Flashback to summer 2012, when I was in the middle of a tricky state of affairs involving my job, my master’s degree and my constant longing for something nerve-wracking, I got a call from my former boss about a job opening in their Middle East office.
Being the daring “Nene” that I am, I said yes to her without a second thought. I know it’s a bit tragic that I took no time to consult my family, friends and at that time, boyfriend, but I’ve always got this “fuck it” attitude resulting to insane and, most of the time, terrible decisions.
Three weeks later, I boarded a plane to Dubai, spent eight long hours in one of the world’s most popular carriers, Emirates. Eight long hours and all I did was contemplate on what just happened — I made the biggest decision of my life at the time to leave whatever I had behind and jump on a plane to the Middle East. And within those moments, I felt nothing but contempt for myself. How could I manage to get myself on that trip to a place way too far away from home, too different a culture to adapt to, too little a guarantee that I would be just fine?
I remember shutting my eyes for a good five minutes, drowning myself in my own thoughts about Dubai, the desert, the culture, the freedom, the independence.
Fast forward to five years later (2017), on a cold winter night in the desert, I found myself recalling that exact moment on the plane. I was by the marina, watching the yachts while sipping my coffee in a takeaway cup. I couldn’t quite believe it’s been five years since I left home. Five years of surviving the 50-degree summer days and the 18-degree winter nights. I could make a long list of things I’ve missed out on at home but whenever I try, my heart just gets shred into pieces — birthdays, Christmases, cousins born, graduations, deaths.
I got stuck.
I got stuck in my own reality. I got stuck in the reality I made for myself ever since I landed. Days turned into months and it became harder and harder to plan my return flight, even just for a holiday. One excuse after another, I missed out on one too many chances of seeing my family. Chances of waking up in my own bedroom, to the sound of my Dad making breakfast or my mom getting ready for work. Chances of sneaking out to the mall with my sister or watching my brother play basketball at the nearby court. Chances of a noisy family dinner of us poking fun at each other with the TV blaring in the background. Chances of getting sick and be taken cared of by my own parents like they used to when I was a whole lot younger. Chances of looking after my parents when they get sick because I never got to do that ever since.
I don’t regret coming here and will never regret stepping out of my own comfort zone to test my limits. But writing this is fucking hard and no matter how hard I try to convince myself that this move is doing me more good than harm, I cannot set aside the fact that I have been careless, that I didn’t try harder for the sake of the people who love me.
I am working on it. I promise.
As soon as I hit the “publish” button, I’ll be writing a request to HR for a vacation leave, 10 days minimum. I am booking a flight home and will put a stop to this madness very soon. Until then… Well, I’ll carry on getting stuck.