The fact that I’m leaving Toronto for good hadn’t quite sunk until today. May has finally arrived. By the end of this month, I will be returning to Singapore, after spending 4 years out of my 22-year life here.
I came to Toronto to pursue a Bachelor’s after I graduated from high school in Asia. I had originally picked UBC in Vancouver, but after I hearing that the campus wasn’t downtown and that they suffer from 6 months of rain, I promptly accepted the University of Toronto’s offer instead.
The moment I stepped into the city, I fell in love. It truly is a cosmopolitan city. I have never lived anywhere in the world where you could step out and see authentic Ethiopian, Japanese, ‘Canadian’, Thai restaurants all lined up next to each other. A city so metropolitan where subway chatters and whispers consist of hundreds languages, dialects and accents. A city where there is no real majority of colors. Everywhere you go there will be Yellows, Whites, Blacks, Reds and Browns. It’s a city where strangers are not just strangers but potential friends. The friendliness of Canadians is such an amazing experience. Back in Asia, people are nowhere as friendly toward each other. This is the truly perfect city for a global nomad like me.
Recently, I’ve been given the chance to stay, after the Canadian government abruptly announced that international students can work in Canada for up to 3 years and without a job offer. Strangely, even after hearing about the decision, I’ve decided to leave.
Toronto is the perfect city for me. In fact, it’s too perfect. People tend to stop evolving when their environments are too well-suited to them. If I get too comfortable here, I fear that I will lose the fighting spirit to achieve my ambitions. I may end up stagnating and my potential stunted. Furthermore, as a ‘visible minority’ and a female, I will have to face a very low glass ceiling. My ambition is to be on top of the world. A place where the glass ceiling may potentially be low will only hinder my ambitions. I am not saying Canadians are racists and misogynists, but it is a fact of life that women and minorities will find it harder to rise on top no matter where they are in the world.
So, the obvious solution is to return to a place where I will at least be consider the majority. I will have one less thing to worry about. As for my gender, I will just have to work 10x harder than men and prove that I am stronger, smarter and better than my male counterparts.
Another reason is my interest in Asia. Now that I have experienced the West, it is time to experience the East. As an Asian person who attended British elementary school, American middle and high school and a Canadian university, I’m extremely Westernized. But after living in the West, I realized I’m not as white-washed as I’ve always perceived myself to be. A lot of my core values have roots in Confucianism, and I honestly cannot live 2 weeks without rice. Being here has only deepened my curiosity about my Asian heritage. I just have the feeling that I will understand myself better if I go back. It doesn’t necessarily have to be Singapore, any Confucius-influenced country will do: China, Korea, Japan.
My last reason is to learn to trust my instinct/intuition. I’ve based most of my life decisions on reason and a few reckless ones on overwhelming emotions. But I have never once trusted my gut instincts or my womanly intuitions. I’ve always chastised them to be too risky because there are no real grounds for those feelings. For once in my life, I will give in to this instinct and urge to leave.
Somehow, another part of me cannot help but feel that I might be making a mistake by leaving the opportunity of acquiring a permanent residency in a wonderful city such as Toronto. But at the same time, my urge to leave now is strong because I’m all fired up about climbing my way up on the social ladder. I am afraid I will get too comfortable and end up living here forever as a mediocre white-collared worker. I intend to lead a life of ambition. And I will need challenges to rise to the top. I will also need to experience more of the world, in order to affect the world. Life is short. I cannot afford to waste 3 years of my youth planning for my retirement.
With my decision to leave, I have chosen the thorny path of life. I hope I have made the right decision. So farewell, perfect city. You simply are too perfect for me.
Chinese version of the post found here.
Which path of life have you chosen? The safer and easier path? Or the challenging path?
Nanyate?! Network Update: Sorry for the lack of blogging lately. It’s partially because I haven’t felt the spark to write, but mainly because I’ve been having a headache registering a new domain with a new domain registrar. Everything from ordering to support to changing DNS servers has been a nightmare. It’s all done now.
The new domain will be home to a blogcast authored by ID of Notbrainwashersafe.com and me. Our blogcast project will be kickstarted when ID graduates and when I return to Singapore. That’ll be sometime in June.
The domain is located at Toiletrev.com (nothing there, just a temporary under construction page I made with a background stolen from ID’s old layout). Strange name, yes. History behind the name is long and we’ll save it for a blogcast. We don’t know what we will blogcast about yet. But we’ll figure something out.
After all, ID and I were high school best friends. *gasp* Bet most of you didn’t know that. That’s right folks, juicy internet gossip from Nanyate.com. 😉