A Progress Report: Early Life Crisis

It’s been long enough since I last posted, and while I have a ton of great topics I can write on swirling around in my head, I think the thing I’ve been thinking most has to do with where I am in this whole game of life — yes, I’m having an early life crisis, which I guess was intimated in my last birthday post.

So here I am, nearly 2 months in now.  I’m 30… in Hong Kong… and I’m freaking out a bit.  Last weekend was just tough on me.  It was a long weekend (Monday was a holiday for 9/9, a/k/a 重陽節) so I made plans to go to Macau — I had wanted to join my sister at Sun Moon Lake in Taiwan, but plans got too complicated, and so I figured, why not an “easy” trip to Macau? It’s just one hour away from HK on the high-speed ferry, and the place is different enough that it would be a real change of scenery.  I booked a last minute hotel on booking.com (best price of all the sites I checked, including hotel.info, priceline, hotwire, expedia, etc.) for under $200 USD at a nice hotel (although not truly a 5 star hotel as advertised), where I had free in-room internet and gym-use (which is a treat now that I’m too fearful to run in the heavy pollution of HK).

I was determined to take a break.  I had been worrying about the whole job search the week before, as I just began to scout around for positions and submitted a few resumes.  The first day I spent sight-seeing, and being all alone, spent a lot of time in my own head — too much time! I thought about this and that, reminisced about things, got hopeful, got sad… it was a bit much.

I lost my camera that evening, so that was kind of a downer; and although I managed to get myself out to dinner and check out the Wynn, I was in no mood to smile, as I loathe losing things.  Next day I checked out and headed to the Cotai Strip to see what all the fuss was about at the Venetian Macau (which is apparently 3x bigger than the one in Vegas).   I got tickets to see Andre Agassi vs. Pete Sampras, which was fun but excruciatingly long (there was also a juniors match, doubles match, a Michael Jackson impersonator, “Streetmosphere” performers, and a Cirque du Soleil interlude.  They really stretch that stuff out.  Oh, and I saw Aaron Kwok do a coin toss!

The trip back felt as if it took forever and a day, but once back, I felt that “home again” feeling I’d described earlier from when I came back from Taiwan.

Next day I prepared to do pay respects to my great-grandmother at the Tseun Wan Permanent Cemetery, something folks like to do for 9/9 holiday.  I bought some roasted pork, chicken, oranges, paper money, and flowers, and headed up and up and up.  The Chinese like to be buried in proper feng shui — up in the mountains, overlooking the sea.  Because of this heavily trafficked holiday, I would not be able to take a cab all the way up the mountain, but instead hiked up on foot.  After asking a very very kind employee to help me locate the grave, I spent some time sitting in the tombstone area thinking out loud.

What on earth am I doing?! I’ve given up everything and everyone I know and love to come to a completely foreign land on the other side of the world.  Why would someone do that? What will I achieve? And there really is no turning back either.

I felt an unbearable palpable loneliness sinking in my chest, and then hot tears.  I wanted it to stop, but it felt right to just cry for a little bit. After a few minutes I stopped.  This was stupid, Why was I crying?

On my way down the mountain, the sun was beating down strong.  I was glad to have been wearing my dark sunglasses, because the tears came back.  I just felt so lonely.

Although I’ve met so many nice people in HK, it’s the depth that is lacking.  Others have made this complaint to me about friendships in HK.  This is in part due to the fact that HK is an extremely transient town, and while people are easy to meet, getting to really know them and trust them is far more difficult.  And while I go through some tough decisions and challenges concerning my career and immediate future, I start to notice just how much energy I used to derive from the love of my friends and family back home and the lack of it here in HK.

It was middle of the night in New York, so I called a few friends in HK out of desperation for someone to talk to, but with it being a long weekend, many were away, or otherwise busy.  No one picked up.  I was alone! I have no friends!!!!

I made my way home, and started to chat with a friend from the past who now lives in Finland and was awake (was just morning in her time zone).  It was helpful.  Dana had similarly upped and left for someplace foreign and new, and related with my struggle.  Then one of the HK friends I’d called earlier called me… and another texted me…. so I do have friends!!

Realizing I’d just spent too much time alone, I forced myself to go out to the local Pacific Place (an Asian version of Starbucks, basically) to study around other people.

Overall, while there are some serious questions to be answered in my early life yet, I have to have some perspective here — it’s not yet two months, and I’d only applied to 3 jobs at that point.  I have to remain consistent, keep doing what I’ve been doing, and not let my own fears drain myself.

The takeaway?  Moving to a completely foreign place is going to be hard, and will mean moments of isolation and desperation, but this is a natural part of the challenge, and there is only one direction to go!

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