Another dreaded question

There are many dreaded questions, spanning from your classic lover’s turmoil of “do you still love me?” to a phone call that starts off eerily silent and the receiver just asks “what happened?”

But there’s one question that came up time and time again over the last few weeks, and I have had to laugh it off, because I still have not come up with an appropriate response. Mainly because I feel any answer would create a unwanted certainty, or at best, a white lie with transformation capabilities. The question arose ever since I spread the news of my departure from London. The question generally takes the form of, “When will you be back next?” but sometimes, it is phrased as “When will we see each other again?”

I say it’s a dreaded question because I have no answer. There are perhaps a small handful of people I will see again in the next few years, but the sad truth, the majority of those people and I will never cross paths again. That was the end of an experience for both parties. With their own undecided futures, they ask so hopefully when I would be back, as if they were certain of their time in the city. The only life lesson you will never need to learn about cities like London and Hong Kong is that “staying the same” means something entirely different. The truth is, nothing is ever the same. In these cities, people glide in and out of your life like sneezes. Annoyingly present one minute… only to disappear and be forgotten in another.

Then, of course, there’s the soft call of death when older relatives ask you the same question. The reminder that all your pessimism is in fact, lethal to yourself and those around you, and that is probably why you spew bullshit about never seeing the majority of your friends in a city you could call home given different circumstances. And that is why you concoct lies about the uncertainty of the future and the vagueness of our lives and experiences, because putting in the effort to go and see someone would show that you care.

And we all know that we only start showing care on our deathbeds, when our loved ones have been misplaced from our lives for far too long at that point.

Removal

Of course, the minute anything gets too difficult or too complex to deal with it, my ultimate response is to simply remove it. It’s the ultimate kill the spider or buy a new house scenario. Time and time again, this removal strategy has failed me, to no one’s surprise, especially not mine. However, I think this time I’ve learnt my lesson… Ish.

My failed attempts at staying in London were met with complexities, so my natural response was to remove myself from London and start a whole new life elsewhere. India, to be specific. I’m still going to India. I’ve realised the possibilities are certainly greater, despite the fact that I probably will not survive an entire day without a body guard. All the researching and fact finding has revealed one glaring obviousness I’ve ignored for too long: Just because you’ve spotted an opportunity does not mean you get up and leave as soon as possible.

Like many of my decisions, that was my entire game plan. Pack up and leave as soon as possible. Coming from a family of planners, who have been successful mainly because of their organisational skills, it seemed like I lived in a warped reality where once I spotted something I wanted, nothing could deter me.

So, this is a memo, to future me, who will have planned the A to Z of a sustainable and manageable life in New Delhi before any packing happens. Because the chaos and stress of spontaneous relocation is just not worth it.

– SR.

First day back

This is the longest I’ve ever been away from home. So my exceptionally long flight from London to Hong Kong actually went by quickly, despite the lack of sleep. I even committed the most un-Hong Kong (or un-London) crime of all and spoke to the individual next to me, saying “Oh my god! I’m home!” as the plane came to a halt at our gate. 

After spending a good several hours with the family, I’ve realise how quickly we adapt to new situations. I forgot what it day-to-day was like in this space, how different everything seems to my new day-to-day rituals. I forgot the short temper that binds everyone together. A temper that evaporates as quickly as it appears, thankfully. But above all, I forgot all the laughter. Oh, all the laughter at all the stupid things. There are no jokes, just a range of laughter from giggles to hysterical laughter, just because of the one thing that doesn’t belong in the norm of the household. 

I had forgotten how terrified I am of my father, so thank you world for bringing that back, I obviously couldn’t have lived without that. I can’t wait for this holiday. I could write an entire screen play based around actual events of this holiday, and it would be a success – even though it hasn’t even started yet. 

Oh, the joy of family. 

Deadlines

Someone once told me that hating deadlines is universal. I politely agreed, not wanting to let go of my secret that I love deadlines. I love working under pressure. And overall, the more stressed I am, the better I perform, and the more I’ll complain about life, which for whatever reason, makes me feel ecstatic. Bearing in mind, I’ve done my research, I’ve looked up every Buzzfeed article as to why stress is actually a good thing. 

I have also looked up actual research, from psychological and biological journals, which admittedly, had a lot more numbers and a lot more technical vocabulary that I had to inscribe in order to fully understand, but they all basically said the same thing – that certain amount of stress is actually good for us. 

Now, that’s all lovely. But all throughout my academic and non-academic research, I couldn’t help but notice that their ascribed level of stress always seemed to come up short in my personal preference. Writing 4,000 quality words in 2 hours? Yes. Please. I’ll do it. I might fail doing it, but my failure will be better than everyone else’s under the same conditions. That might be a little arrogant, but there is an unstoppable force with me and deadlines and I am convinced it’s unlike anyone I have ever met (so far). 

I’m going to go back to job-hunting. The more deadlines I see for jobs, the more excited I get. Now, job hunting deadlines are truly a terrible cycle, because the end result can be so disheartening, especially when you find that one job that gives you butterflies in your stomach because it’s simply not possibly that a job could possibly be designed for you, with exactly you and more in mind, and then they reject you. 

Statistically, it’s near impossible for me to find a job given simply my age and the outlook of the job market, but that excitement is hard to give up. I say job, but I feel what I really mean is a career making adventure. Mobility theories for the modern age clearly state that we are no longer in the business to sticking to the one job throughout our lives. We’ll quit, get fired and start anew many times, but the traditionalist in me can’t help but thing there’s this one perfect fit for me out there, somewhere, and it’ll let me experience I’ve ever wanted from a career. I’m sure the odds are against me, and maybe I will see myself be proof of these mobility theories, but for now, I’ve got to find a job that will make me feel like a 16 year old girl with a crush on a member of a boy band. 

I’m brand new

Mostly to London. 

It was a big move. I hadn’t realised it would be, I felt so prepared and ready to flip open a new chapter and continue existing in my own bubble. It wasn’t the hardest move, but it wasn’t the easiest. It has certainly made me feel brand new after a very long time. Everything is fascinating. Everything is too new for me to handle. I realised how numb I had become. I realised how enclosed I was within my Hong Kong bubble. I didn’t have a set schedule, it was different, constantly, but it was the same. I realised how far I had come from wearing the skin of a closed off person. My thoughts are still mostly my own, but not much else. 

Do you ever feel like your thoughts aren’t your own? It’s a constant, nagging feeling, isn’t it? I’m essentially a product of everything I read, see and hear. I could be as critical as I want, and yet I’d still be harbouring thoughts of someone else. Someone who was definitely a lot smarter. On the bright side, I’ve never felt my feminist side be more alive. More than anything, I just want people to realise how much their actions effect others, especially women. Young women – teenagers, twentysomethings. We certainly don’t make it easy for them. As a society, we just can’t be happy for women, can we? If you’re a feminist, you’re obviously crazy and your mission in life is to castrate every man alive. If you’re women, you’re obviously going to get worked up over stupid things men have decided for you since before you were born. If you write anything even remotely supportive of women or men who support feminism, you’re obviously wrong and all of the internet will let you know that through inhumane, hateful comments which you’ll never shake off, despite what you say. How dare these critical women and men write about feminism? How dare they make you reflect on yourself for a minute or two so that you realise how all this time you’ve simply not been helping. 

Have you read this article about how we can’t tell the difference between remarks from a rape criminals and men’s magazines? Have you heard of the ridiculous arguments politicians are making over the birth control debate in the USA? Birth control. REALLY? Should I even begin on abortion? Are we really going to sit here and tell women not to have abortions? We seem to have this portrayal of women who get abortions to be that they go around looking for abortion, wanting abortion. 

I was numb to the sexist remarks I’d constantly hear in Hong Kong. I simply stopped listening. They went in one ear and out the other like there were no consequences, no problems. But now I feel all brand new, which means every remarks produces a little sting in my heart. Men casually wolf whistling. Women casually telling me they need to work out because their male lover thinks they have gained weight. Conversations about how Robin Thicke is a badass but Miley Cyrus needs to shut the fuck up and go home. It’s obviously completely okay that women are constantly barely clothed on television, but we can’t get a decent look at a barely clothed man.

How many more women and men do we need speaking out against these ridiculous ideals and stereotypes before we can all just call bullshit, go home and enjoy a non-sexist night? That’s what I really would like to research. Malcolm Gladwell famous suggestion of spending ten thousand hours on perfecting a skill is certainly not applicable to this one, is it? Slowest perfection in history. 

I will end this by saying: This is going to be labeled a “feminist rant” by most who will stumble across it. But it isn’t. It’s a rant. About everyday life. Things that matter to me. Things that effect me. And so, this is a rant. Because these things bother me. Like London’s incessant rain is starting to bother me. 

 

 

Stationary

It must be a common feeling to think that nothing much is going on with your life, even if you’re constantly on the move. That’s how I’ve been feeling lately. In less than two weeks I’ll be moving to London, yet I’ve been going out for lunch and coffee dates with my friends without a care in the world. I’ve also been giving my lack of care some thought, because it’s scaring me a little. 

I’ve narrowed it down to two possibilities that my brain is working with: 

1. I am minimizing it so the impact won’t hit me like a freight train when it happens. 

2. I have managed to sort out all that needs sorting out calmly and patiently, for once. 

Of course, it is entirely possible that it is a healthy (or unhealthy) mix of both. But for now, I am leaning more towards #1. My reasoning behind that is that, firstly, I don’t want to get overly excited and have my hopes up too high. In the case that things don’t live up to my (unrealistic) expectations, I would not only be devastated, but my depression would kick in and really take the devastation crown. Secondly, if I just minimize it, whatever comes my way in London town will be amazing beyond belief and perhaps the depression won’t kick in and I will start off strong. 

Now that all makes it sound as if whatever I’ve got going on in London is all bad, but it’s not. In fact a part of me would argue that it’s better than “good” even, because: 

1. I am in the process of completing the last leg of apartment rental agreement, which means there is a 99% chance I will have a place to stay. 

2. I have friends there. I am not going in blind, despite what I thought earlier this year. Every week I seem to meet someone new. Friend of a friend. A person in the same Masters course as me. A long long relative. And they have all been kind, and helpful and willing to help during my big move. 

3. I have a job in London. Isn’t that great? Isn’t that the dream? It’s not even a job I settled for. It’s a job I really wanted, because I would be good at it and it’s interesting, and it requires me to research and be creative. It’s everything I love. 

4. My parents are supportive. They have their worries and issues, but on the whole, they are happy, and doing more than ever to support me. They worry about my health and my living situation there and my course load. All around great parenting, I’d say. 

And finally,

5. It will be the first day of a life that I will make on my own. It’s a great feeling, to think you have control over your life. I have no idea how it will turn out. I know there will be downs – downs which will bring back the depression and threaten to send me over the edge, but there will also be ups, which perhaps will not measure up to the downs. Regardless, those ups will be enough to give me a nice hard kick to keep going. 

It’s all fantastically sappy. But for now, I think I will accept minimizing it. I’ll accept this stationary position I’ve put myself in, because in the long run, this will (hopefully) pay off better than holding unrealistically high expectations.