The Inbetweeners
ELLE Singapore|October 2021
How do you cope when you find yourself teetering on the precipice between HOMES, JOBS, RELATIONSHIPS or a big move ABROAD; one foot still in an old life before leaping into something new? The answer is most likely STRESSED, ANXIOUS and DESPERATE to tether yourself to stability once more. But when ABIGAIL BERGSTROM embraced the uncertainty of her liminal life, she discovered that profound possibilities exist in this ‘fertile void’
ABIGAIL BERGSTROM

I became acutely aware that my life was stuck in the ‘in between’ one Tuesday afternoon when I received a gift from a friend in the post. Two oyster shells, still smelling of the sea and lacquered with gold foil, to be used as salt and pepper dishes. They’re beautiful. But I wrapped them back up in their pink paper. Like me, they’re in limbo, waiting to come into their own and establish themselves in a real home, one day.

Most of my things are in storage as I lodge with my boyfriend Mark at his family friend Brenda’s home while she’s living abroad. Just writing that makes me anxious, reminding me of the tenuous reality of my situation. I gave up my beloved but-too-small flat so we could cohabit during lockdown(s), so I sit by someone else’s fireplace, surrounded by their art and bathe in their tub. I’m technically at home, but also not: I’m living in the shadow of my future home as my partner and I try to buy our first one together.

T S Eliot wrote in his poem, The Hollow Men: ‘Between the idea / And the reality / Between the motion / And the act / Falls the Shadow.’ I lurk in this shadow in my relationship, as well as in my living situation. We met on Tinder – retro, I know – and started dating four months before the pandemic hit. Despite being together for a year and a half, we’ve never attended a work event together, never been clubbing, nor to a wedding or gig. Our relationship has existed in the spaces in between lockdowns, tiers and travel restrictions. Oh, and just when it seemed I couldn’t catapult my life any further into the sea of uncertainty,

I pulled up the final anchor when I walked away from my life-defining job at the successful literary agency I set up. I’m now between jobs, preparing to start my own business that, as of yet, has no URL or VAT number to speak of. I’m totally submerged in the tempestuous waves of instability, which separate the continents of my ‘real’ life. The panic of uncertainty rises in my chest each morning.

Sometimes we orchestrate these periods of ambiguity – we knowingly destabilise ourselves – but we also get made redundant, get asked to leave our homes or lose an important relationship against our will, and it can feel like bad luck, as if something in our lives has gone ‘wrong’. But what if we were to reconsider these setbacks and, rather than seeing them as obstacles, reframe them as a rite of passage towards the new version of ourselves we so ardently want to be?

The word ‘liminality’ derives from the Latin root ‘limen’, which means threshold. David Gray, author of Liminal Thinking, describes it as: ‘Periods of transition during which the normal limits to thought, self-understanding and behaviour are relaxed, opening the way to novelty and imagination, construction and destruction.’ That certainly sounds familiar. Covid-19 made liminality a universal experience, as we said goodbye to an old way of living and sat in our homes, still outside of life on the other side of the pandemic. But the experience of being betwixt isn’t reserved for a global crisis, nor is it reserved for someone like me who has allowed all facets of her identity to simultaneously merge, tumble and remould. It’s a place we all frequent throughout life: it’s the alternative reality when we are between relationships, broken up but not completely disentangled; it resides between jobs when we make a career change; and it’s in the disorientation of being between homes, having left one we’ve nurtured and perhaps loved, but not yet having established a new nest.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM ELLE SINGAPOREView All

The Artist At Work

In an exclusive interview with Roger Vivier’s creative director Gherardo Felloni, we go behind the scenes of the brand’s cinematic FW’21 collection and discover the deeper message behind their mini film

6 mins read
ELLE Singapore
November 2021

Ahead Of The Game

In Athens, the Dior Cruise 2022 show at the Panathenaic Stadium is more than just a runway show, it’s also a study of Greek mythology from a feminine perspective, and a cultural exchange of heritage

5 mins read
ELLE Singapore
November 2021

New Approach To Cosmetic Procedures Respects The Idea Subtlety, To The Point Of Imperception

There’s a new approach to cosmetic procedures, and it’s the antithesis of the more-is-more aesthetic you see on social media. This is much more subtle; imperceptible, even. Meet the cosmetic doctor leading the charge

6 mins read
ELLE Singapore
November 2021

Beat Of Their Song

They say musicians are a different breed, and we concur. The best songs that are put on repeat are the ones that are written from the heart, and five local singer-songwriters share their journey with music, and how life experiences — be it heartbreaks or gender identity — have shaped the way they approach their croons

10+ mins read
ELLE Singapore
November 2021

Jennie In Chanel's Coco Neige's 21/22 Collection Marries Sport And Style With Agile Grace

NOW THAT a WINTER HOLIDAY AT the END OF THIS YEAR MIGHT ACTUALLY BECOME a REALITY, SOME APRÈS-SKI FASHION INSPIRATION MIGHT be TIMELY. CHANEL’S COCO NEIGE 2021/22 COLLECTION, FRONTED by NONE OTHER than BLACKPINK’S JENNIE, has GOT YOU COVERED

2 mins read
ELLE Singapore
November 2021

This Woman's Work

WHEN HÉLÈNE POULIT-DUQUESNE JOINED BOUCHERON AS CEO, HER FRESH PERSPECTIVE ON INNOVATION AND TRADITION BROUGHT THE STORIED BRAND INTO ITS NEXT CHAPTER

7 mins read
ELLE Singapore
November 2021

PITCH BLACK

IF YOU’RE PLANNING to GO BOLD with YOUR MAKEUP, TRY an INTENSE, DARK SMOKY EYE, BLOWN OUT to SULTRY PERFECTION

2 mins read
ELLE Singapore
November 2021

WINTER IS COMING

VAN CLEEF & ARPELS’ DIAMOND BREEZE COLLECTION is AN ANNUAL SPECTACLE of JEWELLED FLOWERS BLOOMING in THE DEEPEST of WINTER

1 min read
ELLE Singapore
November 2021

CHUNGHA, ON COURAGE

FROM PURSUING A CAREER AS A SOLO ARTISTE TO MARRYING UNCONVENTIONAL ELEMENTS IN HER SONG AND DANCE, THIS LION-HEARTED SINGER IS BENT ON CONSTANTLY PUSHING THROUGH K-POP BOUNDARIES

6 mins read
ELLE Singapore
November 2021

A GOOD SPORT

PART SPORTY, PART FEMININE, PATEK PHILIPPE’S AQUANAUT LUCE IS the PERFECT TIMEPIECE for WOMEN who BELIEVE ATHLETISM AND ELEGANCE GO HAND in HAND

1 min read
ELLE Singapore
November 2021
RELATED STORIES

About those buttered noodles

So you’re a picky eater? Here’s the case for leveling up your palate.

8 mins read
Girls' Life magazine
December/January 2022

LEADERS IN PARIS TO CALL FOR PROTECTING CHILDREN ONLINE

Some world leaders and internet giants are expected to issue a global call to better protect children online during a Paris summit of about 30 heads of state and government, including U.S. Vice-President Kamala Harris, the French presidency said on Thursday.

2 mins read
Techlife News
13, November 2021

Cold Weather Cuisine

Choose high-energy foods to keep backyard birds well fed during winter.

2 mins read
Birds & Blooms
December 2021/January 2022

Emma's BILLIONAIRERE BOUND

Emma shocked friends and family when she started dating new guy Brandon Green so soon after her breakup with Leo Robinton.

1 min read
Star
October 25, 2021

Be (Slightly) Funnier

Humor is a muscle we all have, and flexing it often helps in any life situation.

6 mins read
Reader's Digest US
October 2021

Right back in the swing of things

It’s fair to say that this year’s Bills training camp looks wildly different from those of the past.

5 mins read
Bills Digest
August 29, 2021

Be Our Guest

GH’s Maurice Benard Got Candid About His Current Story, His YouTube Series And More As A Guest On Digest’s Podcast, Dishing With Digest.

10 mins read
Soap Opera Digest
August 30, 2021

China's EV Evangelists

Forget makeup. Influencers are pitching electric cars in the No. 1 alternative fuel market

5 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
August 09 - 16, 2021 (Double Issue)

FRANCE WEIGHS CYBERSECURITY MOVES AFTER SPYWARE REPORTS

French President Emmanuel Macron held an emergency cybersecurity meeting Thursday to weigh possible government action after reports that his cellphone and those of government ministers may have been targeted by spyware.

1 min read
Techlife News
Techlife News #508

‘THE CROWN,' ‘MANDALORIAN' TOP EMMY NOMINATIONS WITH 24 EACH

“The Crown” tied with “The Mandalorian” for the most Emmy nominations Tuesday with 24 apiece, but the Marvel universe also got bragging rights with runner-up “WandaVision.”

4 mins read
AppleMagazine
AppleMagazine #507