Lately I’ve taken a particular interest in global water-related developments, particularly in Southeast Asia because that’s where my heart lies and the place I aspire to be something of an expert in when it comes to my niche. Maybe I’m being too idealistic as usual, filling myself with broad ideas because in my climate change adaptation class this quarter, we are constantly comparing and contrasting the developed and developing world; coastal cities locally in the US and those abroad; discussing how governance drives and influences policies – big, heavy, vague ideas. Each of us are required to adopt a city as our term project and I went for Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. I wanted to represent the region that I’m from.
I guess this explains just why I’ve taken what now feels to me like a more vested interest in the global setting and specifically, how my country of origin comes into context …except to be honest, it deflates me that there’s so little mention about Malaysia, even though much has been done and more are still needed. It’s rather disheartening that while our neighbors’ efforts (good and bad) are exemplified, featured, and discussed in relevant mainstream portals and scientific journals, Malaysia hardly does and when it does, it is over the flight incidents or criticized for our increasingly non-secular religious practices. I wonder if I’m not looking at the right resources or if Malaysia’s water conditions just aren’t all that, like I think it is – at least significant enough to discuss on an international scale – or there’s just more to this.
Sometimes I wonder if our leaders have been ineffective in amplifying our presence internationally, or does it come down to us, each Malaysian citizen, for not pushing for greater heights and too comfortable to stay where we are, as we are? Why is it that we have no qualms about adhering to other countries’ standards and regulations when we’re in their place, wherever that is, yet our mentality is “Anything goes” when we’re in our homeland? Are we being realistic when we act this way, adhering to our local norms and customs, or does the blame lies on us for not demanding that we step up and exemplify the norms in those countries that have showcased effective best practices? If we can act accordingly in other countries, surely we can do the same in ours.
Success is of course subjective and global exposure doesn’t automatically equate to that, but sometimes I can’t help but wonder why is it that we are often forgotten, quietly existing without much impact in the global scene yet ironically, so vocal about other countries. Sometimes when I think of where I am from, I think: I want to fight for you, genuinely, but you’ve got to give me reasons to. When I put to context that I am returning home soon, and what this means – that I’ve stopped looking at job offers elsewhere for one, and just how different the situation and scenario are like at home compared to what I’ve learned and grown used to here – it scares me. No shit, it genuinely scares me. At the back of my mind, I keep feeling that I could’ve aspired for greater heights, but here, now – this is the moment that defined where I stopped short.
I can’t breathe whenever this thought registers.
But other times I ask myself, can I represent a place, a country – hell, an entire region – if I am not there? If all that I know about these places are stuff that I read about in news and journal articles, through casual conversations and my childhood? Are those enough as solid basis? Deep down, I know it’s not. Maybe for others, but not for me.
Yet the thought of going back home to a country that’s often forgotten in the international sphere, quietly existing without much impact unless for what feels like all the wrong reasons and ever-so-often coming across unintelligent online commentaries about local issues and cringing at the generally poor usage of English …am I the snob here? Is it me who’s looking at this all wrong? It scares me, genuinely, being and feeling small. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always aspired to be Somebody. I think of my existence in this world with great significance and importance; I’m not born without purpose. Sometimes just the thought of my decision to come home… it feels like I’m placing myself right into what is an already losing battle and in all honesty, that scares me (but of course I’m wrong, am I not, tell me so).
At 3 AM on Christmas Eve three years ago, Third Sis wrote this:
I feared disappearing from the liberation I’ve gained abroad. I feared that my personal metamorphosis or whatever freedom of the soul I’ve achieved when I was alone, away from the expectations and noise from my immediate world, would be taken away. It was such a borrowed time, I knew that before I even began, but what would I give to extend forever? After years of wanting that quiet solitude, of wanting to be that girl I’ve always known I was inside – loner, detached and unattached, above all free – now I’m back here, suffocating, trapped, and in conflict beyond my wildest dreams with the love for family, for my country, and my religious grounds.
It’s like nobody fucking gets it; you can’t put me in one place and expect that I settle. You can’t dump your expectations and life visions into my mindset and expect that I obey. I seek freedom like I fucking breathe it. It is the only way I know to grow into the person I am. You just can’t put me in fucking chains with your issues of being alone.
“Let’s go home. Make the best of it and not forget the women we’ve grown into when we were here.”
Frankly, I’m not sure anymore if I really want to be here. But one thing for sure? People should really shut the fuck up.
– Pinknerd | #932.
I relate completely to this and above all else, it scares me; will I write with this same angry, dejected, and frustrated tone? Will I regret this decision? Because will this be the here, now, that marked where I stopped short?