Sunday, January 19, 2014

Back in Europe

Feeling relieved to be back in Europe. I mean Europe still feels foreign to me since its culture is very different and I don't have good friends here, but after this trip back to Asia, it is confirmed that "home" feels more foreign that any strange place in the world. Taiwan is great. People are friendly and food is inexpensive and delicious. I could live in Taiwan, but I would have to seriously minimize my interactions with family. I have never felt so distant from my family and relatives before. They probably always felt this distant to me but I just never realized it. Everyone does what they're supposed to do: you're "supposed" to take your little cousin who's visiting from abroad to places so that's what they do. It felt like it was what they felt were expected of them to do and that they weren't actually happy to see me. Being the difficult person that I am, I found it impossible to put up a cheerful front.

I learned that my mother raised me the way she did because she (and most other adults in Taiwan) assumed a million things about children. Parents feel like their main job is to tell their kids to study hard and make sure they eat, because kids don't like to eat or study. They also assume that once kids finish university, they will want to find a partner and settle down. Out of curiousity, I asked my 80-something year old father what he would want to do with his life if he were only 30 years old right now. He said, "Get married". My mother took that as a complement and was ecstatic.

Therein lies the great divide between my western upbringing and my parents' traditional Chinese thinking. My dad interpreted the question as, "What are you supposed to do when you are 30?" Either that or he has never given any alternative thoughts as to what else he could have done with his life.  I mean it's great that he is content with how his life has turned out, but the times are different; even if I copy his life path right now I will not end up with his stable job and family later on.

People didn't seem interested about my life in Europe. I mentioned that food isn't as good as in Taiwan, and that seemed to be all they needed to know. Instead of asking if I like my job or life abroad, they just assumed I will be able to find a stable job here and they joked that I might get married and live permanently in Sweden. I don't like people making assumptions about me without understanding my situation and my way of thinking, which makes our interactions quite unpleasant.

It will be another year before I have to interact with them again. I hope I can adjust my mindset better for the next encounter. I wish my family was more loving and supportive but that's just not the way they are. Have to figure out a way to be okay with how they are.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Finally feeling a sense of freedom from my family situation, at least for now

For the first 21 years of my life, I felt like I was on track to a productive, well-respected life. I studied hard, tried to cause little trouble, was an totally obedient little girl. When I graduated, I learned that just focusing on school and not researching about the job environment or getting work experience was quite a stupid decision. So I tried to get work experience. Then I felt that the field I chose would benefit a lot more if I entered grad school, so that's what I did. Then I realized the academia and the world of scientific research was nothing like I imagined, but I gritted my teeth and toughed it out. This blog chronicles my struggles, first with yoga as a healing process, with the naive thinking that I would be healed very soon. Then I slumped into a couple years of mostly negative emotional states, sad and confused how I got there.

Now I'm back home again, and for the first time in a very long time, I am happy to report that I no longer feel like I am a disrespected, useless, trapped, immature little girl who has never grown up and never will. In a way I guess it's good that my family stays consistent all these years, so even though I am slower than average people to figure out these kind of stuff, I can finally predict what I would face every time I return home. I see that on the surface they treat me courteously but in reality their actions say that they think I know nothing outside of studying so therefore they must guide me step by step how to do the simplest stuff like taking a bus. Viewing it another way, perhaps my family just doesn't know how to raise children to be independent. They like to handhold younger generations for all of their lives, to the point that they never end up learning how to be on their own. And then they turn around and say, "Look, these younger generations are so useless compared to us and the older generations. They don't know how to learn to do anything on their own." It's the same as complaining about weight issues and then overeating "only during" special occasions (holidays, guest visiting, birthdays, anniversaries ), which happen so often that they are practically overeating most of the time. Basically they complain or talk negatively about something, but these traits or situations they don't like are caused by their own doings. I guess it's human nature to do so.

I feel a great sense of freedom that whatever absurdities I observe and experience, they will be over in a week and a bit. I'm so happy that I found a place to live who respects individuals as equals (well, not 100%, but much, much better than here in Asia), and allows people space to grow and learn. I spent a good part of my life trying to be good, to impress people, and to make my family happy, but now I see it's quite a futile attempt. What makes them happy will make me very miserable. I should look out for myself and be okay with the fact that they have never thought highly of me and may never will. Their opinions of me do not define my success or failure in life. Feeling very relieved about that.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!! New Year's resolutions for 2014

Happy New Year from Asia!! Seems like I go right back into my mindless eating habits, stuffing my face like mad. Luckily I'm only here for two weeks so hopefully the weight-gain will not be overly substantial. Family members still behaves pretty consistently with how they've always acted (behaviors in which for the past 10 years I had found to be quite annoying). But now I'm looking at their behaviors in a different light, so that is interesting. It would be really nice if I myself can look at them in a more compassionate and tolerant way, which it is difficult, but I am trying.

My New Year's resolutions for 2014:

- Learn Taichi and/or qigong -- learn to move my chi to improve energy/alertness

- Exercise more -- I would like to improve my cardio fitness

- Continue to work on my arm balances -- my shoulder and upper body weight-bearing capacity have improved, but there are still a lot of room for further strengthening

- Publish publish publish!! Must focus more on work when I get back.

- Try harder to get to work on time -- been getting to work late every day for the past few months.

- Blog more often -- want to aim for at least once a week.

- Manage myself at work better... I don't know how I will succeed at this but I really need to work on it. Try to get along with my co-workers better and communicate better with the boss. Lots of new challenges happening next year so I need to be more confident to face them!

- In terms of yoga, I think I need to work more on strengthening, more mindful of movements and avoid over-stretching, and really do more pranayama + meditation

Hope I can achieve at least some of these points!! Will work on all of them for sure (I just don't know for how long)!

p.s. Just watched this video, "Try something new for 30 days". I think one suitable activity to try could be daily pranayama exercises (at least one, say alternative nostril breathing, but ideally more than one, like breath of fire and other techniques) for 30 days.

Will keep you updated on my progress.