Metamorphosis: How Moving Impacted My Life

August 5, 2021 By
A butterfly sits on a person's shoe. It represents both change and moving.

When I was a child, my parents spent more time working rather than being at home. My days were filled with people-watching and riding my bicycle in the backyard. Nevertheless, I liked being alone. I was very shy, not fond of talking or meeting new people, and to me, nothing mattered as long as I was home. To me, home was located in humid Indonesia. Home was returning to some stray cats sitting patiently on my porch. Home was buying snacks filled with too much sugar at the corner store near school. Being home meant a lot to me.

So, my world changed drastically when my father told me we were moving. It was out of the blue, it was like a jagged diamond thrown onto a thin film sheet. It ruined my peaceful days of living in my circle of trust. 

“People come and go.” That was the phrase my mom repeated like a mantra when she caught me crying on the floor of my bedroom. She contorted her face into a smile and wrapped her arms around my shoulders as she explained the positive sides of moving. Her words danced freely into my right ear and wasted no time in leaving through my left ear. All I could feel was the burning sensation behind my eyes, lids swelling in denial, knowing that as persistent as I was on staying, moving was the inevitable fate. I’ve never liked saying goodbyes, and the throbbing feeling hammered heavily on my ribs. The fear of uncertainty loomed over me, but even more, the fear of leaving home.

I moved to Malaysia when I was eleven years old. I tried my best to ignore the jittery feelings in my stomach when introducing myself, my tongue stiff from the unfamiliar language, head angled downwards instead of making eye contact with my classmates. Though as days turned to weeks, and weeks turned to months, I found solace in the similarly tropical Kuala Lumpur. It felt quite odd, I was expecting myself to hate moving, but after slowly getting used to a new language and friendship groups, I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. Even more so with compliments pouring in by my parents. They said I was becoming more independent, more outgoing—they said I was better. I felt like I was betraying my ancestors for liking a place more than my birth country. But the guilt was soon gone, drowned with the comfort of my new life, new friends, and new routine—I’d found my way back home.

I was fifteen when I moved for the second time. At that point, my mother was still repeatedly chanting the phrase, “people come and go” and frankly, I started to get sick of it. I thought about how unfair it was, that time moved on, yet I wanted to stay. But I knew deep down it was the truth: nothing lasts forever. 

This time, I was the one who was convincing myself that moving again wouldn’t be as bad. After all, the first time we moved I made a huge improvement on myself, what could go wrong? However, the second time felt even worse. I was older, I had gained some sort of essence of who I was and had planned my future in my second home. To put it simply, I had changed, and even then, I still didn’t like saying goodbyes. 

Canada was different. My parents had prepared me for the harsh winters and the culture shock I would undergo, but nothing could have prepared me for the strange wave of déjà vu when I introduced myself to my first class. The words tumbling out of my mouth were similar to those I’d used a few years back. I struggled to navigate the colossal building full of teenagers, getting lost a couple of times in the winding hallways that didn’t want me to arrive on time. There was a funny sentiment in being surrounded by numerous people but having none by your side. A selfish desire for some company started to grow in me, the ache for home was replaced by the fear of loneliness. 

I felt the shift in my personality when I started signing up for clubs that I would never have tried out for if I was still back in Malaysia. It was a subtle change, but to me, it was huge. I’ve never had the initiative to participate in activities, so when my hand mindlessly wrote my name to a sign-up sheet, I felt anxious, yet liberated. I decided that I needed to stop seeing the glass as half empty and fill it instead. This was an opportunity of a lifetime. Come to think of it, I have traveled across the world, and all I’ve done was mope around, missing the past that has long moved on. Since then, my mindset has changed. I tried my best to be willing and to try new unfamiliar things, to engage in class discussions, to greet the person sitting at the library table—the little changes that soon became my habits. 

Moving was a catalyst to my growth. Without it, I wouldn’t have walked out of my comfort zone voluntarily, I probably would still be living a sheltered life, only teetering slightly on the division between home and the outside world. I was a caterpillar, cocooned in silk, relishing in the warm comfort it exerts. Then, as the time arrives, I stretch my butterfly wings, fluttering them to finally soar, signaling the end of metamorphosis and the beginning of a new life. 

About the Author

Aneira Rachmadsyah: Aneira Rachmadsyah is an eleventh-grade student trying to live life to the fullest. She loves listening to music any time of the day, dancing foolishly in her bedroom, and drawing. Writing is a form of escape from her sometimes mundane or unduly spirited days. Aneira’s goal in life is to change the world, and no matter how big or small her impact is, which she strives to achieve with happiness.