This September is a big deal and I am feeling excited and concerned in equal parts. Plans for the Christmas Holiday vacation to the Philippines need to be confirmed around this time, if I want to escape the agony of horrendous ticket prices.
Since January of this year, my mind has gone through phases of overthinking or actively avoiding it.
If I would sum up what I am most worried about, it would fall under a few categories.
One is being stuck in the past, even if it is unintentional. The combination of nostalgia, the imperfect way we recall our experiences, and even the snapshots of those ‘Facebook Memories’ plague me these days. Misleading perspectives make it seem like the past is much better or much worse than it really was. I wonder about how I will be confronted by some of the hurtful or stupid things that I have done as a teenager prior to immigrating, now that I am working on being kind and compassionate in comparison to my younger self who, in the past, sometimes acted the way she did because of pain.
The other one is FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). One time this summer, I was chatting with my TappCar driver, a Filipino gentleman who was telling me about his vacation plans. He said that while his job as a TappCar and Uber driver is flexible, his wife’s office job makes it very difficult to leave for more than three weeks. He said that they will make the most of the three weeks that they have planned. As people with office jobs, this is something my significant other and I have to deal with. Christmas season is a huge deal, with a wedding right after New Year’s Day, so a majority of our time will be spent with family – as it should. But there are so many incredible places to visit and explore, and the constraints of time and money need to be considered. During my last visit, I laid eyes on Cebu, Bohol, Palawan, Ilocos Norte and Sur for the first time. I am really hoping to add more to the list.
And finally, the last worry is the jarring experience of culture shock and reverse culture shock for everyone involved. Living in a country like Canada has challenged some of the values that I learned growing up, realizing that there are oppressive or problematic aspects to some of them. My daily routines have changed also. I wonder how the conversations with my cousins and friends will be – now that many of them have their own kids. Concepts that I’m still trying to comprehend like feminism, conservatism, capitalism, environmentalism, liberalism, ableism, poverty and violence can result in clashing opinions. Feeling unnerved and uncomfortable in those situations can cause tempers to flare.
Since this was my second visit after immigrating, my partner and I have learned a few handy tricks from the last visit. Many of them are easier said that done. Seemingly simple tips such as ‘take everything in stride’ or ‘just roll with the punches’ can be daunting, when you are in a place that is both familiar and foreign. We had challenges and we made it through, with our relationship coming out stronger afterwards. This time around, my brother will be joining us, someone whom I haven’t travelled with for a very long time. In any event, it will be an adventure and a learning experience for everyone.