Reaching out to people through the chaos that is life

Everything I do online is very… solitary, in a passive sense. I’m one of those (yes, somewhat annoying) people who go around like-ing your posts but never really commenting. Actual interaction? Oh no, oh my! But it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while: to give and become part of an online community. As it currently stands, I’m merely the occasional visitor. Perhaps I’m just so used to being outgoing and proactive in person that assuming a rather ghostly internet self is just the more comfortable path?

Many people are different in group settings than in one-on-one conversations, and even more people are more outspoken online simply because of the freedoms that exist. International organizations and media giants, presidents and CEOs, neighbours and friends, everyone and everything and influence and possibilities and, and, and!! It is simply overwhelming.

Yet, when I chart out the course towards an eventual goal, which yes, I will eventually figure out, the online world is sure to play a large part. How can anything exist nowadays without their own website – be it NGO, restaurant, or person? There are also so many fantastic, wonderful and inspirational ideas floating about this mystic digital realm and I can’t help but want to… improve because of it, be a part of it if only as an audience member, and some day, perhaps even contribute to some greater whole. I’m being driven by a search for independence and purpose. And really, can anything or anyone ever exist alone?

Perhaps the possibility of living in Hong Kong for more than a year prompted me to move. Though friends are scattered, perhaps they’re more likely to visit Hong Kong than elsewhere. Perhaps I will be a better correspondent with facebook, twitter, and wordpress apps on my phone.* Perhaps the energy of this city will make me more efficient and productive, certainly I’ll walk faster! Perhaps the opportunities are endless. Perhaps I only make use of them.

In the month and four days that I’ve been on Hong Kong, so, so many things have happened!

Got here on Cinco de Mayo – just in time for a friend’s party with Corona and lime and tortillas and everything. Since then, I’ve found an apartment after looking at countless others, been given the one month notice due to ‘cultural incompatibility’**, found another apartment (going to move next week!), gone to two interviews a week, successfully landed the part-time job as a graphic designer, received a formal offer for a full-time business development position pending a visa (which I’m terrified won’t go through), worked like a crazy person to edit over 1300 photos this past week and completely destroyed whatever biological clock I have left! Slept from 4am-12pm and only went out today to do laundry. No, not even for food, because I cooked ham, eggs, beans, and a sausage. What a day, eh? Thus, we arrive to right now – this very second.

There are two to-do lists in my sketchbook, a daily one and a weekly one. On the daily list are things like having breakfast and checking the news. The weekly list has items like ‘spend at least an hour learning Cantonese’ (ha) and ‘draw more!’. It also has ‘blog’ on there, which I’ve really never done with consistency… but if all goes according to these to-do lists, I will soon! Blogging includes splashing thoughts here and also drawing comics, so between the two, some sort of weekly update should happen? Blogging will now also include writing comments and generally communicating with other bloggers through something other than ‘like’. What a goal, what a goal!

This past week has been terrible. I would harshly judge myself based on actions from the last few days! It’s not a life that’s easily maintained, and I’m not about to give it a try. And yet, it’s so easy to fall into old patterns! Or rather, to fall back into a complete lack of any pattern at all.

“Is this something you want?” “No.” “Can you change it?” “Yes.” “Then do!”

* During the beginning of the Cinco de Mayo party, my first few hours in Hong Kong, I sat in a corner with the phone downloading apps that aren’t available in Play from Mainland China. It was a joyous occasion.

** Oh, yes, I kid you not. The conversation began with the soon to be ex-flatmate giving me $500 and saying “here, for the stuff you bought when you move out”. I thought it was a joke and it really wasn’t. When I pressed him for an actual explanation, he said I was too ‘North American’. He doesn’t much distinguish between culture and personality… It’s a topic I’d rather not think about!


I Hate Eating Alone

Being in the middle of Hong Kong makes me wonder how it was possible, how I managed to vegetate for such a long time. Now I feel only the restlessness associated with standing still amidst busy productive people. During the day, my few friends here are at work while I wander streets surrounding my apartment in search for food. This has been my 2-3pm for the past three days.

I’ve never liked eating alone. With coding skills, I would definitely begin! It will be for all those not wanting to be assigned to a table full of strangers, awkward glances, and the vague feeling that I too should be on my phone. Once, I tried to start a conversation and the other person looked at me as if I’d sprouted an extra head.

It feels as if I should be one of the speedwalkers here, with a full load of duties and responsibilities. I should work on self-improvement, read books, generally be more productive. Walk faster! Yet, when I finally spoke to a corporate lawyer friend (after she got off work at 9pm), the conviction that I’m not meant for that type of life again washes over me. It’s about finding balance and a routine that works for me.

I bought ham, eggs, bread, and cream cheese today. Tomorrow, I will cook and eat with my laptop.

Hong Kong Makes Me Think

Tomorrow, May 15th, I will move into my new apartment. I’ve been in Hong Kong for 9 days, spent ridiculous amounts of time searching, and finally found a place. I’m excited but suspend the celebration until after the fact, until after The Move.

During the house hunt, I’ve seen rooms that fit a single bed and only a single bed, a shared flat with an Indian family of four, and a room with two windows – overlooking a square meter dubbed ‘the living room’. But hopes are high for tomorrow!

Now it’s onto the difficult part. Employment.

Hong Kong is positively brimming with opportunities. A lack of jobs isn’t what makes this difficult. What makes it difficult is that I feel as if I’m simply spamming when sending cover letter and CVs, even if all the messages are customized. Maybe it’s because I haven’t found any positions that call to me, or something. Or am I simply too inexperienced for those I am interested in?

There’s an entire list of things I want to accomplish and want to improve about myself so that I can be the candidate some of these amazing companies are looking for. What makes me unique, makes me stand out? What if all I can come up with is… nothing much? I can talk in circles around just about anyone about absolutely nothing. Is that even anything to brag about?

I want to learn Cantonese. That’s important here – and important to me. I want to create a portfolio. I don’t have one yet. Because I didn’t go to art school. And I want to work in design. Or do I want to work in design? I just want to be surrounded by ideas and people and inspiration somehow.

Being here has been amazing thus far. I’ve commandeered a friend’s living room for the duration and spent my first Hong Kong afternoon downloading phone apps: twitter, wordpress, facebook, etc… the classic list of apps banned in the Mainland. It was doubtful whether that phone would ever leave my hand again! Staying connected feels good, but I know there is so much more that can be done with these connections. Another goal.

I’ve been oscillating between wildly optimistic, anything is possible!! To aw crap, I won’t be able to afford bread tomorrow. Granted, real bread here can be pretty expensive, but during those slumps, I was terrified of such uncertainty. I’m not untalented (just a little bit modest), but I don’t have the degrees on paper to do what I want to do here. <em>Then I remind myself that I’m here, and that in the end, I will succeed because I’m determined to, according to my own definition of success.</em>

Spending more time staying connected to the world has also led me to some amazing people, whether in visual arts, design, writing, comedy… anything and everything! Can’t handle so much amazing! I have to learn from them and their hard work. Maybe I’ll even try to structure blog posts at some point instead of just writing out whatever comes to mind. But isn’t that what blogs are for? I need to organize my thoughts and organize my blogs and…. the to-do list gets longer. But that’s a good thing!

Follow that impulse!

I’m excited about life.

I’m unemployed, in-debt, grinning like an idiot, eating cheesecake in Beijing while inhaling pollution, moving to Hong Kong next month without even half a plan, excited about all the world’s possibilities, and extremely excited about life.

Of course, life will probably kick me in the teeth sometime in the near future and make me depressed as hell, but right now I’m feeling more optimistic than I have in a long, long time. Maybe it has something to do with finding one’s calling, or at least accepting people are so ever-changing that finding that one, singular, calling is only possible to a lucky few.

Too long have I lurked in the shadows watching others live life! Too long have I been a coward and afraid to take a risk! Too long have I… done nothing! Too long, too long.

I’ve always declared myself a ‘creative type’. My notes for PSY101 was covered in little stick people and stick brains declaring ‘Freud is a fraud!’, all the while declaring majors in International Relations, Economics, and later, Political Economy. My one concession to a more creative self was a minor in Art History. I’m not regretting any of the amazing education I’ve had – it has led me to my friends, to my experiences, to my beliefs, to the me that I am today, and I rather like that person… all except my inner sloth. And today, I will am doing something about it. Kind of.

More than ten years ago I discovered deviantART, an amazing online community for artistis and art-lovers alike. I created my little account, which still stands to this day: This is how I know I’ve been neglecting a part of myself for too long. See where it says ‘Deviant for 10 years’? An entire decade. Mostly of emptiness. That’s where I’ll start.

Last year, a friend gave me a copy of Notes to Myself, My Struggle to Become a Person by Hugh Prather, a collection of writing which has made me ponder a lot of different things, with a note in the back. “Don’t compromise yourself, you’re all you’ve got”, it says. I’ll do my best.

Some of my initial excitement is gone, clearly, and I am breathing normally again. And worrying about the absurdly high rents in Hong Kong. But I will move and this cheesecake is delicious. Life is good.