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  • Writer's pictureTina Chan

How I Adapted to Different Roles in Life: A Personal Story

"The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance." - Alan Watts

Growing up, I always assumed that I would follow in the footsteps of my parents and grandparents by settling down with a partner after finishing college. Fortunately, life had other plans for me. I had to adapt to a variety of different roles, from moving to new countries and making new friends, to being a wife, mother, career woman, and entrepreneur. Despite the initial difficulties adjusting to my new role, I could adapt quickly. Thanks to my upbringing and early education years, I had the opportunity to move from one country to another, allowing me to make new friends, adjust to different environments, and understand diverse cultures.

From my life experiences, as I grew more comfortable in my new roles, I began to see the value in having so many different experiences. Each new role brought its own challenges and rewards, and I found that I was capable of more than I ever thought possible. Rather than feeling limited by my previous expectations, I was free to explore a wide range of possibilities and create a life that was uniquely my own.

My interesting role-changing life began when I met my ex-husband. At that time, I believed I had found the person I would settle down with in California. I was excited about the prospect of building a life together and starting a family. I envisioned of having 2-3 kids, just like my parents and grandparents had. As we started our journey together, I found myself taking on many roles, one after another: a wife, a daughter-in-law, a sister-in-law, a working partner, and more. Each role came with its own set of responsibilities and challenges, but I was determined to make it work. Then came the most challenging role of all - being a mother.

When my daughter was born, it was the happiest moment of my life but it also marked the moment I lost my freedom. Having her and being away from my family in Asia was difficult, especially when I didn't have a confinement lady to help me in the first month as a new mother. I remembered going through the sleepless nights, and my hormones were haywire. I struggled to understand baby language and felt unattractive and alone. Depression set in, and it was hard to deal with, especially when my ex-husband and I were new to this role of being parents. We both had different ideas on how to parent our child, and there were too many opinions, especially from our parents. As a result, our marriage began to crack, and we didn't have the skills to repair the damage. Breaking and moving on was more manageable than fixing all the broken pieces.

Looking back on my past, I've realized the importance of understanding the complexities of relationships. Oh, how I wish I had learned more about establishing and maintaining healthy relationships. Unfortunately, my role models in this area were limited to my parents, grandparents, and their friends, who followed a traditional path of settling down and starting a family. And spending two decades learning how to develop skills that could help me in my career wasn’t helpful either. Only after I experienced the pain and challenges of divorce, I realized my need for a deeper understanding of modern relationships. Grateful for the Internet and Google; resources from YouTube and relationship experts like Esther Perel were available to help me along the way. Through these resources, I began to develop a more nuanced understanding of how to communicate effectively, listen actively, and compromise in a relationship with my family, friends, and colleagues.

Back to my role-changing story, when my divorce happened. The next thing I knew, I had to re-evaluate my life. It was difficult because I felt lost and uncertain about my future. I pushed myself to be open to new experiences and be willing to adapt to new roles, even though I was scared because divorce wasn't part of my dictionary.

My role changed from being married to being divorced and a single mother with no support from him. It was overwhelming. First, I had to change my part and move back to another environment, being with my family. Second, I had to find a job to support my child. Finding a job was hard because my skills were outdated, and I had a five years gap of being a stay-at-home mom. I felt discouraged, but I refused to give up. I hustled with a few entrepreneurial projects on my own and with another stay-at-home mom. When a job opening was available, I grabbed it even though the position was a management trainee, and I was with all the fresh graduates in their 20s. I couldn't believe I was a single mom in my early 30s mingling with highly skilled graduates, but I didn’t care; I was happy to find work with a stable income that could support my daughter.

As a single mother living with my parents, I had to take on the roles of both parents, as well as continue to be my parents’ daughter. It wasn’t easy. There were days when I felt overwhelmed and exhausted, but I knew that I had to keep going for my daughter's sake. The adjusting period of being a single parent wasn't easy. The sleepless nights and constant worrying for my daughter were exhausting, but I persevered. I had to be strong for my child, I was her role model. I had to develop a routine and managed my time effectively to balance my responsibilities as a mother and a working professional. It wasn't easy; I went through many trials and errors, but it was worth it.

Starting a new career in the hospitality industry was an exciting time for me. I saw this job as a stepping stone to achieving my new life as a career woman. I felt a sense of pride and accomplishment with each new role, from finance admin to marketing manager to project manager. It was a job that required me to be versatile and adaptable, and I was eager to rise to the occasion. I worked long hours and learned to communicate effectively with customers and team members, manage finances, and handle difficult situations. When the pandemic hit, and we were short of staff, I stepped up to take on new functions like being a hostess and phone receptionist. Switching different roles in one day was easy because I was happy to do what I could to be part of the team.

When the layoffs happened, it felt like a gut punch. I had worked so hard to build my career in hospitality, and now I was out of a job. But I refused to let this setback define me. So my next plan, instead of settling for a position beneath my qualifications, I started my own venture: learning to code and develop Algo for trading. My maths skills were not at a Ph.D. level, and I had much to learn about coding and the logic behind writing good working AIs. I worked hard seven days a week because I was determined to succeed. Sometimes I felt frustrated and exhausted until I burned out. A good friend once said, “When you feel tired, rest, but don’t give up. Progress is more important than the final product.” So, I pushed through because I knew this was the right path. And in the end, my hard work and risk-taking gave me the reward I needed.

My life has been filled with ups and downs. Although it's easy to become complacent and settle for what I already have, that's not how to grow. Being open to new roles and possibilities allows me to expand my horizons and achieve more than I ever thought possible. And even when things don't go according to plan, I can adapt and find new ways to succeed.

Life is full of surprises, and it's up to us to embrace them and make the most of every opportunity that comes our way.

Truth: There are numerous unexplored opportunities ahead, and I am eager to confidently approach them one day at a time. Every door represents a unique opportunity, whether a new project, a fresh destination, or a budding relationship. I see life as an adventure full of possibilities waiting to be discovered, and I am excited to take on each challenge and opportunity as it arises. Failures are not the end; let them be your lessons to move forward.


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