When I started this blog, I stated some goals that I wanted to adhere to over my (what I then believed as my only) year in China. One of those included writing regularly in order to keep everyone back at home involved in things that I was experiencing out here in Shenzhen.

I failed.

Somehow I ended up getting caught up in everything and nothing at the same time. Writing didn’t seem very important back then, and I blamed it on being busy and trying to keep on top of everything. This was one of those little lies we tell ourselves to excuse ourselves out of maintaining something that, while not compulsory, may be beneficial and stimulating. Realistically, I had no reason to fall off the wagon. Last year I was working full time… a full 17 hours with two or three tutoring gigs here and there. This year, I’m working 12 hours (soon to be reduced to 10 following the Chinese New Year holiday vacation) and have found myself with far too much time on my hands. Looking back, I feel a little sickly. I have definitely wasted a lot of potential moments and I hate knowing that I haven’t always maximized my time here.

However, I feel this time has less to do with my belief of being “busy” (I’m so sorry to all my friends who started working full time following graduation, feel free to cut all ties immediately.), but rather with my evolving relationship with China. Last year, everything was new, shiny (“shiny”), and exciting. (Quick aside, anyone who tells you that the Oxford comma  unnecessary is not fully with it.  Omitting it, to quote Nina Garcia, is “NOT. AESTHETICALLY. PLEASING.” Sorry, had to get that out of my system.) This time around, a lot of Shenzhen has a “been there, done that” vibe to it. An unexpected shift in schedule or plans due to my employers neglecting to realize that I haven’t been informed has begun to run thin. My new neighborhood is in the middle of a huge shopping street, meaning huge trucks and delivery carts are wheeled right past my bedroom window at all hours of the day and night. (Also, there are feral cats who duke it out fairly regularly. That tends to lean towards a more humorous occurrence rather than being a nuisance.) I find myself being a little drained in a city that’s purely based off of economic activity and finance, with very little individual culture.

I think my biggest fault as a human is failing to see the big picture of things. I tend to let minor details like those I’ve listed dominate my mind as opposed to taking stock of everything I have and seeing the overall value of the situation. Before I left America this year, I spent the car ride to the airport with my mother discussing my anxieties about returning for another year. The one thing she left me with was: “I know that it may be nerve-wracking right now, but I truly believe that you will come away with not an ounce of regret from returning.”

So that’s why I’m back here. I think that maybe using this blog as a diary/update service of sorts wasn’t really it’s true purpose. Instead, I think that detailing my life and feelings for the rest of the year will be a healthy discourse in keeping me motivated to achieve things that I have yet to accomplish, and keeping perspective of everything going on around me. Some recent soul searching has helped me to realize that I’m not good at being honest with my emotions. I find myself more open and truthful when I perceive things to be on the upswing, but when I think that things aren’t going my way or I’ve done something wrong/made a mistake, I shut down. I isolate myself, and put on more of an act that everything is okay. I know that that is not a healthy mindset, but I do believe that even admitting that I need to work on expressing myself more is a positive step forward. I wanted to believe that I can fix any problems that may arise and that I can handle my own baggage, but I need to also be able to let other people know when I’m feeling a bit out of it or just need an encouraging word.

I want these last few months (most likely my final months abroad, but we’ll see where that goes when the time comes) to be special, like nothing I’ve ever experienced and I’m determined to follow through on what I told myself it would be like in August. Some things that I have to look forward to:

  • Traveling: The month long Chinese New Year is approaching and I’m far more excited about this year’s plan than last year. This year, I have a lot more planned for things that I actually want to see and am genuinely interested in – Taipei, Myanmar, Singapore, Kuala Lampur. It’s going to be an incredible month and I personally can’t wait.
  • Health: One of my goals of things I wanted to do this year was to run the Great Wall Marathon. Cool, right? Well, here’s the thing – I’ve never even run a 5k before so I think I’ll compromise and run the half-marathon instead. Cool? Cool. I actually am excited about it. I think I finally get exercise now. It used to be such a chore for me, but the past month I’ve actually been looking forward to go to the gym and get the endorphins pumping. (To anyone who knew me at Pitt with my anti-physical activity rants – I don’t even know who I am anymore.) I’m not running this marathon to compete or try to place at all (HA.) but it was on my bucket list of thing to do, and I’ll be damned to miss out on this.
  • Post-China: Okay, I know I’ve detailed how I’m going to make the most of my time here, and I promise I will! However, I am also excited to start the new phase of my life back in the States too. I really am excited to see where my cards fall after my *~*illustrious*~* career as an English teacher concludes. It’s been a while since I’ve gone through the job hunt, and I can’t wait to sink my claws into all available opportunities. Also, I take a sick pleasure from making and editing résumés. It just feels so good.

So that’s where I am right now. Sorry if this comes across as a downer, it’s really not supposed to be that way. More of a self-encouragement if anything. I really will try to update more frequently, it feels good typing my soul away (Regret for not keeping up with this last year in 3, 2,…..). I will probably be out of the loop while traveling, but I’ll see if I can download an app to jot some things down on here whenever I’m Wi-Fied up in the hostels. Thanks for all the support over the last 18 months, everyone. Love you all. TTFN.