go.

Remember what Bilbo said?

“It’s dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door.”

I thought he meant it in the literal sense. You never know where life will take you. But, I’ve learnt that leaving meant you will never be coming back.

Sure, you can return to the place you were, but it would have changed, and so would you.

I think I have always been afraid of that. Of growing away from who I might have been, had I stayed. I can see myself plain as day, fundamentally unchanged from my 26th birthday.

It has taken me a long time to learn to go with the flow. I have been fighting against everything as long as I can remember: the boys when they said no, the gender roles my parents tried to instill in me, the person I am expected to be, the person I want others to know.

I fought hook and nail, only to realize that I am content with just being. And now I’m afraid for the change I feel coming.

What if I leave and never want to come home?
What if I go out into the big wide world and find myself hungry for more?
What if I return with fire in my veins, wild dreams of glory and fame?
Have I spent my years folding my wings when I was meant to soar?
What if… What if I go and find myself unchanged and exactly the same?

I wrote that days before I came to Jakarta. I never posted it, because I knew how childish it sounded.

I was traumatized at age seventeen, when I was recruited for national service. I cried for days and never stopped, bursting into tears at the slightest provocation of loneliness. I wanted so desperately to go home, vowing never to leave it again, voluntarily or not.

When the three months were up, I went to school at a local college not too far from home and loved it. There is nothing better in this world than being at home. Then came the pleading, the subtle blackmail: if you do not study abroad, I will have failed as a father.

I took those words to heart, packed my things and left with the promise of hope and change. But change never came. I was homesick and spilt bitter hot tears every time I saw my family and friends through a screen. I counted down the months and days, eager to go home again. It’s become something of a tradition. A habit doomed to be repeated. But when I returned home, I found that life moved on without me and it broke my heart. My friends didn’t keep the same habits, our routine was broken. My childhood bedroom no longer existed. The life I yearned for was gone.

Slowly, I rebuilt the circle which was crudely abandoned and found peace again. There is beauty in comfort, despite what everyone says about life beginning outside of it. But still I wondered about the world. I thought about all the places that my heart called for. Italy. Wales. Thames. I tried to gather my courage and escape for myself but found every excuse to stay. Stay. Stay.

I found a job with TripCanvas, hoping it would inspire me to be brave enough to wander. But it was my job at Media Insider that taught me to fly solo.

The first few days I arrived in Jakarta were filled with apprehension and fear. I was afraid I would become crushed with loneliness and cry about home.

Imagine my surprise when I was fine.

I’ve finally grown up.

I’m no longer afraid.

Hey dreams, I’m coming.

14 Comments

  1. Wow, this is completely different than what I expected about a post called “Lessons in Jakarta”! Super fun to read and I can sympathize with that first moment right before your first solo trip!! Can’t wait to read more on your experience there.

  2. What a lovely read! I also recently flew across the world alone. It’s a weird feeling to expect to be heartbroken but…. be fine? Its been 7 months and I’m still not homesick. I wonder if it’ll ever hit me. I loved reading this 🙂

    1. Thank you, Chiera! Glad to see my words resonated with you. I doubt I’d still be homesick-free after 7 months though, I’m on my way home now and still I feel that there’s no better feeling than going home.

  3. Ive definitely had a bit of panic just before a big move/trip and just after I arrive. Its part of the process so its good youre learning to enjoy the journey!

  4. Reading your post just made me feel something I don’t usually feel from reading travel blogs! Thank you for sharing your heart with us, and I know many people out there can relate to you. As much as I love traveling, I love having a home base and being tied into my community back home. I completely know the feeling of going away for a bit and coming back to find that everyone has moved on and you feel like an outsider in your “inside” community. I’m glad you’re doing well in Jakarta so far and can’t wait to keep following your journey!

    1. Thank you, Diana! I enjoyed your post on how to travel out of a backpack – very useful and helpful.

      There really is nothing quite like home – adventure is exciting but home is comforting. If I had to make a choice between never traveling again or never going home again, it’ll be a no brainer.

  5. Interesting and very honest post. Everyone’s different and if you ever feel homesick again, don’t be afraid and never stop to pursue your dreams. I’ve sometimes felt guilty because I’m never homesick.

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