Monday, June 27, 2011

But I Keep Running From Something I Never Wanted So Bad(ly)

Sometimes when discussing my move to Hanoi with people they ask me what I was running from. As though that is the only explicable reason I would move here and start a new life.

I always maintain the same story, that I was living and working in NYC, that I felt uninspired at my job, I had an itch to do something different and that i didn't want to wake up in thirty years regretting that I'd fallen into a mundane routine. That I hadn't lived. I come from a family of intellectuals, explorers, who have an insatiable curiosity for knowledge, travel and cultures. My parents and closest relatives have never once questioned my decision, in fact they encouraged it.

Recently, I was put in a situation where I actually revisited my stance on why I moved out here. My reasoning of wanting something different has not been revoked but it's been coupled with something new, something that perhaps I had the inability to admit to myself: That I was running.

I was running from everything I had built for myself because despite years of imagining this life, and despite seemingly outward appearances of perfection, it wasn't what i wanted. I think that one of the scariest things in the world is getting what you think you want, only to discover it's not what you wanted. Because where do you go from there? In my case, it was Hanoi.

I am not saying my move was based entirely on running, I have always been adventurous, wanting to do new things and obsessed with traveling. But I realize now, that a subconscious part of me, was so adamant to do it because I needed to escape and rediscover what it is that I actually want.

Getting away from it all has proved to be one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I have learned to be independent and confident in who I am. I have learned that there is no right path. I have learned that I can do (almost) anything.

But I have also learned that i have no idea what I want. And this freaks me out. I have maintained my restless spirit, one that makes me look around and want to check out the other options. One that is never satisfied with what I have. i always want more, the next thing.

I find this increasingly worrying, that nothing is never good enough. That I seem incapable of settling down and being content. In theory, I love the idea of being married with children, living in a city and filling my days with routine. That is what i have always wanted in the long run. But in reality, I seem completely incapable of getting anywhere near there. I get bored too easily, I can't seem to stay in one place for more than a few years. The second I feel comfortable, i attribute it with boredom and call it "going through the motions." I then plan my next move. I haven't found anything or anyone to change that.

I have been telling myself for the past few years that it's because I haven't found my true passion, that I haven't found the right person, or the right place to plant myself, and perhaps this is acceptable... but my concern is will i ever? Or am I destined to wander this planet endlessly constantly searching for something better? More bluntly, is there something wrong with ME? I say i want all of these things but am repelled by the reality of them.

Lately, I have begun to ponder if I am living in Southeast Asia because of all of the "opportunities" it presents or as a shield from reality. It's letting me pretend without looking like a freak or failure. I don't want to live here forever so it's natural that I'd move around.

Somehow, I am getting a pass for being here, one that is very nice to have but that is causing me a bit of anxiety.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Happy Working Song

I am becoming increasingly concerned with the fact that I do not seem able to leave Hanoi.

I have pushed back my moving date four times now. Four. In eighteen months. The other day, I was thinking and realized that I am not sure I'd be able to adjust back to life in the western world.

In theory, I should be able to, and I want to. I love it here but I miss my life back home. I miss the stability and the long term future that it offers. I simply, despite how much I am enjoying myself, can not see myself living here in the long term. (however, saying that I don't think I can leave either)

I don't know what makes life here so different, because for all intensive purposes things are the same as they'd be anywhere: I have a corporate job that steals my time and leaves me stressed and exhausted, I pretend to be dedicated to the gym, I have great friends, and go to dinner, have a cat etc. Yet something is different. it's not the work ethic because I'm working as hard as I ever have, and it's not really the lifestyle because, as I said, it's the same game just with different players.

I think, what it is, is that the grind is there but it's different. That when I work hard here it feels like it's actually beneficial to me and my career. When I was working in NYC, I lost the zest I used to have because I realized that no matter what i did, things would be the same. If I put in 55 hours a week, i'd get the same compensation and recognition as I would if I put in 35. I wasn't given any kind of validation when I did something right but was torn apart when I made the slightest glitch. I don't want to start bashing anyone or anything because that's not the point of this blog. It was tough though, to feel like I was racing, racing, racing towards nothing. Once I got to the place I was running to, nothing happened. I felt like my voice was getting lost, that i was drowning and I stopped fighting back. I looked at my superiors at work and didn't feel inspired to be like them, instead the prospect of their future looked dismal to me.

Here, it's different. I work hard, yes. I'm tired, yes. My friends say they're worried about me, yes. But I feel like it's for a reason. The opportunities here are limitless...I'm not pushed aside because I'm 27 and blond and a girl. I don't have to thrash my way through a sea of corporate mumbo jumbo bs to be heard and listened to. People believe in me, accept what i say, and as a result it's bolstered my confidence and opened my aspirations to a whole new horizon. If I put in the time and effort and push myself then I will be successful. The race doesn't have a set finish line...I can keep going for as long as I want.

Here I am given the tools, resources, and power to be my own person professionally. To grow and expand. To make decisions. To be innovative. To lead, both others and also myself into success. I am given opportunities that I wouldn't have back in New York or London without years of mundane paper pushing, air kissing and backstabbing. I'm not saying I want to cut corners or that i'm not willing to put in the work, but I do think it will be extremely difficult for me to go back to that world now that I've lived in this one.