Getting Engaged Was as Scary as It Was Exciting

Saying yes to marriage also meant saying no to the life I'd been building


I’ll be the first to admit it—when I said yes to John’s proposal, I had no idea what I was saying yes to. On many degrees, I thought I expected it—I knew getting engaged would mean moving across the world—but nothing prepared me for all the changes I was about to face. 

John and I met almost five years ago in Singapore. When we were done with school, John left for the States, and we started an across-the-world long distance relationship. But discussions about getting married started way before he boarded the plane.

The best part of my usual flight—from Singapore to LA with an hour stopover in Tokyo—has always been waking up to John. To this day, it is still the best feeling in the world. One morning, in my just-woken-up stupor, he asked me to be his wife. The proposal wasn’t theatrical, it didn’t require coordination, it didn’t need anyone else around. It was honest, reliable, and simple—much like us. He proposed a second time on an overlook above the Golden Gate Bridge—but that’s really another story for another time.

How Much Am I Really Willing To Give Up?

When you get engaged, you know that you’re going to be starting a life together—and yes, it involves compromise, selflessness, and love… but how much are you willing to give up?

Very early on in our decision to spend the rest of our lives together, we had figured out that my moving to the States was the best plan of action, but the timing was less than ideal. After working for ten years, I was finally being offered management roles and getting paid what I was worth. My relationship with my parents and my brother was better than ever before. I had convenient, go-to routines that I enjoyed. I was comfortable.

Other than John, I had nothing in LA.

I’m not going to lie. The closer I got to the leaving-my-soul-and-everything-else-behind date, the more I thought of backing out. I hadn’t lived with John, I hadn’t lived outside Singapore for longer than three months, and what the hell would I do if somebody I love fell ill while I was on the other side of the world? Even as I was bidding my family farewell at the airport, I had a fleeting thought of, “If I backed out now, what would I lose?”

I boarded the plane anyway. In the year since John first proposed to me, I’ve managed to doubt myself more than I ever have, and then made a leap of faith into the biggest decision of my adult life.

I can get used to this (I think)

I’ve always known I can get used to anything. I can get used to wanting to punch something every time I walk into a Chinese restaurant because nothing is actually Chinese. I can get used to questions about whether or not Singapore is in China. I can even get used to the fact that the U.S. government has decided that the “Binte” in my name (which means “daughter of”) is now my middle name.

Here’s the thing about engagements: everybody thinks that just because you love someone and that you want to be with them, you should be thrilled about getting engaged and starting your lives together. But engagements can bittersweet… and even scary. And you never know what you’re getting into until you’re actually in it. I’m pretty damn happy with my decision, but that doesn’t mean it was a piece of (wedding) cake.

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