A return to an old practice in a new world

Hello hello!

Yes, I realize that it’s been over seven months since my last post on this website. I never forgot about this blog – it’s difficult to forget the fact that you have four years worth of personal journal entries floating around somewhere on the Interwebs – but I just haven’t gotten around to updating the site like I had promised at the beginning of 2017. A lot has happened since then.

Here’s a quick run-down:

  • Moved back home from my downtown apartment to prepare myself for a move to London, UK.
  • Left my consumer insights job obviously, for the above reason.
  • Met up with friends for some final Toronto farewells.
  • Moved to London while only knowing two other people in the city.
  • Found a flat, moved into said flat, set up a bank account, applied to jobs.

It’s been a hectic past few months, but I have learned so much about me, people, and the world around me. It’s amazing how much you learn about yourself when you force yourself into an unknown environment. Humans’ natural survival instinct is a wonderful thing.

A lot of people have asked me in the past few weeks on why I made the decision to move to London all of a sudden. But the thing is, this decision wasn’t a decision that I made suddenly, it was something that I started considering back in October 2016.

This will sound cliché, but life is short. It really is. Having worked on “client-side”, and seeing so many people working at a company for such a long period of time – “lifers” – it really made me realize how short life is. I sound so much like an atypical millennial right now, saying how short life is, how uninterested I am in a decade-long career at one singular company, etc. But there were other factors in my decision too.

I knew that if I wanted to work or study overseas, it had to be done in my 20s, when I was single, when I had little to lose, and more importantly, when I was still eligible for United Kingdom’s Tier 5 Youth Mobility visa. Once I enter my 30s, I would no longer be able to apply for this visa.

Then there was the fact that I wanted to grow up faster. Because I took a much longer period of time to graduate from university, I knew I had some catching up to do in terms of building my career. Everything that one experiences in the first few jobs after graduation was something that I was in a rush to experience. I know, life is not a race, but I was in a rush to experience the appropriate experiences that would eventually mature me into a better adult. (I am aware that “a better adult” is an arguable descriptor.) I experienced a lot in my first full-time role after university – arguably more so than what most new graduates experienced in their first position – but to me, knowing that I was much older than most graduates when they first entered the workforce, I knew that I had a ton of catching up to do.

Yet this contradicts one of the other factors that went into my decision to leave Canada – life is not a race. All my life, as a first-generation Chinese-Canadian, I’ve been pressured to succeed in every aspect of life. (I came across the /r/AsianParentStories subreddit late last week, by the way, and I found that I was able to relate to most of the posts on that page.) I knew that I needed some time by myself to learn more about myself without any influence from my parents. A question I wanted an answer to was: “Am I actually ambitious, or is my ambition just a result of my upbringing?”

Moving out from my parents’ place back in March 2016 was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for myself in my young 20-something years. It opened my eyes to how much my parents have influenced me over the years. Quite honestly, they’ve been such a big influence, it was to a point where I was unsure of who I was. It was as if I had been living in a box all these years, and had been struggling to burst out into my own self.

I was struggling in my relationships with my friends too. There were so many different sides of me that I was showing to people. If I was too quiet in one crowd of friends, I felt like I didn’t belong. If I was too opinionated, I felt like I didn’t belong. I was too passive for some friends but too strong for others. It was as if I could never win. And that felt wrong. My happiness is about me. I am aware that there are aspects of myself that I definitely needed to work on, but I also needed to find out exactly how much I needed to change, how much I wanted to change, and how much I allowed myself to give up in order to maintain these relationships. Or, most honestly, how valuable I consider these relationships that I would be willing to give up a part of myself.

So there you have it. A long blog about the various reasons as to why I decided to up and leave Toronto, Canada.

As a closing note, I’ll end this entry with this quote from an actor on one of my favourite TV shows at the moment:

Sometimes opportunities present themselves to you in unfamiliar ways. And oftentimes the discomfort that come with those decisions are an indication for how important they are to your development. Discomfort is a fundamentally important feature of our lives, and something that demands action. The actions we choose to make determine who we become, and so discomfort is the grand catalyst to growth. I’ll try to remember this next time I’m in knee deep water. Cole Sprouse

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  • Did you even see it, if you didn't see it in a theatre during public release? 😏 That mahjong scene still made me tear up the second time around. And definitely appreciated Henry Golding even more the second time around too. Thank you, @warnerbrosuk, for bringing the UK release date forward two months. I can't imagine what the wait would've been like if #CrazyRichAsians was to be released in November like it was originally planned. 🇬🇧 Also, is my skin really that dark in real life?! Good grief, I tanned some several shades this summer. 😩
  • Storybook vibes. I want to go back. 🏞️ (Note to self: I think the poor photo quality is because I was on a motor boat that legit barrelled down the fjords at like record speed, so fast the camera couldn't stabilize fast enough. 😭)
  • It was a sunny Sunday in Brighton. But in just one week, summer is over. Back to miserable ol' English weather... 🇬🇧
  • Repsweating: "It's the idea of sweating it out over representation, that feeling of: 'I don't even need to like this thing, but I need it to win.'"⁣ 💪🏻
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That was me going into the movie. I've been positively obsessed with this movie for the past two months - reading all the spoilers, following all the critical reviews, checking box office numbers every day... I needed it to succeed in North America because I knew that if it succeeded in Canada and the United States, it meant that we could get more of these projects. More Asian actors in the Western hemisphere starring in Western film projects. ⁣
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What I didn't expect though, was how anxious I would actually end up feeling when I sat there in the cinema lobby watching all the audience members file in into the movie. Majority of them were white. There were Asians (East Asians), sure, but most of them were white. When I realized this, after having sat down in the theatre, I started feeling a bit nervous. Would this UK audience react to this movie the way the US audiences have? Would this UK audience react to this movie the way I wanted them to? Would they understand the references? Would they get the jokes?⁣
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If I was watching this movie in Toronto, I wouldn't have been as nervous. I knew that the movie would succeed. East Asians are everywhere in Toronto; we are the majority visible minority group. And having grown up in a multicultural Western city like Toronto, we were like Asian-Americans. We would come out to support this, no question about it... ⁣But I'm not in Toronto, I live in London UK now.⁣
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I've been through so many experiences here in the UK where I've been made to feel ashamed of my culture, that when I sat in the theatre, I realized that this film experience would be way more personal than I thought it would be. Now that it has succeeded in the States, and the sequel is a guarantee, I needed an almost all-white British audience, in a country vocally proud of its imperialist history, to really embrace and enjoy this movie. ⁣
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(continued below...)
#CrazyRichAsians
  • Squid and shellfish risotto. 🐚
  • When #London gives you free hamburgers, you go queue up and eat them. 🍔 #GeniusGlutenFree