When Are You Coming Home?

home3My mom never fails to sign off of Skype without asking me the same question over and over again, “when are you coming home?”  My inbox has been flooded with similar derivatives, such as,

“When you come home, let’s hang out!”

“Where is home for you?”

“Are you going home for the holidays?”


I struggle with these questions because I am home… Asia is my home.

Last week, I confessed this to my best friend in the whole damn world and she started to cry.  “I knew you were never happy here,” she choked out.  She turned her face to hide from me, but I know her too well for that façade to work.  The whole conversation left a big gaping hole in my heart.

 But she knows why I have to stay. She knows why I have to be selfish.

Some people don’t get the way my brain works. That’s okay. I rather be someone’s shot of whiskey, than everyone’s cup of tea.

To be honest, everything is a big joke to me until it’s not. When shit gets real, I’m the girl you bet on. I’m not good at anything normal (like math), but I can extract you from the burrows of NYC, the bazars of Morocco, or the Indian Himalayas. I am a chameleon by nature. I absorb languages, slang, customs, religious practices, and traditions like a sponge… and then I bring all these treasures back to the states to share with anyone who will listen; and people really listened in the last few days.

In the last week, 4.6 million people cared about what I had to say.

I get why people pushed back. It’s scary to be confronted with an opinion different than yours.  It rocks your entire world. It forces you to curl up and defend yourself, and everything you were raised to believe.

But that’s the kind of shit I relish.

I love treading water in whirlpools. Once I’ve conquered one hill, I look for the next mountain. If I’m not the underdog at all times, I can’t help but feel incredibly bored; but that’s not “normal behavior” according to popular debate.

The reason I started this blog is to challenge the traditional definition of the “American Dream” for millennials. It’s okay to feel nervous and unsure about roaming off the beaten path.  Sorry if I disappointed your dreams of me becoming a Supreme Court Justice Mom and Dad… but know that I’m happy doing what I want to do-here-in MY home.

And to be honest, I think they’re finally coming around.  They’ve continued to support me since my feet hit the ground in Beijing and they even came to visit me in October! They even pimped out my kitchen to make me feel more at “home.” They’re pretty awesome.

My point is: We are not our parents’ generation.  I cannot stress that enough. “The good ol’ days” were shit if you weren’t a straight white male and it’s time that we abandon that idea completely. It’s our time to create our own identities beyond the expectations of our seniors.  Screw the country club, we should be spending our money on seeing and developing the rest of the world… because it’s the only one we’ll ever have.

My home has no expectations. We only have rules. Rules that are actually just suggestions and suggestions can always be resubmitted for revision“The American Dream” is not like My American Dream.  My American Dream has very little to do with America at all to be honest.


When I think about the rest of my life… I think about a place where things are constantly changing. I want to be at the center of development and innovation. I want to be kept on my toes at all times. And I don’t ever want to feel like I’ve completely “settled” into anything, ever.

You can be careful and I’ll be the reckless one.

 The history books aren’t filled with portraits of people who played it safe.



Ye Mao Zi Photography (夜猫子摄影)

Aaron Berkovich is one of my personal friends and long-time supporters. He believed in my dreams before it was cool.

He’s been shooting in Beijing for the later year and by photographing travel, parties, people, and food, his intimate images allow him to share his own journey with like-minded people. Like his page here.



68 thoughts on “When Are You Coming Home?

  1. Pingback: Day 8: I’ve come home. | Exploration 365

  2. I’m also a 22 year old girl who has done a bit of traveling. I don’t think people pushed back against your previous post because it made them feel challenged or afraid of what they were raised to believe. People pushed back because you made yourself seem like the winner in a world of losers who, because they made a different life choice, will sink to the bottom while you come out on top. To a lot of people, it came off as self-important and judgmental. While you are entitled to your own opinion on your own blog, is it so hard to believe that these people you say are “coping out” put as much thought into their decision to get engaged as you did when you decided to go to China? Why are their decisions any less valid than your own? I challenge YOU to consider why you feel the need to elevate yourself because you are “well traveled.” You may learn something about yourself and others.

    While its great that you are doing what you want with your life, know that plenty of other Americans are doing something similar.

  3. “Some people don’t get the way my brain works. That’s okay. I rather be someone’s shot of whiskey, than everyone’s cup of tea.” Brilliant line. Loved the article. Can totally relate!

  4. Oh yeah, that old chestnut? When are you coming home?
    My poor parents. I never did come back “home.” I’m the only girl too and the last of their children to get married and have a child. My parents were sweating at that, they thought I’d never make it being that I left it “so late” doing “the right thing.”

    After university, I moved to London, then went to live in Slovakia and the Czech Republic, then went travelling around Asia, then moved to Germany. Then got married and then had a child! I’m called http://thebritishberliner.wordpress.com
    It’s no wonder that whenever I go “back home,” I feel like a tourist. It’s because I am!

  5. I can relate to you completely! I get the same questions. I thought my parents had got used to the fact that I just don’t to live in the UK right now. Then over Christmas when I mentioned that I might possibly go back to Spain after my year in Italy is over my mum said me you should come home in summer and look for a real job. I am almost 23. I am not ready for a real job. My dad is more accepting but that might because in his early twenties he moved to south Africa. I am doing my own thing and I don’t care what anyone else says.

  6. Hey love this article and all the rest of course. You are an awesome writer but this one made me think of a song I love and I thought you might like it.

  7. Love your quote “The history books aren’t filled with portraits of people who played it safe”
    You inspire me, I really feel the need for advanture, changes and abroad experiences but I guess I’m just afraid to make the first step out of my confort zone. How did you ?
    By the way, how did ou decide to go to Asia ?

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