Journal Entry from 21 December 2017
I don’t exactly know how to feel or what to think, now I’m back in the US. Back, yet, in some ways it feels I’ve never been here. I almost wish I’d never been here before–maybe I’d have a more open mind. But I have lived here, and now, I find myself swept back into things, as though I never left. I’ve been here not one week, and already I am caught up like a wide eyed fish out of water in the flow of America.
I came from Nepal, where we would sit long, taking in the world around with smooth cups of tea.
But here in America, if you drive too slow on the highway, you could get a ticket for being an obstruction to traffic. And so the hustle trickles into everyday life, almost unnoticed.
I tell myself to stay open-minded, but I guess I am hopelessly critical of the culture of my birth. I am critical, because I have to ask the question–what is it all for?
The sad thing is, I want to say my goals in life don’t align wth the “American dream”, but truthfully, they do…at least in theory.
You see, I don’t like the rush and stress over little things, but today I got upset that the fast track driver’s ed class wasn’t quite fast enough. I could have had my license by January 6, but because of rescheduling, I would have to wait until February. Why do I want a license? To be able to get myself a job. Why? So I can make money. So I can use the money to do a, b, or c.
I may be wrong, but I believe money is at the heart of what most stressed out Americans are after (and I realise that not every American is stressed out or after these things). Money for a nice house. Money for a cool car. Money for security. And in my case, money for my adventures and travels.
And so I find myself, within a week of being back in America, slipping under the spell once more. I am already forgetting the feeling, or shall I say meaning, of warm chai sinking slowly down my throat with friends round the fire under a fairy lit sky.
Already I’m compromising my values my values, saying it’s only temporary, only a means to an end. But when does temporary end? When does enough become enough?
It’s nearing two months since I wrote that rather hopeless entry into my journal. I haven’t written much on my blog of late, because in many ways, I feel like there isn’t much to share. I haven’t been writing much poetry, I haven’t had many moments worth sharing, I haven’t had many adventures since returning. In some ways, I’ve lost a part of myself here. To be honest, I don’t know how to cope with this new stage in life.
I think, in many ways, I haven’t really coped with the fact that my time of traveling is over for now. The beauty and pain of transience has come to an end, almost. The truth is, I’m going to be in America for a long time. I’m spending the rest of this gap year here, and then I will go to college in America for four years, and after that I have no idea what will happen.
I think I’ve lost a part of myself, because so much of my identity was, and still is, wrapped up in traveling and transience. All this time, I’ve been seeing my return to America as though I am not moving forward in life, but rather, moving back, in a literal and figurative sense. And maybe that is why I have been losing myself here. The adventurous part of me, the part that can find an adventure in every moment, no matter how mundane, has slipped out of reach. Even my love of music and poetry, both of which I developed after moving away from America, have sort of been thrown to the wayside. The parts of me that grew the most over the past four years living internationally are sort of fading away, and I think its because I have been regressing into old ways. I have not been intentional to continue moving forward when moving back to the country of my birth.
I realise now, more than ever, that my perspective needs to change. I need to stop compromising my values. I need to change my outlook on America, and see it as the new place that it is—after all, I have never lived in America as an 18-year-old before. I need to be intentional to look for the many new opportunities and experiences that surround me day to day. I must stop allowing myself to slip into monotony.
I feel out of place here. I don’t know how to act in this culture. I don’t know how to connect with people here. But what I haven’t been allowing myself to come to terms with is that though it should be known to me, this place is just as foreign as Nepal or the Netherlands or Kenya. And that should not be a set back. After all, that is what I love about traveling so much. There is much opportunity to learn and integrate into this “new” culture, and I don’t have to compromise my values and who I am to do so. I just need to find a way. And I will. I must.