Here at Preen, we’re fully aware that adult life doesn’t always go as smoothly (and look as beautiful) as curated Instagram feeds. We all face challenges amidst all the good things. Meet Mikka Wee, a former food editor-turned-working gal in Singapore, who’s about to share all the ups and downs that come with adulting and living. Welcome to Bless This Mess!
In this whole pursuit of a more minimalist life, I’ve learned that there are two components—the material side, which is trimming down your inventory to things you only need, or as we have heard countless of times, things that “spark joy,” and the internal side, which is stripping down your lifestyle to the bare essentials such as choices, emotional investments, and the like.
The latter is a bit more complex, but the material component hit me like a truck when we moved apartments last July. The insane amount of clutter we had to let go of made me rethink my purchasing decisions, which significantly helped me curb my appetite for accumulation. I donated dozens of books and clothes, and I started selling some pre-loved items online. Even after having moved to our new flat, I’ve made it a habit to take an inventory of the items I own and part ways with those I have no more use for—even if they hold a lot of sentimental value. One of these items is my Deuter backpack, which has seen many, many good and well-traveled years.
I’ve embarked on a number of backpacking trips in my twenties, traveling around Southeast Asia and destinations in the Philippines with nothing but the backpack I carried. I remember purchasing it when I was 22, after a trip to La Union. This was way back in 2012, and I had met a guy who packed quite a radical view when it came to traveling and backpacking solo—my kind of person. We talked for hours, and he told me something that will forever be etched in my memory: “The great thing about traveling alone is that the only baggage bring with you is your backpack.”
That was one of the best conversations I’ve ever had with someone I met on the road. Back then, I was a young twenty-something who had joined the “quest for self” bandwagon. I didn’t really know where I was heading and travel to me meant an escape to gather myself and make sense of the puzzle pieces in my life. That statement in the text of my life’s season in 2012 made such an impact because that was exactly how I felt.
The moment I got back to Manila after that beach weekend, I bought my backpack. It was a Deuter Futura 32 Hiking Backpack in Black-Granite. I remember debating between that color and an orange one, and finally settled on a more neutral shade. It has traveled with me to many places such as Bintan, Bali, Penang, Sumilon Island, Hong Kong, Copenhagen, Hanoi, and Badian Island, to name a few. My husband actually despises this backpack of mine, always questioning it because I don’t like traveling with check-in luggage, and my backpack always appears overweight. I always proved him otherwise.
As you can tell, there’s a lot of sentimentality attached to this backpack of mine. So many memories and so many miles seen and trekked with, and last Friday, I bid farewell to it as I passed it on to a buyer here in Singapore. I sold it at a rather decent price, but the worth of this backpack to me is ultimately priceless. There were so many adventures that we’ve been through together, and to see it go was heartbreaking yet I felt lighter somehow. Our storage area felt more spacious, too.
I didn’t want to think too much into it, but letting go of something that has traveled with me through many seasons and adventures in life was a significant moment for me, especially now that I am heading towards my third decade. The earlier parts of my twenties were filled with unwise decisions, a road map to nowhere, and a whole lot of fun. And while that quote about traveling solo with your backpack being your only baggage meant heaps to me back then, I realize that it still means a lot to me now.
The act of travel to me is both an act of leaving and an act of returning. I spent most of my twenties traveling to leave the reality of my life, but now, the travels I look forward to the most are those where I return to my roots or to places where I return to myself. Traveling will always remain a huge part of myself, and if before the objective was to escape home, my goal now is to always return home a better person—complete with baggage and all.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.
Photos courtesy of Unsplash and Mikka Wee
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