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One Year In Home Kong: A Review

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I moved (back) to Hong Kong exactly just under one year ago. It’s been a real trip, (just metaphorically), so I thought that it would be a healthy exercise to reflect on the past year, and share the findings of this introspective exploration with you!

I’ve written about the topic of self-awareness in the past; it’s an ideology I always strive to apply in life. I think it’s helpful to regularly take a step back, face the sometimes-ugly reality of your day-to-day, and the many layers that goes along with that.

In reflecting on the past 12 months, the one question that I wanted to answer is: am I doing the best I possibly can when it comes to [x], the [x] of course being work, relationships (with others any myself), the bigger picture, etc.

Simple enough, you’d think. So here I am, 9 pm on a weekday. I’m at work and there are drunk people screaming two feet away from me. Note that this is not a regular occurrence for my job, but it so happens to be the environment I find myself, as I blindly weed through the philosophical mounds of shit that is life.  

So here I am. I have my notebook open, ready to objectively assess everything I’ve done and materialise ways to improve upon them. But I couldn’t, and it wasn’t only because some girl just spilled red wine down her unintentional schoolgirl outfit right in front of me. Somewhere along all the nostalgia and confusion-filled reminiscence, I felt confused. I just couldn’t tell if I had tried my best, or I was just a lazy fuck in denial.

Let me explain. Firstly, work. I can confidently assert that I work hard, I care about my job, and I always try to push myself to do things outside my comfort zone. I’m not trying to say my biggest weakness is that I’m a perfectionist. Don’t roll your eyes, I’m kidding.

On the other hand, I’ll readily admit that I know I can do better. I can have a better attitude about doing things I don’t want to do, and I don’t always go the extra mile, rather settling for the bare minimum. But like everyone, I have days where I feel drained, aimless, and utterly defeated. On those days, where do I begin to prop myself up, and work to maximum productivity? I don’t know where to start.

Second, relationships. I can be a massive cunt. Yes, I said it; it’s just a word. I don’t think I tear through the emotional fabric of my intimate relationships like cling film, but I’ve acted on inclinations of rage, angst, and inexplicable mood swings more times than I’m proud to admit.

My parents don’t deserve my insufferable whining during my short trips back to Shanghai to see them. My partner doesn’t need to hear melodramatic statements like “I just hate my life right now” after having had a long day himself. It turns our life into a 90s tween movie, which must be some level of hell. I’ve declined invitations for brunches, birthdays, and dinners by giving bullshit excuses, even though it’s a miracle that I even have friends who are nice enough to offer to hang out with me.

Yes, clearly I can do better. But is it because I’m not trying my hardest to maintain these relationships, or only that we all have our baggage, and acting on these misguided behaviors once in a while is acceptable? People are inherently flawed, and I’m sometimes at the mercy of other people’s emotional whims as well. Perhaps this is all just what comes with the territory of human intimacy. Talk about messy. Let’s just dogear this point and come back to it later.

Next point: the larger picture. What I categorise into this is my general performance as a human being who’s aware of the consequences of my actions, and generally leading an – at the least – morally upright still-standing life.

I don’t always recycle, even though I used to preach it. I don’t always by organic, instead choosing to spend that money on, let’s face it, sweatshop clothing that some 12-year-old lost a finger for. No, it wasn’t worth it for her because I’ve only worn it once, and will probably throw it on one more time before forgetting ever having purchased it.

I don’t do volunteer work, I don’t always stay informed about important issues, and generally lead a pretty hedonistic life for someone with the resources I have to do some good. These realities disappoint me, but I can’t help but ask myself how much of this can I’m able to realistically accomplish. And is it healthy to beat myself up about it? I don’t like thinking about this either.

So I wrote all of that down, amounting to two pages of sad scribbled notes, which summarise of what seems a year of underperformance. It would appear I haven’t done the best I possibly can with everything, but completely lack confidence when it comes to rectifying this. But I did come to a small, perhaps insignificant realisation.

Here it goes: I learned in the past year that (1) dissecting your life is step one if you want to improve it, and (2) there are simply to many push and pull factors to ever feel 100% about everything, or anything for that matter.

I can only leave you with these somewhat flaky conclusions, and I hope you don’t think they’re copout. It’s the best I can offer right now; we’ll see if next year’s different.