I’m thinking — no, I know it is time to move forward, to take that leap I have been preparing for, knowing I am not ready for all of it, knowing it is not risk-free, knowing I would be safer if I didn’t. And trust me, I don’t want to be out there, exposing my weakness to the world, defenceless as I put myself out there to be criticised freely.
But things have already gotten so far, life is already losing its flavour to the everyday hassle, the torturing boredom of accomplishing the same repetitive tasks. Life is worth more than that. A slow extinguishing of dreams, the death, drawn-out, of magic, fantasy, curiosity. Life is worth being hurt, being vulnerable for. Everything, everything to unsettle the deep aching, the profound unhappiness rooted in ourselves. We need to treat the roots, even if it hurts more that way. Even if we are left with emptiness, not knowing how to fill the hole that is left behind.
I need to grow, to push against the dirt and emerge, leaves tender, afraid of being burnt by the sun, blown away by the winds. I could stay safe, but I would never know the beauty of the sky, the sight of rain, the lightness of the wind.
So in that way, I must rise. I must rise and emerge and use what I have to shape the future. Or else I must choose to fall back into a safe darkness, forever wondering.
I apologise for all the minutes I laid to waste, all the hours I let slip through my fingers. I apologise for all the days I ignored adventure’s call, when I chose fear over living and let precious youth waste away. I apologise for all the days I stayed in—not to sink in the warm comforts of home, not to enjoy restful solitude, but to lose myself in a nameless void that leaves me with burning eyes and the sinking feeling that I have done nothing for myself. Like I’ve done nothing with the time that, everyday, is loaned to me.
I’m sorry for not going to cafés alone for fear of judgement, for not spontaneously slipping into old, cobbled roads when I wanted to because I let myself be afraid of what could be out there.
Most of all, I apologise for all the people I never met because I did not reach out. I couldn’t bring myself to speak past the lump in my throat, past the bad experiences that make it hard to talk to people. I apologise for all the wonderful lives I’m not living. I’m sorry for not picking up the phone, for not dialling up that number. I’m sorry for not taking up that scholarship offer.
Truly I apologise for all the time I did not honour. I apologise for all the times I believed fear was more important than life, not realising that life is only passing and fear is its death sentence.
I now believe that you stop living when you let fear take over. When you would rather exist in safety than take one step out of bounds. I’ve done that. For years, I let all manners of fear rule my life. Well, guess what? I’ve traversed to the other side of fear. I’ve been through some of my deepest, darkest fears and still I live.
I can hide all I want. The worst will still happen. The day will come when fear barges in through my door, shatters all my walls. And I will not hide.
As though my bones haven’t yet settled into my body and are relearning the shape of the person I have become. Or like maybe I’m just a floating skeleton and my flesh has yet to layer itself back onto my shaking self. My mind’s eye is closing in on the idea of my small everyday life, but my thoughts have been blown out of proportion by the overwhelming vastness of a metropolis. Reconciling the two is proving to be hard for someone like me, who lives in extremes.
Other hard-to-wrap-my-head-around things are: You can start the year, no, the week in London and still be back in time for the weekend in your small, floating piece of land.
It’s like my mother said : “Just yesterday you were phoning from England and today you’re already back. It’s almost like magic.”
And now, as my mind wrestles with old and new truths…nothing feels like it should be. Like I remember. Everything feels strange : my bed, my pillow, my desk, my notes, my scribbles. Any one thing will at one moment feel too small. Too deep, too on the right, too bright. Not like I remember. One world seems too foreign, the other not familiar enough.
But maybe nothing’s changed. Maybe it’s me. And maybe what I’m most scared of is how I don’t know myself. How I can’t find myself in the gap between new and old. And if I don’t, where to will my unfettered self run off ? What crazy thing will she do ?
Get an ear piercing, probably.
I mean, I actually did that.
And immediately felt more regret than physical pain.
What have I done to myself?
I have done things to myself that cannot be undone. I have changed myself beyond repair. There’s no going back.
And I am scared of that above all else. To not feel at home in my own skin. To feel like a grain of sand has infiltrated my skin and has bent my perfectly balanced world out of shape. I am so scared of never being able to go back to the person I used to be. To not have a home to return to after all is said and done.
Countless times I’ve looked at that piercing now, balancing delicately on my upper ear. At times I’ve hated it. Hated that I couldn’t remove it without leaving traces. If I could just make it vanish, things would fall back into place.
But they won’t. The past will not be changed.
And I have to be okay with that. Because travelling did the same to me; changed me beyond repair. Though nostalgia longs for the familiarity of days past, I have to keep moving. Because this is what I want, ultimately, if not immediately.
So I’m keeping the piercing. I’m getting used to my risk-taking, fanciful side. I tell myself it would never have come forward if it hadn’t been there in the first place. So maybe I’m still home within myself. Maybe that will never change. Perhaps I am just discovering new rooms I had left closed before.
I have been feeling for some time now, dome-shaped glass pressing against my back. Something cool and constricting that has me twisting my spine to espouse its shape.
I am outgrowing my comfort zone. This place that started out as a getaway and then, piece by piece, turned into my whole world. This place where Time passes, but not really. This place where nothing ever grows.
Nothing, not even me. Certainly not me.
But every time I go out, I return more substantial. Greater than what I started out as. And each time, my comfort zone seems smaller. Each time, I have to tuck in my limbs and bow my head, careful not to spill over.
A comfort zone is safe. And we all need that. During years where life is not easy, it is the only place you can breathe. It is the only way you can live. It is the kind of place that is separated from the world, like a Christmas ornament hanging on a tree, overlooking the world, connected to it via a single thread . The kind of place with its own stratosphere, where you can redefine all the laws of the world and turn physics upside down. A place that could be everything you want it to be—and yet, a place that is often small. A space fit for one. A space you have to shrink yourself to fit into. Like you’re stuck in the closet between two worlds.
But my heart is growing bigger now. My brain bubbling with new ideas and wild concepts. Itinerant bits of poetry and pieces of people are finding home in that body now. I am catching onto threads of destiny, getting ever linked to the outside world. I am turning out to be too much for that small place. I cannot contain myself, not anymore.
One day, soon, I will spill. I will burst.
And I will find out that that spherical comfort zone was actually contained in a larger one. That, like the Earth, it is composed of layers. And one day, I will outgrow that one, too. And the next, and the next…