Life is a matter of choices, and every choice you make makes you.” – John C. Maxwell

11 June 2021

My parents are Kedahan and I was born and raised in Sandakan, Sabah. 40 years ago, there was no AirAsia, not everyone could fly then. Hence, there were not many West Malaysians living in East Malaysia. As I grew up, I learned about my father’s story, his painful childhood, and a broken family relationship between him and my grandfather. Being the eldest granddaughter in the family, I had a mission then – to restore their relationship.

After secondary school, I had the opportunity to come to KL. I didn’t come to study. I came to work while waiting for my SPM results. My father was a contractor, I didn’t want to cause any financial burden to the family and my ambition was to become a school teacher. I worked for my aunt’s boutique in Damansara Heights. My plan was to get into a public teaching school. However, I didn’t meet the teaching school’s requirements. I was disappointed because of my unexpected results. I had always been one of the top students. I was lost and stuck but I remembered my mission. Hence, I continued to work in KL. My first salary was RM350 per month. I had to save for one year in order to purchase a flight ticket to see my family during Chinese New Year. During long public holidays, I took a bus to Kedah to visit my grandparents. When I saved enough, I started my part-time studies.

Fast forward many years later, I changed jobs, I was married with kids, and my family moved to KL. My father reunited with my grandfather after not being home for more than three decades. They spent time together in Kedah until my father suffered from health issues. He moved back to stay with me in KL and I became his caregiver. Many years later, my grandparents passed away and I lost my beloved father two years ago. He was 77.

During these years, many things happened. I progressed well in my career but not in my marriage. I had to juggle work, studies, and kids. When my father became wheelchair-bound, I had to ensure his wellbeing. I had to be strong and positive to keep everything in order. He turned out to be my pillar of support. He knew what I went through. At times, he was upset for being a burden in my life. I told him he was the driver in my life. Because of him, I became stronger. Because of him, I became more patient. Because of him, I prioritized my family values.

During my career break in 2019 after working for 26 years, my father and I spent a good time together. It was the happiest moment in his life because his granddaughters drove him around, we were all at home with him, he cooked for us, we took him to visit relatives in Kedah. On 30 September, I was supposed to start my new job. When I woke up in the morning, I found out my father sitting in his wheelchair looking outside the corridor, he had left us quietly. It was so hard for everyone to accept the news especially me being the closest daughter. Two weeks later, I dreamed about him. In the dream, he said to me, “Papa got to go”. He smiled at me like he felt relieved. I hugged him and I cried. I woke up from the dream with tears but I knew it was a closure. I moved on. He had left a legacy of being caring, generous, trustworthy, and kind.

In life, we make many choices. Each choice makes us who we are. Had I not made the choice to come to KL, I would not have fulfilled my mission and pursued what I had been doing. The choices we make have an impact on our life. Once we have made a choice, be accountable for the outcome and learn to tolerate ambiguity and uncertainty.

How do the choices you make affect your life?

Fennie Chong, ACC

fennie.chong@gmail.com

Fennie is a career and executive coach. Her coaching focuses on realizing one's potential and strengths to help fulfill their career ambitions. Naturally, she is curious about people, their motivation, thoughts, and feelings. Through coaching, she helps people gain clarity, confidence, and competence. Her vision is to inspire change, improve…read more

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