[ Essay ] Losing oneself to lose oneself


I was having a brief stint as a safety standard engineer in Japan, my home country. The job was boring but cushy: 9-to-5 work in a stable company with reasonable salary, zero overwork, and occasional field trip. I had perfect work-life balance, enjoying scuba diving and weekend rock-bottom-band.

But somehow I started to drop interest in almost everything. To find out what was missing in my life, I got a job that allowed me to fly around Asia, and eventually settled in Taiwan, where I am now.

Five years have passed and I realize I have almost forgotten why I came out of my home country. Did I find the missing parts in my life? No. But instead of having the naked 3 A.M. terror of regret, I find myself relatively calm: I say to myself, So what?

I remember the days I spent in Malta, a small Mediterranean country, as a kid in an expatriate family. I had a habit of stomping the ground, not being able to digest the fact that I was in a place far, far away from where I had been born. Everything–even the ground–looked like a fragile dream, waiting for the moment to disappear. I felt like I belonged nowhere, becoming invisible, enjoying floating and fearing free-falling at the same time.

I see what went wrong during those years in Japan. I was trying to ground myself, looking for something that anchors me into the accepted lifestyles that surrounded me. When I couldn’t fine one, I looked outside. In doing so, I became anchor-free, which I really wanted to do without knowing.

I thought I was going to find myself. What I really wanted was to lose myself, again.