Hello. Sorry for the late post. I wasn’t feeling well after a 3.5 day church camp so I had to rest as soon as I got home. Anyway, for Day 22 of our 30 Day Song Challenge, I’m sharing about a “song that reminds you of a specific event.” How tricky! I sometimes imagine I have a soundtrack playing in my life and I can remember random songs that played during random events (prom, class, road trip, etc) How am I going to choose from all of them? For a moment, I felt like sharing a song I sang while showering 6 months ago. Haha! But, no worries, I’m not going to do that. In fact, from the moment I saw this prompt, I already knew what song I’d like to share. The song that reminds you of a specific event is Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway.”
You see, when I was in third year high school in the Philippines, I applied for a full overseas scholarship and surprisingly got int. I didn’t know much about the scholarship, anything about Singapore, the lifestyle and culture here, nor even the school I was going into. But I knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I just can’t let go. So at my young and naïve age of 15, I decided to leave my awesome private Chinese school (Chiang Kai Shek College), my family, friends, and then-boyfriend, to travel on my own, study overseas, and see where life takes me.
So, on 27th December 2004, I took my very first flight overseas with a return date stated as 4 years later. That plane ride was the craziest plane ride of my life! I was sitting among other Filipinos taking the same scholarship but I have no idea what was going to happen. I was just excited for this whole new life ahead of me! I’ve successfully escaped from all the high school bullying I was going through, away from all the family drama, away from everyone’s preconceived notion of me. Instead, I am off to a new country, to a new school, to make new friends, to speak in English every day (yay! all my english monologue can finally be used!), and to restart my life all over again the way I want to be. I was thrilled by all the possibilities!
But, I was also petrified!… I was leaving my then-boyfriend and two lovely sisters behind! And, I was going to a foreign land. For me, that was akin to a different planet! Who can I call when I need to talk to someone? What if I can’t make friends? What if I don’t like it there? What if I fail? The penalty for not pursuing the scholarship was hefty and no way would I shamefully go back to my previous school! All these possibilities was playing and replaying inside my head… And, suddenly, Kelly Clarkson‘s song “Breakaway” played (via shuffle) on my iPod Classic.
The lyrics to this song hit home run for me. I could relate to every words in its lyrics. I was that girl who “grew up in a small town” and “stare out my window, dreamin’ of what could be.” And I was constantly praying to have a different life, to have the chance to be bigger and better, for me to have the opportunity to maximise my so-called potential. And there it was – that was my chance to breakaway and restart my life the way I hope it to be. So, I played this song on repeat… over and over again. It motivated me to embrace the risks, face the unknown, and seek ‘the great perhaps.’
“Wanted to belong here
But something felt so wrong here
So I pray
I could breakaway
I’ll spread my wings, and I’ll learn how to fly
I’ll do what it takes till I touch the sky
And I’ll make a wish
Take a chance
Make a change
Out of the darkness and into the sun
But I won’t forget all the ones that I love
I’ll take a risk
Take a chance
Make a change
And, honestly, the first few months of being in Singapore was torturous for me. I was homesick and was having a culture shock! I missed my family, friends, then-boyfriend. I felt out of place in my school, I can’t make friends, and worst, I was failing my subjects! I’d cry as I walk to school and I cried myself to sleep every night. I couldn’t call my friends nor boyfriend because it’s so pricey. Instead, I’d wait for my dad, uncle or aunt to call me. Then, I’d cry over the phone, asking them to let me terminate my scholarship and allow me to go back home. But no – the fee was too hefty; I had to try my best and stay.
Since I had no choice, I eventually managed to adjust myself. But, it was still very tough. Every time I flew back from Philippines to Singapore during the December holidays, I’d have a heavy feeling on my chest and cry on the plane. I’d feel so weak inside and feel like I’m not strong enough for this. It broke my heart to leave my comfort zone and be forced to be independent. Oh how that one word put so much weight on my shoulders! It wasn’t the physical duties (household chores, budgeting, etc) that troubled me — but that whole idea of having your pillars of strength so far away from you. I didn’t like being alone, being a fish out of water, having no family to go home to nor trusted friends to rely on. The social and emotional pressure was too much!
But, I knew I have to be strong, brave, and independent – I’d act like it until I actually believe that I am. So, on the plane, I’d play Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway“ over and over again to psych myself up. I’ll pep talk myself on how far I’ve come, I strong I have been, why I can’t disappoint anyone, and how much more I can do if I stay strong. And, by the time, I land on Singapore, I’ll breath in and out and seem okay again.
“Buildings with a hundred floors
Swinging ’round revolvin’ doors
Maybe I don’t know where they take me
But gotta keep movin’ on
This “Breakaway Pep Talk” happened for almost 3-4 years of my life. I’m not sure when I stopped playing this song every time I fly back to Singapore. But, hearing this “Breakaway” song will always bring me back to those days when I was a young girl forced to stand strong on my own to feet in a foreign land. I can’t believe how brave and strong I was!
Now, 10 years later, I wonder what happened to that brave girl. Sometimes, when I feel vulnerable, weak and lost, I’d hope I am still that girl. I miss that courageous girl whose hopes, dreams, and ambition were so strong and huge, it overpowered all her fears and weaknesses. I can’t recognise that in myself anymore. But, I would remind myself that the girl is still there inside me, that I can do what she has done. I tell myself that no matter where I go, no one can take away the fact that I’ve survived the difficult years, that I’ve grown so much, and I have successfully established my life here in Singapore. And, I can still be that girl if I allow myself to…
Sigh…. Okay. Enough reminiscing. Let me please direct to Cumuloq‘s blog as she shares about the song that reminds her of a specific event.