November 2017

Summer in a new city

All in or nothing

Moving to Melbourne was a plan in the making for a few months, way before the fiasco in my life that happened in October.

After leaving work in September, I had time on my hands and was thinking of visiting the bustling city of Melbourne for a week or so just as a short break after a stretch of full time work. While I was still keeping busy through applying for new jobs, volunteering with Engineers Without Borders (EWB) and my other hobbies, I have always been more than happy to welcome the chance of learning from new experiences and travel was a great medium for that. Although Melbourne was still within the same country, I had heard a lot of good things about the city from family and friends.

“I think internally I was feeling as though this upcoming adventure would detach me further from my comfort zones than ever before..”

The opportunity to actually live in Melbourne beyond a short visit came from EWB's yearly intake of volunteers into their National office in Footscray every summer. I was stoked. This not only meant that I could satisfy my urge to travel and explore but it would also be something meaningful to work for while I was away.

My volunteering work with EWB over the past one and a half years has provided my life with immense value and opportunity but more importantly it enabled me and a team of awesome people to champion positive social impact through maintaining and growing an existing EWB partnership with a local community organisation based in Perth. Needless to say, I was more than excited to be a part of the head office of Engineers Without Borders for 3 months where I would be able to delve deeper and learn from the wonderful staff and the work they do to support EWB's operations throughout the country.

As I was typing this up and actively reflecting upon the weeks before my departure for Melbourne, I distinctly recall a particular experience that I feel is worth talking about.

Looking back, I was experiencing a lot of internal turbulence with the thought of leaving Perth especially in the last few weeks. A nagging feeling at the back of my mind developed over time but despite this I still continued to live life as I normally did as though there was nothing out of the ordinary. I think at the time I ignored it by keeping busy (which I actually was) with all the cycling commitments I had all the way form October up to early November.

After the Tour of Margaret River, this mental roadblock started to manifest physically and it came in the form of procrastination. My departure from Perth was set for the 21st of November and I found it very easy to come up with any excuse to avoid packing my bags. I did not have that much luggage and I knew what I had to do but whenever I set my mind to it, I consistently procrastinated by taking midday naps or going for a ride instead of doing the work. This activity of 'putting things off' was highly unusual for me and it makes me uncomfortable even thinking about it now as I'm writing this blog.

I think I was internally unsettled because I was fearful of being detached from my comfort zones further than ever before, which in reality was the case compared to my past experiences of living overseas in China and Cambodia. I would be venturing out on my own with most of my material belongings in tow to be in a new city for an extended period of time.

Even though in my conscious mind I was ready and excited to see what experiences Melbourne would provide me with, I was definitely feeling different about it all emotionally. At some point, I sat myself down and started seriously paying attention to the noise. This was the moment when I started thinking about the alternatives, of how differently life would turn out if I was not so certain about heading off to Melbourne and stayed put in Perth.

  • What would my day to day be like?
  • How would the next 3 months look in comparison?
  • Which would I regret over more when February 2018 comes along?

It was an easy decision after I went through this in my head and this was the real tipping point for me. I was starting to get back more control over the noise in my head. The nagging feeling gradually went away and packing was not a big deal anymore, a task that I wanted to accomplish instead of it being a chore.

“In the end, it came down to the decision of choosing one or the other, and it was never the case of me having the perks of both worlds regardless of whether I liked it or not.”

Only through hindsight I was able to realise that there was really no value in myself mulling over the fear of losing the existing state of my life in Perth. On the inside, I knew with complete certainty that I was eager to learn more and do more with my life but it never occurred to me that I could never achieve this if I did not accept the necessity of advancing forward and not staying still.

Sometimes this means chasing opportunity with everything you have and physically moving away from the environment you have grown so familiar to, which for me included the four walls I sleep in every night and the comforting ordinariness of family dinners.

The idea is that if I had clung on to my existing state in life, by staying in Perth, by doing the things I usually did and by never crossing over the line into real uncertainty, I would never be able to progress into the next stage of life. In the end, it came down to the decision of choosing one or the other, and it was never the case of me having the perks of both worlds regardless of whether I liked it or not. Life is nice like that.

The fog in my mind only truly cleared up when I arrived at Perth Airport and was hugging my family goodbye. There was no turning back now. It was all in or nothing. I planned it in early to land in Melbourne a few days early in order to settle into my new home and to explore the city.

Surprisingly, central Melbourne was starting to get boring after a few days of seeing some of the popular sights around the city centre. The hustle and bustle generated from the crowds of people, cars and noise lost their glamour really quickly. If any Melbourne people are reading this, please forgive me and give me some time to explore this great city more deeply. I'm all for looking beyond the shine and into the soul.

In my free time recently, I am putting my own survival high up on the priority list and a huge part of this is learning how to cook. Going out into the world, sourcing the right ingredients (and the right amount) then coming back home to mix and match in the process of creating something edible has been an immensely satisfying lesson. I will probably be writing about this experience soon enough.