My late night worbling about the thing called “challenge”

26 Feb

OK, I’m not going to call it a “culture shock” because it always sounds like a cliche to me. Plus, I get such a feeling everywhere, even in my own home country. But this posting is about the challenge that I’ve faced so far. I mean, I’ve been in Hanoi in total of about a month after all, and I can’t believe that it’s already end of the month. 25th of February. Since it is a shorter month, there’s something sad about this month, that maybe I’m losing out my precious 2 days, which is equivalent of 48 hours, and who knows how many minutes… But my challenge isn’t actually the lack of time, but the feeling that things are slipping off of my hands like I try to grab water or fog.

The real challenge -the bigger one, perhaps- is that I’m realizing how challenging it can be to become a part of a new environment.  Not even becoming a part of it, but just the part that you get used to all the new things.  I always thought that I was good at becoming a part of something. Such an overconfidence of mine came from how I’ve always told myself that this is one thing that I’m good at this- becoming one of “the others.” It sounds and seems all glorious, doesn’t it? But it’s actually a pretty darn stressful process here in Hanoi.  Add the stress of the language on top of that. I’m gonna say it. It’s been really really difficult to get used to the new life, and I’m still adjusting a big deal, while I’m supposedly one third way done with my internship.  I’m still struggling with finding the right bus stop, the weather/climate (as if I haven’t complained enough), the noise, the crowd, the atmosphere… everything can be so stifling and makes me want to burst out crying in the middle of the street, clearly knowing that no one is going to give a jack about it.

The worst part of it would be the loneliness in the city, though.

I guess it’s been too long but I had forgotten about how difficult it can be, and what a challenge moving can be.  I moved to the US 10 years ago, and that was a big deal, but after 8 years, I thought I was bulletproof, part of it because I passed the worst long time ago, and by the time I graduated from college, I felt that it was OK, and I didn’t suffer that much.  Funny how people’s memories are built to erase things that might be too burdensome.  Then there came Singapore, which stressed me out a huge deal the first semester, but eventually, about a year and half later, I felt fine, and I finally felt home with it (or I finally made peace with it and then moved on).

Then now, Vietnam.  Knowing that I will be leaving in several months, maybe this is not even worth of that much emotional energy to waste.  But when every bit of my life is a struggle, from waiting for the bus that doesn’t seem to have any schedule or order or safety consciousness, to staring at the taxi meter frantically just because I heard too many horror stories with taxis and am worried that I’ll be ripped off (but probably by petty amount like 2-3 dollars, which still carries quite a bit of worth here), to finding the right place to eat where I still don’t quite know where to go besides this one particular place around the corner of my office, to having to spend too much money while in fact I had only spent about 5 dollars that day, to my lack of energy in everyday life here (perhaps because of all the “struggles”), it is easy to realize that maybe what I (and many people) have fantasized about living in a completely different place may not be such a great thing.

But the bigger fear is this. I always thought that I was made for these things, and I’ve been sure over the past several years that I want the kind of life that doesn’t necessarily provide me with stability but with mobility and different types of people.  Now I can’t help but asking, have I been completely wrong about myself? The kind of life that I was sure that would fuel me with energy and health seems to be eating me alive, at least now. I’m utterly confused by the situation and by the realization that terrifies me. Really, am I just an emotional wreck who might not be strong enough to deal with these new challenges? Where is the person in my head who enjoys the challenges of different environments and adventures?  I ask myself the same question everyday, but the answer is hard to be found.

I hope that the courage and patience will be built based on my everyday experience for the rest of my time here, and by the end of it, I hope that I can tell myself again: “See, that wasn’t so hard.”  I hope that I’ll have been leveled up in a whole different way. And for another day, I pass by motorbikes that seem to pop up from everywhere and anywhere around me, but I hope that tomorrow, I will be able to have a good laugh about how silly they are and how much I will miss the noise that they make once I’m away.


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