Anyone who knows me well or who watches my Instagram stories knows that I get around. In the two years that I’ve been in Manila since moving out of Tokyo, I’ve gained a reputation for being pretty much everywhere. Art openings, gigs, parties, collection launches—you name it, I’ve probably been there, Instagrammed that. It’s not uncommon for people to come up to me and tell me they’ve seen me here and there.
Truth is, work aside, I used to go out probably at least five times a week, and attend two, three, or sometimes more happenings in just one night. And I never really questioned it. Born and bred in the city, I’ve always been accustomed to being out and about. If you asked me if it was tiring, I’d quickly refute the question with a resounding “no.” It’s just always how it’s been for me.
That is, until recently. Triggered by a traumatic breakup, I found myself going out less and staying at home more. I went from going out five times a week, to thrice, to twice, to once a week. The four far-too-familiar walls of my room where I’d come home every night for the past two years suddenly seemed cold. The space where I found solace after a full night of being out had somehow gone from friend to stranger. The queen-sized bed I would crash into, party after party, no longer seemed as welcoming as it used to be. My room abruptly felt different. It was as if it had become stagnant and lifeless. When I stopped going out, it was as if everything else also froze in time.
There were days I would stare at my walls, zoning out, thinking of ways to entertain myself. I’d turn on the television, scroll through random sites on the internet, play games, watch a couple movies…but none of these seemed to give me the same stimulation as it would when I was out. Something as simple as logging onto Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram became something that I dreaded. Seeing others at places I would have been instead of inside became the main source of feelings of #FOMO. By being at home, I felt like I wasn’t doing anything productive. I felt as stagnant and lifeless as the things laid in the confines of my room.
So, I tried to go out again to all the events and places I frequented so often. Instead of heading straight home from work, I’d stop by the usual bars and joints where I used to find myself. But somehow something was different. I no longer felt the same. Once again, I experienced feelings of unfamiliarity in familiar places. It was as if the places I’d been, the people I’d met, had all begun to seem like petty phases.
But after driving myself home and being greeted by the once daunting four walls of my room, I would feel a tinge of happiness. I found that in the weeks I spent holed up alone indoors, I had actually begun to enjoy the new me that stayed at home. My room, once again, was as welcoming as it was before, if not even more so. My place no longer looked like a time portal, where things would stay stagnant and cold.
Time began to move again just the same—maybe even a little faster than before. I found myself planning how I’d spend my newly claimed “me time” that seemed previously non-existent. Things that were merely chores like fixing my bed, washing my dirty dishes, doing my laundry, vacuuming my floors, somehow felt a little more satisfying now that I was actually taking the time to do them. There was no need to rush, and no pressure to finish, because I didn’t need to be anywhere else. If I wanted to take a break and watch some Netflix, paint my nails, maybe even take a walk, these things were all still at my own disposal. I didn’t feel the heavy feeling that used to plague me before of “not having enough time.” I scrolled through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and I didn’t feel that fear of missing out anymore, because now, I was choosing to stay at home.
Staying at home is like a gift of time and space you give to yourself, because sometimes, living fast is moving slow.
An invite to anything is no longer an instant yes for me because it’s finally easy for me to say no. Staying at home has actually turned into something that I can now say is something to do, somewhere to be. It’s not the last stop at the end of the day, but the first stop, or at least an alternate option. And no, staying in is not the “boring” thing to do. It may not be what others might consider exciting, but excitement is rather subjective, don’t you think? In a world that glorifies extroverts and parties and the latest happenings, there is a place for the many who prefer the spaces of their homes. After all, not everyone is built to constantly be out and about.
Now, when I sit inside the four walls of my room, a calm washes over me that I never felt before—a type of security, a feeling that reassures me and says, “Welcome home.” While one might think it’s a sign of age, or a quiet rebellion of the body that demands me to settle down, I see it as a powerful statement. Staying at home is like a gift of time and space you give to yourself, because sometimes, living fast is moving slow. And, there’s nothing more powerful than saying no to things that no longer make sense anymore. Although I still find myself out at all the places I frequent before, I no longer feel the need to be anywhere. I now carry a feeling of comfort knowing that I can always just stay at home.
Illustration by Karla Espiritu