Wednesday, 19 May 2010

My secret unveiled: I'm going to Bali a volunteer this time

Some time ago, I said that I have a secret. I had to tell the people closest to me before I felt I could announce it to more people..hence the wait.

I will be going to Kuta, Bali to volunteer at an orphanage for 3 months. I quit my current job, and will look for another one when I come back from Bali. Typing these facts in 2 sentences took almost no effort and less than 10 seconds. But actually making these statements into facts was a huge step of faith and courage for me.

It definitely was no easy task trying to step out of my comfort zone. I had wanted to become a volunteer in another country since I was in university, but of course it wasn't possible at the time because I couldn't possibly skip lectures for a few months at a time. And so this ambition remained a dream. After university, like any normal graduate, I looked for jobs. Having found a job, I accepted the offer, and life went on as normal. This is what you call a normal graduate's life. This ambition of mine didn't occur to me until I went to Bali in April.

When I was there, I saw a difference between the Balinese and us, Malaysians. I have to be honest - I was expecting it to be a lot like home, speaking languages which were similar and such. But what I saw was the happiness the Balinese had. The simplicity of life mixed with a truly rich culture. They were friendly, religious, simple, and happy. I was mesmerized by them. And the last few days I was there, I realised that I would very much like to stay. If I could have my way, I think I might have just tried finding a job there and settled down there right there and then. But of course, I still had to come back to reality.

So I came back to Malaysia with a heavy heart. I wanted so badly to go back, and I didn't want to just go back as a tourist. I knew I wanted something more meaningful. I wanted to spend more time there than just a week, sightseeing. I wanted to get to know the people. To see if what I saw the first time as a tourist was just a portrait on the surface, or if the Balinese truly knew what its like to be happy. Something which sounds simple enough, but how many of us in the world today actually know what it is about?

I can't even actually remember what made me remember this little ambition of mine. It just came back to me very very suddenly, and the little gears in my mind started turning. Slowly at first, then rapidly increasing speed..turning turning turning...until I thought to myself "What's stopping me?".

I had already planned to look for another job some time soon. I didn't feel this was the right job for me, but this isn't the point. I felt that this was the perfect timing for me to go be a volunteer, just by lengthening the gap between my jobs by 3 months.

It seemed simple enough to me, and I felt that I could do it. But there was the very daunting task of telling my mom about it. I knew this wouldn't come off as good news to her, but I had to have her support. When I decide to do something, I give my all to accomplish it. I knew that I wanted to do it, and I felt I was independent enough to go ahead with it, but I was nervous...I was scared! I know I've been away from home for 3 years, studying abroad. But this is a totally different league altogether! No one I know has even done anything like this. No one I know has ever done something so out of the ordinary! I just knew I had to have my mom's support to be able to go through with it.

My mom's responese was as I expected - bad. It was really really really bad. I couldn't make her understand why this was so important to me, and why I wanted to do it now. She kept trying to talk me out of it, and was very angry at me for risking my career to go off and do this. She felt that I was being very irresponsible about this. But I knew for certain in my heart that what she was saying was not true. I had everything planned out in my head, and though she's my mom and I know I had to respect her, I still felt that it was the right decision, and I had to just summon my guts to book the tickets to prove to her that I was serious about it. So one day, I did it. I booked the tickets, and that afternoon itself I handed in my letter of resignation. That night, I told my mom about it. That was the day I did 3 very brave things.

So it was settled - I was going to fly to Bali on the 31st of May and returning on the 2nd of September. The tickets were paid for, and that sealed the deal. All that was left to do was preparations to go.

Thankfully my mom has now come to accept my reasons for going. 

Now, I've gotten my police clearance, I applied for my visa today, and its less than 2 weeks before I go over. Part of me still can't believe that I actually did all those things. That I had the guts to do those things and tell people about it. Being afraid of people's judgement of me for all my life, this was the one time I've ever felt so afraid that they were going to label me a 'freak'. I'm serious. I knew this is not 'ordinary', and so I expected many people to tell me that I was being rash and not thinking things through before making such a big decision. But I've always been a quick decision-maker, and I was 100% certain that this was what I wanted to do - so I had to have the guts to tell people about it. And truly surprisingly, the responses have been wonderful. It has been more than wonderful. With each positive response, I felt more and more certain that I am not a freak, and that I didn't make a wrong decision. I can't express how grateful I am to all my friends who have been so supportive and so understanding. Who encouraged me when I was doubtful, and who gave me the confidence I truly needed.

So this is my story....=) I'm looking forward to it.


  1. Desert Lion( =D )19 May 2010 at 00:27

    Dang, I got fooled by the 'hugs and kisses' and 'love it!' buttons. Thought those were the secret buttons to make a comment.

    Moms are all like that, but when a person gets a calling, it's between them and something divine which others cannot see, =)

    To have a resolve and to have the motivation to actually carry out is courage in itself.

    Would definitely love to have a meet up with you before you leave, but alas, time constraints on my end does not make things easy, =<

  2. Wow! Just read your blog Kim, think it is amazing what you are planning to do and hope everything goes well for you. We'll be thinking of you and praying for you through this journey. All our love, Becky, Peter and Joseph xx

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  4. Hi Kim, I admire you for your courage & your kind love to the children!

    Just remember this, as long as you take great care of yourself over there, this is absolutely a good decision. I dun see this as being irresponsible to your own career, as we all know, we have all the time to work in our lives, we work from 20+ till 55 or 65 years old (uk).So, what's the big deal for taking 3 months out of your life to do what your heart really feels like doing??

    Never mind about ppl's opinion as long as you know you are doing something legal & right. They can judge their own life, not yours!


    Wan Yin*

  5. Sounds very exciting to me! I am also thinking of taking a year off some years later to do something different… for example a maid…. nono just kidding. Believe me, many of my older, married colleagues regretted for not doing things that they wanted to when they were younger. So off you go!

    By the way, your ambition is a very noble one. The experience adds on to career building but not the opposite. It sure will give you an even more dazzling CV.

    Jin Xiang

  6. hey kim, i so admire your courage!

    takes a lot of guts to make such a huge decision. I only dream of doing things like this!

    good luck! and i hope you thoroughly enjoy yourself