I’m walking down the East Village this morning and it reminded me of the times I strolled down these streets while waiting to pick up one student and then running to the train to get to another’s to tutor a couple of years ago. It also brought the memory of how little I wanted to do with my life before I decided to aim for Europe as my potential home.
There were many times during uni when I wanted to quit and work as many part-time jobs as I could just so I can move out of my parents’ roof. I imagined living with eight other girls cramped in a small flat in the East Village, running from one job to another to pay for an expensive space I made all on my own.
When I decided to make an even bolder move by packing only a suitcase and backpack all the way to the Czech Republic, I realised how much more potential I had compared to the plan I was very close to making some years before.
There’s the question of “are you truly living or simply surviving” that I always catch myself asking when I see people not doing anything all day. I see and hear about people who just stare at their screens all day and call it their lives. It’s difficult to differentiate that nowadays with Covid planting different routes, but regardless of the differentiation between living and surviving has become something I started to question as I came back this past February and reverted into living under my parents’ roof once more since.
And it kills me asking such a question because I sincerely thought I was “living” my independent life abroad, where I was responsible for my well-being, safety, and personal definition of what a woman is as I would make choices I was obviously responsible for.
So when I got on the plane during that last week of February and landed on NYC ground, I knew my responsibility for myself would eventually become a long-lost desire and I would start asking myself once more if I was truly living or simply surviving by returning to the place I didn’t want to be in in the first place.
I’m not sure how people would react to my current dilemma during such a global pandemic. Some might say that I should be grateful to be living with my parents and helping them out during this time is crucial. Some might agree and ask if I’m mentally doing okay and how I’m dealing with reverting back to pre-lady days. Some might even tell me to leave my parents for my mental sake, instead of biting my way into it until who-knows-when if pandemic would eventually be solved.
I just know that walking down those streets this morning made me realise what was important to me and how much I sincerely have grown up from who I was — this-just-surviving-rebel transformed into a wanting-to-live-an-actual-life-independently-lady.