Never regret change

There are a number of reasons why I wanted to make this post. Looking back at previous posts I was surprised by my overall anxiety. I’ve spent most of my life concerning myself with the need to make changes to my life, to feel like I’m always progressing and not regressing. It’s destructive, because progression shouldn’t be forced, it needs to be a natural result of your experience. I had a mini crisis regarding my current life choices a few months back, while I was on a dig in Spain profusely vomiting from heat exhaustion, lying on my bed wondering if I had made a huge mistake. We all have those moments, where we meditate on our live choices. We look back and wonder if that was the right thing to do, was splitting up with him or her what I really wanted? Was quitting that job financially short-sighted? But after thinking it through for a long time, I can honestly say we should never regret making choices that change our lives for the better. Especially conscious choices to improve our lives.

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Looking at Aztec codices

When I was living in Japan as a journalist and later in London, I was depressed because when you get to the bare bones of it; creativity and writing are not mutually exclusive. I had known for awhile that I wanted to venture back to university and take a degree in archaeology. But at 26 I was reluctant, societal expectations for a woman my age is not to go back into education. Most women cave under this enormous pressure; they feel like they have to comply by this timeline that they don’t necessarily want to follow.  The importance of doing what you want regardless of others is a sentiment I’ve held onto dearly throughout life. Unfortunately it has and always will make me somewhat of a social pariah.

I’m in my second year of my time at University College London and although I’ve had moments of overwhelming anxiety mostly monetary I’ve not faltered. You are always going to be letting down someone in your life, just don’t make it yourself; everyone owes it to themselves to live a fulfilling life, whether that’s family or a career, or just a life of pure adventure. Making changes to ensure that you are happy even if they don’t follow certain societal expectations is critical to being true to yourself.  These changes haven’t been easy, there have been negative reactions, there have been assumptions about my reluctance to join mainstream society. You must block out those voices, never regret positive change. 

London? We need a word

What happened to you? You’ve become clamourous, and I’m not sure I like this new personality change all of a sudden. Or is the honeymoon period finally over? Do we call it quits now? I don’t want another ex, it was hard splitting up with Tokyo. I’m not sure I’ll ever get over this break up.

The truth is we are getting irritated with each other, I can no longer stand your fast-pace lifestyle and I’m sure as hell you think I’m getting a little boring. I just can’t keep up; your cereal cafes, toilet bars are getting a little ridiculous and your schedule a little hard to keep with. You have good traits too, I mean for every porridge cafe, there’s a cat cafe.

But your quirkiness seems false, as if you’re trying to hard to impress the new guys. I’m kind of getting sick of you playing up all your good points and brushing aside your faults. We all have them and its okay. It’s okay to be a little misunderstood, at 27 I’m pretty sure I’m never going to be fully understood. And you’re what pushing 2100? Or something like that?

Let’s talk faults, you’re getting rowdy, a bit too big for your boots per se. There was the Olympics and you throw a good party I’ll give you that but you also overspend.  And you don’t delve into your own pocket enough, you borrow, borrow borrow and then spend, spend, spend. Sometimes I’m wondering when I’m going to get all this money back that I invested in all this glam.

I’m not trying to rub your nose in all of your faults. You do have good ones, remember that day when you held that shindig for William and Kate? Or when you made all your museums free? Score one for you. You’re multicultural, you have friends from all over. Unlike Tokyo you’re pretty accepting of all their cultural particulars as well. That’s awesome.

London: Liverpool Street

London: Liverpool Street

But London, this competitive streak you seem to be having with New York has to stop, your once beautiful face is full of craters, cranes and smoke.  It’s painful to see you go through this downward spiral, just because of a little insecurity. I know New York is your younger, more popular sister. But let it go, don’t try to keep with the youngsters; be who you are, be that beautiful crafted storytelling older sister, we love to have around for a pint. Not this pretentious overspending, sometimes obnoxious New York mannequin. You’re better than that.

I want to break free

February, 2011, Seoul, Korea

February 2011, Seoul, Korea

Mind of a traveller

I was 23 in Japan, living a life free of responsibility, every young 20 something dream. Yet there I was, residing in a cramped one-bedroom flat, wishing that I made different choices.

A mild state of depression slowly crept over me, causing me to reevaluate my current situation.  The tsunami hitting northern Japan,  causing a radiation leak at the Fukushima plant. The situation made me feel entirely helpless,  for a while I pondered about how my life had led me here, in this tiny bedsit, watching the walls alone. Wishing the time away; hoping something –anything that would come along and put me on the right path towards contentment.

The anxiety didn’t let up when my brother visited me that year, if anything I saw his freedom to explore the world and I envied it. During most March 2011, we were trapped in my flat too scared by all the fear-mongering of the British media about radiation poisoning to venture outside. A feeling of being imprisoned slowly took over, as trains were cancelled, flights delayed and food scarce.

Some might say that I was ungrateful, and looking back at it, maybe I was. But even after the threat of radiation had died down, I woke up everyday almost in tears. I went to a job I had no passion for only to increase my bank balance and secure my visa.

Flights out of the country became too expensive, the low job prospects back at home, promises made to friends I had to keep;  the chains were tight and every time I resisted it only toughened its grasp.

As an expatriate, friends come and go, and there is never a ‘forever’, only for those who have set up shop here with families and I had no temptation to follow, if anything there attitudes towards Japan only made me want to leave even more.

Two years later still miserable I knew I had overstayed my welcome.  Rather than book a ticket straight out of Japan, I opted to visit Fukuoka, costing me no more than a few hundred pounds.  After a brief romantic encounter with an Australian; I was in the air –literally (and figuratively).

Travelling is a life-changing event that affects people’s way of thinking, but you also find yourself appreciating home-comforts. Once I landed at Heathrow, I inhaled the multiculturalism of London and my first week passed in a blur of museums, long walks, and “good ol’ English pubs”. This was home.

The long job applications started and I was working within the first three weeks of being back home.  The job I had trained for and tried vainly to find in Tokyo. An ideal situation to most but it happened again; the stability had started to cause an unease. I was in a situation where I had total control, which ironically made me scared.

I was becoming an “everyday robot” and I ceased the opportunity to fly off again, this time to New York.

But it wasn’t enough, I was travelling to modern cities, while I had always thrived on the historical sites, nature reserves and mountains a country had to offer.  There was no stopping me from climbing mountains, visiting temples –seeing the world.

A few weeks ago, at my computer I scrolled through volunteer opportunities online. With the savings I had accumulated I booked my first expedition to Peru to help on an archaeological dig at Vilcabamba.  It did the trick, and settled my self-induced anxiety.  Jealousy still gets the best of me when I see tourists wandering through London, exploring the hidden  alley ways, or discovering that quaint little pub behind the promenade of shops in Holborn. But, I know its only a matter of time before I’m on the road (again.)