The Rite Of Passage Into Adulthood: A Sob Story


On Wednesday, I played hookie from work. I tried to call in sick Tuesday night, but the cultural barrier proved difficult to overcome once again.

“You mean you need to take a rest?”

Sure. Let’s go with that. I need to take a rest.

But maybe my supervisor was right? Maybe, I did need to “take a rest.” Not a nap or a vacation: just a rest.

A rest from the constant city hustle. A rest from the glaring Chinese language barrier. A rest from being 3,000 miles away from home and 5,000 miles from most of my friends. A rest from rent, bank statements, insurance companies, cell phone bills, and multiple jobs. A rest from being thrown into the adult world without my mommy, kittie, or CrossFit box.

The transition from college into the real world is difficult for everyone. The class of 2013 no longer has an excuse to cuddle up to Mom and Dad for our every need. To some extent, our college degree is a double edge sword. While our new degree does open doors… we now have no excuse to NOT be self-sufficient, but we lack the skills to do so. So even if we do land an entry level job (or better) straight out-the-gate, what do we have to come home to? An empty apartment, an empty fridge, and an emptiness inside our gut. Because only a few months ago, we had everything we could have ever wanted… opportunities, friends within a walk-able distance, a guaranteed source of food/shelter/water, and (most importantly) a safety net.

Our college degree is seen as a social validation that we’re ready to be shoved out of the nest and into the big bad world. Fight or flight. But I never got the manual for either. Did you?

Ready… set… WHY DIDN’T YOU ALREADY GO?!… And now you’re behind. Everyone. In the entire damn world. Or at least that’s how it seems.

Now imagine making that transition in a foreign country… where you don’t know anyone and you don’t speak the native language. Now times that level of difficulty by 12.

This is my life.

I am 22, alone, confused, and lost 90% of the time that I am awake.

Yesterday, I opened a Chinese bank account. I handed my passport to my Chinese Assistant (who is a saint) and he filled out all of my information and negotiated what type of an account I wanted to open. Then, I was handed a new debit card and shown the door. It was an incredibly traumatic experience for me.

It felt like someone had cut my umbilical cord for the second time. Right Of Passage, my ass. Where was my Dad to talk me through my credit score and APR rates? Where was my Mom to show me how to budget my money correctly so I can eat well AND splurge on products to have great skin?!

Right now, my skin looks like shit. I can literally see the damage the Beijing water, air, and stress is doing to my appearance and I just want to curl up into a ball and hide. I don’t care if I’m throwing a tantrum. That’s how I feel, I will not apologize, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Whether you can see it in your skin, weight, or interpersonal relationships, you can’t ignore that internal stress impacts your outward functionality. It’s called Biology. Read about it.

[Author’s Note: You don’t need to be in school to read a book: cover to cover.]

So I did what any sane Mexican woman living in China would do. I bought me some tacos from a local Mexican restaurant and got a facial/massage (2 hours). Grand total: 180 Yuan. That’s roughly $30 bucks. Baller on a budget.

It doesn’t make a difference if you’re 22 or 42, moving to a new country is hard. Not impossible, but still hard. I also made it a point to not sleep the day away. There’s no sense in messing up my sleeping routine if I can’t sustain a “10 hours of sleep every day” bad habit. Instead, I gave my body, mind, and soul the 24 hour “rest” it needed because I’m a human being-not a machine. As a result, I can feel my mood (and skin) glowing more and more radiant as I continue to stumble through life, business, and China.

While I don’t have a “remedy” to our (i.e. recent grads) growing pains, I will say that these small three things dramatically improved my experience in China and on my own:

1) Only buy food that perishes in 2 weeks or less
– This will create a routine for you and FORCE you to stop going out and blowing your money on fancy dinners/booze you can’t afford. It will force you to learn how to cook. It will force you to maintain your figure. This is my golden rule for success…. unless Steve’s Paleo Goods starts shipping to China.

2) Stop getting drunk in public places.
– Get drunk at home and then WANDER INTO said public places. Or just go to bed… this tactic is an incredibly useful way to save face/drunk texts.

3) Clean your living space.
– Even if you just have a single room to your name (like me!), keep it clean and orderly so you don’t buy things you already have/don’t need. And even if everything went wrong during the day, at night you are protected in your own palace of solitude. Where nothing is “wrong,” it’s just meant to be that way.

The proof is in the pudding… of the Chinese facial mask that I have on right now. I also, found a FABULOUS dermatologist at an international hospital that’s going to hook it up courtesy of my equally as fabulous international insurance plan. If you need a rec, just inbox me.

Wander onwards my friends.RightOfPassage copy


3 thoughts on “The Rite Of Passage Into Adulthood: A Sob Story

  1. Vanessa, this is fantastic work. You have a great voice and this was a pleasure to read. You may want to consider writing a book of all your experiences.

  2. You are just great! I love your energy and want to thank you for Sharing your experiences! It’s nice to find other people with this mentality!

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