Sometimes the most memorable moments are the simplest.
While grandiose actions make the biggest impact, they are also the most difficult to maintain and the utility of every impact decreases over time.
On the other hand, simple moments that allow you to laugh, to dance, to be silly, to be utterly you, are the most rare.
Whether it be Skyping her making breakfast to being able to go makeup free with him.
Laugh until tears come out.
Someone asked if I felt lonely going to Disneyland alone.
No, I rarely felt alone.
I was quite content by myself but it did bring about a conversation I had with my brother earlier last year.
We passed the end so we chase forever.
My younger brother has since replaced his previous long term girlfriend with a woman much older than he was.
We got so good at being self-sufficient; the world wonders if we can ever invite anybody into our lives.
Truth is, it’s not the loneliness that gets to us.
It’s the lack of stability.
From when I was younger, I seldom saw my parents. My older sister, being 7 years older, was a rare sight in the home as she was always at a different stage of life. My brother was drifting in and out of different schools and homes.
And then there was me, the middle, the lost one.
While they chose to stay in Canada, I ran away to Asia, trying to find my Atlantis and ultimately, my freedom.
Yet, of late, I found that it wasn’t freedom I was ultimately seeking.
It was stability.
Growing up without parent guidance or bonding has led me to become highly independent, something I will always be grateful for. On the flip side, I have no home to return to. There is no ground to stand on; I’m eternally floating in the air.
When I was 14, I already had the responsibilities of an 18 year old.
When I was 18, I was already solving problems a 24 year old would face.
When I was 19, I faced my quarter life crisis.
When I was 24, I was past the partying, the drinking, attention from boys and relationships that went nowhere. I felt like I was 31, with a mortgage, a startup, overwhelming pressure and moved across the globe, for better or for worse.
Now that I’m 29, I already feel 35. No, I do not crave for children and I still hold strong opinions against having children. But what I do need, is a foundation.
Why do you not want to date me?
Simply put, I will be wasting your time and money and that is not fair on you or me.
I’m at the stage of life where relationships without marriage is pointless.
I’m at the stage of life where I cannot wait for you to figure things out for years on end.
I’m at the stage of life where I do not just want to see where things go.
I’m at the stage of life where I want to be someone’s home they return to, not an option.
Two hearts beating with different rhythms.
You flirt, I smile.
Some see how far they can go.
Unfortunately, not far.
You’re worth more than diamonds, worth more than gold.
You know you did something right in your life when you’re surrounded by beautiful souls who also happen to be physically attractive.
Funny enough, we all started at the bottom; the underdog gene strong amongst us.
The first time each of us met, we hated one another, thinking the latter grew up with a silver spoon. That’s how we are. The world only sees the image we portray. We became so good at it, we almost succeeded in alienating each other.
Yet, get to know us, and you realize once the walls are down, we homies and big softies.
One day, they will be legends.
As for me, I like being in the shadows, the spotlight was never the place for me.
If you don’t know me, get to know me.
It’s disappointing when people automatically make the worst assumptions of you, albeit knowing you for a certain length of time.
Trust me, when people treat me well, there’s a reason for that.
When my trips are paid for, there’s a reason for that.
When I receive presents in the mail, there’s a reason for that.
When they fly to HK just to visit me, there’s a reason for that.
When a chauffeur comes to pick me up, there’s a reason for that.
And the reason is never me asking to be treated like a princess.
Behind the scenes, you don’t see the me who stays up the entire night making sure they are okay.
Behind the scenes, you don’t see the me who drives out at 1am to fetch them when their car battery freezes over in winter.
Behind the scenes, you don’t see the me who houses them during their bad patch.
Behind the scenes, you don’t see the me who takes care of them when they’re sick and down for the count.
Behind the scenes, you don’t see the me who makes the same effort to fly to them.
Behind the scenes, you don’t see the me who writes essays for Christmas cards just to remind them they are loved.
Would you do the same for them?
If not, how can you expect the same treatment from them?
I never thought about what my personal values and principles were, at least, not explicitly.
On that topic, after a deeper dive, I realized mine have varied a fair bit in the past 3.5 years since I got to Hong Kong.
Most of you know I grew up in a dual East Asian and Western environment. The East Asian influence coming from my parents and the Western influence coming from traditional Canadian values which include freedom, integrity, acceptance and diversity. There are more, but those were the ones that spoke to me.
The only principle I follow at the moment.
But what does freedom mean to you? It’s quite subjective, isn’t it?
For me, freedom has many fronts.
I took this concept of freedom for granted prior to moving to Hong Kong. The only worry I had was financial freedom and sustainability, but that is another topic in itself.
Chalk it up to the loneliness of being here alone.
Chalk it up to self-doubt.
Chalk it up to fear.
Chalk it up to wanting to be accepted.
I didn’t realize I put myself in an imaginary cage trying to conform to everyone’s expectations. For the past three years, my values became engrained on being the perfect Asian girl and girlfriend.
Be the good Asian girl.
Don’t talk back.
Don’t think, just do.
Be the good girlfriend.
Be as stick skinny as possible.
Shut up, sit still and look pretty.
Being a trophy wife was the ultimate goal.
That combined with an inferiority complex and perfectionism nearly destroyed me, mentally and physically.
You see, I’ve had to earn respect from others throughout my youth, proving that my background did not, would not, and should not hinder me. And often, respect is earned by being at the top. So I strived to be the best, or in my mind, to be perfect.
I was the girl who would never go to class yet ace the exams, making top grades look easy.
I was the girl who earned a coveted Investment Banking internship in first year without the help of family connections.
I was the girl who was in all the best parties and events.
I was the girl who would party nights on end, while looking fresh as a daisy come Monday.
I was the girl who took the maximum course load while balancing writing for a magazine, being in the business school fashion show, and teaching underprivileged students.
I was the girl who lived in the posh neighborhood in Downtown Toronto.
I was the girl who hosted house parties.
I was the girl who downed half a large Pepperoni pizza and still wore size 00.
I was the girl who made life look easy and effortless.
Life was good, I was supposed to be happy.
Behind the scenes, I always felt inferior.
I was never good enough.
And that manifested itself into a cycle of continually striving to do more, be more, make it look even more effortless.
And then I came to Hong Kong.
I quickly realized the values people held here were vastly different than the ones in Canada.
Naively, I conformed to fit in.
I became obsessed with being the perfect everything. And I quickly realized it was unsustainable, and more importantly, unrealistic.
Prior to coming to Hong Kong, I never had a problem with my previous relationship in Canada, there was respect, mutual understanding and acceptance. It ended when our future goals no longer aligned with each other, mine being to move to Asia whereas he wanted to stay in Canada.
There were multiple red flags I purposely chose to ignore when I entered my previous relationship in Hong Kong.
There was respect in the beginning, which quickly dissipated and I was pushed to being the Perfect Asian Girlfriend.
Shut up, sit still and look pretty.
I say, you do.
The friendships I made in Hong Kong deteriorated.
I was no longer part of the tech startup scene that I was a fan of.
The worst part, I was fully in control of the situation.
I could have left at any moment.
But I didn’t.
I put myself in that cage.
And when I finally found the courage to leave, I opened the flood gates.
I went 150% into everything, from overbooking social events to attending every tech meet-up to mentoring multiple students to traveling solo.
It was too much, too soon.
And that’s when my body rebelled against me, hard.
My digestive system shut down completely.
I was out of commission for three months, on traditional Chinese medicine and attending weekly acupuncture sessions to stimulate the muscles to function again.
I learned a very valuable lesson.
So what does freedom mean to me?
To be free from the trap of perfectionism.
To be free from harsh self-judgement.
To be free from self-doubt.
To be free from unnecessary guilt.
To be free from forced conformity.
To be free from feeling inferior.
To be at peace with myself.
This post is going to be on many tangents as I try to understand the information highway and overload that is my brain.
Yesterday, I was asked if my decision was firm.
I said yes.
In search of Atlantis.
Raise a cup for my day ones.
We owe it all to each other.
Straight up from nothing.
People say its unhealthy to be stuck in the past.
In some ways, it is a reminder to myself on how far I have come.
Having grown up so quickly has its drawbacks. A missed childhood manifests itself into adulthood and naturally, a part of me works to protect that inner child. In a way, there is no longer a whole person per-say, just two vastly separate entities trying to co-exist.
One is hyper-rational while the other is vulnerable.
One protects so the other can retain its innocence.
One shields so the other can see the good in the world.
In return, the other provides beauty and solace to the soldier.
Sometimes I wonder, when they can finally become whole, if they can be whole.
This distinction is clear in my home, where the majority is in a minimalistic design of Blacks and Whites. In its pockets, you will find comic books, figurines and plush toys, a form of self-love of a childhood I wish I had, of which I can provide now to myself.
The vast majority of my friends are a decade older than me.
On those days when I am beating myself up, they remind me how far I’ve come and not to compare my chapter 20 to their chapter 30.
Does it affect me when I see people my age getting handouts?
But I’ve come to accept our paths are different, we can only work with the cards we are dealt.
My journey may have been tougher, but I was never truly alone.
Others walk with me, facing a similar situation.
Others support me in their own way.
Every girl I’ve met dreams of true love, prince charming and upon meeting that person, everything becomes rainbows, unicorns and flowers.
To that end, I say love is a chemical reaction, a mixture of serotonin, dopamine and adrenaline; altering our thoughts and nervous system.
That’s not to say I don’t believe in relationships or marriage.
Though, that chemical reaction is necessary for the initial attraction and continual interest to learn more about and support each other.
True love does not exist in the fairy tale form.
I truly believe love is a matter of choice. A choice we make to put aside our individual needs and wants in support of a greater partnership. A choice to go from solo to duo.
I admit, I entered a relationship three years ago that I should not have.
There was only a perceived obligation to fulfill the Asian requirement, to conform to the standards of this city and to be a “good” Asian girl.
Instead of support, I found myself caged.
Instead of growth, I found myself suppressed.
Instead of respect, I found myself looked down upon.
Instead of encouragement, I found myself lectured upon.
Instead of happiness, I found myself stressed out
The good news is I’ve learned and I will never put myself through that again.
If you ask me if I am happy, I would say yes.
The past is in the past.
The lessons were learned.
A lot of people comment telling me my posts are often quite depressing and wonder if I am in state of despair.
Read between the lines.
I use my writing to articulate the thoughts in my head, to help others understand me better. Though the tone of voice seems to portray darkness; if you can read between the lines, the underlying message is clear.
Yes, for those who don’t know me well enough, you will have to re-read my posts at least three times to understand the underlying message.
I got through difficult parts of life.
Reflections help me make sense of the lessons.
And these are reminders to myself the strength and resilience I hold within me to get through new obstacles.
There are new things to learn, new ideas to be shared, new opportunities to explore.
And the journey begins again.