Life in Hong Kong, Mid-September Update

This post is over a thousand words long. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I woke up this morning and stayed in bed with my eyes closed, thinking. I thought, man, it’s really nice being able to get out of bed when I want to, not having to worry about a schedule. It’s a Monday morning and most people are getting up to go to work, but not me. Being able to wake up at any time, being able to go to bed at any time, it’s priceless.

Over the past few days, we have finally come full circle from where we were almost a couple of months ago. We were waking up around 9:00 AM, then 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, and then all the way around the clock. I thought it was incredible when we started waking up at 5:00 PM, but that was nothing compared to when we started waking up at midnight.

Although I do enjoy staying up late, it does have its drawbacks. For example, eight hours of sleep from 1:00 PM to 9:00 PM is not the same as eight hours of sleep from 11:00 PM to 7:00 AM. In the beginning, things seem normal and I can get things done just as I normally would. After a while, I slow down noticeably, with the body simply feeling more tired despite 8+ hours of sleep. At the end of the day, we are diurnal creatures, and we need exposure to the sun to be healthy.

Realizing this, we allowed ourselves to keep going until we got back to normal. This past week we’ve been on the jet-lag* schedule, waking up at 2:00 AM, 3:00 AM, until finally, this morning we woke up at 8:00 AM. Wow. 8:00 AM. Time to go to work.

*Because the first night after we take the afternoon flight from SFO to HKG, we always wake up around those hours

Really? Time to Go to Work?

Well, not quite. After sending out a few resumes and receiving no responses, I had pretty much stopped looking for work, focusing instead on more personal endeavors such as updating this site and playing Starcraft. Sometimes, though, I do miss the camaraderie of being part of a team, especially after going out and being around people. Other times, I am tempted to buy a luxurious material thing that I wouldn’t even bat an eyelid at buying if I had income. At times like these, I feel like working again.

It was one of those days last week. I had been out visiting Granny, seeing other people on their commutes to work, wondering what it might be like for me to do the same. On a whim, I took a look at a job website and threw up my resume.

Normally, I analyze the position and try to research as much as I can about the company before writing a customized cover letter. Since I hadn’t really been successful, this time I really did just throw up my resume. No cover letter. Basically, what you’re not supposed to do when looking for a job. It was more an expression of protest and exasperation than a real application. I wasn’t expecting a response.

The next day, I get a voicemail from the recruiter calling to discuss details. Dang. I spend hours writing cover letters and get nary a peep, and when I throw shit up to see what sticks I get a response the next day. I really wasn’t expecting it and freaked out a bit. I’ve never been good at telephone calls, so with that plus the unexpectedness it took some back and forth playing out scenarios in my mind to build up my nerves to return the call.

The recruiter and I had a nice chat and I agreed to go into the office for a face-to-face meeting in two days. Immediately after I got off the phone, though, I asked myself what the heck I was doing. Was I really ready to give up full control of my time? Had I finished all the things I wanted to finish? On some occasions I’ve spent more than 8 hours at a time writing stuff for this site. Would I really be able to continue working on my personal interests with a full time job?

I spend the evening mulling and struggling over these questions. From an external standpoint, I do not have a job, and it would be prudent to take advantage of this opportunity. Even if the job turns out to be a bad fit, I could use the opportunity as a chance to practice my social and networking skills. From an internal standpoint, my gut and conscience tell me that I’m still enjoying my time off, that I don’t need to do something I don’t want to do just to satisfy the tyranny of the “should”. I start to wonder whether to call the recruiter back and cancel.

The next morning, I spend some time at the basketball courts shooting around and running a couple of full-court games. After a couple of hours of running, I realize that I never would have been able to do it if I had to go to work afterwards. Like being on the court, I decide to trust my instincts and not try to do something I don’t really want to do. I decide to cancel with the recruiter.

Luckily for me, the recruiter was more than gracious when I explained to her my mistake. I apologized for wasting her time, and she wished me a good break and left the door open for any future opportunities. I really got away with one (or, at least, that’s what I hope!).

When I sent in my resume, it was one of those days when I woke up at 2:00 AM, so by the time I got home I was pretty tired and not thinking straight. Actually, I wasn’t thinking at all. I leaped before I looked. The recruiter would have been well within her rights to accuse me of playing games. I didn’t want to compound that initial mistake with another one (going in with no real intent to get the job) so I backed out.

Learning Through Experience

Over the past few months, I have progressed a lot in my personal development, learning about and coming to terms with how I tick, and learning how do deal with life in that context. Although I’m not proud of what I did, I’m actually kind of glad that this resume thing worked out the way it did. There are so many existing opinions, existing ideologies out there that one has a hard time picking which voice to listen to. I am finding that just listening to myself is the best course of action; making a mistake like this one, coming up with a way of rectifying it, and then being truly content with the outcome tells me that I had been right all along. If I had believed the “I’m not ready” feeling in my gut instead of worrying that it might be the wrong choice, I never would have sent out my resume and made such a mess in the first place.

We learn through experience, and making mistakes, whether it be completely flipping our sleep schedule around or learning to trust ourselves. Staying up late all the time, we realized the drawbacks to not sleeping at night. After the resume thing, I will remember to think before I do, and trust my own judgment a bit more in the future. Living in Hong Kong, we have learned that we can be happy with so very little. Withdrawing money early from my IRA, I realize it’s a lot easier after overcoming the initial mental hurdle. No one can tell you what anything is like. We have to experience and learn for ourselves whether something is good or bad.

Thank You, and Good Night

And so, that’s it for this update. In a little while, as this Monday evening winds down, I will once again lay my head down on my pillow and close my eyes, and I will think, man, it’s really nice being able to go to bed when I want to.