I want change but I have been slacking off. That is the simple truth. I dream one day to be a writer and write my stories as I experience the world. I want to have an unconventional career, be totally in control and free to do with what I want.
Instead, I spent hours browsing online on meaningless things. That store has a sale of 30% off. Let me check if there’s any deals worth my money. I let my blog go weeks and weeks without any new material. I didn’t try to think new topics. It’s not that I don’t know what to write, as much as I want to convince myself.
Photo credit: Lorenzo Tomada
I don’t know when did it happen. I hit the power button of my mind. There are so many things to write about all around me. I stopped uncovering them over time. It is much easier to not thinking about much after a day of work. I felt like I deserve permanent breaks on all times off work, including weekends.
Without feeling I am accomplishing much for months, it is time to get back at it. I realize one thing. I don’t merely enjoy (want) writing to express myself, though it is an essential part of it. I need to write. It makes me seek purpose and see the beautiful things in the world that I couldn’t see if I close my mind.
It is easy to read an article on a tablet or watch a video on youtube. It doesn’t equate to writing in terms of the level of thinking and concentration needed. I am resuming my journey of seeking and bring positive changes in my life along the way.
What’s your travel style? Are you itinerary and schedule driven, needing to have every step mapped out in advance or are you content to arrive without a plan and let happenstance be your guide?
When I was younger and was travelling with my parents, I was the itinerary freak. I have Excel spreadsheet of activities that fit into different time blocks. I wanted to see as much as possible within the timeframe that I have.
That has changed since. My love for travelling is intensified. Instead of merely sightseeing, I want to get to know the culture, the language, the food, and the people (etc) as well. It is not about seeing as many touristic sights as possible. I don’t need to gloat how many countries that I have been in the world. I would much rather talk about what have I learned about the country.
Photo credit: Brandon Satterwhite
One of the best things that can happen when one is travelling is the unexpected. You can’t plan it. You don’t have to be a serial traveller to have been on a lot of trips. Think about some of your most memorable trips. Are they the ones where everything went smoothly and perfectly? Or are they the one where some or everything went wrong but you still managed to have a good time?
Tell us about something you would attempt if you were guaranteed not to fail (and tell us why you haven’t tried it yet).
This is an odd daily prompt to answer. I always believe that if you try to fail, you will. If I get the “guaranteed not to fail” ticket, I’d move to one of the islands (yes, still obsessed with islands in all shapes and forms) close to the equator and watching money flowing into my bank account as I sip through drinks while sunbathing on the beach.
In reality, there is no guarantee that I won’t fail in anything. But that’s also the beauty of it, should I choose to embrace it. By nature, most of us, are scared to fail. I am never short of reasons not to do it. What helped me overcome (or temporarily overcome) my fear is to surround myself with those who are positive and inspiring.
According to the positive psychology course that I am taking right now, resilience, the ability to overcome adversity quickly, can be enabled and built, just like muscles. It is all about how we look at the negative things in our lives. Not to ignore it, but to face it.
Reflecting on my past, there were definitely things I would do differently if I were to go back in time. The outcomes couldn’t be more different had I pushed a little harder and don’t take people’s words on the surface. Those were lessons that I had to learn by experience. My wise ex-boss once told me that you can’t always merely tell people “the right way” and expect them to understand; sometimes you have to let people run on their ideas in order to for them to realize that what they thought was wrong.
There were some difficult, unexpected situations that had arisen while living abroad (due to privacy concerns for those involved, I cannot share details). Although all of it is water under the bridge, and I don’t see it as a bad thing that happened in my life, it still affect some of my decisions/choices since.
After these events, I avoided dealing with the aftermath of my emotions. I was obsessed and consumed with the fact that it had no controllable factor as I playback what happened. It made me agitate to think about uncertainty – the possible consequences of my decisions. A million “what-if” scenarios were stuck in my head and playing over and over.
Another thing mentioned by the positive psychology course is that thinking about the positive side helps overcoming the difficulty. One good thing did come out of this experience. I used to think if I can’t have it, I’d rather it not commence at all. I learned that I never know what will happen in life. Life is unpredictable and uncontrollable. It is full of uncertainty. After this experience, I realized I need to cherish every day. Even if I can’t have it all, it doesn’t mean I have to miss out on it while it is there. That would have been my loss.
I am often accused of having dreams that I wanna accomplish that are too insane or unrealistic. However, without dreaming of it first, it would never go to fruition. Thinking back about my decision to go to Egypt. I had doubts, fear, and worries, and concerns. I knew nothing about that part of the world. Whether it is backpacking in Southeastern Europe by myself or jumping off an airplane/mountain to experience the adrenaline rush, I’ve been dubbed by some friends as fearless. Moving forward, I need to continue to live through fearlessness and take risks when necessary. After all, in my personal experience, the good outweighs the bad, by far, as long as I look at it the right way.
“Tell me about Egypt/Australia.” – A question frequently asked by my friends and acquittances upon returning home. All too often, I go to a social event or a party organized by friends in which I was introduced to others. Again, I was asked this question and don’t know how to answer. In fact, I tend to avoid mentioning that I was abroad at all if I didn’t know them.
In contrast, I love sharing my experiences abroad. If you asked the right questions, I cannot stop talking. However, a generic question such as “tell me about ___” gives me no clue as where I should take it. Are you interested in the nation’s history? Are you familiar with the most iconic sights in the country? Are you asking about the culture? Food? Or what were the challenges of living there? Since a country like Egypt is very different from Canada. It can go in so many different directions.
As I am meeting someone for the first time, I don’t have any hint or history to refer to. More often than not, the person asking me the question is merely trying to be polite and have no interest at all. In most cases, it eventually leads to the much dreaded awkward silence. Someone even told me “I would never live in a country like that” after asking so many question about the political situations in Egypt. Nothing wrong with his opinion, but the socially awkwardness of me didn’t know how to carry on the conversation after that.
It doesn’t help that I was in a “controversial” country like Egypt. Most people already have prejudice against Egypt thanks to Western media’s coverage of the ongoing protests and political turmoils. That unfortunately leads to prejudice on me, who knowingly went to live in such a country.
I already feel disconnected in a way after coming back home. I always tell my friends that I didn’t feel much culture shock when I was abroad. I feel more culture shock after coming back home. The high tech metropolitan city life really changed people’s behaviours, which I deemed unnatural, but that’s a whole separate topic that I wish to cover in the future. It is shocking for me that I used to think most people in the West are more open minded. The fact is only some are.
What do you enjoy the most when you live abroad? Is it the monuments, the history, the culture/language, food, or scenery? It is very hard to describe the reality in living in a country like Egypt. I do not know how to convey the best part of my experience to everyone. There are many things I wouldn’t have learnt if I never came and stayed. But most of all, I learned so much more about myself. When I came to Egypt, I said to myself that I want to find my passion. Although I still can’t pinpoint exactly what it is, I can tell you that I have a direction that I wanna go. More importantly, it is the realization that I am a passionated person. I didn’t know this side of me existed before.
It has been a struggle to explain to of that. People either discern it or do not “get it”. The people who understand the value of these experiences are the people who have travelled to/lived in less developed countries themselves (I really mean travel, not vacation).
All in all, I wish there is less prejudice in this world. I understand that some people are not interested in travelling or talking about some aspects of another country. But please, if you can, give me a sign.