’s amazing what rest can do for you. From July to October, I worked seven days a week, sometimes clocking in 100 over hours per fortnight. You may argue that office workers in Kuala Lumpur worked more than that, but I was doing a physically and emotionally-exhausting job, and my body and mind was crying out for relief.

One of the ways I got relief was to stop working Sundays. My money-minded self balked at the idea (in Australia, you earn nearly double per hour on Sunday) but I took the leap anyway. A month into my new schedule and I’m loving it. It’s wonderful to be in step with everyone else; to have an off day with the rest of the population. And most of all, being an extrovert, I was being healed and energised by the presence of people around me. I loved watching people indulge in retail therapy at Rundle Mall, I adored eating bimimbap on a ramshackle table in the middle of busy Central Market with vendors yelling, “One dollar! One dollar! Grab them before they’re gone!” or sipping coffee with my laptop on my table in a cafe in a gentrified part of town where the leaves are heavy on trees and people talk in hushed tones over java and pastries.

When I landed in Oz two years ago, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work surviving almost immediately. I don’t think I quite rested during the two years I tried to fulfill my 35-hour-a-week requirement and it took me a while, even after I got my PR, to get myself out of that mindset of “work or else”.

Now I’m working only 40 to 60 hours per fortnight. I spend my free time writing, volunteering, socialising and nature worshipping.

As my head cleared and my angst dissipated, I realised that I was a blessed creature. In Malaysia I had prestige because of my job at a blue-chip company, money and a yuppie lifestyle but I also battled traffic jams, an obsession with materialism and climbing the corporate ladder, and the realisation that I was not pursuing my dream to write fiction and publish my own books.

I’m now actively pursuing what I used to dream about. Since landing in Australia in August 2012, a short story of mine was published in the book KL Noir. I have also published a children’s book and two of my e-books on Amazon are earning money (which still totally amazes me). In the meantime, I have also finished two more novels! Artistically, 2011-to present has been the most artistically fulfilling time of my life. I’m now even thinking about taking painting lessons!

But I realised one thing. Although you’re pursuing your dreams, it doesn’t mean that life becomes all roses and pansies. You still stuggle with problems, and a lot of times they are problems that you have never encountered before. Living in a new place, doing things you have never done before can stress the hell out of you. Sometimes it even breaks you. But if you do it wisely and with the right mindset, taking a career break and moving to another country can be one of the best things you could ever do for yourself.

If I do return to Malaysia (and that question is still up in the air), I would remember my time in Adelaide as being one of the most vivid, entrancing, stressful, amazing, awe-inspiring and memorable experiences of my life. Why? Because I dared to give my dreams a chance, and I believed in myself and in God enough to leap off the cliff not just because of the chance of succeeding, but to experience the journey, even if it’s for a brief moment in time.

Making a living in Australia

moneyI get a lot of questions from readers about how to get a job in Australia. I wish there was a magic pill to that dilemma because I want it too. However, I do know what people did to make the money to make life in Australia possible. (Note that I didn’t say get a job). So want moolah to make your life in Australia possible? Here are some of the ways you can do it:

1. Get a job the traditional way

Send your CV to the resume cloud in Seek or Career One. Hope that it’ll hit. Somehow. I know people who have sent hundreds of resumes but did not get a single interview. It can be a tough slog as Australia is a very competitive market and there’s this whole “no local experience” thing that Australian employers are hung up about.

It’s a Catch-22 situation, but not hopeless. If you’re just off the boat, network immediately by volunteering at organisations that have “jobs” that you hope to land one day.

For example, I recently found a volunteering position with St John’s at Seek Volunteer. I’m seeking to get into media and marketing, and the role was perfect for it. By volunteering, you’d be able to network and get that precious referee. (In Australia, referees can make or break a job application.)

I know a lady who volunteered at a nursing home, and when she applied for a Lifestyle Coordinator position, she was accepted because of her long service in the company. So, while sending your resumes to the resume pool, keep yourself busy by volunteering. You can never know what may come your way.

2. Retrain 

This is what I did. For one, this was in line with what I wanted to do. In many ways, coming to Australia was a career break of sorts. I was toying with the idea of going into healthcare, so I thought that I could try my hand at being a personal carer (nursing assistant). The Cert III Aged Care training was short (two to six months), cost only $2k (though, thanks to Skills for All, I only paid $200) and would equip me with skills I would need to be a nurse. Also, being a carer was an excellent way to see if nursing is a viable career path for me. (After two years, I decided that it wasn’t, but that’s a story for another day).

What course should I take? If you want to go down the practical route (and there’s no shame in that), look up Skills for All’s report on South Australia’s growth industries. Health Care and Social Assistance, which I’m in, is fortunately one of these.  So if you choose to retrain, do your research carefully and see what’s the course that will land you the job.


  • You may end up in a career you love!
  • Although you may not  adore you new career, if you choose your industry well, you will have the income that you need to survive in Australia.


  • Time & Cost for retraining.
  • Breaking into a new industry with zilch experience can be challenging. Again, try to volunteer first to network.

3. Create your own job by starting a business

I did this too. When I first landed in Adelaide, one of the first things I did was to do some freelance writing and web consulting. I had clients in Malaysia and Australia. However, I decided to close it and just jump into my aged care thing. Since I was time crunched (I had to work 35 hours per week for a year to fulfil my visa requirements) and wasn’t exactly swimming in cash, I didn’t have the luxury to hunt for clients while I eat beans and rice. It was fun, however, to be my own boss. I had name cards and invoices and even an ABN number! Now that I have my PR and am free of the constraints of the 475 visa, I’m going to restart my writing business again. 🙂

What can you do? I have met migrants who sold Malaysian food online and some who repaired cars on the side. A friend told me about the story of a man who went door to door doing chores for homes!

Anyway, besides going freelance (or being a sole trader, as they call it here), I know some friends who bought cleaning franchises and worked as cleaners. You may go, “Euw, cleaner?” But let me tell you there’s absolutely no shame in doing this. Better – you may earn quite a decent amount of dough! Who cares what people think when you can use the money to pay the bills!

Anyway, if cleaning doesn’t rock your boat, there are other franchises (with varying price tags) to choose from.


  • You don’t have to wait around for a job.
  • You can be your own boss.


  • The capital can be high. A franchise can come with a $15k or more price tag.
  • Having to deal with business and tax laws.
  • Dealing with business matters such as finding clients and managing staff.

There you have it. It’s by no means a definite list, so if you have any other suggestions or ideas, be free to chime in at the comments section!

Photo by TALUDA.

The day I achieved my childhood dream

So, yesterday I was at the library typing 1,000 new words of my second novel. I’m participating in Nanowrimo, the crazy month where writers around the world attempt to finish a 50k novel in a month, and Thursday was a “bumper” day for me. I had written a whopping 7,000 words, and was pretty proud of myself. I finished my last thousand words at the Goodwood library because I wasn’t ecstatic about typing the words alone at home (That’s the trouble with being an extrovert writer. The writer’s lifestyle goes against what it means to be an extrovert!). Anyway, I logged on to my e-mail to send a copy of my tale to myself – and then I noticed an email from my migration agent. My heart skipped a beat when I read the title of the e-mail: “Immi Grant Notification.” With trembling hands I opened the email.

“I refer to the application by XX for a Skilled – Regional (VB 887) visa lodged on 10 September 2014 with the department.

I am pleased to advise that on 20 November 2014 a decision was taken to grant this visa.”

Shit. I just got my PR.

I’m an Australian permanent resident.

That e-mail informed me that I’ve just achieved a decades-long dream.

I felt numb at first, then panic set in as I realised that I have to sit for my driving exam in three months. I called my agent to thank her for her effort and told her now I have to worry about the driver’s test.

She laughed. “Aiyoh, you very kan cheong*  lah. Everything will fall into place, don’t worry.”

Yes me, professional worry wart.

I had imagined how it’d be like to get that notification. Surely the earth will shake and the stars will sing. Or some silly thing like that.

Nope. Everything is still the same. There are still bills to be paid, annoying people to deal with and problems to be solved.

I think we often believe that “we’ll only be happy when…” In actual fact, when we get what we think will make us happy, we are joyful for a day or too, and then reality sets in. You’re still the same person you were the day before.

Happiness, well, we can be happy now, not when. 

So now I have a PR visa, and I am not sure where to go from here. Stay, leave, study, work….? Ah, life goes on as you can see….

* kan cheong = Cantonese for “anxious, too overly concerned.”

Longing for home

Apologies for not having posted for almost two months. The truth was I was not in a good place and I didn’t want to discourage anyone with my sob story. In the last post I hinted that I was desperately unhappy. And in the post before that, I said that I was longing for what I left behind in Malaysia.

Well, October came and I crashed, big time. I couldn’t sleep.  I was hit by bouts of anxiety and depression and I found myself crying – sometimes to sleep. I was also achingly lonely. At first I blamed it on my work. Yeah, I’m misreable because I’m not doing the job of my heart. So questions whirled in my head: Should I study this or that Masters to get ahead in Australia? Should I restart my writing business?

Perhaps it was triggered with me working seven days a week, but I think these symptoms were building up long before. I believe it began on the day my parents left for Malaysia after spending a fortnight with me in Adelaide.


Me & mum admiring the setting sun at Glenelg

I brought them to Hahndorf, Glenelg- the usual touristy things. Taking those long walks with them down the beach at Glenelg and around the hills in Hahndorf reminded me of our morning ritual of walking to the nearby flats near my home in Subang Jaya for breakfast. I knew I missed that, but I didn’t realise just how much until that fortnight.

When I saw their backs going into the airport gates on their last day in Adelaide, something just broke inside me. And when I drove home, tears slid down my cheeks. I felt bereft and alone. I wanted to join them so badly.

After months of the symptoms: Anxiety, depression, loneliness,deep aching longing for home … I finally understood what I was suffering from.

I was homesick.

Which surprised me, because I didn’t think I was the type to suffer from it. I spent a year in Perth as a student without once longing for home. I travelled the world, and always enjoyed myself when I was there. I am mostly amazed by how incredibly intense the symptoms are.

Being homesick is a common affliction for the migrant, according to this New York Times article. I read the blog of this French lady who suffered symptoms very much like mine and find myself reassured.

Honestly, if not for the fact that I’m now on a bridging visa (I could lose my PR if I return home, and yes you can apply for special permission to return but I probably wouldn’t bother), I would’ve booked a one way ticket home too. I even spoke to my former colleagues back home, hinting that I’m coming home. The symptoms were that intense.

Now that I’ve realised what I’m suffering from, my symptoms have lessened somewhat. I’ve reconnected with my friends and family back home through phone calls and Skype calls, which helps immensely. I admit that I had gone on months without calling them, so absorbed am I on the act of survival in Australia.

I’m also connecting with people in Adelaide instead of just burying myself in work. I realised how much I’ve isolated myself (again!) socially. I’m also trying to reconnect with my personal legend eventhough on some days I just don’t effing feel like it.

But you know what? I’m also leaving the door open to return to Malaysia.

I know some of you are horrified. This is not what you came here to read. This is a blog called Malaysia to Adelaide, not Malaysia to Adelaide to Malaysia, isn’t it?

But honestly, I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, especially on the thought that I will probably have my parents for another 10 years. More, if I’m very lucky.

The thought of it all fills me with a kind of anguish I can’t really put words to.

Here’s the haunting question I’m dealing with right now: Shouldn’t I be with them in their twilight years?

Simple living made it possible for me to move to Australia


I owe a lot of my life in Australia to simple living. Or, let’s use its trendier monicker these days: Minimalism. Simply put, if not for minimalism, I wouldn’t be in Adelaide because a) I wouldn’t have been able to save the money for it b) the mindset of “acquire more stuff” would have made me misreable about my rather slim paycheck.

Minimalism is not just about having a home devoid of stuff and clutter, like the ones you see in trendy interior decorating magazines. It’s about living within your means, living in such a way that would impact the Earth as little as possible and of not using stuff or a lifestyle to fill that emotional void inside. Living a minimalist lifestyle goes beyond decluttering; it’s a change of mindset and lifestyle.

Nearly fifteen years ago I was living paycheck to paycheck. I never seem to have enough money. At first I blamed it on my miniscule paycheck, but as my paycheck grew my problem remained. It came to a point that I had a RM10,000 credit card debt. Towards the end of the month I came to rely on the credit card to pay essential bills like petrol and food. Something was not working.

So I sat back and decided to do something about it. I read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover and listened to his shows. Through his debt snowball method I eventually pulverised my Rm10k debt and even paid off my car a year ahead of time.

Now all that money that used to go to credit card repayments went to my savings account. Soon, I had a nice emergency fund and was debt free except for the house loan.

When I decided to move to Australia, I realised that I have to have money – a lot of it – to at least survive the first six months in Australia without a job. So, I worked doubly hard, taking on additional tasks to earn more money. After two years of blood, sweat and tears (really), I saved enough for that and then some.

By then I had changed the way I spent my money. I used to spend RM500 a month on books and DVDs. I pared it down significantly by the time I moved. But that 1,500 book and DVD collection I had to give away was a painful reminder of all the money I had parted with in order to fulfill that void in me to feel ‘better’.

Thanks to the habits I learned to simplify my finances and spending habits, I live very comfortably in Adelaide eventhough I’m living on a “minimum wage”. (Though the minimum wage in Australia is definitely very generous and wonderful, where you earn up to $20 an hour compared to the US where you earn a mere $7.)

Still, I have a long way to go. I realised lately that I’ve been eating out way too much. I eat out at restaurants almost every day and go to cafes not once or twice a week as a treat but almost every other day! And that means spending about $10-20 a go each time. Some days I would spend $50 a day because I ate out! Ouch! As a result, I’m not eating as healthily as I’d like.

Worse, I’m starting my old habit of spending way too much on books and DVDs again. My only saving grace is that I can buy books and DVDs very cheaply here (some libraries sell used books at 20 cents to 50 cents a pop – how can you resist that?), but I’m gathering stuff that I don’t need again. I definitely don’t want to end up in the same situation like I was in Malaysia where I had to get rid of hundreds of books and DVDs when I moved!

So, the next few weeks I’m going to monitor how much I’m spending and WHY I’m spending things. You’ll see how, as a single, I manage my finances in Oz 😉 And maybe you can have an idea how one can live frugally in the land where the standard of living is considered one of the most expensive
in the world.

Running from my calling


The last two months have been one of the most stressful times of my life. Yet, things were heading the right direction for me. I was working on my PR application (filed at last!), applied for another job and got it, and I’m earning more money than before.

BUT I was unhappy. Desperately so.

Well, the first reason was pretty clear. I was working seven days a week, clocking over 90 hours per fortnight. But I told myself it was a necessary sacrifice to transition myself to the new company (I’m juggling two jobs right now).

Second reason was also clear: I was biting off more than I can chew. As always. Dealing with a 90-hour per fortnight, physically demanding job is hard enough, but also juggling a PR application and my studies (I’m learning how to write fiction and it’s more complicated than I thought!) with less than ideal sleep is a nightmare.

Sometimes, I found myself in tears at the end of a terrible work day. Hell, sometimes I was in tears at work!

So, outwardly, I have the appearance of a successful immigrant, but I was miserable.

Initially I thought it was the lack of life balance I was having. And yes, it plays a big part, but some migrants juggle more than what I have and are still content.

It took me a while to realise that I was unhappy because I was not pursuing my calling. Or, rather, I was too afraid to.

Running after, running away
I’ve always wanted to write. I started penning stories when I was 10. I drew comics of a girl with a fabulous life in New York. She had a cool job – she was an astronomer – and fabulous digs (a mansion with swimming pool, waterfalls etc). Penning that comic was a joy – I filled exercise books with her story.

Then, when I was 12, I discovered the joys of the written word. I penned my first non-fiction book (a book on astronomy, of course) when I was 12, and I remember tinkering with it one day and my tuition teacher saw me with it. She remarked, “I’ve never seen anything like this!” I remembered thinking how odd it was that she thought it was so remarkable. It’s just something I did, nothing fancy really.

By the time I was 15, I was penning my first novel. I lived for the days where I could be alone in the hot, stuffy study room where my barely-functioning computer was.

Then I grew up.

And I began listening to the naysayers (You can’t make a living from writing fiction! Why are you writing junk when you should be writing literary masterpieces?) and became afraid of my circumstances (it’s too difficult to publish a book! I’ll never be able feed myself!).

So I gave up writing fiction.

At first I flirted with the law. I had an uncanny way with the subject; I always had distinctions. (Basically I can bullshit my way out of a paper bag, and I think I would’ve made a great career at professional bullshitting). But at the 11th hour, just before I was to enrol in a UK Law degree programme, I did a U-turn and decided to chase after my passion somewhat.

I decided to be a journalist.

Now, don’t get me wrong, being a journalist was the best thing that happened to me. It opened up my world in unbelievable ways. I travelled the world, honed my writing, so no regrets. But it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do. I had become what Julia Cameron of The Artist’s Way called a Shadow Artist. I did what Shadow Artists did: I tailed people who had the courage I didn’t have to pursue their writing dreams. I interviewed and worked with them but I didn’t want to jump into the rabbit hole myself.

Running to Oz
In a way, coming to Australia was my way of running away from my calling once more.

At the end of my 15-year career, I became disillusioned with the writing profession. I viewed it as an unstable, unprofitable profession. I felt that I didn’t learn any useful or valuable skills. I eventually regretted becoming one. I should’ve become a lawyer, I chided myself. Or worked in corporate. If I had stayed in advertising I would’ve been loaded and happy.

I came to Australia with the intention of pursuing a different career while making writing my side affair. I chose nursing because, well, nurses are in demand everywhere, and it kinda fulfilled my childhood dream of becoming a doctor somewhat. (Nevermind that I discovered in college that I didn’t have the temperament to be one, nor the interest to lead a doctor’s demanding life.)

But the last few months, I discovered that nursing wasn’t for me. Sure, I can be technically capable but my head wasn’t going to be in it. Am I willing to spend years and money to retrain myself to be in a profession that I may come to loathe?

I realise the answer is NO. And again I’m at the crossroads. I feel like a kid asking God, “What should I be when I grow up?”

Two weeks ago I sat down and realised that I was running away from what I wanted to really do. So, tiredly, I told myself that I will stop running away and make writing my thing. My MAIN thing.

And my soul calmed down.

After I made that decision, I worked a 90-hour week as usual, but I was at peace because I had cut my hours from 90 to a mere 50, and promised myself that I’m willing to cut further to accommodate my new goals. I told myself that writing will be my “personal legend.” No more running away business. No more being a shadow artist.

For decades I tried to write another legend for myself. It was comfortable, but an ill-fit. I compromised a lot for the sake of practicality. Well, getting to Australia was one step in the right direction. It was part of my personal legend since I was a kid, but my TRUE legend was to be a writer whose words can inspire, entertain and impact others.

So September is a landmark month for me in many ways. I’ve lodged my PR application and finally embraced my “personal legend”. While failure may dot my way, there’s no better path to be on than the road to your dreams.