Week 34: Embrace your past; it makes you, you

My voyage home takes me physically home, at long last; and the humbling experience of putting on a sun hat

It was an overwhelming few weeks — from anticipating and completing the Boston study trip in July, to going home (physically) to KL right after the study trip.

I had spent my time home mainly with family, trying to get in as much time together as I could, while I was there. But I had also spent that time home trying to bridge the disconnect I had felt between my past and present self.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

This was the longest time I have spent at home since starting work in early 2018. It was also my first time home after the longest I have not been home or seen family. And I didn’t expect coming home this time round to feel so different; so familiar and yet so foreign. I had to learn how to “adult” in the very city I grew up in, because the things I have learnt in my adulthood, in a different place, barely applied here. I also had to learn to pick up pieces of the past that I had forgotten and left behind when I left home to live in another country at the age of 19.

Safe to say, there were a lot of emotion and thoughts to process over the last few weeks.

What I had fully experienced, though, was how closely connected my past self was to my present self; and the realisation that she will continue to be connected to my future self, even if I forget about it.

Coming home and seeing extended family members triggered long hidden memories. These were people who had dropped me off at school when I was younger, showered me with gifts during birthdays and with achievement of good grades, prepared dinner every weekend, watched me grow up… Remembering left me feeling a little heavy on the inside; ashamed and disappointed at myself for forgetting.

Rewind a little further to a few weeks back, in Boston. In the glaring summer sun, I had put on a sun hat. And what I’d thought was a very “normal” thing to do, was apparently “very Australian”. I was taken aback by the comment, as I had (very arrogantly) thought that none of Melbourne/Australia rubbed off on me in all the time I had spent there. I did not expect the act of putting on a sun hat to turn into such a humbling experience.

Photo by Aedrian on Unsplash

The last 4 weeks had made me question myself. In my pursuit of the life I wanted to live, how did I, how could I have forgotten that all these people and places had a role to play in making me who I am today?

There is a fine line between letting the past weigh you down so much you are unable to move forward, and moving forward so quickly that you forget your past. The last four weeks have definitely been a thought-provoking, humbling experience. And it was a timely reminder of a Chinese proverb — “饮水思源” — which literally translates to “When you’re drinking water, think of the source”, or in other words, to be grateful for your blessings but also not forget where they come from.

I packed up 8 years of my life in Melbourne in December 2021 to move to Singapore to be closer to home and also to explore the world outside of what I already knew. This is a year-long series of weekly reflections on #myvoyagehome. Thank you for being a part of my journey.

Week 29: Bettering the world — Part 2

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Wen Xin (Gwen)

Welcome to my thoughts and documentation of life’s adventures.