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Why I Stopped Everything and Left for Vietnam

Every January I take time to reevaluate my life and purpose. Last year I made the decision to be a full-time writer. Conveniently, my boyfriend’s purpose is always to have an actual, paying job, and support the both of us while I am all artistic and bloggy. All great, right? Fast forward to July, Nemanja quits his job, I have no job to quit, car gets sold, bags packed and one-way tickets to Vietnam in our hands. What happened in between is the story of why I stopped everything and left for Vietnam.

How did we come to this?

Thinking about the future?

In February, it became obvious that just making the decision to write doesn’t mean everything would fall into place in a matter of days. Finding paying writing jobs, in English, as a Serbian, living in Serbia, with no ‘real’ experience was disappointing to the point of being painful. Add to it the Serbian pressure of reaching the age of 25 and still not planning the wedding, being pregnant, buying a shitty apartment on a credit which your children would end up paying off 60 years from now, and you get one pressured, depressed, stress-eating, unemployed writer – Meeeee!

As we reached March, both Nemanja and I were caught in a funk of pressure, and as always, nothing working out. When you are a kid in Serbia, you are still promised that if you study hard and get great grades, choose a fine University, graduate, maybe get your Masters, you would go on to getting a great paying job, and your life is set for the next 50 years. Unfortunately, most of our parents and all of our grandparents still live with rose-colored glasses of Communism on, and with Tito alive in their minds. We, the children, do not live in their world.

What next?

Nothing is guaranteed. With a Masters degree you are most likely overqualified. With an education and 2 foreign languages you can work a couple of months for no pay, or the Serbian bare minimum of less than 200e. I’ve seen it happen too many times. Friends choosing what others think is best for them, taking the job because any is better than none. Waking up 2 years later, feeling they’ve thrown their youth away. As many, I was starting to crack under pressure. Maybe any job really is better than no job at all? Maybe I am not meant for great things? I can be a writer in my spare time, right? I’ll just write a diary?

April comes. Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place! On one side, the sign on the corner bakery calling me “Help Needed”, and on the other, our families. Every single waking moment of freedom spent in the car, going from one home to another, being judged by random aunts and uncles whom you can’t avoid with staring at your phone or crossing the street – those eagle eyed bastards! Hahaha. And the questions, and the checking up, and “How are you not having meat for lunch?” Why are you wasting time seeing shows and plays?” “When are you moving back home?” “Are you looking for a real job? What should I tell people you do when they ask me?”

We broke.

How did we pause our lives?

Waiting for our Visas to be approved, Saigon airport

Courage – the key to all things in life. Loving, which is the essence of our existence, is the most courageous of things. This here, this is a love story of how you should love yourself. Nemanja and I realized that loving each other was not enough, if we weren’t happy and fulfilled as individuals first. Sadly, our lives did not allow for quiet and time to think and contemplate, so we had to run away. Nemanja quit his job, which we timed perfectly with leaving our dump/apartment in Belgrade. Within two weeks, we moved out, went back home, sold the car, bought one-way tickets, packed, and braced ourselves for dealing with the world.

We were spending the only money we had, and it wasn’t much, and we did not know when we would earn again, but desperation often fuels creation, and in our case, action. There is no doubt we were lucky, having a car to sell, knowing that when we came back with nothing (materially speaking), we would still have a home, but we were also very unlucky. I guess that 25 years of going against the grain, constantly fighting for every little thing you want to do differently, really takes a toll. Yes, growing up with little to no support (mostly moral and emotional) made us stronger, eventually, but living without it was at moments brutal.

Why Vietnam?

Somewhere in the future

As you may know, I am the biggest fan of Top Gear/ Grand Tour, right after my boyfriend. Partly, they are responsible for us being together, travelling and being happy. The Universe has always made it so that every single best day of my life had two things, Nemanja and Them. I already wrote about their magic and my love for what they do as The Three Wise Men. In general, I have never given much thought to Vietnam, or Southeast Asia altogether, outside of my primary school geography classes. However, when Top Gear went to Vietnam and filmed the special, it immediately became one of my favourite episodes ever, as the film managed to capture their essence. I like to believe they are changing the world. So, when the question of where came up, with such a huge number of people flooding Thailand, Bali, and surrounding countries, there was no choice whatsoever, as our destiny was in Vietnam.

Enters the ever-loving family.

My father wants to know why we don’t spend our money on a 10-day stay at a resort somewhere close, in the Balkans. Nemanja’s parents are questioning the possibility of life without a car. And for the best of things, Nemanja’s grandmother is worried about Kim Jong Un firing a nuclear missile at the US, missing, and hitting Vietnam. Classic grandmother.

What were our expectations?

Arriving to Vietnam, the airplane view of Saigon

I searched for spirituality. I needed the inner peace mixed with the external chaos. I wanted originality, unique tastes, cultures, traditions, different faces, sights and more than everything, distance from my ‘real life’. We wanted things to come easy, for once.

Did we get what we expected?

Nope

And what happened after we left for Vietnam?

Stay tuned to find out!

Have you ever had the desire to just run away?? Where would you go?

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