77

img_6428

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.

Freedom

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.

img_4128

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.

img_2504

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.

-b.

Advertisements

81

img_1493

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?
Of course.

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.

-b.

103

img_1999

Lately, the thought of motivation has been on my mind.

On the topic of New Year Resolutions, how many people actually stick by their goals?

They say it takes 21 days to stick by a habit.

If that’s the universal truth, how come people give up upon the second and third month?

And for those who keep the habit, what motivates them?

What I realized is that we place too much emphasis on the end result, especially when our creativity is involved.

Is it because we overvalue our own creation?
Is it because we expect others to adopt the same value?

When our innovation and heart is poured into something, it’s hard not to have expectations.

And would that misalignment of expectation be the cause of de-motivation?

We often share our goals and resolutions to our peers.

Is it to hold ourselves accountable?
Or is it to seek recognition?

-b.

119

img_8098-1

Back in the day, I opened a blog on Xanga to document my weight loss progress.

Little did I know, I slowly grew a following of a few hundred girls and a handful of boys. When one of my followers reached out to me about her own insecurities regarding her physical appearance, it hit me hard.

When I was a kid, I was dubbed the ugliest girl in school.
I was short.
I was overweight.
I wore thick nerd glasses.
I had pimples all over my face.
I had slits for eyes because my face was so fat.
I had greasy hair that looked unwashed for days.
I had to wear hand-me-downs that were so worn because I was poor.

I remember the pain.
I remember the tears.
I remember the darkness.
I remember the loneliness.

And I don’t want another person to feel that same way I did.

Instead of merely documenting my daily food intake and exercise regime, I decided to use the platform to share my own insecurities so that other girls could relate and feel that they weren’t fighting the battle alone.

Because everyone deserves to feel beautiful.
Because everyone has good and bad days.

Because no one deserves to go through this alone.

-b.

214

 

Somewhere out there
Beneath the pale moonlight
Someone’s thinking of me
And loving me tonight

Somewhere out there
Someone’s saying a prayer
That we’ll find one another
In that big somewhere out there

And even though I know how very far apart we are
It helps to think we might be wishing on the same bright star
And when the night wind starts to sing a lonesome lullaby
It helps to think we’re sleeping underneath the same big sky

Somewhere out there
If love can see us through
Then we’ll be together
Somewhere out there
Out where dreams come true

-b.

Driven

After moving to Hong Kong, I quickly realized how different my viewpoints and opinions were, comparative to the local populace.

The most evident being family and upbringing.

My parents gave up everything in Shanghai to move to Hong Kong back in the day.
And then, they gave up everything they built in Hong Kong to move to Canada when I was born.

To start from zero twice; it’s not easy. They faced language barriers and discrimination, but they endured. For the goal of building a better life.

This meant, they had no time to raise us.

Growing up, my parents were very transparent on our situation and I am always thankful that they were. Rather than trying to shield us and raising us with a silver spoon, they made it a point to inform us we could not have what our peers had. When I was 4 years old, I already knew the world was unfair and we had to do something about it.

To that degree, my parents, my siblings and I have built our relationship on the foundation of improvement. We may see each other once or twice a year, but during those times, we truly value our time together.

When I look at family interactions here – they are highly emotional, the gatherings  frequent and routines micromanaged.

It confuses me.

I did not even tell my parents I was moving to Hong Kong. My mother only found out when she dropped me off at the airport. And when I told her my plan, she threw a box of Ferrero Rocher at my head.

When I first got to Hong Kong, I had very little money, I ate one meal a day and I slept on the floor without a mattress. But I was driven. I remember lining up 3-5 interviews a day for the two weeks I was here, determined to land a job in that timeframe.

Three years later and I can finally accommodate my family when they visit, in a proper bed and a proper home.

img_5224A home is where you can go to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. A place of relaxation, a safe zone. This is mine.
img_5676
Good night.

-b.