Up In The Air

I can’t do any damn work on this plane. Fumbling, tossing, breathing deep. Pacing up and down the aisle. Despite so much time spent in the air, I have come to a point where I can no longer fly like I used to. Why is that? Because things happen that change us and our personalities.

“Where are you from?” I get that a lot in my travels.


“No, but where are you actually from?” —because the first answer was not suffice to explain the way I look.

In Asia it’s another story, it’s assumed that I am a local. There have been many strangers who come up to me with ongoing monologues, under the assumption that I would follow on. “Sorry, I don’t speak [insert language].”

Despite these superficial judgments of who I should be, in the eyes of others, it’s never been a great bother. I am made up of multiple countries, diverse experiences and different people. There is not one all encompassing or easily defined category I fall under. I’m not just from Australia. I am Bruneian, a woman, a teacher. I am a social worker, a partner, a child. I am privileged, traumatized, grateful. Damaged, white, Asian. Optimistic. I am tied to people, and connected to past experience.

I can’t fly on this damn plane because, at age 27, I have lost two wonderful people in my life. Two people who had come to define my experience of being free of boundaries, and my freedom to live fearlessly. I feel my mortality more than I ever did before. I feel out of control of my fate more than ever before, and when I’m on that plane, I realize that I am no longer invincible. So when you ask me, “where are you from?”, I can’t give you an easy answer. I can only tell you what I have come from. The future of who I will become, is up in the air.


This article was first published on 2 August 2017.

Marie is the founder of Behind The Label, who TCK TOWN are thrilled to be partnering with this year. 

Behind The Label is a not-for-profit storytelling platform which invests in the power of empathy and human connection to build positive communities.