Another Singaporean overseas
I am another Singaporean working overseas.
Whenever people hear that I’m from Singapore, their eyes will shine up and they’ll exclaim how lucky I am to grow up and be a citizen of such a prestigious country. And usually I would give an awkward smile and shrug.
It’s not that I disagree or I’m not thankful for the opportunities Singapore gave me. I am fully aware how privileged we are to be given good education in a politically stable environment. But my mind can’t help but to remember all the negatives…
All the times I got punished or passed up as a non-academic achiever for opportunities in an academic-focused country.
All the times I got bullied and looked down on in school because I don’t fit the typical personality of an average Singaporean kid.
All the times I didn’t get to see my parents, because they were working hard to battle the high cost of living in our city state.
All the times I got bullied at work as a local by foreigners and expats as an adult.
It’s not that I hate Singapore or anything. I just feel like I don’t belong, even if I try my hardest.
And so, I decided to leave. A decision met with both scrutiny and sacrifices. Toxic people always go “Overseas dua sai ah?” / “Don’t come back, we don’t need you” / “Only losers leave SG”. And while I don’t want to listen to such negativity, some part of me feels this is a true sentiment.
I can’t come home. I can’t BTO with my non-SGrean partner. I can’t afford housing in SG. I can’t start building a life or family here and stick to my roots. And I feel like a complete failure as a Singaporean not being able to integrate myself into my own country.
It’s really weird to be a foreigner overseas and feel more accepted and normal than I was back home. I do wonder if I am the problem, or was it just the country just not caring for locals enough to be able to keep people like me in. There are plenty of Singaporeans overseas, and my network of overseas locals share a similar sentiment.
People always talk about how moving overseas is usually a financially-driven move (or a resentment-driven one), but no one talks about the real emotions behind it. The longing for belonging, the sadness of leaving everything you know behind, and the feeling of being left behind as the country progresses in a direction where they’re making it very clear you won’t have a place in Singapore.
I am trying to find happiness overseas, and one thing that does make me a bit happier is that I can be happy overseas, but not in SG. And I’m slowly learning to accept that.