I don’t think that I am a person who is bound by a particular place. Living in Malaysia since I was born, I moved to Singapore in 2011 with ease. Slightly less easy (due to language and distance from my family in Kuala Lumpur) was flying over 10,000km to my next home in Paris, France, in early 2015 — but I did it anyway. I moved for work. Leaving all things familiar was uncomfortable, but work helped me settle, helped me fit in, helped make things easier — and paid me a salary.
Fast forward to 2017 and I found myself facing another move — this time from Paris to Melbourne, Australia. However, it was not for work — at least not for me. This time I pulled up stakes because my partner had secured a post with a new company, down under.
I met Paul when we were both working in Singapore in 2013. It took a while for us to begin dating. I was divorced from a bad marriage and not ready to be involved again. Nevertheless, our relationship evolved from friends to much more, and by the end of that year, we were a couple. But that was not without challenges. We started dating just six weeks before he moved to the U.S. Our long-distance relationship continued until November 2015, when he decided to take a position in Paris. So, after two years of seeing each other every three months, we moved in together. I didn’t want to lose that in the next phase of our lives.
So many questions ran through my head. What will I do? What are my options? Should I look for another job? Am I giving up my career? Should I work at all? Will I lose my financial freedom? There was certainly a lot to think about.
I’d spent the last 12 years building my career in communications; nine of those years I had invested in one organization, building my network and profile from Asia to Europe. Though it didn’t define who I was, my work was a big part of my life. I always put my all into what I do — “do your best, or don’t do it at all,” my mother’s motto, had obviously sunk in. However, I knew that between my relationship and my career, the former was my priority.
Having been financially independent and gainfully employed since I was 21, it was hard for me to imagine a life where I wasn’t earning a living. When I agreed that I would follow Paul, I did not have anything secured for myself, and I had to wait to see if our work permits would be approved before broaching the subject with my work supervisors. There was a period of uncertainty where everything felt like it was up in the air. But I took a leap of faith, a calculated risk. The worst-case scenario was that we would be relying on one person’s income. If we could make it work with that, a second income would be a bonus.
This move may be an exercise in resourcefulness and resilience — at least at the outset — but it’s also an opportunity for exploration. Having worked for so long, without a break, I now have a chance to pause, to take stock of my life and where it is heading. Perhaps I’ll try something different. I had been contemplating a switch in careers for a while now, or pursuing one of my many passions — or, who knows, maybe all of them at once.
Am I worried? A little. But I have faith that it will all work out. One way or another – we will make it work.
About the author:
Julie Khoo is a Melbourne-based writer and communications professional. Follow her on Twitter at @julie_khoo.