A German backpacker friend once told me a story of her German friend in Bali. “She was an average person,” she began. “She was really quiet, didn’t do well in school, didn’t get on with her family, nothing was going well for her in Germany.”
I listened on as she told me how everything changed for this friend when they spent 6 months in Bali together. “She became a different person! She spoke fluent Bahasa, she lived with her Indonesian boyfriend and his family, and she has a great job! It was like she found her place in this world – this place where she thrived. Germany was not that place, but Bali was for her.”
“I need to find my place in this world,” she concluded with a sigh.
I never forgot this story, and have always thought about what she said. I started thinking, do I have to find my place in this world, too? I thought about all the cities I’ve lived in – Penang, Beijing, Manchester, KL, London, Singapore.
Beijing and KL were the two cities I remember ever saying, “The pace of life really suits me!” and “I can imagine myself living there!” But that was close to 5 years ago, perhaps at a time when I was younger, raring for adventure and wanting to be a cosmopolitan Asian.
For a lot of people, it’s about finding where they fit in. It’s painful not knowing if you’ll be permanent or temporary in a place. I’ve always just taken each day as it came, each year as it passed, not knowing if I would stay or go. Only in hindsight was I always able to say, that was good. I really enjoyed my time there. Or that sucked. I never want to be in that place again.
So I haven’t quite figured out on a global scale where in the world I fit in. It’s definitely in Asia – not very helpful but at least it’s not the other 4 continents. What I have figured out, is where I fit in the daily MRT rush in Singapore. It’s in the bendy bits, where the two train carriages are linked. The aircon is in full swing and nobody is there!