My Final University Decision: a Conversation with Fear

I think I will stay local after all. My fear has been rearing its ugly head these past few weeks, and I think it’s high time to answer its questions.

What if I get trapped in Singapore? I won’t find an overseas job if I stay local! Besides, the overseas school has a much better reputation. It’ll help me.

I heard a Prof say that it’ll be hard even if I study undergraduate overseas. After all, I’ll be considered a foreigner there. Another teacher said that if I were desperate to succeed, I will. Reputation can only take me so far – perhaps it’s time to rely on myself. All this while I’ve had the reputation of being at a good school. What’d it be like to know that my success is truly my own? Besides, I could save the money to do a PhD overseas – in that professor’s words, it’d really be my passport to the world. And the connections from a PhD are more important too.

But you won’t know that you’ll do a PhD.

True. But even if I don’t eventually, I could do so many other things with that money. I could job hop all over the world, 6 months each, after I graduate, without worrying about getting a job immediately. I could travel, house-sit in Europe, start a business, start events. Go for conferences overseas. I could invest some of that money in whatever I want, maybe even stocks.

What if I get complacent? What if I end up always choosing the easy route, the ‘safe’ route… then eventually I’ll be boiled like that proverbial frog. Turn up the temperature slowly, gradually and it’ll never realise that it was being boiled alive. What if I end up less driven than I am now? The big tragedy will be that I won’t even hate that. Will that be a tragedy, if the me in the future doesn’t care any more?

The environment I’m in is important, yes. But I will find those who are just as driven as me. I will make my environment suit me, too. I suppose if I become complacent, then it’s fine too. My goals are allowed to change, after all. Even so, I really don’t think I will: I think I care too much about living a purposeful life and being alive to stagnate. Or, I read too many personal development blogs for that to happen. 🙂

Even if I do become that frog, I believe I’ll eventually get a slap to the face by a quarter life crisis, or a mid life crisis.

What if I miss out? On people, on cultures. Singapore can get so stifling.

I will always miss out. I think the people I want to meet – the energetic, proactive people who are alive and not undead – they are here. I just need to find them. Honestly the most interesting people I’ve met in Singapore are the ones outside official school settings! If not, well, there’s always the internet.

About culture – that’s harder to change. But maybe that’s why I should make my own culture here. I should be that change.

Besides, there are overseas exchanges and overseas internships too.

What if I’ll be happier overseas?

I make my own happiness. All the things I want to do, I can do in Singapore. If they don’t exist? I’ll start them.


In the end, I realised that if I go overseas, it’ll be largely driven by these fears. I have a good answer to all of them, so I think, I’ll just remain here in Singapore.

I actually cried when I decided that I’ll stay local. I think it’s from a serious case of thegrassisgreenerontheothersiditis. Haha! But I think it’s the right choice for me.

A lot of these fears are also fears in the far future. And I believe that me, in the future, can handle it.

I’ll trust that I’ll turn out fine, and make this leap of faith.

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