Why I Hate It Here

The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters by Francisco de Goya

The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters by Francisco de Goya

I hung out with high school friends today and one of them asked me why I hate Malaysia jokingly.

All I could say at that time, when I was really tired and drained, was I don't know.

All I can think about now is how I could've given a better answer, but I realize that my emotions and feelings are so convoluted and intertwined with many little things that there was no way I could formulate a good response in a split second.

So after thinking about it at night in bed, in my sleep, and the entire following day, which rendered me unable to do any work at all, I had to write this out. I needed an outlet for release. It's building up extreme amounts of pressure inside that I'm going to explode into a million pieces if I was denied to write it.

So here's what I would've liked to answer in a perfect world where my brain works fast enough to converse normally with people and I say get to say things I truly mean.

These thoughts are pretty messy and I might come back to edit this in a future time, but it does represent how I'm feeling right now (still confused, in doubt, and lost)

Hate is a strong so I don't I hate Malaysia. It's not right to hate it. It's where I was born and raised, and where my family is. I have to honor my roots and be proud of where I'm from.

I have this voice in my head that urges me to become this person I'm meant to be, that I have the ability to influence and change the world just by building things. That I can work on problems that I'm passionate about that helps society, and I'm rewarded for doing what I love. Given this opportunity, how could I say no to it? Why would I be content with a life of comfort and passivity here when I can work on hard problems with great people and achieve great things, even though it's 10x or 100x more difficult and painful.

To be this person, this voice tells me I have to be in the US, specifically the Bay Area. San Francisco. After two summers in the bay, I felt really at home, even though I moved between 5 different Airbnbs, I found my people. I met people who thought about the same things I did, who shared the same passion and drive for things, who I could relate to at a deeper level. I felt like I've known them forever and I wish I met them sooner. My days were filled with excitement and drive, my weekends were full of possibilities. I made plans every week. I talked to strangers at hackathons and talks. My most vivid memory was walking the streets of SF alone for an hour searching for a ramen after spending 24 hours without sleep for an AI hackathon, talking to startup founders and MIT students, eating bags of Fritos Corn Chips, and winning a category prize.

These were formative experiences that made me the person I am today. There was weight to the lightness of my existence. In these 2 years, I learned more about myself than in the last 20, I was truly living. I loved life.

“Loving life is easy when you are abroad. Where no one knows you and you hold your life in your hands all alone, you are more master of yourself than at any other time” ― Hannah Arendt

I am a chaotic and beautiful mix of everyone I've ever known and interacted with closely. In the words I say, the way I say them, the thoughts I have, and the actions I make, there are bits of pieces of them scattered around. Coming back left me questioning who I really was without being around them anymore. I was too attached to my life there and the people there, and that attachment left me living in the past. The infestation of longing and sadness bred into melancholy.

I cling on to the accents I developed unconsciously for English and Chinese as a way to hold on to who I was. It's a coping mechanism. I'm afraid if it slips away, I slip away too. I ask myself why aren't I more Malaysian and why am I so different. And why can't I enjoy the company of my family as much as I should. I fail to see beauty in anything anymore. It's too loud and hot. The traffic annoys me. Even the people annoy me.

“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” ― Miriam Adeney

Most days I feel like I'm drifting, merely existing. Someone who's stuck in a transitory state where I no longer was and I no longer will be. I'm staring hard at the fog. It's not clearing and I don't know if I'll ever break through. I see the blurry faces and figures at shopping malls, I imagine their lives, what they could be going through, and compare my suffering inside with their outsides. They all seem fine. I find their lives boring. Malls are such a bore. I observe the sickly humans sitting and waiting at hospitals, it's reminding me of the shortness of life. Diseases strike even the best of us. The universe is under no circumstance to make sense to us. All we can do is accept our fates. Make use of it.

I miss the culture. The tech culture. The hacker culture of building things, and being around builders. I miss SF. I miss museums with floors upon floors of art. Old bookstores with books that smell like stuffy libraries. I miss the people. The people who made me feel alive. My heart is still longing to be somewhere else, even with all the love from my family, it's still tied to things far away.

However, it's been a month, and time heals all things. And I'm feeling better.

Things I appreciate about Malaysia now

  • I get to see doctors, do braces and surgery
  • I'm given this time and freedom to explore my interests, it's a blessing to have this.
  • My best friend is here, and I'm catching up with high school friends
  • My family is loving and caring, my mom cooks for me everyday, I'm spending time with them and developing a relationship again
  • I have a nice room that I like a lot
  • I still have books to keep me company and I have time to read
  • There's good food here
  • There's more opportunities for change, more low-hanging fruits, I have to pursue my interests, there's no visa restriction or time-limit.
  • There are stray cats below my apartment unit that I get to feed and watch them grow up

Some flaws in my thinking that are worth writing out to break out of the illusion

  • romantic perspective of SF and the bay because I was there just for summertimes, and because time was limited, things felt more meaningful, just like how death brings meaning to our lives, the shortness of it made it sweeter
  • I can explore tech scene in malaysia too, I could even build a startup here.
  • I wasn't healthy so coming back was necessary, I might've been miserable if I stayed
  • I can continue to make friends here and stop living in the past, there are cool people here. I just need a way to find them. Luminary is my way of doing that.