I think I’m slowly (and painfully) coming to terms with the finality of China. In some ways, I’ve known that China was the next logical step for a while. But it was one of those things like ‘oh, I should finally take up home brewing’ that you think about, romanticize about, maybe even buy some bottles for, but never actually do (I swear, I’ll get around to making ginger beer eventually!) I had started thinking about China more seriously in February, when I started looking at jobs. But the finality of it all hasn’t really struck me until today. I feel like the gear has really shifted. I won’t feel like it’s absolutely final until I breathe in the gasoline-tinged Shanghai air, but as of now, I am going. I booked my (one-way) ticket, applied for my work visa, cancelled my Birchbox subscription (that one hurt the most).
Pictured above: the point of no return.
And yet, all of these weeks something’s felt off.
I can’t help but feel bad omens about China. It’s like that feeling when you get into a new relationship and suddenly every guy you ever knew asks you out on a date. This is that, but with recruiters. The morning after the initial job offer email from Shanghai, I got a phone call from a technology company I had applied to two years ago, asking me if I wanted to interview. I said no (probably stupid of me, but I don’t think I’m ready to move to Mountain View just yet). I told them I was going to China and they promised to call back in a year. The week after, I got a call to interview for a law firm I had applied to in my desperate January ‘I should become a lawyer’ job-email blast (who knows, law school might be.. fun?). And last week, I got a job offer from them to work as a paralegal. Do all of these signs actually mean anything? Probably not. Living to New York would be the dream, but I don’t think it’s something I’m quite ready for yet (although that hefty salary offer is oh so sweet).
I’m scared I’m going to hate China, that I’m going to hate Shanghai, the pollution, the food (thinking about Chinese food after my last trip to China makes the insides of my stomach curdle). I’m scared of falling out of touch with people, of leaving my friends behind. I’m scared that I’m putting my life on hold for however long I go, and that when I come back, I’ll still be just as lost (but marginally better at 中文). I’m going to miss late-night phone calls to California, pitchers at Miya’s late-night, heart-to-heart conversations with my roommate fueled by (always a little too many) Moscow Mules. I’m going to miss Chipotle rice bowls, being bad at yoga, having New York City just a short train ride away, greasy American-Chinese food, and Amazon Prime.
I know China is not forever. I’ll be there for half a year if I absolutely hate it, a little longer if I absolutely love it. So why does something still feel so off?
This is one of those posts I know I’ll look at later this year and be embarrassed about writing. I’ve been living this entire year so fearlessly, and yet the one thing I feel has made the most fearless is giving me the most trepidation.