Ep. 6 ‘My pain, Their pain’

This is a piece of autobiographical fiction. Space and time have been rearranged to suit the convenience of the book, and with the exception of public figures, any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental. The opinions expressed are those of the characters and should not be confused with the author’s.

28th December, 4am

I violently wake up from a nightmare and I recognize that I’m not in my own bed. I’m sleeping on my brother’s bed while he’s away at National service.

A deep gut-wrenching pain hits me and I clutch my chest with one hand while the other one supported my weak, hungover body as I push myself off the bed.

I open the door to my parents’ room and I crawl in between them.

Just like I did before when I was a child, whenever I had nightmares.

Wedged in between my parents, I feel my body convulse as I cried again. This time, I let it all out. I let myself sob as loudly as I could. My parents, abruptly awaken by my presence, quickly put their arms around me as they let me cry.

There, on my parents’ bed, my crying represented me begging for my parents to take my load off me. Even just for a second. I just needed them to hold me while I cried. I needed them to let me feel less alone – even just for a few minutes.

Before long, I fell asleep again, worn out from the crying. Later on, I would find out that my parents lay in the dark, their arms wrapped around me, their eyes locked on each others’ as they exchanged tormented glances.

I can only imagine the pain they were going through. After all, I was their “princess”. I was their daughter, their flesh and blood. My parents didn’t know how else to help – so they let me sleep. My mother soothed my crying as I feel deep into slumber, her hands coaxing over my forehead like you would for a baby.

I’m still angry, that I ever let my parents love a man like that.

How are you feeling, Jacob?

Eliza to Jacob: How’re you feeling today?

Jacob: I’m okay, life is a little busy now. We just got the keys to the house, renovations are underway, and Sarah is pregnant again. So we’re just making preparations for the baby while also handling a toddler, dealing with work and the new house.

Eliza: And so…how do you feel?

Jacob: I’m okay! Just tired, but excited to finally build a home.

Eliza: What are you doing about your tiredness?

Jacob: Uhh…what do you mean?

Eliza: When your body is tired, you go to sleep, right? What do you do when your mind is tired?

Jacob: Uhh….I don’t think my mind is tired, I’m fine honestly. I think it’s normal to feel this way given how everything is happening at once.

Eliza: Uh huh. And are you happy?

Jacob: Yeah of course I’m happy. Why wouldn’t I be?

Eliza: So why are you here then? With me?

Jacob: What do you mean?

Eliza: Why are you here, sitting in my office?

Jacob: Cos I have to? The court made me?

Eliza: Why did the court make you come?

Jacob: Because it’s corrupted and the law is created by the privileged? I don’t know what you’re getting at, but can you just get to the point? I hate it when people beat around the bush. Just spit it out.

Eliza: You’re here in my office, meeting me as a psychiatrist, because you knowingly punched a stranger just because they pissed you off. That stranger happens to be a doctor and didn’t want you to get into more trouble, so he requested for you to see me instead of taking you to court. You caused his face to split open, he needed 3 stitches on his chin. He could have caused you to lose more money, possibly even a minor criminal offence on your record.

Jacob: Oh come on, he wasn’t that badly punched. He was an asshole alright, he deserved my punches. If I could, I would do it all over again.

Eliza: Tell me why you got angry with him

Jacob: You know why. You have my file. Why are you asking me stupid questions?

Eliza: (Doesn’t answer and just keeps silent)

Jacob: Fine. I got angry because that asshole bumped into me so hard that my drink fell and he didn’t even bother apologizing. He even smiled at me as if he had intended to make me lose my drink. Since he wanted to be an asshole, I gave him what he deserved. I’ll admit, I was abit drunk that night and so I allowed myself to enjoy punching him, but I don’t regret it at all.

Eliza: How do you know he bumped into you on purpose?

Jacob: Why else would he be smiling like an idiot after I dropped my drink?

Eliza: I don’t know but I wouldn’t have assumed he did it on purpose. Did you let him explain?

Jacob: I didn’t need to. I know guys like him. They think everything is a joke in life. They sit on their privileged seats and they think guys like me are pushovers. I didn’t need to let him explain. And I’ll say it again – I don’t regret punching him.

Eliza: I see, so you don’t regret punching him. What do you regret then?

Jacob: What?

Eliza: When was the last time you regretted something?

Jacob: Never. I believe that everything in life happens for a reason, whether good or bad. I don’t regret anything. Nothing will change anyway, even if I regret. It’s such a useless emotion, I’d rather focus all of my attention on building my career and taking care of my family.

Eliza: I see. I understand you feel that regret is a useless emotion. But since we have another 20 mins, why don’t you just tell me a story of when you last regretted something? By the time your story is over, our time will be up.

(Jacob looks at his wrist watch and ponders for a while, staring right into Eliza’s eyes. She doesn’t bat an eyelid)

Jacob: Okay fine, i’ll play. Let’s see. I regret not punching my father when I had the chance to.

Eliza: Oh?

Jacob: He was a coward. He left my mum with 3 boys when I was just 10 years old. He left us for some rich old woman just because he wanted a new life. My mother gave him everything, and it still wasn’t enough. He hated being poor. So when he saw his chance to leave his old life, he took it and just left us. No goodbyes, no apologies, nothing. He even left my mother with a ton of debt and a big pile of mess to clean up. He’s a fucking coward and I hate him. I wish I just knew where he was because I would walk right up to him and beat him up so bad.

Eliza: How did you feel when your father left? You were 10, right?

Jacob: I don’t know. I was 10. I didn’t have the capacity to feel. My mother had to take on 2 jobs and I had to look after my 2 younger brothers. I just remember wanting to grow up faster so I could take the financial burden off my mom.

Eliza: It must have been hard for you, when your father left. If you could see your 10-year-old self now, and ask him how he feels. What would he say?

(Jacob is visibly shaken now, his fingers gripping onto the sofa tightly. His right leg that was initially crossed over his left knee is now on the ground, and his eyes dart between Eliza’s blue blouse and his hands)

Jacob: He would say….that he’s lost. You know, my father used to pick me up from school sometimes. My mother was working all the time, while his work was more flexible, so he would wait for me infront of school and we’d always go for ice cream together. He would tell me all these stories of his dreams, and that one day he was going to fulfil all of them. When he left, I just felt lost…..and confused. Like, why?

He didn’t even say goodbye. He didn’t give any explanation. He just upped and left.

Eliza: If he had told you he was leaving, would you have been upset with him?

Jacob: I don’t know. But I know that I can’t forgive him for leaving us. He was my father. Not some random man. He was supposed….(Jacob is suddenly tearing up and his voice is croaking) he was supposed to protect us, you know? Isn’t that what fathers do? He was supposed to care for us, to love my mother, to teach me how to be a man. But he just left. That fucking coward. He just left. And he never even looked back. Not even once.

Eliza: What would you say to your father if he was here today

Jacob: I wouldn’t say anything. I would just punch him until I see his face all bloodied up. And I’ll make him apologize to my mother infront of her grave. I’ll make him pay for what he did to us.

Eliza: Jacob, you’re here because you punched someone. Try to use your words instead of your fists. Humour me, and tell me what you would say to your father.

Jacob: I would tell him to fuck off and eat my shit.

Eliza: And?

Jacob: And that he deserves no happiness in life. I hope he rots in hell.

Eliza: And?

Jacob: And nothing. He doesn’t deserve my forgiveness.

Eliza: You don’t have to forgive someone who isn’t asking for your forgiveness

Jacob: I thought you would ask me to forgive him

Eliza: You don’t. You just need to acknowledge how you feel towards him. And allow that 10-year-old self to now be properly taken care of. Let the young Jacob know, that he’s safe now. And that his mother lived a good life even after her husband left her. She was happy with her life, wasn’t she?

Jacob: (Tears are streaming down his face) Ye…Yea, My mother always knew how to see the best in every situation. No matter how tired or hard life was for her, she would always tell me to “let it be”. She really was the best. Cancer sucks.

Eliza: It does.

Jacob: I get it. You’re trying to tell me I have anger issues because of my good for nothing father.

Eliza: I’m not trying to tell you anything. I’m helping you understand where your fight/flight instincts come from. The more you understand yourself, the more you realize that we are all interconnected. Our actions cause a ripple effect in other people’s lives. Just like your father’s actions planted a seed of anger within you.

Jacob: I’m not a violent person you know. Before that guy, I never punched anyone else. I think I’ve just been too stressed up with everything that’s going on.

Eliza: I understand. But you did cause physical hurt to someone who probably didn’t actually mean to upset you. How do you feel about your actions towards him now?

Jacob: I don’t know. I’ll have to think about it.

Eliza: That’s fine. I’ll see you soon Jacob. Until the next session, just remember this – we are allowed to feel angry, ashamed, regretful and sad. We are completely allowed to. To err is to be human. And all of us have made mistakes before. For now, you still have a chance to make things right in your life. But the more you suppress your emotions, especially about things that happened in your childhood, the more they will manifest into uncontrollable reactions.

Jacob: I’ll see you next week Dr Young. Same time same day.

Eliza: See you Jacob, don’t forget to say goodbye.

(Jacob smiles at her while nodding, waves goodbye and Eliza sees him out the door)

Learning from Nature: The concept of mortality

Closest image I can find to what it looked like

This morning, right outside our bungalow hut on the island, we witnessed the magical moment of possibly hundreds of thousands of flies hatching at the same time, ascending into the world for the first time. Spring it seems, has arrived for these flies.

As we watched the beautiful moment of life being born into this world, I started imagining the adventures these flies will get up to now that they’ve just hatched. Perhaps they’ve been waiting to try Aussie coffee at Bubba’s! Or maybe they’re excited to check out the beautiful beaches their mother has visited before! Or maybe they’re going to just mate and die!

Either way, it was so fun watching these babies ascend upwards together, brothers and sisters off into the world, each on its own life journey.

Spidyyyy (if anyone knows what type this is please lemme know)

And then Marco decided to check out the bush where they hatched from, and he hastened me to go over. “Boo, come! Quick!”

I rushed over in excitement only to find a spider’s web full of trapped flies!!! Oh…the sorrow I felt. The spider was spinning the flies in a substance that we assume helps to preserve the flies so it can keep food for storage, much alike modern humans going to a grocery store to get supplies, or a farm dweller butchering their animal in exchange for dinner.

From feeling sad for the flies, I quickly became in awe of the wonders of Nature. Out of so many flies, this spider took only a few, its web spun for the amount of food it needs.

The concept of mortality becomes fluid. The death of a few flies in exchange for a longer lifetime of the spider.

It got me thinking, that perhaps this is why flies don’t live for very long. Some of them die within 24 hours even, after mating. A spider however, lives for between a few to 20 years. Perhaps, this is because it has learned how to create a sustainable lifestyle for itself as compared to the fly.

Spidy’s home, somehow protected

We continued observing Spidy as it shuttled between his kitchen and his living quarters, plucking a fly out from his ‘fridge’ and carrying it home to savour. It had spun a web of protection around a leaf and made it home.

I then thought about how easy it would be for us humans to crush it. To destroy its home and kill it. How many other species is Spidy vulnerable against?

Is this why Humans have become the top of the food chain for this amount of years? By learning how to protect ourselves against threats and maintaining a constant flow of food? Of course it has been so. But the explanation has never been portrayed in such a gentle manner.

It hasn’t been that long anyway, since we savagely crawled our way up by learning how to protect ourselves against weather and other species, and manipulating things to ensure our oversupply of food source. Now however, is a good example of how we’re part of Nature and not greater than it. The viruses, climate change, and many signs of threats towards Human mortality are all showing us that we’re not living sustainable lifestyles for our species. Soon, perhaps, some of us will evolve in adaptation and the others will become extinct.

The book Sapiens describes the historical evidence of Humans destroying life in our eagerness to survive and thrive.

Yet, what also intrigues me is to study the other species of this world. Are there more savage species around? Are there some who have adapted to survive with a deep knowing that their longevity is interconnected with other parts in Nature? What are they?

Seeing the flies being born and die in a minute reminds me about the concept of Mortality.

We all live and die in this world. Mr M would say there isn’t a meaning to life, it’s just a bunch of random occurences happening.

But I’m a little more inclined to question this – Is there more meaning to life?

Journal entry: Seeing is believing

It’s cool to observe people’s body language, hear the tone change in their voice, sense the things they’re not saying. And just be a vessel of words to them , so it would set forth a phase of internal flurry. Good or bad, a force is just a force, good or bad is only the meaning humans attach to them.

Difficult things happen to different people, all to increase our level of empathy. Not just so we can become compassionate but to prepare for the moments we come across someone we can deeply relate to, and in that moment gain trust from each other and share information. The key is to create a desire to share information. That seems directly correlated to someone’s fate. Some people seem to have had a purpose to cause destruction so as to eventually pave way for unity to happen. The coming together of units is best facilitated by an equal amount of force in the opposite direction. Everything will balance itself out. Its not something we can control. Every action will have a consequence, whether big or small and its not up to us to stop it. But the more experienced we get perhaps the more we can decide where to devote our energy to, the liberated? Or the chained?

Who are we? And in which lifetime? Which form? Which color? Which planet?

Are we all one substance putting on clothing or are we stained clay that carries these stains with us for eternity?

Is there an air traffic controller in the sky? Helping us clear traffic as much as possible? Or is it more like a bunch of people just making sure we are following our soul’s intentions (that can probably change over time? Time not being linear??)

Maybe a bunch of beings that we can eventually become depending on our karmic paths? And anyway I feel the point is not to understand things we’re not meant to understand. Perhaps the point is not to know what life is like outside of the womb, because you first need to go through 9 months of changing before you can enter that world and be ready for that world’s challenges.

Is that our we ascend different levels? By achieving that stage of life’s purpose? So if we achieve its purpose our soul can level up, whereas if we don’t achieve our purpose in that lifetime, we demote to the previous level we came from? I’m so curious to study about this again, and find more answers by cross referencing the different religions and cross studying different cultures, species, cross check with nature’s lessons too. And law of physics, neuroscience, there’s so much I want to read up on. Study art history to understand the different bridges created for us.

Movies. Music. Alternative arts. Nature. Study these and learn. Learn another language, exercise foreign muscles. Make art. Experience art. Send good vibes. Allow good vibes to reach you.

Awakened

2 days ago, I experienced something phenomenal.

My soul awakened because I finally saw and believed it existed. I can sense the skeptism in me and yet there is a deep knowledge that I know my soul exists, I just don’t fully understand it yet. I was born into a Christian family and so the concept of soul was taught by them. But I never resonated with their ideas. In fact, after studying Buddhism for a while, their beliefs felt more right to me. Then after studying with the Bahai’s for another year, I felt that I resonated the most with them. But all of these different truths, all of these different languages, all tell us the same things, if only we bother to study more and piece all of them together.

Knowing and understanding feels so differently. The soul knows but the human mind understands.

Yesterday felt like I had suddenly understood a whole new language. I now have enough understanding of the language that I can begin to see the world through its lens.

Ego is not something big, but in fact a really small part who we are. It just creates a block in us, preventing us from certain truths. Anxiety is the basis of wanting to control, the false assumption that we can change our future, when we can’t and shouldn’t.

Love is the default of us all. We all know how to love everyone but because of things that happened before/after, we somehow develop an Ego to protect ourselves first. And that can sometimes block our love from reaching others.

I think before, I was always just grasping at figments of the truth, but once I connected with my soul for the first time in a long time…I felt pure love. Pure love that we’re all made up of.

All the knowledge I’ve been collecting over the years about different political systems, religious systems, about humanity, about science, relationships, parenting, education, everything……started to link up and make sense.

I started to see the vibrations, feel the energies. It was incredible.

And now that I’ve experienced it before, it’s time to answer that soul’s calling to a higher self.

It’s so cliche – but the more we know, the less we know.

My path forward is clear. To connect with my higher self even more. To learn and understand more of what I’ve “forgotten” and to find my soul’s purpose in this existence.

Finally, this is what I’ve been searching for. To embrace and set aside the Ego. To embrace and understand the Self. And to make sense of what this life is for. Not because life isn’t good. But I’ve always felt there was a deeper calling than just enjoying life. I’ve always felt that my purpose is to help others. In what ways I don’t know yet. But I’m so enjoying this journey! I’m so excited. I can’t wait to learn and understand more that I don’t yet fathom.

Marking this date down because it was so significant for me. I actually experienced an awakening. Amazing. 25th April 2022.

To be Human Is To Make Mistakes

When I was younger, I developed a desire to overachieve. Reasons aside, I grew up to become self-conscious of what people thought of me, as well as how I can adapt so as to be more perfect as a person.

Over time, events have shown me again and again, that Life isn’t meant to be perfect and neither are we, as humans.

Still, I like to study what it means to be Human, all because I have been searching for what it means to be Me. Where does my identity come from? Where do my desires, fears and wants derive from? How should I find my way to living a fulfilled life? What can give me a meaningful purpose in life beyond enjoying it?

“I’ve always tried to make sense of things. There must be a reason why I am as I am”

Bicentennial Man, 1999

In the movie Bicentennial Man, when asked why he wanted to become human, instead of live forever as a machine, Andrew, played by Robin Williams replied:

“To be acknowledged for who and what I am, no more, no less. Not for acclaim, not for approval, but, the simple truth of that recognition. This has been the elemental drive of my existence, and it must be achieved, if I am to live or die with dignity.”

Before he made the full transition from Android to Human, he had a conversation with the woman he loved, Portia. She was about to marry another man because she couldn’t accept loving a robot. Yet, you could see in her the desire for him to fight for her. She was almost begging for him to make the decision for her.

Portia: Take chances, make mistakes. Sometimes, it’s important not to be perfect. It’s important to do the wrong thing.

Andrew: Do the wrong thing? Why? Oh I see, to learn from your mistakes.

Portia: No! To make them. To find out what’s real and what’s not. To find out what you FEEL. Human beings are terrible messes, Andrew.

Andrew: I see. This is what is known as an irrational conversation, isn’t it?

Portia: No, this is a human conversation. It’s not about being irrational, it’s about following your heart.

Uncontrollably, while watching this scene, my mind brought me back to a conversation I had with my ex-husband.

We were talking about him being in love with another woman, and he was trying to be truthful with me. I could see that. As hard as the conversation was, he was trying to tell me something I think neither of us could understand at that moment.

“I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what’s right. My friend told me to follow my heart. And I told him that I was afraid to do that. What if following my heart means hurting you?”

When I first heard him say that to me, 2 whole years ago, my heart didn’t quite sink immediately. My pride got destroyed, but something inside me agreed wholeheartedly with him. I think we both felt that what we thought was love……was not true. We didn’t really love each other. But parts of us craved it so much we thought we could will it to happen.

At that time, we weren’t in an estranged relationship as we are now. Messy divorces destroy relationships. Many things were said and done between us, and we can no longer repair whatever bond or trust we had before. But back then…..when we still had that connection, I said to him.

“Don’t worry about me. No matter what happens, I’ll always be okay. If you choose someone else, I’ll eventually still be okay.”

Of course, as we all know, life is not as simple as that. The truth sometimes hurts. And in the coming 2 years, Truth revealed itself in many ways, of who, what, why and how. And it hurt. While dealing with pain and shame, humans do what their animalistic instincts tell them to – Fight or flee.

In the end, names were called, accusations were made and even more pain and shame ensued. For the overthinker and self conscious person I am, I struggle with both anger and guilt, always almost at once. On one hand, I want to acknowledge the wrongdoings done towards me, things said about me, on the other hand I want to be kind, understanding and focus on my own faults instead.

But that’s what being human is, isn’t it? As a species, we are so vulnerable and insecure, having risen up to the top of the food chain in just a short matter of time, when evolution used to happen over hundreds of thousands of years.

Being human is to have all of these contradicting thoughts and emotions, all clashing inside our minds at times of conflict. Conflict between us and others, conflict within ourselves.

The truth, although it hurt, is that I wasn’t quite sure of what I was doing back then. I wasn’t sure what I wanted in life. I let external factors decide for me. If given a choice between A or B, I never asked for C, even if I didn’t really want either A or B. On top of all of the uncertainty I had about myself and how I should live my life, I cared too much of what others thought. I unnecessarily sought people’s approval.

In his dying moments, Andrew’s life-partner Portia, played by Embeth Davidtz, asked why he needed the world’s approval – Why did it matter if the world viewed him as human if he was able to live a good part of his life as one?

“Old habits. I came into this world as a robot, I still like to be told certain things.”

This complete acceptance of who he is as a person, without needing to change or be perfect, is admirable. Now that I’ve started to understand where my people-pleasing/ fixer tendencies stem from, its easier to decide when to give in and when to reject them.

The movie follows Andrew as he slowly figures out the different desires he has, each arising at different stages, but all pointing to the ultimate goal of him wanting to become Human. From at first wanting to wear clothing, asking for facial expressions to later on asking for freedom, searching for his own kind and even going through the process of becoming human, Andrew spent a good 200 years exploring different facets of himself. The entirety of his being was constantly changing and growing, as he started understanding himself better.

Though he spends good effort in making permanent changes so as to be acknowledged as a human by humans, in the end, he passes away peacefully without hearing that his status has been converted from Robot to Human. “Maybe he didn’t need to hear it,” Portia told the nurse who was caring for them. Moments later, we witness the sweet ending of Portia crossing the end of life, minutes after Andrew.

Alas, pain is inevitable at times, especially in the pursuit of the truth. And just as Andrew discovers, loss, grief and mistakes are all part of the human existence.

While embracing who I am, I also realize that life as a human is incredibly messy and there’s no need for us to crave perfection or to be acknowledged by anyone else but us. We might want it, but we don’t need it to be happy.

The biggest mistake I made in life also brought about the biggest lessons. I’ve had other regrets in life before, but never the determination to learn from them. As they say, certain things take time to happen. Everyone journeys through life at their own pace, in their own time.

Writing to remind myself to practice Patience. That it’s okay to be imperfect because that’s the very definition of being Human.

Hello Jane, from your future self

Tioman, 2012

To my younger self,

I know you’ve always felt a little lost. And perhaps you’ve been used to feeling lonely too. You used to surround yourself with many friends and constantly traded your self worth for the approval of others.

One day, you’ll find out where your fears came from and why you’re constantly afraid of being alone.

Somewhere around your mid 20s, you embarked on a rather self-destructive path because the inner turmoil grew and grew, and you weren’t even aware that you were suppressing your frustrations. Amidst the parade and charade, you could barely even listen to your own cries. Your actions however, were obvious. You turned a blind eye to your dependency on alcohol and convinced yourself you were just “bored with life”. But you knew, you always felt the discrepancy between how you truly felt and what you told yourself.

One day, your heart will get so broken. You thought you had finally found someone who saw and loved you for who you were. You believed his lies when he said he would never leave or forsake you. And you gave him everything – every piece of your heart and every ounce of your trust. You saw in him what he couldn’t even see in himself. And you loved him. And so it will hurt. It will hurt like hell when one day, he looks your father in his eyes and say “I made a mistake in marrying your daughter, now I want to marry someone else”. He will turn out to be exactly what you always feared him to be and you will ask yourself why you ever fell in love with him. You would have given him so much of yourself, and nothing left for anyone else, especially you.

The pain will shatter your entire existence. It will crumble the foundation you thought you was solid. And it will cause you so much pain you can hardly even breathe or eat. You will look at your parents and feel guilt for ever letting them love that man. And you will curse the day you said “I do”.

It will hurt. And it will keep hurting. The grief will never get smaller.

But then, because of this pain. Because of this unconceivable flood of agony that will overwhelm and plague your every minute, you will finally recognize that you have to put yourself first. Just so you can get through this terrible event.

For the first time in your life, you’ll be confronted with the fact that no one will be able to help you. The pain you’ll experience will simply be too much to bear. Everyone will be living their own lives and going about their day. But yours has already imploded. Your world doesn’t exist anymore.

For the first time in your life, you will start making decisions not based on what anyone else has done or thinks is right.

Mexico with Tim, Carlo and his family in Carlo’s hometown

You will meet strangers, people whom you’ve just met and you will relate to them so much. Suddenly, you will have found people who tell you stories that spark something in you. They will speak words that tug at your heart and make you feel instantly comfortable with them.

These people will make you feel like family right away, and help you realize you have always felt out of place in Singapore – lonely even though you’re constantly surrounded by people who love you.

You’ll start to understand that love is not enough. We all crave to be understood, to be seen. And you never quite felt understood – did you? Even from a young age, when you were just a child – you never quite felt like you belonged anywhere, did you? You never wanted the same things society wanted and never enjoyed the things others did. Yet, there was never another path you could see, or another way that life could be lived.

Baby sitting in England, April 2020

And so, because you’ve now seen it happening for yourself, you will start to follow that one and only one desire you have and have always had – To travel. To explore the world. To try and make traveling a lifestyle until you find the way forward.

Mexico, Jan 2020

Because of the people you meet, you’ll start believing there IS another way to live life. One that you thought was an unbeaten path but really – just an unfamiliar path to people you know. You’ll discover so many people who have chosen to ‘rebel’ against society and realize you’re not silly for dreaming the same dream as them. Your dream IS their reality.

Along the way, while trying to heal, you’ll discover so much strength and love inside you. And learn how to be happy on your own. How to eat on your own, watch movies on your own, read, go to museums and even laugh on your own. You’ll find out that being alone won’t make you feel lonely, once you can be honest and vulnerable with yourself.

While slow traveling, the mental distance will give you time to heal. I won’t deny that for a good part of 2 years, grief will be a big part of your journey.

Sometimes, the grief will be manageable and other times, it will plunge you into a deep pit of depression.

During this time, you will learn to lean on the right people for help and you will feel so so loved. These people will prove to be your angels and because of them, you will heal well. Along with therapy sessions, you will start reflecting on many things in your life.

Why you chose to do certain things, why you made certain mistakes, how you can choose to do differently in future and most importantly – what kind of life you want in the future.

Friends in Zagreb Croatia, Summer of 2021.
Split, Croatia. Summer of 2021

Slowly but surely, bit by bit, you will start to grow. Emotionally, intellectually and metaphysically.

Because of the people you will meet and the quality of conversations you exchange, you will start allowing yourself to dream of a completely new life. One where no one you know has lived before. No one to give you a road map; no one to guide you on where to go or what to do. People will inspire you all the time – but still you will be faced with a big challenge.

Guess what though? Because you have experienced piecing yourself back up, because you have plucked yourself off the floor again and again, you are ready for that challenge. You’re geared up!

The NC 500 highlands. Scotland, Summer of 2020

Soon, you will even find the strength to help others. You will happily spend time talking to people who think and feel just like you! You will realize that there were always people back in Singapore who felt the same way as you – you just never crossed paths with them.

While writing as an outlet to express yourself, you will also find opportunities to remote work. From water colour painting, learning Italian, how to work in the tech industry, to options trading and freediving, you will be learning LOTS.

Every country you go to, every new experience you go through will teach you so much. And your thirst for evolving will empower you to soak all of it up.

Croatia, Rovinj. Summer of 2021.

Your Ego will be bruised multiple times. Many events will happen to teach you more about yourself and mold you into a better version – one that is acutely aware that we are all part of a greater synergy. And that our actions can cause ripple effects. You will learn how to work with your ego, how to slow your thoughts down and calm your knee-jerk emotional reactions.

Because you have new found love for yourself and you’re healing deep old wounds that happened in your childhood, you’ll start to see our family in new light. You’ll start to feel more space to hold them with love. You’ll appreciate your friends more and want to spend time with people who matter. No longer will you tolerate gaslighting, emotional abuse or narcissistic relationships, even with friends.

At the same time, you’ll witness so much beauty in the way. Beauty in mountains, oceans and cities. Beauty in the different cultures. And in the way whole societies go through war and recover. Beauty in how people tackle poverty and come up with ways to help each other without selfish benefits.

Your traveling experience will inject so much optimism in you, inspiring you to be a part of that side of humanity. The side where people actively seek themselves out so they can give more in productive ways.

And yes – we do find love again.

We find love in the most wonderful way.

We find someone who sees us. All of us. And we find someone who puts in the effort to actively love you – not just with empty words but with action. You will test this relationship again and again because of your trauma, but one day, you will finally believe that this man loves you.

And you will love him too. You’ll grow into a person who can love him as he deserves. The two of you will live happily on an island and discover new parts of yourselves because you’re together.

And this fear. This fear of losing him. This tremendous fear of living life without someone else. Will start to fade. Not because he’s around – but because you have learned that life can be happy even without him.

You’ll accept that you might one day lose him and that his absence might leave a gaping hole in your heart. But you’ll know that it will still be okay. Life will still be good.

That….will be the ultimate freedom to experience.

Knowing that we can survive and even thrive….on our own.

And off we will go. Off into the world. Having finally found ourselves. For more adventures, experiences and lessons.

My dearest Jane, hang in there. Enjoy the ride.

Life is earnest and it is good.

But Why Did You Have To Do That?

This post is for anyone who has wanted to speak up about something or do something, but you’re afraid to because of backlash. You can be wanting to speak up about racism or sexism at work, you can be thinking of quitting a job, freezing your eggs or even just breaking up with your long term boy/girlfriend.

I was chatting with my friend about “breaking societal rules” in order to challenge the status quo the other day. And he asked me a really good question.

“Why are you so open with your decision to leave Singapore?”

He was referring to the backlash I received from the public – people telling me I’m “privileged” and “ungrateful”. People warning their children against reading my blog and listening to my words, for fear their children would “go down the wrong path” and start becoming “lost”. Worse yet, they were afraid that I would convince their children or friends that I was ‘pro-divorce’ and against working in the insurance industry.

I told him this.

Without understanding what I’m really saying, people with a lot of fear will pinpoint only the negative parts of what they’re hearing.

They would make immediate assumptions of my intentions and turn anything I say into ill advice.

Why?

Ask yourself the last time you got into an argument with someone.

Out of 10 times, how many times has the argument actually been because of what you’re REALLY fighting about? And how many times has it been because of a misunderstanding? A misunderstanding that stemmed from both parties’ own wrong assumptions and insecurities?

Before I spoke out, I made sure I was clear on my intention. I knew what I wanted to say, which is why I was confident that my words were accurately aligned with my intention.

If anyone wanted to take my words out of context and spin it in whatever direction they desired, it wasn’t because of what I said, but what it made them feel.

That’s why – I ignored the chitter chatter. Why? Because they were just projecting their fears. Their words told me one thing – They’re having a reaction to my words. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. A reaction is neither bad nor good, it’s just a reaction.

The acknowledgement of fear is important. Having fear is not a problem at all. It’s asking ourselves whether we want to keep this fear that’s vital. It’s giving us a chance to explore our limits.

If I said – “I left a high paying job in Singapore because I wanted to explore the world and face my fears”

They would read it as “Aiya, she probably wasn’t doing very well in the first place that’s why she left. I heard she got divorced so she must have alot of alimony from the divorce. If not how can she afford traveling for so long.”

Or maybe they would say “I bet her parents are paying for her trip, I heard she went to NUS. NUS kids are privileged. How do you think she got into NUS? Her parents must have paid alot of tuition and enrichment fees”

Or even “she’s not going to last long. After a while, she will be broke and have to come back to Singapore. No way she can continue traveling like this.”

And so on and so forth.

How do you know when to ignore their chitter-chatter? When they are judging instead of being constructive with their comments.

Usually, when you raise a controversial subject, you get polarizing views on the matter. Either they agree whole heartedly, they’re intrigued and ask more questions, or they downright reject your opinion. Either way, it doesn’t matter. Because you can never target to help everyone.

I spend my time instead, replying emails, DMs and even taking on video meetings with the people who matter.

People who have always felt alone in their desires to explore the world. People who feel trapped in their lives because they have gone down paths they didn’t intend to. People who feel afraid to speak up because they know they will face rejection. These are the people I speak to. Literally anyone else, I don’t have to bother, because they’re not ready to even listen without projecting their fears.

Sometimes, these fears also arise PRECISELY because they agree but they’re afraid to lean in, afraid that if they accept my proposition, they will realize their life is headed in a wrong direction. In that case, the bigger their response towards my words is, the more I know this is a signpost. Not for me, but for THEM.

Because you know why? People who don’t have any other opinions of my words will simply say

“That’s cool, but it’s not for me. I don’t need to explore the world. I know exactly where I’m headed to and I like it.”

That’s how people who are secure in their own lives will talk. Not gaslight. Not make personal attacks. Not disagree for the sake of disagreeing. They might not even make a comment and just forget about the subject because it doesn’t relate to them.

I would engage in conversations that are meaningful. Like for example when people ask me

“What do you do for retirement planning? If you’re not in Singapore, how would you plan for retirement? If you’re constantly traveling, how do you deal with the loneliness or lack of community? What are the other lessons you’ve learned from nomad traveling?”

These are some of the questions that signal to me they’re actually listening to what I’m saying, but they have other reservations I didn’t touch on.

So back to the conversation I had with my friend.

I told him that I knew speaking out about this topic would be rather controversial.

But I couldn’t care less about the judgment, because they’re just fluff.

And if you keep paying attention to the fluff instead of building what your substance is all about, you’re wasting precious time and energy.

Instead, if you’re so easily triggered by people’s opinions and judgment about you, I would look into THAT.

Why do you care?

Why are you so easily disturbed by what strangers say about you?

What they said about or to you, is it true? Do their words hold any truth? And if what they said about you is truth, is your ego willing to accept it? If what they’re saying about you is hurting your ego, maybe this is a chance for you to learn from that.

Or if it’s a family/friend, ask yourself this.

Whenever you have a major decision to make, something that’s really important to you, would you ask them for their advice?

If you wouldn’t, you at least know now, that these people are not your ACTUAL role models in life.

They’re people you’re obligated to please. People you are afraid to lose. But they’re not people you actually want to take advice from.

This is what I mean……………by going on a journey to understand YOU.

Where do your fears come from? Where do your desires come from? Whose principals and values are you living by?

If we spend our lives…..and make decisions based on the judgment and advice of the wrong people….we will one day find ourselves very unhappy in life.

Unhappy not because their advice wasn’t RIGHT. It just wasn’t right FOR YOU.

That…is why I speak up. Because if you ever get a big reaction to what I say, think about the WHY?

I’ll give you an example. Growing up, I was born into a Christian family. Being homosexual was wrong. Accepting homosexuals was also wrong. But I always felt like this didn’t sit well with me. Why is being homosexual wrong? Who is to determine that?

Years flew by and I was sitting on a fence the whole time, unable to speak up about my own opinions in front of my family and also very confused on how I should actually think. Whose values do I take on? The Christian faith’s? My friends’? The society? What If I grew up in a different society? How would it change?

But as soon as I started to make big changes in my life, changes that helped me discover bits and then more bits of myself, (even including getting married and divorced was a big change that helped me learn about myself), I started feeling very affirmed in my own opinions and would speak up about them in confidence. I didn’t care anymore, what my family would think or say, because they didn’t matter to me. It didn’t make me love them any less, it just meant that their opinions wouldn’t sway me from mine.

Their guiding principles or values were no longer mine. I was finally on a path to set my own foundation in life.

The forming of one’s own identity is precisely at these junctures. When we can FEEL a strong rejection towards the opinions that are being forced down our throats. When we can time and time again, feel that we disagree. Even though everyone close to us believes in something else.

Now, I have to state very strongly. That this is not to say they are wrong.

Contrary to that, I’m saying that in life – it is extremely extremely difficult to determine what is right and what is wrong. Determining who is right and wrong will take centuries and sometimes, is not the battle to take on.

What I’m talking about today, is taking on the battles to figure out WHO YOU ARE as a person. If you have ever asked yourself questions like “Who am I? Why do I feel lost? Why do I feel empty? Why am I not happy? Why do I feel like my life is missing something?”

Perhaps, what you’re searching for…..is the definition of yourself.

Once you understand the WHY, you are one step closer to finding out who you really are, and one step closer to solving the big mystery of “What do I want in life?”

If anything, the more we raise controversial issues to discuss about, the more we also find out about ourselves. Because we can be aware of our own reactions towards other people’s opinions.

In fact, sometimes when we speak up about something, we might immediately get backlash (even from the people we are close to) that is telling us we are wrong.

Like for eg, if you one day spoke up and say that eating meat is wrong and everyone who eats meat will go to hell.

Depending on the backlash we receive, we will better understand how different we are with the people around us. Either way, we get closer to understanding ourselves better. Ego should be set aside for the greatest lessons we want to learn.

One key thing to remember is this: There’s never a need to judge.

We don’t have to judge the people who are judging us.

Judgment is probably the only thing I would say is the most useless activity. Why? Because it doesn’t serve any purpose at all. Plus, judging others is also a way we are projecting fears.

There’s no need to say “Aiya these people are keyboard warriors, they don’t know anything.” or “My mother will never support me so there’s no point telling her anything”

If it’s your family that you’re dealing with, I would say Do more, Talk less.

Sometimes, the best way to convince others is by doing instead of talking.

On top of being useless, I am also proposing for a kinder society when I say we shouldn’t judge.

Not judging literally means to me = not assuming they will do or say something or/and thinking ill of them. I know it’s harder to do than to say, trust me. But I believe that if we aim for the moon, we at least hit a star even if we fall short hahahaha.

Not judging is also giving people a chance to change their minds. It’s giving them a chance to say “yeah you’re right, i was wrong”

Not judging is understanding that everyone is walking their own journey but at very different paces.

If our goal is eventually to see significant change within a society, the best we can do is knowing that whether someone is fast or slow in their process of learning, they will still eventually get there.

Obviously, the world is full of people who are on completely different paths with completely different goals.

And that my friends, is why wars still exist in 2022.

So, if you find yourself having a disagreement with someone, don’t be too hard on yourself.

If even on a world leadership level, people can’t agree on fundamental things, what we experience on a day to day basis, is completely normal. If we really find people who disagree with us to such a large extent, we either decide to part ways for good, or we ask ourselves if it’s worth it keeping them close to us.

Sometimes, people’s personal dealbreakers change and reform. And when two people hit a dealbreaker they can’t agree on, it’s better to part ways than to force a relationship to continue. That relationship will experience a lot of resistance and might often times lead to more wounds and regrets.

In summary:

  • It’s easier said than done when people say “Face your fears”. What we can do first is to find out what our fears are, and figure out WHY they have formed
  • Once we know where our fears lie, ask ourselves if they are valid. If they are, let’s spend some time to address these fears. Perhaps, some of our wounds need mending, some of our insecurities need tending to.
  • If our fears are not valid, ask yourself what’s holding you back? Sometimes we already know what we want to do, but we’re waiting for a big push or pull factor to decide for us. These people are called Floaters. I don’t there’s anything wrong with floating, but I would encourage you to think of Happiness as a journey, not a destination. If you’re not setting path towards Happiness, your happiness index will remain the same, until a push or pull factor comes in and changes things. If you’re happy with status quo, then maybe there’s no cause for concern.
  • If the backlash we are receiving turns out to be right, then our ego needs to give in and acknowledge that we have stuff to work on
  • People’s opinions of us will change constantly. We might even be changing constantly. Move on from worrying about judgment and absorb the benefits of these changes.
  • If we’re not taking advice from the right people, we will live our lives according to what we feel obligated to do, not what we really want to do.

For people who tell you “If we really just do whatever we want, then anyone can go out there to murder, rob, steal, rape and break all sorts of laws.” What would you do?

Type in the comments or DM me on IG (janetoryl)

What do you do in the face of Anger?

I can hear my heartbeat pounding in my eardrums. Literally. Doom Doom Doom Doom Doom.

My face is completely heated. I can feel steam coming out of my palms. I have a massive impulse to get revenge. To make her hurt. To fight back with all the secrets of hers that I hold. To expose to the world what a complete hypocrite she is. To show everyone the truth and retrieve back my dignity. To tell everyone how much of a fool she looked like, trying to gain pity from others. I wished she would experience all that I did, all that she made me feel, and then laugh in the face of her pain.

Has it only been a minute? It feels like hours have gone by. I’m barely breathing, my eyes can’t focus on anything. All I see in my mind……is rage. All I feel in my body is terrible terrible anger.

I used to fear feeling like this because I didn’t like the way I felt when anger attacked.

I didn’t like feeling angry. And I would beat myself up about it. I would feel completely horrible for having bad thoughts of other people. The guilt of wanting to hurt them would engulf my anger and render me even more ashamed. I wasn’t this person, so why was I feeling that way???

How could I ever have those thoughts? I’m not a vengeful person. I’ve never been this angry, enough to have such thoughts. Growing up, I’ve never cared about what others said about me. I’ve had people do worse things to me and still I never felt this angry towards them. I’m not even this angry towards my own ex- who was the one who actually did the stuff to hurt me. Why am I so angry towards this person? Someone I don’t even know?

Why? I wanted to seek out the meaning behind my anger towards this particular person.

Twice when the triggers attacked and I experienced tremendous rage, I started hitting myself. I would bang my head against any hard surface, scratch my skin until it bled, pull at my hair, I would hit myself in the head continuously until Marco calms me down. And every time after I calm down, I would start crying immediately because of all the emotions I felt. I felt like the Hulk. I kept repeating to myself “I’m not the hulk. I’m not an angry person.”

Because of such traumatic experiences with Anger, I got afraid of it. So many times when the anger resurfaced, I would push it away. I would reject it, avoid it and completely deny it.

But Anger didn’t want to leave. It found ways to sneak back into my heart, small and big ways. A flashback, a memory, a song, a word, a type of food. It became so exhausting avoiding Anger, it felt like she was waiting around every bend, lurking around every corner.

So, one day. I finally had enough. I summoned up all the courage I had, marched up to her and said “What can I do for you so you will leave me alone????”

It was then, when Anger approached me calmly and placed a single finger on my stomach. The heat that suddenly coursed through my body felt so familiar, so haunting and yet……it wasn’t setting me on fire. I took a leap of faith and embraced the intense heat. Instead of harming me, it was trying to burst energy into me so I could feel my body better. I was….suddenly aware of knots that were in my body. Knots that seemed to pulsate to the drums of my Anger. I couldn’t feel them before because all of the heat used to concentrate around my mind, stopping me from being aware of my body.

I quickly learned that Anger……….was just trying to be helpful. Anger was just trying to tell me something. About who? Not about what we think of the person trying to hurt us, or people trying to get a reaction out of us. Anger doesn’t care about them. Anger doesn’t know them. Anger doesn’t want anything to do with them.

Anger wanted to reveal the cause of my pain and sorrow.

“I want you…to feel where it hurts when you pinpoint where the anger comes from,” My life coach, Rella, told me.

I went through the list of things my perpetrator said about me. One by one. I said those things to myself and I asked myself where the words caused a reaction.

Some surfaced in my lower back, some in my throat, most of them in my stomach and some of them in my chest.

“For all the feelings you’re experiencing now, as you’re replaying the hurtful things that were said to or about you, when was the last time you remember feeling like this before?” Rella very calmly and gently asked me.

At first, it wasn’t so clear to figure out where the source of my feelings came from. I had long ago detached from those memories. I had long ago put away the incidents that hurt me. With Rella‘s help and patience, she helped me navigate through my past and gave me actual solutions to my problems.

Slowly….and when I mean slowly…..I mean that it’s taking months and months, I’m managing to unearth so many things that happened in my past, things that hurt me deeply. I’m going back in time to remember what happened to toddler Jane, child Jane, teenage Jane, young adult Jane and I’m putting faces to many of the triggers I have.

For every precious skull of memory I collect, I place them gently into individual jars and from time to time, I now hold them close to me, with a sole intention to heal these wounds.

I hold closely, each skull that contains a memory of past Janes, and I let the ghosts of them cry out to me. I let them demonstrate what it felt like when those things happened. I allowed them to remind me how lonely, abandoned, hurt, betrayed, and dismissed I once felt.

I used to see such a thick layer of fog. A fog that covered up the meaning behind my anger. Why was I angry? Especially if I knew her intentions to accuse me were only in reaction to her own inability to cope with her feelings?

The minute I started realizing that her anger was not just directed towards me, but more towards her own self, the minute I also realized my own anger wasn’t just in reaction to her actions. They were in reaction to my own past actions.

I put her aside and I focused on my own actions.

I stopped feeling bad about things I’d done before. I started understanding why and letting go of the past. I stopped feeling guilt towards the past because I now knew that the reason I made all of my “mistakes” or “regrets” were because I had past wounds that were buried alive. Buried while they were still pounding alive, wanting to be healed, to be acknowledged, to be heard. My thoughts and actions were driven by the ghosts of my past, all rising to the surface whenever a trigger occurs, all demanding that their grievances were dealt with.

Soon….The fog started clearing and I could see so clearly. There was so much clarity.

I even started looking at my bully differently. She wasn’t my enemy. Although she intended to hurt me, it mirrored the amount of hurt she herself was feeling. However hard she was on me, it reflected how much more brutal she is towards herself. I was never her enemy. She had her own battles to fight. It was easier for her to direct anger towards me, than face Anger herself.

There was no forgiving needed. From either party. I just had to see her. To really see her. And just let her be. Not to change her actions towards me, or wonder why she had so much hatred towards me, but to accept that whatever she does or says is out of my control, and that I can decide to disengage and let go.

“Tell me who you are,” Anger once asked me to write down attributes that would describe me.

As I wrote down each word, I waited for a rejection from my body. If there was, I would re-examine the word and ask myself what the truth was. Is it a word that accurately describes who I am? Or it a word that describes the ghosts of my past? At the end of the session, I looked at all the words that described the person I am and I felt……..accepted. I was finally acknowledging who I am, all of it – even the parts that I felt ashamed of.

Then, I also wrote down words that described who I wanted to be, and I set an intention.

An intention to release myself from the actions of my past, be it good, bad, ugly, or sad.

An intention to allow inner parts of me that were once suppressed and denied, to express and be accepted.

Energy is neither created nor destroyed, but transferred.

And after the calamities that happen in our lives, it is up to us to recuperate and heal, and then seek to grow from within.

And this is how I know, that every single one of us, is capable of building ourselves back up. From the ashes of our calamity, we nurture our self-worth and allow nature to tend to our healing.

And you know what?

After 2 years of grieving, pain, anger, shame, and sorrow, I’ve come to accept all of it. Not to change them, not to wish them away. But simply to accept them.

Someone once told me that acceptance is a mutually beneficial agreement.

If you go to a shop to buy something, and they name you a price, you get what you want only by accepting an agreeable price. However much you haggle with the seller, both of you have to agree on a set price.

And once that price is agreed upon, there are no more hard feelings towards each other. Both parties simply accept and move on.

Accepting our past, accepting the people around us, accepting ourselves.

It all goes into helping us move past temporary disagreements. Not to judge, blame, or hold accountable for anything more. Just to say “look we once disagreed on something, but it doesn’t mean anything else. Let’s move on.”

If we can constantly do this with our “enemies” whether they are people who’ve hurt us, or even ourselves, we will do better in our goals of pursuing happiness.

How does it feel now?

Lighter and happier.

It’s been easier to distinct between the voices of my past and my own voice now. Even when triggers come, they swiftly go and I’ve learnt to be patient with myself.

Stuck emotions no longer last longer than a day, and my dreams are no longer plagued with what “could have been” or “should have been”

After the calamity, there is Peace.

And Peace……is a treasured luxury. Peace is a gift. I’m grateful for Peace.

Living in Croatia as a digital nomad (2020 – 2021)

Split, Croatia. October 2020.

I first arrived in Croatia, fresh out of a 7-month long “travelship” with a wonderful person who taught me so much about life and philosophy. We traveled together through England, Scotland, and finally Albania.

There, we parted ways and I arrived in Croatia, once again as a solo traveler.

Croatia is gentle and kind to solo travelers and boasts of many amazing hostels and ‘cheap’ apartments during the off-season (from October to April)

I was going to spend 2 weeks in Croatia before heading to Italy. But Croatia completely mesmerized me.

And so, I decided to stay longer and ended spending 3 months in Croatia. My parents even visited me during Winter (Nov to Dec 2020) and we roamed around Zadar, Plitvice National Parks, Rovinj, Krka National Park and Hvar island.

By this time, I had already been traveling for 10 months and witnessed many beautiful landscapes and towns. But there was something about Croatia that just intrigued me so much.

Eventually, after going back to Singapore in Jan 2021, I decided to back to Croatia in March 2021. Not gonna lie but a certain charming Italian who was living there was also part of the reason I went back. I’m a sucker for love and I was curious about Mr M and wanted to see if anything could develop between us.

Making friends in Croatia was a breeze. In October 2020 when I first visited, I stayed in a hostel called World Wide Web hostel for 2 weeks. It was in a convenient part of the city in Zagreb and there were planned activities for anyone to attend.

Soon after I moved to Zagreb in 2021, I started scouting for my own place. From FB groups, I managed to find Marin – a Croatian who moved to Dubai 10 years ago to be a flight steward and was now moving back to Croatia.

He helped us find a really great place in the city and together, we moved into the apartment with our landlord’s son – Petar!

First time having housemates haha – Petar and Marin

The apartment itself was an old walk up with beautiful chandeliers and high ceilings. We held quite a number of parties there because we had both a sitting room and a living room.

I worked really well in that apartment because the wifi connection was strong and the room was big and airy. Whenever I felt bored, I’d go out for a quick walk around the city’s gardens or grab a gelato.

Nomading in Croatia was really easy. In the same year, Croatia had been actively pursuing nomads to live there, they even created a nomad visa which allowed people to stay there for up to 1 year (tax-free) I never actually applied for it but a few of my friends did.

Once Spring began and the weather started getting warmer in April/May, the activities in the city started booming.

In Zagreb alone, we often went for parties held all around the city. The bar scene was decent and by the time summer swung around, there were festivals being held almost every other weekend. Of course, during the summer, most of us escaped the city and went down to the coast instead. The Dalmatian coast to be exact!

The dalmatian coast is really beautiful. In Zadar, I found many nice apartments for 30euros a night (off peak) and long walking paths along the sea. The town itself is the 3rd largest in Croatia and has many good seafood restaurants.

In Split, the old town puts everyone in a romantic mood and you can take ferries to the nearby islands of Hvar, Brac, Korcula, Solta and Vis. These islands had lives on their own and as long as you have a car, it’ll be easy to find accommodation and restaurants there.

The best part about living in Croatia for a year was having the chance to build a little community there. I met some incredible ladies who were all girl bosses and so lovely.

Marco and I developed a great relationship in Zagreeb and I loved getting to know his colleagues in Rimac. They were working on the La Nevera and already saw each other every day at work and yet they still really enjoyed seeing each other almost every night! Haha.

Anyway, they were a fun and spirited group of engineers and they were family for the period of time I lived there. I miss you everyone!

A fun fact about Croatia many people might not know

Almost every beach in Croatia (along the coast) has a nudist section!

The rocks will mark the beginning and end of the nudist sections but yea! For such a conservative country, I was surprised there were so many local nudists (even the older folks) enjoying the sun during the summer.

Things I really enjoyed in Croatia

  • Living in different cities like Zagreb, Zadar, and Split
  • Spending weekends in smaller towns like Rovinj, Omis, Trogir, Vrbnik, Sibenik, Pula
  • Spending time in the national parks – Krka and Plitvice
  • Exploring the different islands – Rabisland, Hvar, Brac, Solta, Krk, Dugi Otok (our favourite)
  • Great seafood along the Dalmatian coast
  • Great wine!! Just ask Charine 😀
  • Festivals and parties during the summer
  • Friendly locals!! (Just don’t ask them for small change hahaha)
  • Good transport in and between cities (You can take buses or uber)
  • Transport in towns are a little harder so try to rent a car
  • Plenty of supermarkets everywhere
  • Every town/city has a local market too where you can get fresh groceries
  • Most people do speak English because it’s a tourist-driven economy
  • Wifi was generally very strong
  • Many hiking routes on mountains
  • Many many beautiful places to view sunset
  • There’s a huge nomad community there so activities are aplenty!
  • When you rent apartments, they usually come with a kitchen
  • Croatia is very close to Slovenia, Montenegro and Italy so it’s a good place to base off from!

I hope you enjoy Croatia as much as I did!

If anyone wants some inspiration of where to visit in Croatia, please visit Olivia’s site! She puts in alot of effort to promote Croatia.

Hvala Bok bok!