Pack your bags
I’m writing this article as I’m packing my bags to leave Chine for good. The capital of Shaanxi province gave me a home for the last year. Unfortunately, shit hit the fan, and the Coronavirus scooped the streets. I spent 29 days in quarantine(house-arrest). And the business side of what kept me in China fell apart. There is no reason to stay, except for temporary safety. The company I work for provides accommodation and pocket money. I need more than mere survival. It’s time to leave.
I tried to spin the February events to a good point. I told myself I’ll have more time to write and read and finish all those passion projects. And I did have more time to write and blog. After almost a month, the general situation didn’t improve. The Chinese society slid even further into despair. Cases of new infections started popping around the world. And I grew afraid of being indefinitely stuck in Xi’an.
I booked a flight for London with 24h notice to my roommate and employer.
I dipped my toes in the pool of scary. Moving to England during Brexit. Wonderfull. Arriving from Coronavirus infected China. Perfect. Pass all the roadblocks and barriers and pray that no one stops you. Got it.
It all makes sense, except it doesn’t. I decided to follow my fears. That’s usually where the good stuff lies.
“Many false steps were made by standing still.” — Fortune Cookie
What happened every time I left? I’ve lived and worked as an expat for the better part of the last eight years. I’ve seen more than 20 countries. Even the places I didn’t like left valuable lessons. And those lessons stung when I had to leave. I’m feeling it right now as well.
What is it in the human psyche to long for stuff we’re about to lose? Even if we had no interest in them. When you tell us we’re not going to have it anymore, we want it more than ever.
I started noticing this phenomenon when I was a kid. I’d go to the barbershop with my greasy pot of hair. I could see how terrible I looked days before visiting the shop. But once I sat in barbers chair, and white linen came around my chest, I immediately changed my mind. “It’s not so bad, why do I want to cut it?” I asked myself.
Nothing changed. The same goes for now. I have to leave China. I was here for work. I had my fair share of good times, but I wasn’t particularly drawn to the culture. There is nothing wrong with Chinese, it’s just not my cup of tea. I learned my lessons, but ever since 2020 started, I yearned to go back to Western Europe. Anywhere West. I missed that European crazy. I decided to try England and spend the Summer in Spain. Great plan. But right now, as I’m packing my bags, I’m not ready to leave. Yesterday it was the only thing I could think about. But now, that I’m already one foot out the door, all I want to do is to stay. Why do I feel like that?
“We are more disturbed by a calamity which threatens us than by one which has befallen us.” — John Lancaster Spalding
Anxiety and fear of the future are dangerous. There are two types of fears. One will leave you immobilized and unable to move. It’s the same one you get when you turn to stone upon stepping in front of a moving truck. The other is the fear that keeps you on the move. It’s the same fear that will wake you up at 3am in the morning to publish your article. It’s the fear of screwing up. The fear intensifies with the number of people you have under your care. When others depend on you, such fear gives you motivation to go the extra mile. A mile you wouldn’t do otherwise. Anxiety to run until you’re finished, and then run some more.
Always strive to utilize your fear. Use it to go the extra mile.