I’ve been living and working in Singapore for well over four years now. Its the longest period of time I’ve stayed in a single place/region/area since I graduated from high school. Naturally, people assume (rightfully) that I absolutely love it here, when actually, they couldn’t be further from the truth. I have never fit in here, and probably never will. At the workplace I’m fine…but I’m talking bigger picture here. As you get older and you try harder, rejection is felt more acutely I think…probably why people tend to just settle down the minute they feel moderately comfortable and make do. Takes too much effort (emotional, physical and otherwise) to change…
What keeps me here is a strange combination of fate and free will. Fate brought me here, and kept bringing me back everytime I nearly left (and left as well); but what kept me and still keeps me here is “free will.”
For years, I struggled to succinctly describe WHY I was struggling to fit in or even enjoy the place…after all, Singapore is a really cool, hip and happening city. Most people who come here absolutely love it. It lies at the crossroads of interdisciplinary cultures; is vibrantly growing and brilliantly surfing the wave of Asia’s incredible economic boom; people speak English; and it has superb infrastructure and all the facilities to rival any other modern city in the world. Yet I, an avid world traveller really struggle.
Then today, I saw a brilliant venn diagram from LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner that summarized my answer. Jeff says that three qualities define the people he most likes to work with…something I would most definitely agree with: people who “Dream Big”, “Get Shit Done,” and “Have fun doing it.”
What has made it extremely hard for me to live and operate in Singapore is that its been HARD to find people who fit in any of these three circles, leave alone at the intersections. You find lots who talk about it and try to sell you on why they belong in those circles. But few, if any, actually do. In Singapore, Its easiest to find people who “dream big”, but they usually stop there. Few work to make anything happen, and almost no one I know has fun doing it.
So there you have it in a nutshell…the fundamental reason I struggle in Singapore.