I’ve always wanted to fit in.
Whether it was school, work, travel – I always had an overwhelming sense to belong. Although growing up was a blur, I remember certain snippets around identity that I seem to recall quite clearly. One time my friend asked me if I wanted to be the ‘token Asian kid’ in his group – but I didn’t feel white enough! And I always got along with the Chinese kids but my Mandarin was horrible. Safe to say I blossomed young in the identity crisis department.
Fast forward to my first overseas volunteering trip. I went to India to work on a human rights project - looking to escape a horrible job, overbearing parents, and to a certain extent…myself.
A defining moment in my time there was when I had a certain epiphany. I had spontaneously shaved my head bald and for close to a month, I was on a vegetarian diet of curry and roti – I was basically a malnourished monk. I was sitting amongst a group of people (both Indian and foreigners) looking like a malnourished monk – and I didn’t care.
I didn’t care that I wasn’t the typical Aussie “surfer dude” with golden locks, nor the classic Chinese man with broken English. I was a mix of both and, not being held back by my insecurities, I was just me.
It’s almost cliché to say that travel helps you find yourself. But f*** man, I found me – this awkward experiment of East meets West.