Two months after my seventh birthday, my father and I flew over the Pacific Ocean to join my mother and brothers in Texas. The gravity of leaving Singapore “forever” never hit me – ever. I’ve wondered what it might’ve been like had we never left, and though it made me very different from my peers, not once have I regretted it.
My mother moved her children to the Land of Opportunity because she had an exit to a better life she knew we couldn’t have in Singapore. I bet she never regretted it for a second, no matter what happened. We didn’t have a lot of money, but she worked hard to groom us into cultured, self-sufficient people.
And we wouldn’t be the people we are today if it hadn’t been for the free concerts, plays and operas in downtown Houston; attacking rattlesnakes and crows in the backyard with garden tools and BB guns; and disappearing from the house for hours at a time having adventures in the surrounding pastures and nearby sand pit. (Incidentally, here’s a very well-written article in The Atlantic about that.)
The U.S.A. is the Land of Opportunity. Life is what you make of it. For my family, living here has nurtured our curiosity about the world and given us insight into society and humanity that no textbook could provide and, certainly, remaining in Singapore never would have. Here, there are different and more varied definitions for hardship, strength, courage, creativity and independence. (In truth, there are more definitions in general, as the vocabulary here is far wider.) Living here, my siblings and I grew to be self-aware, thoughtful and adventurous. We don’t fear change. We don’t fear hard work. We don’t fear failure. (Well, I don’t.) Nearing my 30th birthday, I know that if the sh*t hit the fan, I’ll be okay.
So, on this 4th of July of the year Twenty-Fourteen, I am thankful to my parents, this country and the Powers That Be for the amazing bounty that is everything I have. For the opportunities we have enjoyed, those we have learned from and more to look forward to.
God bless America.