I had the strangest dream recently. I was in an alternative universe where time travel was the norm, running through an atrium filled with hundreds of strangers. I passed by my husband and wanted to hug him but I knew that we were supposed to meet in the future, so I refrained from introducing myself. I thought, “It’s OK. We’ll have the rest of our lives together to say hello.”
The past few months have been challenging ones for me, but also very exciting, because I’ve finally achieved clarity on some things that have been vexing me for a long time. Yes, I’ve made up my mind, and I am excited to plan the next step of my journey: I’m going to go live in a yurt in the forests of Nova Scotia, surrounded by a flock of sheep and cats. I’m kidding! About the yurt in Nova Scotia, I mean. I’m still making up my mind about the flock of sheep and cats.
For a long time, I’ve been plagued by low self-esteem. I discussed that a bit in my posts about dealing with depression. If I wasn’t worried about people finding out that I was an imposter, than I was scared to death of my brain’s seemingly unlimited ability to hit emotional lows for no good reason. Lately, however, I’ve begun to really understand the difference between good and bad challenges. The latter gradually corrodes you, turning you into someone you don’t recognize and don’t enjoy being. Good challenges may feel just as grueling sometimes, but ultimately you emerge having found new strengths within yourself that once seemed unimaginable. The trick is recognizing the difference — sometimes that’s very hard to do.
I turn 31 in a few weeks and my upcoming birthday has been the impetus for me to think about how much my life has changed in 10 years. A decade ago, I was preparing for my last year of college. All I wanted was certainty, and I was willing to sacrifice some measure of personal contentment and happiness to achieve that. Now I’m okay with not having every single part of my future mapped out in my head. It means having room to grow.
Recently it struck me that no matter how difficult things have been sometimes, I’ve never, ever regretted my decision to move to Taiwan five years ago. I was scared that I would. I still feel a sense of dislocation from time to time. But I think that has more to do with my personality than with this country. I’m glad I’m here. I’m grateful that Taipei is my constant companion.