I must confess, I’m a professional worrier. If companies can hire professional worriers, I’ll probably be the President of that department. Hell, I’ll probably become CEO.
But these days, I don’t worry as badly as I used to – only because I have some sense of perspective now and have learned the art of being grateful no matter what. Although I’m not a professional in this area yet (more like a junior on the way to becoming an executive, perhaps!), I’m in a better place than I used to be.
Well, I’m going to share something really personal with you. And because quite a number of folks in Adelaide know my identity (to my chagrin), this is not information that I share very lightly. But I’m sharing it with you so you can take it with you, fellow migrant or would-be migrant, and that it will give you some real perspective about the migration journey.
The worst year of my life
Two years ago, I lost my health.
My hair fell out in clumps. I wagered that I must’ve lost about 30% to 40% of my then-lustrous wavy, black hair. I couldn’t sleep more than 3-5 hours, I had rashes, weird bodily aches (which included sharp, painful-to-touch areas on my scalp). And here’s the “too much information” area (look away if you can’t tolerate it): My poo turned GREY.
Suddenly, I found myself depending on drugs that I was told that I may have to depend on for the rest of my life. Drugs that had severe side effects such as chills, chronic insomnia, diarrhoea, weight gain and, Lord help me, suicidal ideation.
I was really, really sick. I thought I’d have to live like this for the rest of my life. And that sent me into a tailspin of depression and despair.
I clawed my way back to health through sheer determination and much leaning on God. I was determined get off the drugs despite what the doctors said. During this time I worked hard on my recovery by educating myself a lot and by implementing holistic therapies on myself such as exercise, diet modifcation and by totally changing my social life. I reconnected with God and my spirituality. Dealing with my illness, trying to recover through self-therapy and working at my high-stress job was no joke. Worse, my parents fell ill at the same time!!!
It was, seriously, the worst freaking year of my life.
At times I thought I could break apart, but fortunately I have such amazing friends. But most of all, I have an amazing God.
Yet, this is also the best thing that has happened to me.
A blessing in disguise
Before I was sick, my life was about work, work, work (and work x10). Eventually my circle of friends shrank so much that I didn’t know who to call to hang out with. Friends who know me now would be absolutely shocked to know the person I was – I had absolutely no confidence in making friends because, well, my life was work!
When I became sick, I realised how foolhardy I was to ignore my health, my God, my friends and my personal growth – all in the pursuit of money and career advancement.
I told myself that my life had to change after that.
Well, anyway, after 1 year of struggle, I did recover and I did stop taking the drugs. It was a long battle, but my hair grew back, my poo is now a boring brown (TMI? LOL), I slept 8 hours (for 1 year, I considered an amazing triumph to sleep more than 5 hours!) and I smiled again.
But the biggest gain for me is this: Because I’ve gone through the worst thing in my life, I began to see my world in a very different light. I realised that I was so very, very blessed. And because I’ve gone through such an ordeal, all those fears that held me back no longer seem so catastrophic.
I began taking more risks and to venture out of my comfort zone. I stopped worrying about whether people would like me if I approach them. In the process, I realised that I was actually very gifted in making friends! So much so that I can make friends with strangers across the world whom I’m not met before!
Because I realised that I didn’t have time to waste on being held back by my fears I refused to listen to that critical and fearful voice in my head telling me I wasn’t good enough to do thsi or that. I approached a publisher to publish a book and to ask an editor for a column. (Both successful!) And I discovered that if you don’t take risks, you simply don’t gain anything.
And then I decided to move to Australia without a job.
Now you know the root of my move here 😛
Your real golden ticket
So, every time I fret about my job situation here or other troubles (and I do, because old habits die hard), I remind myself: “You know that time when you lost half your hair, your poo turned grey and you had to pop pills to sleep, to stop your heart from racing and to, I don’t know, walk in a straight line? Well, seriously, does this compare?”
And I think: Holy Batman’s underpants, it doesn’t by a long shot.
I also remember why I’m doing this, and why it’s really, really, really okay not to achieve my PR dreams because, one, your health is your real wealth (so goes the saying that my friend posted on her Facebook wall today).
If you have good health, be very grateful for that every day because you’re not sure how long you’re going to have it, so why waste time on worries and worse, don’t worry yourself to ill health!
And if you have a loving family, be grateful for that every day too, because that’s where real treasure is. Don’t fret on things that may seem so priceless when the real reason why you’re pursuing that PR is for your family.
Some people think that getting an Australian permanent residence is the gold ticket to happiness.
I don’t believe it. To me, real happiness is not so fickle. Or so demanding.
The bible has a very wise saying:
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – Matthew 6:19-21
PS: Sometimes I forget and slide back about worrying about small things. That’s why I’m printing this story and keeping it in my wallet. I invite you to do the same – write what REALLY matters to you and keep it in your wallet. Take it out to read when life gets you down. 🙂
Photo by CTR.