A photo of my current unreasonably real life… it’s Spring in the city! ❤
Saludos de Argentina! Time flies and it has been a week back in Buenos Aires. I love Spring! Hello sunny days and the cool, gentle breeze 🙂
It has been a whirlwind since my return. Travelling for 2 days across 3 planes from Singapore to Argentina (I know, ouch), scouting for apartments that I like (I’ve found a lovely apartment in the bohemian/Tango barrio of Almagro, yay!) , throwing myself back into the Tango scene, researching (feebly) on Spanish classes I can take again, thinking about my pitch for my new training consultancy company (yes, I’ve started my own thing!!), a few to mention.
My wonderful new neighbourhood of Almagro, home to many tango maestros and bohemian bars
Unknown to many, I left Singapore this time round with a lot more trepidation and uncertainty. And an even larger, bottomless pit of FEAR. Simply because things are different this time round; I am no longer going on a long, adventurous and spontaneous South American holiday where I had a time frame of a year to spare. I am no longer leaving home with the cushion of having a job to fall back on in a year’s time when I am done with my wilful, free-spirited travelling. In layman’s terms, I have more stakes on hand by making the choice to return to the city I am in today. And because these seemingly “life-changing” decisions can only be made by myself, they become a lot more real, stark and heavy.
In addition to that, I have left home again despite disapproval from my conservative but well-meaning Chinese parents. Good job Jane.
I have left my familiar and comfortable life back in Singapore to come start anew, where people don’t speak my language and in some sense, I have become a minority. Good job Jane.
I have conveniently pressed the perilous red “restart” button when my peers are progressing steadily and have conventionally achieved way beyond me. Good job Jane.
To summarise, I have succumbed to my massive mid-life crisis. Great, fantastic job done Jane. *un fuerte aplauso*
I have left home failing to justify to my family and friends what exactly I am going to be doing here – I have an idea, just not a clear, concrete master plan yet. Not that I believe in hardcore planning anymore – I know, a massive WOW for this checklist girl and hardcore planner that I used to be. But I’ve learnt that over-planning doesn’t actually give us the security we desire. Honestly, how many times have life really panned out in the exact way we plotted for it to? Case in point, it’s not worth losing sleep over.
I have packed my bags to return here despite all pragmatic odds against me. Logically, it doesn’t make sense and I acknowledge that.
However, the heart (once again) was in a crazy diva mood. She was kicking up such a big fuss of not wanting to be caged in a life driven by the expectations of others anymore. And I knew that if I were to ignore her, she would throw a mighty fit that I may not live to survive (LOL).
Heaven sometimes comes in the form of a bookstore 🙂 The famous El Ateneo Grand Splendid
I know it doesn’t sound logical, and it’s hard to explain.
I can’t think of a better analogy than falling in love.
When is falling in love ever logical? But when has the occasional results, more often than not, proven to us that logic does not always transcend in this unexplainable world? I have yet met a couple still happily united in love who hasn’t gone through a rough patch in their journey (for that, you have to read this lovely entry by my beautifully talented and inspiring friend, Felicia, who moved halfway across the world for love).
I believe in the deepest of my heart that a worthy relationship isn’t supposed to be always all rosy and nice – we aspire for and work towards that, but to think that all great relationships have zero roadblocks is the biggest of delusions. When shit hits the fan, we persevere, steadfastly honour the faith and ride through the storm together. That’s a love worth keeping, and look at the many wondrous results it has created. And even if it doesn’t pan out in the way we desire, no one lives with regrets. We can still hold our heads up in a dignified high and know that we had loved well with all our hearts.
Similarly, that’s how I see living life as. While the things we desire to pursue may not always seem logical, deep down in us, we sense, or intuit, that they might be well worth it. I know I’ve said it one too many times, but that little voice in us always has the answers (even if it doesn’t, this classic by Mark Manson might get us started on something fun).
I still remembered scrutinising the world atlas when I was still in university, and my curious-Bambi-eyes landed on South America. Nope, not just South America, but particularly Buenos Aires, Argentina. I’d heard wondrous stories about the city, culture, vibe, music, arts, romance, people – and all of that resonated with the then juvenile, naïve and impressionistic me. A friend of mine had also just returned from a visit to Buenos Aires and said that she could see me fitting snugly into the city. And that was kind of it for me. I remembered guilelessly telling myself then, “wow, I want to live there one day.”
Colourful walls of houses in La Boca
Time passed and we forgot our dreams. We went on to live the so-called real life that everyone else told us to – get a great university degree or two, study even more to be more qualified on paper, get a job with a big conglomerate so that we can have a borrowed sense of worth from these big names, keep acquiring things so that we can prove to societies that we have reached their approved levels of affluence.
I went with that for the longest time. True that I had done some alternative stuff like trotting the globe on a backpack right after graduation and extending my wanderlust fantasy by joining the aviation industry, but I also very quickly allowed myself to get suckered into the automated thread-mill of life and work. I too, carelessly forgot about the rapid passing of time. Jumping on the bandwagon makes all things easy, but it also blinds us to the things we desired to do when we were much younger, with bigger and clearer dreams in us.
When I was back in Singapore, almost everyone I had spoken to kind of insinuated me to get real with life. Of course they didn’t mention it literally that way, because it would have been rude and hostile. However, the idea had always been there.
“You left your job? Why? Didn’t you have a year’s break? So what are you going to do now? What’s your plan? What are you going to do in Buenos Aires? What, dancing everyday? What about your career? How are you going to survive? You’re young but not that young, so how are you planning for your future? Your retirement? How long do you want to do this? Do you want a family? How can you have one when you are moving around? Are you sure about this? I think it’s time to stop being so idealistic and moderate a little? Maybe it’s time to start getting real?”
And so on and so forth.
Before I go on, I understand everyone’s good intentions. I’m grateful that they care, and I always will be. I know that being real, being ruled by money, is how our modern day society requires us to be. I’ve never fought against the importance of money – it’s honestly silly to do that. I’ll rather work with money in tandem; I just don’t want my life to be bought over by it anymore. After all, I’ve lived at least the last 8 years of my life being a full-fledged corporate slave after clipping my wings with the airlines, and I’ve seen the beautifully savvy life money can buy us. So yes, I see how vital money is for survival in today’s world.
Beautiful artefacts on graves at the famous Cementerio de la Recoleta, where the iconic Eva Perón was set to rest
Looking back on retrospect, did I like my corporate days? I did to some extent. I loved the sense of achievement. I loved it when I got tons of recognition. And of course, the ability to purchase and splurge made me feel semi-invincible.
Did I hate it? Oh, hell yeah too. I’d become another woman altogether. I was direct, often blunt and painfully quick to judge. I could make decisions in a second by switching off my emotions so that I didn’t have to look back on them and feel bad about it.
Did I like the person I have become? Hell no. I’d become so guarded and suspicious of everyone. I’d almost become cold and uncaring. Unfortunately, the corporate world often requires professionals to be street-savvy and put tangible gains and power as the top prizes for the game. So watching our backs, being judgmental and shrewd became vital skills for every corporate junkie to master.
Unfortunately, that’s a far cry from how I want to live my life. I value compassion, empathy, kindness, love and authenticity way more. I want to surround myself with nurturing people who love with big, generous hearts.
My deep desires just don’t happen to fall into the paths of what everyone else is doing.
Taking the chance has allowed me to be where I am today, living in the city where I had naively chosen when I was still a wide-eyed innocent girl brimming with dreams. Honestly, who could have imagined that one day, I would land myself here despite it being unthinkable and seemingly improbable? But that’s the amazing part and it’s amazing only because of one reason – I chose this despite all odds.
I chose this despite it being really unreasonable and nonsensical.
And here I am, holding my own life by its horns, honouring my own words and promises. And it feels really, really sweet 🙂
My real life could have been very different. It could have been defined by what the society and others expected of me. But I now wake up every morning knowing that this is my chosen life, and the sense of empowerment and ownership makes me grateful to be alive every single day.
When people tell me to get real, I’ve stopped being defensive. I’ve realised there is nothing to defend for, or fight against. By the end of the day, the only thing that is important is that I am living the life I want. And as long as I don’t have to beg, borrow or steal, and can still live and support the life I have as part of my bigger vision, nothing else matters.
However when the next person tells me that this is not a real life and is merely an illusion, I might possibly (and politely, if I can help it) reply, “what are the reasons that made you conclude that this is a dream, and isn’t real life? What was it defined by, and by who? So how did you decide to choose your path?”
What exactly is real to you?
By the end of the day, there’s honestly no one we are accountable to for our lives, but ourselves. I’ll rather make a grand stand for mine, make it really real and live a damn good one.
This is my real life now. My unreasonable, unthinkable, real life. And I can’t get enough of Malbec wines. I really can’t.
Sending all my love, hugs and kisses from Buenos Aires xoxoooo