It has been three days since I got back and I am thankful I haven’t woken up in panic. I used to have these nightmares where I would literally wake up in San Francisco thinking that I was back in Singapore, so it is a giant step for me to be back here and not be in a perpetual panic attack.
Perhaps the more I grew comfortable in my own shoes, the more I am able to love myself. The more I love myself, the more I am able to love the people who love me, the less I am dependent on my external factors on my personal well-being. That said, I am not going to pretend that I can live without the internet. It is the internet which allows me to be connected, and in many ways, perhaps I have never really needed much to be physically around people anyway.
But it was still good to be back around my family, to be intentionally present with them. I went to the temple to greet my ancestors the day after I was back, and I was grasped by the magnitude of my tiny little life. How many stories have to exist, in order for mine to exist? All the pain and joy that was endured, in order for me to have my shot of enduring my own.
I thoroughly love the gift of life, but I resent it at the same time.
I have become comfortable with a paradoxical existence, that I am sad yet peppered with moments of intense joy, scared and yet I’ve never felt stronger, so tired I’m hardly moving yet I’m feel so alive.
With that knowing, I am aware that being back here or anywhere will not be a magic bullet. I am also less keen on pursuing happiness. I pursue stories, and the best stories have diverse elements from multiple dimensions. Some people like having one coherent narrative, I like mine to be chaotic. I live for ephemeral multi-colored rainbows than the clear blue sky.
I used to disown so much of myself. But I think for the first time in my life, I am starting to like what I see when I look into the mirror. I see a person who doesn’t pretend she knows where are the answers but is willing to continuously search in the unknown. I didn’t know I’ve been living a giant disconnect my entire life because I’ve been trying to follow in the wrong footsteps. We have been sold these versions of fairytales and stories of unicorns, that we have to seek betterment with these narrow definitions of what it means to live a fulfilling life. If I can have a sentiment of regret, I wish I would have started reading philosophy at a much younger age.
Perhaps I would have understood earlier that I have to find my own lenses to look at myself in the mirror, instead of the ones society has bequeathed to me. That, in addition to the fact that it doesn’t matter how much society loves my image in the mirror, if I cannot bear to look at it.
Like how nature has to all evolve differently in order to flourish in their innate beauty, I feel blessed and cheated at the same time that only now and yet thankfully now I am finally willing to define my own terms of living.
I wrote this on my iPhone on an hour-long journey on the subway, and what used to seem like a drag, has become pockets of space to wonder and contemplate.