2 weeks in, I find that I haven’t done that much, and yet time seems to have flown by. What could be causing this phenomenon? Now, I’ll take a look back, and take a look inward.
My Daily Routine
What has my daily routine been like? Generally, I wake up pretty early, always before JC, and then I prepare to leave the hotel room to either exercise, eat breakfast, or hang out at Starbucks like I am doing today. Afterwards, it’s back to the hotel to shower and then decide with JC what we’re going to do that day. Mostly, it’s figuring out where to eat, and then basing our plan on that. We’ve patronized various malls only because we wanted to try a restaurant there. We don’t like walking around outdoors in the heat, so we try to stay inside.
If I take a step back and evaluate my time here based on what I just wrote, it looks like I’ve been living a carefree and stress-free life for the past 2 weeks. So why doesn’t it always feel that way? Fourteen days is not a short amount of time, and yet it has been a blur. It’s as if they never happened. Taking another step back (I’m going to fall if I take another step back) and looking inwards at myself and the kinds of things I’ve been thinking about, I find that I’ve been looking too far ahead to the future and therefore neglecting the present.
Running Before the Catch
In football or basketball, players will sometimes be wide open and unguarded when a pass is thrown at them and still end up dropping the ball. This is because they’re thinking about running before they’ve even caught the ball. Because they had already shifted their finite amount of focus and mental energy to sprinting downfield or getting in that killer first step, they did not have enough left to actually catch the ball, a task which requires just as much (if not more) mental energy to achieve.
I have been doing the same thing. Even though this is supposed to be a leisure trip, one last trip around the world before settling down and building a new life, I’ve been much too focused on the building-a-new-life part. I’ve been worrying about how to open a bank account without a permanent address, how to pay rent, how to transfer money from the U.S. to Hong Kong, how to dress for a job interview. I’ve been worrying about trying to fit in, consternating myself trying to figure out when to speak English and when to speak Cantonese, worried about how others will perceive me (and us).
To further the basketball analogy, fully enjoying life now is akin to catching the ball, and driving the lane is settling down. You can’t have one without the other. The whole point of taking this time off is to rejuvenate myself so that I’ll be ready to take on the challenge of uprooting myself and resettling in a foreign country. Without being fully rested and mentally ready, how can I hope to achieve my hopes and dreams?
I still remember my first day of playschool here in Hong Kong. For a memory that is so far in the past, what I remember most clearly is not what I saw or what I did, but how I felt: anxiety and fear of meeting other kids, getting into a new environment. Over the years, I’ve had similar feelings any time I’m about to, to use a gaming term, level up. When I was in middle school, I looked at high school as some really advanced place and freaked out about joining the fray. “Would I be able to keep up? Will I be smart enough or cool enough?” It was the same when going from high school to college, from college to the workforce, and now I’m feeling it again getting ready to transition to a new life.
I see the locals focused on making money, sailing yachts on the weekend, wearing nice suits and driving nice cars, and I can’t help but feel small. I feel self-conscious when I walk around Beverly Hills-style malls. I see job ads for advanced positions that match my skillset, but look at entry-level positions instead because I’m afraid I won’t be able to keep up. It’s like the night before high school graduation all over again.
Well, maybe I wouldn’t take it that far (back). I am now more knowledgeable about myself, more comfortable with myself. I have my own set of values. I know what I can bring to any organization. I also know that having negative feelings is part of being me, that I can have these feelings without succumbing to them. It’s about what I do, not what I feel. A lesson that I will always remember from speech class is that most people (i.e. anyone not named Bill Clinton) get nervous before giving a speech. People get butterflies in their stomach. The key is to use knowledge to get those butterflies to fly in formation. With knowledge of subject, knowledge of audience, and knowledge of self, giving the speech will not seem so scary. As I’m about to graduate to the next level in life, I’d do well to keep this lesson in mind.
In the end, I know where I want to be. I’ve pictured it in my mind countless times. JC and I in our cozy little flat, in our little tiny living room, sitting together and watching TV after dinner. It is summer time and the weather is hot, humid, and miserable, but inside my Hong Kong home I have air conditioning. The next morning we’ll go to work and look forward to doing it all over again. I know where I want to be, and I know how to get there. Now, it’s just a matter of doing.
I feel better already after writing this. With one week left in Hong Kong, I’ll be sure to make the most of it.