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A year in review

2022 had been one hell of a year for me.

I haven’t written in a while, and I’m not quite sure how to summarise my year. I think this post will be more of a living document where I’ll come back and re-edit it every now and then until I’m eventually satisfied with it.

Post Progress Summary

  1. First created on 12th December after my CTO suggested that I should write about my year, as a way to self reflect and to help others whom I haven’t been able to keep up with, get an idea of how my life had been.
  2. … more progress

December 2021 - My girlfriend proposed to me in Singapore. I said YES! 😀

We’ve always wanted to leave Brunei and migrate to another country. Singapore was a country that we both loved and so.. why not just do it right? We will move to Singapore.

Well it’s not so straightforward, we needed to be legally allowed to reside in this country so the easiest way was to apply for a job in Singapore. It wasn’t possible for her to do it as she was still managing her start-up in Brunei, so the responsibility rested on my shoulders. If I was employed here, I would be able to bring her along with me as my spouse. 1 week and after several interviews with 2 companies, I finally got accepted by one of them and negotiated to start working for them remotely in March 2022! (They’d move me to Singapore after I complete my 6 months probation)

So in the next 3 months, I needed to close my business before I started work and get married so we have a legal document binding us as partners so we can both live in Singapore! Yep, you got that right - we decided to marry ASAP and gave ourself a deadline to marry by February, so we can move ASAP. When we broke the news about our intention to marry to our friends and family, everyone assumed it was a shotgun wedding (that’s the typical reaction of people from Brunei) as my girlfriend got pregnant. lol - they didn’t believe us no matter how we explained it wasn’t. They’ll eventually realise that we were telling the truth 8-9 months later.

We immediately started to plan out our Chinese wedding in Brunei in January 2021, for a Lunch reception, Marriage registration and Tea ceremony in February 2021. Thank god that my wife is really good at organising and bringing things together in a short period of time. There’s more to talk about the madness associated with planning a wedding in such a short period of time, but i’ll get to it in another post.

The other thing that was happening during that time was.. How do I close my business? I still had 5 colleagues (3 developers and 2 very junior developers) working with me at that time, 2 main ongoing clients and 1 primary client. As that 1 primary client was actually my wife, it was easy. It essentially became a lifelong subscription to work for her for free. …… lol. She also became my lifelong Life administrator so it’s a good trade-off.

TLDR - the world sometimes have this way of making everything work in your favour when it just wants you to move towards a certain direction. It wasn’t nice at all to just fire my staff so I had to ensure that their short-term wellbeing would still be taken care off. One of my staff went over to my wife’s start-up instead and a good business friend had agreed to take over all of my staff for the next 9 months as they were in need of developers. PHEW! My existing clients were supportive of my decision and even offered to be the referees that I needed to secure my employment with this future employer of mine.

After the wedding, I tidied up and completed my remaining projects as I prepared for my new remote job. Working remotely wasn’t new to me, as I’ve already spent my last 2 years working remotely for my client in London while carrying out my own entrepreneurial journey in Brunei. The one big difference was that I didn’t have to juggle so many things at once, and I would have -normal- working hours. After being your own boss for so long, it’s hard that you have to do EVERYTHING, but it also came with the perks of you setting your own goals, direction and executing them at your own pace and time (constrained by the demands of my clients). Back to being an employee, was I ready to return to it?

March 2022 was the start of my journey as a full-time remote employee, a husband, a son-in-law and a bro-in-law. After spending most of my adult life living mostly on my own, this was a huge change. In addition to mostly being an introvert and enjoying lots of me-time with plenty of physical space to myself, I’d need to adjust to this new environment. My wife and I were going through a mini-struggle where my mother-in-law was diagnosed with dementia almost 2 years ago, and we wanted to do our best to ensure that we could come up with procedures to monitor her health when we leave the country. This meant that she’d stay with us periodically in our home.

What’s home? Before marriage, I stayed in a little apartment that I had renovated to my liking - a bachelor pad that only had a single room. When I redid the place, I had never imagined myself getting married or having a family live with me anytime soon. I tore down most of the walls and converted a place that had 3 rooms into an apartment which only had a single room. Good for me, but not great if we needed my mother-in-law to also stay with us. Oh, my wife and her brother was raised by a single mom since a very young age. They lived quite far away from the main city of Brunei so her mom would have to commute daily. With some planning and rearranging, we made her a little space outside our living room, and so began that new life.

TLDR - Mom’s impression was that I never left my desk and worked all day long. Her health and mood had improved significantly since living together with us as we had more time to build relations and communicate. Due to my wife’s start-up lifestyle - she spent a lot of time abroad and wasn’t home much the last few years. It was delightful to watch their relationship rekindling and her health improving. I had to speak Chinese - more like broken Chinese a lot, so it improved a little too. They had lots to laugh about whenever I tried to explain or elaborate on something in Chinese. Was ok for me to be laughed at, as long as it created smiles.

To be continued…