I was in between the 2 titles while I'm thinking of how do I write this one out. This writing is indeed one of the hard pills to swallow as I'd been through a lot of tough conversation with my parents and some of my closest peers.
"I don't belong here"
"Where do I belong?"
These 2 seemingly similar titles actually carry a huge difference if you think about it. I have written a lot of writings, a lot that puts me in weird places in my headspace, hoping to have people to connect to, hoping for people who can see what I see, hoping for my stories to reach someone who could see me... for me.
I know they mean well when they ask "so what do you want to do with your life".
Nothing came out of my mouth, but my heart wants to get out of here. Literally, getting out of here.
Suffocating, depression, it is always these seemingly first world problems that lead me to be ashamed of what I want.
"You have a roof over your head, you have a family, friends, here, why you want to go?"
"crazy ah? work so much just for a bed"
"how much they paying you, better be worth it"
"you see, only those ang moh do all these, then you follow them siao"
"wa, go there can do what? here so good you go there be people's housemaid"
"so tough eh, pay so little, where wu hua? (Hokkien for worth it?)
The replies could go on and on, faltering my will to travel and inspire. And the voices would only get softer once I'm in the plane, away from here. Watching how everything go into blur, and slowly the city gets smaller and smaller, and I finally don't feel that small anymore, overlooking the skies.
I love to tell stories, I love to experience them, coming back with my eyes gleaming with brighter than the stars in Chiang Khong, the sunrise from Johnessberg. I love to see and experience the world. Connect with fellow kindred spirits, exchange travel stories.
It is also remarkably crazy how I don't fit... I'd even go as far as to say that I'd isolate myself sometimes. Hence the astronaut logo for my website. The whole going over to somewhere, escaping was perhaps the whole "get up" for me. I love writing about sunsets, sunrises, people I'd meet, personifying them into cities, sharing where I'd been with people I'd met in another city, it goes on and on. I also fell in love with border crossing, where we would venture beyond. It was an exciting and amazing experience that I'll always look forward to. Crossing over to Burma from Thailand, then over to Laos next.
Back at home, this stress always comes during Chinese New Year. No girlfriend, no money, but only tons of travel stories to share. The relatives and families always gave me "that look", like I'm done for. I'm no digital nomad, nor am I a rich entrepreneur that got it all going for me. I'm just a simple guy who loves art and storytelling but felt that there's so much more holding me back at home. I yearn to be free, I love the "Me" that I am when I'm travelling... I love how I get to visit museums from all over the world, talking to artists, sharing my perspective, and for once, people listened to me, take me seriously. I love how I worked in hostels, creating events, getting people together. I was so proud of myself when the hostel wanted to hire me full time. For once I felt my worth, and for once I felt somebody notices me.
I think about again why I'm so afraid to be back at home... sure there's the safety, there's the whole safety and convenience here. Albeit the whole covid situation makes me feel blessed to be at home, indoors (I'm a homebody). But there's just so much more in me that, perhaps the people here won't appreciate. They'd rather a diligent guy clocking his 8-5, breathing through his paychecks, shopping through Shopee, using fancy first world apps for food delivery, transport, etc. I'm just not that guy... I'm not that fancy, to begin with, I love the calls of the ocean from my hostel that comes at only $7 a night at the top of Hengchun, the embrace of the mountains across the alps of Laos from a 2 hours hike in a place without any signs at the edge of Thailand.
It's so noisy back in here, the whole stigma, judgement, that I received, that made me felt ashamed of wanting what I want. I'd love to keep travelling, I'd love to eventually even lead a simple period of van life over in New Zealand, I wanna explore Europe, the Scandinavian countries, and so many other places that are waiting for me to unfold, just like the library books at the end of the shelves that not a lot of people would venture to.
And I sorta dislike the "Me" back here. The whole local persona just to fit, I'm inherently not a sheep. I'm not made to follow; we have the whole, get a girls, get a house get a family route sorted out for us. But I didn't want that, I'd always joke with my mum that I'm going to be single for life, but single by choice (that's another story for another time). My mum used to nag me a lot, on how I should "find someone", "perhaps settle".
I'd been through enough, once a hopeless romantic, I eventually even had a collective (not sure I'll be posting, but soon maybe?) that feature all my shots and love. But then again, sometimes love doesn't mean to be romantic. Sometimes, love doesn't have to be a person. That doesn't mean it's anything less than what everyone thinks love is.
My low esteem issues is another thing, coupled with my neverending procrastination. At least I could bring myself to write, and to put it out there, somewhat. I think at the end of the day I'm tired of people pushing me through moulds of what they think I should be. And it's hurtful too, when you're being forced into this perspective of them and defying it would be you not being you. Some of my friends would know, yet some others disappointed me... somewhat... That is another heavy topic to write on... Well, I do have amazing friends back here, at home, and it's not that I'm not happy... but I just couldn't be the me that I want to be when I'm overseas. The adventure-seeking wanderlust, I could just pop a backpack, get a one-way ticket, and head to somewhere for a month. To start from the blank canvas and start painting, connecting with people, experiencing culture... There's a difference between seeking the world through the eyes of a traveller and a tourist.
I asked myself, this seemingly bizarre question. I seem to ironically have found many homes overseas, but still... couldn't put an exact finger onto where I belong.
Perhaps I'll keep travelling to find out (:
In retrospect, 2020 and 2021, may have pushed me to a corner. Adulting on speed, trying to hustle. But at the end of the day, I'd still like to tell myself that I haven't given up on my dream, and I don't want to forget that either. Just like how the quote from the little prince's movie said; growing up is not the problem, forgetting is.