Borders won’t be opening anytime soon, which means that the only travelling we’ll be doing – apart from staycations – is going to be within our minds. In this three-part series, Charmaine Tai tries out different experiences to see if they can help in her worldview expansion.
Perhaps I’m a sucker for punishment. Maybe sadomasochism is in my DNA. Why else would anyone volunteer – on three different occasions – to open herself up to a total stranger, spend a day in utter silence, and submerge herself in ice-cold water?
But lest you classify me as borderline crazy, I’d like to offer the flip side of the coin.
Given that I’m currently unable to physically experience what the world has to offer, I’m keen to see how much one can gain by ‘travelling from within’ – specifically, to the brain, the epicentre and CPU of every decision I have made in my life, thus far. After all, travelling is all about making discoveries and experiencing something new. Intense and deliberate reflection is not too different, notwithstanding the fact that one is a mental journey, and the other is physical.
I’ve no doubt that visiting new places will do wonders for my soul, but until then, I am having to make do with learning more about myself. The ultimate bittersweet experience, one might suggest.
Perhaps I’ll be able to view the world from a different perspective and, hopefully, tackle life with new-found vigour.
I have no idea what I would be discussing with Ralitza Peeva. As a life coach – she’s armed with a PhD in sociology and a master’s degree in counselling – Peeva offers guidance for those looking to find a new passion, career, or fulfilment in life.
Do I really need it at this point in time? I’m not sure, but decide to give it a shot anyway. We get down to business, chatting about the various facets of my life. We agree to focus on work, given that it occupies an unusually large part of my time. Now, I do realise the implications of going down this rabbit hole – one of which involves potentially opening a can of worms when this story goes to print.
I’m asked a series of questions, such as my dream job, and what success means to me. Then Peeva asks where I see myself in two years.
My mind draws a blank, although it really shouldn’t. Peeva assures me that I’m not alone. She shares that life coaching is her second career, one she started when she was 42 years old. According to Workforce Singapore, the number of people who made a mid-career switch tripled between 2016 and 2019. A survey by the job site, Indeed, last year also showed that 49 per cent of the workforce in the US made a dramatic career switch, with the average age of switches happening at 39.
Then comes my sudden realisation: I’m unsure if I’ll remain in the publishing industry for the entirety of my career.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my work, and taking everything into consideration – weighing up both the struggles and the perks – I’m happy with where I am. But can I see myself continuing on this road, doing something I’m good at, for the next however many years? Or will I wake up one day, and decide that my career path involves tributaries that I hadn’t previously considered, and that fulfilment lies elsewhere? These are questions that many of us are asking, because there is a genuine, existential need to believe in what we do and what we are about, and therein, potentially, lies happiness, peace and fulfilment.
The good news is that if I go by Indeed’s findings, I have at least 10 years before I reach that crossroads.
Unlocking new doors
Somewhere along the way, we uncover my passions in life – education and educating, helping the less fortunate, and making a positive difference in the world. These are things that I haven’t spent too much time thinking about, but have a strong inclination towards, and haven’t done enough of. If these can’t be achieved at my current job, would I be open to volunteering on weeknights and weekends? Would I have the mental and physical capacity to do so, and if I didn’t, what small changes could I make to effect the change?
It’s a lot to take in for one session, and I’m advised to go home and mull it over. Sometimes, steps can only be taken after certain issues have been addressed, which is why it isn’t unusual for clients to see her over a prolonged period. “Some stop once they’ve achieved their goals, then return when there’s something new they need guidance with,” she says.
“Do you have a life coach,” I prod. “You mentioned that everyone could do with one in their lives,” I say, as if to justify my question. “Yes,” she answers. There are numerous aspects in life that sometimes require professional help and unbiased opinions, of which Peeva readily admits to needing from time to time. I suppose this makes sense. It’s hard to trust someone if they don’t practise what they preach.
I’m still discovering what lies ahead in my career path, but on a much more positive note, I’ve signed up with an organisation to distribute food to the needy. I’ll consider this a small win.
Time required: 90 minutes
Mental readiness required: 5/5
Physical readiness required: 3/5
Effectiveness of a single session: 1/5
Chances of me going back for round two: 5/5
Price: S$250 for the first 90-minute session, S$235 for subsequent 60-minute sessions
COMO Shambhala Urban Escape Singapore
#06-01/02 Delfi Orchard
402 Orchard Road