I've avoided writing for some time because, frankly, it was starting to feel like I was regressing. Regressing in my mental peace, my ability to control my emotions, and maintain a positive outlook. I guess when you transplant yourself to an entirely new environment with new people, like I did in Bali, it's a whole lot easier to recreate yourself. Over the last 30 days I've definitely questioned whether I was just acting in a role or truly coming into myself.
After leaving the US, I had a lot of downtime in Dubai -- I was trying to figure out what I felt I had accomplished in the 2nd third of my journey. I reconnected with friends and family, yes, but what I had done for myself? For my soul? I was getting increasing inquiries of why I wouldn't just move back home. It was clear that was where I was comfortable. My family is there, my friends are there, a community I feel like I belong to, my pick of career opportunities, and a city I'm constantly longing for: New York. For a period of time the answer was that I was simply running away. I didn't want to return to a life of constant reminders of the life I once had. Then I went through a time where I felt like going home would prove failure...failure that I couldn't do this on my own. And now I've found myself entering a new phase.
Rather than making excuses for all the things I "hate" about home (ie. the professional rat race, the bubble we grew up in, the sheltered nature of people in that bubble, etc.), I've embraced the fact that I truly love my home. It's nurtured my existence as a dichotomy of east and west, liberal and conservative, Arab and American, etc., etc., etc. It's a place where I'm truly at ease and feel closest to my truer self.
But right now, it's just too comfortable. That comfort makes me complacent. It makes me feel like just another number in the line up. Living abroad has come with so many challenges...from feeling out of place, to living in a transient lifestyle where friends disappear overnight, to influences that can uproot the most grounded of beings. But that discomfort has pushed me beyond what I believed were my limits. It's forced me to approach everything without judgment and coming to not only a realization, but an acceptance, that there are entire realms of beings so different than myself and it's up to me to decide what is right for me here in this life. I am not confined by expectations, by the molds set forth by my culture, religion, household, whatever. I can explore new sides of myself without judgment or friction. Feeling like you are in some limbo of identity is terrifying, frankly, but more and more I realize everyone is trying to figure it out. Some people are just better at pretending, that's all.