Quō vādis is a Latin phrase which means, "Where are you marching?". It is also commonly translated as "Where are you going?".
This loaded question occupied much of my thought space as I was about to complete my studies in LSE last year. I became deeply uncertain about how life was going to be after London. Not only that, even the final Chevening newsletter was about ‘coping with reverse culture shock’ - which of course, was helpful to know but no less daunting at the same time.
Just as I was getting used to the rhythm of life here, the arrival of the autumn leaves reminded me that my time to go home has come. Just as how they welcomed me when I first step foot here, I have finally came around full cycle. While it was good to return home to my family again - there are some areas in my life which I wasn't able to pick up from where I left.
“Where am I going next?”
Honestly, I wasn't prepared for changes. But I wasn't without hope either.
Before returning to Malaysia, I took several weeks to explore London (for one last time) with a dear friend. With her, I also visited Southwest Germany and Luxembourg - which turned out to be a soul-searching journey which I never knew I needed. In between visiting majestic castles, cruising down the rivers and exploring art galleries - I was subconsciously re-calibrating the center of my thought gravity. Travelling to new places (and revisiting my favourite ones) helped me stay present and tap into my state-of-mind on what truly makes me who I am; rather than spend time worrying about things that I have no control of, or let that circumstance define me.
In my short week back in London before leaving for good, I met up with several friends to discuss about future collaborations and opportunities which we could pioneer. Although these plans didn’t quite materialize, I am thankful to have these talks as it helped me put my head back in the game.
Every end is the beginning of something new, so they say.
Looking back, things actually turned out better than I would have expected.
Coming home to Andrew and my family felt so right after a year being away. And even though there were times which I missed my life back in London, talking to fellow Chevening friends helped (our circle become a “safe space” to go all out and gush on and on about how much we miss everything about London without being judged or annoy the hell out of other people).
And in terms of career, suddenly everything became possible (I was even prepared to move back to KL) and the prospects of being a freelancer seems inviting. I was writing cover letters for job applications and planning my own gig at the same time. But it wasn’t long before an offer came along from someone I know from my previous job.
The job description was not exactly aligned to my current degree in city design and social science. Although it was something out of my comfort zone, it was a door into the kind of high level research and advocacy which I never knew existed here where my hometown is. I wasn’t confident if I could do well in such a demanding position, but it was enough that the person who offered me the job actually believed in me.
It wasn’t like I was giving this organization a chance, I was given a chance by this organization. For this, I am extremely grateful that I was accepted into the fold of among some of the most intelligent, hardworking and kindest people I’ve known. Looking back, I couldn’t have imagined being where I am today - and with that I also realized that no amount of worrying would ever bring me to where I am now.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28 (NIV)
In retrospect, I see the question quō vādis in a different perspective now. It wasn’t anymore about a question underlined with uncertainty but it is a question that kept my faith in spite of uncertainty. I asked and not only He answered, He also provided every step of the way - all revealed in His perfect plan and timing. And all I had to do is to trust in Him that everything is going to be alright.