How Philly Helped Reignite My Writing
During the past several years writing has been one of many tools in my “emotional toolkit” that I use to persevere through difficult personal or professional situations. I first began writing these travel articles in 2014 while I was still living abroad in Seoul, South Korea. During that particular time I was struggling to process some “buried grief” related to my father, who had passed away a few years prior. It took several months to navigate my way through it, as grief often moves at its own pace. Travel writing was an emotional lifesaver during those several months, helping to shine glimmers of hope into my tunnel of grief.
Fast forward to the year 2020 when travel writing would once again become a conduit in processing some tumultuous emotions, along with being a creative outlet. Life in Philly had turned particularly difficult in both the personal and professional arenas. On a professional level, the late winter and early spring months were grim at work. I often dreaded the arduous middle-school students awaiting me at work. In mid-March when my school shuttered their doors due to Covid-19, I was secretly relieved that we would be transitioning to virtual learning. At least those remaining few months of the 2019-2020 academic year were calmer working from home.
On a personal level, my heart had been deeply disappointed many times by Paul.*
On a personal level, my heart had been deeply disappointed many times by Paul*, whose ego relished the fact that I wanted to be with him. However, he never truly wanted to be with me. What made this situation so challenging to steer myself away from is that, after some reading and research, it became obvious that Paul fell into the “covert narcissist” category. Untangling myself from this situation has taken a greater amount of strength and perseverance than expected, given the emotional and mental chicanery he has used.
His combination of future faking, gaslighting and stonewalling were the crux of an unhealthy situation, one that I was not going to allow to spill over into 2021. In hindsight, too many tears were wasted last year over Paul. Thus, it has been a motivating factor to make sure that this new year includes better management of my emotional health.
Another significant self-discovery was related to the city of Philadelphia itself. After some soul-searching and making a couple of detailed “Pros and Cons” lists, I realized that Pennsylvania and I are just not compatible with each other. While there are things I can appreciate about both Philly and Pennsylvania, I am not feeling an ever-lasting love for the city nor the state.
Living in Philly has been somewhat of a “wake up call.”
In American culture, from a young age we are oversold on the notions that major priorities in our lives should be finding a lifelong partner and devoting ourselves to a career. Shouldn’t we also factor in how our state of residence contributes to our everyday joy? Our relationship to the state itself that we live in should also be deemed a priority. Unfortunately, this priority is often overlooked at times. It gets put on hold, added to one’s Bucket List or becomes a retirement goal. Living in Philly has been somewhat of a “wake up call.” It has forced me to re-examine what I want my (city) life to look like, along with figuring out which (city) characteristics add true joy to my life.
The merging of these situations eventually led me back to travel writing. The writing has allowed me to diminish the melancholy and gain some closure in a way. Besides it being an emotional lifesaver, I enjoy the creative process, the intellectual challenge and the opportunity to share essential travel info with Pink Pangea readers. I have also realized that even though travel writing is one of my three hobbies, I need to be consistent with it. It should no longer be placed on the “back burner” until ongoing stress reaches its pinnacle; it needs to play a part during the calm, happy moments in life, too.
*Name has been changed. Photography credits for How Philly Helped Reignite My Writing by Unsplash.com and Rebecca Biage.