When Home Doesn't Feel Like Home
The prologue to my solo trip in Montreal and New York City
Back in April, four months before I left Vancouver to live on my own for two weeks, I had this crazy idea that I should visit Montreal and (finally) New York City. I thought about it for a month or so and began the process of asking my friends what they thought and eventually my family, who had their strong doubts about me leaving to travel by myself. Considering the fact that less than a year before, I was not allowed to take the Amtrak down to Seattle alone, I'm still surprised I managed to talk my Asian family into letting my young self explore the East Coast.
Throughout my journey, I kept a travel journal with me and wrote in it at the end of each day. It wasn't until the few remaining days that I stopped writing because I wanted to soak in every lasting minute of where I was and what I was experiencing. I took the entire near-five-hour flight back from Toronto to Vancouver to finish writing and reflecting on my trip. Without further ado, here's the story of the time Livin'Lin left home for two weeks and went on a trip that changed her forever.
Unlike any other trip I've been on, I can't simply start writing about what I did every day. This trip was more than just seeing and doing. In fact, the story of how this journey away from home even happened is a short tale within itself. I find it just as significant to try and shortly explain the context pre-departure. Naturally, my short explanation turned into a single post itself.
Every year, I seem to experience some type of low that brings me down to my knees, feeling helpless with my hands over my ears, and screaming "STOP, STOP!" at my thoughts. Reaching the near mid-year mark, I had just finished my last final of first year and was going through even more anxiety as I was subconsciously comparing my life to others' while I was still active on social media. If you've been following my self-growth journey, you may be aware that at the end of April, I announced that I'd be taking a two week (turned one month) break off Instagram, which I personally find to be the most toxic app of our generation. Before that, I've been overextending myself in trying to create an online presence for Livin'Lin through daily quote of the day videos and generally posting as often as I could. I knew that it wasn't me to promote myself and my work, yet the want of more discovery was strong enough to motivate me to try my best in self-promoting.
The truth is that it is so exhausting. It's not that I've given up on self-promotion; it's more so that I cherish my own well-being over calling for attention and I've clarified my values about what I choose to publicly share. At this point, I also can't say that I haven't at least tried to go on a marketing craze. Social media aside, I was feeling bummed out with the outcome of first year. My ideas took a sudden turn from thinking of taking a gap year to work and travel to deciding if school was even right for me. I was more lost with myself than I ever was in high school and I thought I wasn't suppose to be feeling this way, because everyone else seemed just as mentally drained but still sure of their path.
I'm not the type to mope around and drown in my problems (for too long, at least), so I took the initiative to see both a career and clinical counsellor. The experiences ended up being very liberating and rewarding. I probably would not have been able to get back on my feet without the daily check-ins. As a person with a naturally doubtful mind, it was so nice just to be able to spill the daily chaos that goes on inside to an unbiased source.
When I was thinking of my next move, going to New York just felt right. I longed to leave my city that reminded me of such shameful moments that were overtaking my mind at the time for one that I've dreamt of living in for years. The month of April, I felt such strong physical affects of my anxiety that I had trouble leaving my house. My city felt so small, like I couldn't meet or see anyone who didn't know someone I already knew (and who I probably wanted to disassociate myself from). I felt suffocated by people reminding me of who I was before; a persona I've been constantly trying to move past. It felt like all of the forces were telling me I should leave. It got to a point where I started seriously considering moving away for a few months, looking at how I could obtain a work visa and more, until I noticed that it was not only unhealthy for me to run away from my problems, but it also wasn't in my nature to not face my problems.
After a period of speculation and speaking with my family, I booked my plane tickets and AirBnB accommodations in early May. I remember doing all of this around 2AM, sitting on my bed with my back against the wall, holding my laptop, and smiling so hard as I was choosing the window seat on the plane I'd be sitting in. Since I've had a multitude of jobs prior, money wasn't a huge problem at the time, but then came the issues of pocket money and being somewhat financially stable for when I'd arrive back home. That being said, summer of 2017 mostly consisted of working between 20 to 30 hours a week and dealing with family passive-aggressiveness, while (despite everything I mentioned) taking one course at school and creating my two-week itinerary. It was super frustrating, but the end goal was the light shining at the end of the tunnel.
As the days were getting closer to my departure date, I spent my free time studying in the airport, as a means of motivating and reminding myself that my hard work will soon pay off. In a way, this definitely put a lot of pressure on my trip and fueled my pent-up idealism that I had to deal with when I was in New York. You'll hear more about the mental trek as I write about my trip, but for now, sit back, relax, and enjoy the journey.
Since it'll realistically take months to cover this trip, here's a preview featuring photos I posted almost every day through my VSCO.
This trip has its own special home in my heart that I just can't devalue it in any way. That being said, I'm going big with my writing and giving it my all, just like this trip challenged me to do.