Someone once told me, “if you want to make God laugh, tell him your life plans.” Even as an agnostic, I can support that.
My plan was to come to China, backpack Asia, and document it all for friends and family to enjoy. Seems simple enough. I assumed that many of the same business, language, and legal systems we have set up in America would be replicated in China; because they make sense and are practical. I thought that everyone would speak English (to some degree) and that the pollution couldn’t possibly be as bad as reported. I presumed that my China experience was going to be identical to my western lifestyle-but in Chinese.
Basically, I threw myself to the wolves-covered in calf blood-in the middle of winter.
So what do I do now? My Plan A is out the door and I’m not old enough to LEGALLY get a working Z Visa in China to execute plan B, C, and E. Plan D is to marry a rich Chinese man… “D” as in “Desperate.” And TECHNICALLY, this one is still on the table…
My life is like GIRLS, but in Chinese.
After talking to many of my other China friends, I’ve realized that I’m not the only frantically going through the alphabet, trying to find a plan that works.
…“I’m doing a Masters program that I don’t even like”…
… “I only planned to stay 6 months. Then I was going to go back to the UK to be with my super serious boy friend. I was going to get married and become a Chinese teacher… but instead, I’ve been here for 2.5 years and I still don’t know what the fuck I want to do with my life…”
“I’m jobless, homeless, and loveless.”
But this is China. Everything in China is just a constant cluster-fuck, so the best “plan” is to have no plan and to wait for life to pass you a soft ball. Only rookies have concrete strategies. Only people who are destine to fail see out their proposal till the end.
I am neither. Or at least I’d like to believe so.
At any given moment in China, your office could close, an employer could skip town, or your Visa could be revoked. And you just have to take it. Like a freaking woman. You have to become comfortable with taking leaps of faith because there’s rent to make and residency to maintain. So while the goal is stability, I think the word needs to be adjusted.
I prefer “floating.”
Or the ability to keep one’s head above water for long periods of time. This way, I can still enjoy the cold chaos beneath the surface, but at the same time, I can still breathe. I can relax. I can close my eyes and enjoy the journey.
If you’re currently drowning in your mother country, consider yourself lucky that you have the ability to communicate with people around you when you need help. Consider yourself blessed, that you don’t have to fear deportation or imprisonment for simply wanting to create a life for yourself. Remember that you’re incredibly fortunate that there are laws and rules in your society that protect you from harassment, fraud, and intimidation. During the holidays, it’s important to remember what we have.
Because most wanderers don’t have that in China. We are just 21st century immigrants just trying to find our place in the world.
It’s okay to fail. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to feel sorry for yourself while eating dark chocolate, as you tell your cat about all your feelings. What defines a truly strong person is the ability to roll with the punches AND take them, at the same time. Because even when everything seems like it’s gone to hell, there are 25 other letters to choose from in the alphabet. Screw Plans A through D.
If nothing goes right, then zuo guai (turn left).