This is part one of my project Ingredients of Fear, where I would peel back the onion and reveal everything that’s been beating me down and holding me back inside. Click here to learn more about The Ingredients of Fear.
Ever since my family emigrated to the US when I was ten, I’ve been trained to be constantly on the move. From going to middle school on the opposite side of the city, to college in Rochester, to working in Hong Kong, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, I’d find myself in a different part of the world every few years. I always looked so restless from the outside looking in, like those people who would rush to the front of the plane the second it hit the tarmac. Yeah, I hate them too.
The good thing about moving so often is that you get to hit the big red reset button every single time to restart your life. Like a witness protection program I’m sent to a different city again and again, every time with the opportunity to be anyone I want to be.
But growing up as a nomad also created this mindset that I could just pack up and evict myself every time an opportunity knocked at my door, even when that opportunity was really an excuse for me to take the easier way out.
I’ve changed jobs, wiped my computers, changed my email addresses, and even moved to the other side of the world just so I could look away from the face of fear. Instead of dealing with my problems head on, I’d just run away and try to restart my life over with a clean slate.
But it ultimately doesn’t matter where you go, because you’d only bring your problem with you. Place after place, time after time, I’d just end up with the same feeling… stuck and wondering why I’m not making any more progress in life. While my friends are busy graduating, being promoted, getting married, or otherwise leveling up in real life, here I am just sitting here as life passes me by.
The reason is simple, because while I’m busy reliving my life time and time again, I’m missing out on the opportunities to actually work on my mistakes, and to make something meaningful out of them. Instead of making lemonades out of lemons, I’ve never had the patience for these lemons to harvest.
I recently visited my friend Vanessa in Portland. She and her husband bought a fixer-upper years ago, but instead of settling or giving up they’ve been renovating the house consistently. Bit by bit, room by room, their house is getting more beautiful by the day.
Once a high-ranking Marine, she has also traded in her combat skills for parental skills for her two children (three if you count her husband). It’s easy to think of that as a downgrade, yet I’m filled with admiration every time I meet up with her.
Vanessa keeps on going and growing along the way. The thought of pushing the reset button never even crossed her mind. Five years on her family and house are as beautiful and just as strong as she is.
So yeah, I’m back in San Francisco, a city I grew up in but have since moved on without me. I’m making the rounds as a thirty-two year old, if only to explore this city now run by twenty-four year olds.
I have a seemingly endless list of fears. I turn the other cheek, I run away, and worst of all I hit reset at every chance I get. But the clean slate isn’t really clean when you can still see your previously mistakes etched in. So I’m going to work with these mistakes for once, because maybe something creative might come out of it.