There’s only 3 left until I leave for Paris. 3 days and counting down. For the past week, in me there has been a strong feelings of excitement mixed with uncertainty which I discussed extensively with my best friend. It’s like my feelings before going to study abroad in the US, anticipation joined by uncertainty, not knowing what to expect. However, I also experience fear, which is totally different from my previous feelings. I tried my best to get a hold of this fear growing out of my experience in America. Unlike before, now I do know what to expect. Now I do have an idea of the challenges of living abroad—the recurring sine wave of cultural shock and loneliness, the renewed sense of patriotism and nostalgia, learning it the hard way how to handle an unwanted, imposed, and inevitable identity that automatically put one in a position of minority and pricked holes in one’s self-esteem (as articulated by a Canadian professor: “One day I woke up and I became a person of color.”), learning that home is no longer ready-made, home needs to be built, and recently the limbo of being an abroader flapping in the middle of nowhere, not knowing where home is. I’m afraid it’s gonna be the same grind when I’m in Paris.
Expectation is a dangerous thing. Sometimes I do appreciate my efforts and personal strength I have developed, my precious exponential growth over the past 2 years as a human being. Nevertheless, sometimes I still see myself as much as a failure because I’m nowhere near my expectations. Strangely enough, the very moment I just admitted that, liberation immediately came to me. It makes me re-evaluate what my expectations are and if they are relevant to my personal values or not. Sometimes we get the most of life by letting things go and what makes it so hard for me to let go of expectations because they are the very things that built me up and got me where I am today. Really? Yes, really. In certain senses, yes. And thus, the upcoming year in France where nobody knows anything about me presents itself as a precious opportunity for me to choose how I want to present myself. A blank slate to begin again.
At the same time, I also want to do Paris justice, to let us have the rightful novelty of relationship untampered by my previous experiences. Why did I make an edit to “my” instead of using the word “our,” which feels more natural to the sentence? Because I don’t do that to Paris. I make no judgement towards Paris. In fact, I’d love to know the previous experiences (aka histories) of the city. This is revealing: It is me myself that I have judgements towards, it is me myself who think that my previous experiences are going to hurt our relationship, instead of enriching it. Why do things have to be either positive or negative anyway? This binary rejects the complexity, sophistication of our human experiences which unify us. Indeed, I am today, this loving, caring, and more connected to the lives of other fellow humans, is thanks to all the hardships and struggles I have been through. And thus, I can also see this upcoming year in France as a continuation of experiences, of continuing building upon who I am today and what I have.
And so, Paris: To begin and continue.