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 My reasoning of wanting something different has not been revoked but it's been coupled with something new, something that perhaps I had the inability to admit to myself: That I was running.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.


  1. Impressive writing...As a perpetual student of philosophy, I find it easy to appreciate both your style and subject matter.

    Your anxiety will pass.. All one can do is live in the moment, taking each day for what it offers, and let the cards fall where they may.

    P.S. I'm jealous of the time you've spent in Hanoi.

  2. I am already making fun of myself for quoting you on your own blog but I couldn't help myself. I probably reread this sentence over and over b/c it is so scarily true..."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?" Good fucking question, my friend. Well whatever the reason was for the move at least you are experiencing and that's all one can ask for. Miss and love you as there is a lot to explore in the good ol' USA...

  3. LOVE this post. I think that something about the expat lifestyle forces us to do a little more soul-searching than we might otherwise because it's assumed that this is just a transitional step on the way to something else...whatever the hell that may be. It's unsettled and therefore unsettling. Being constantly questioned about your intentions and plans only exacerbates this tendency towards self-reflection, which can lead to a lot of doubt and second guessing I've found. Anyway, it's nice to see someone else put it into words in such a clear way. :)