I did this charcoal drawing in 2011. It was part of a East-meet-West collaboration with SCAD students
in HK where I would complete half of the drawing and the other student from the HK campus will
complete the other half and make up one complete painting. I did this drawing as a reflection of my
state if mind after leaving Singapore to further my studies in fashion in the United States. As much as
it was a difficult transition moving to another country, I finally felt free to do what I am happy doing.
I remember vividly sitting alone on the floor in my bedroom 12 years ago. My body was frozen in fear and anxiety while my brain was trying to wrap around the reality that was slowly unfolding in front of me.
I was at a major crossroad in my life – I made the lifechanging decision a few months ago to leave Singapore to further my studies and pursue my passion in fashion in the United States. I had just quit my teaching job that I had for six years, and my father was in remission for several months after his recovery from lymph node cancer.
Even though this was a decision I made many months ago and I had planned for everything to make this goal into reality, I could not help but asked myself repeatedly if I really made the right decision in leaving everything behind in Singapore to further my studies and pursue my passion in fashion abroad.
I was lost in my scary thoughts when my sister came into my room and asked me what happened. My mind was flooded with a million questions about venturing into the unknown, and I simply blurted out loud, “I cannot believe I am leaving Singapore to study in the United States in a few months! I knew I had made the decision, but reality is starting to hit, and I am really scared because I do not know if I made the right decision. I have a very good life here – a good job, all my family and friends are here in Singapore. Oh my god, what did I just got myself into? What if dad falls sick again? How was I going to survive on the limited savings that I have? Was I being selfish in doing this for myself? What if? What if…?”
My sister took a good look at me and then calmly asked me this lifechanging question that I will never forget for the rest of my life. She simply asked,
“What is the worst thing that could happen with this decision to leave Singapore to go to the United States?”
My panicky mind suddenly stopped going at 180 miles an hour. I thought about this question for a split second and blurted the first answer that came to my mind, “Well, the worst thing that could happen is that I hate everything in the United States. But I can always come back to Singapore. I can always come back to my job, my family, and my friends if I really miss home.”
“There, you have your answer now. It’s not as bad as you think right? So, stop panicking and start packing.” And just like that, she walked out, leaving my jaw dropped at this one simple but powerful question that reframed my mindset. My fears dissipated and I was able to stick to my decision and move halfway across the world a few months later in March 2011.
How one powerful question can change your perspective and reset your mind
I learnt a very powerful lesson from this incident. Since then, I continue to ask myself this one simple question whenever I have to make lifechanging decisions that terrify me. What is the worst outcome that could happen if I made this decision? This simple but powerful question allows me to overcome my fears because it makes me realize that many of my fears are not as bad as what my mind made me believe to be. And when my fears are alleviated, I gain clarity and focus that allow me to make better decisions because I am able to evaluate the worst and best outcomes of my decisions and solutions to overcome potential pitfalls . I have since made many decisions by asking myself this one question at pivotal times in my life, such as moving from Savannah to New York to work in the fashion industry, making career changes, marrying my husband, and now on the road to entrepreneurship where I am starting my footwear brand.
The Key Takeaway
We only get to live once in our lives. Stepping into the unknown is scary because there are millions of possibilities that could happen. Our brains are wired to keep us safe, and comfortable in doing things that we know. When we are faced with the unknown, our minds generate all kinds of fears that keep us from moving forward, and sometimes our fears prevent us from making decisions that could turn out to be the best for us, and we live in regrets because we let fears stop us in our tracks. Take control of your fears by simply asking yourself this one question will definitely help you make better decisions, like how it did for me many times in the past.
Thank you for reading my post and I hope this article will help you overcome your fears and make better decisions for the new year.