Today I want to share a little bit about our journey from my personal perspective, specifically what it’s like to start over completely. It wasn’t long after we were married that we were faced with the decision to move to China or not. For Micah it had been something he had always wanted to do and for me it was both wonderful and terrible. Micah and our friend, who we lovingly have nicknamed “The Professor,” spoke with me on and off for months about this.
It was a huge decision and I cannot relate to you the inner turmoil I faced in making this decision. On one hand exploring a whole new life and another world with two of my best friends was such an amazing opportunity. On the other hand, to do this I would have to leave my family and my career behind, of which I loved both dearly.
New world, new challenges
So as life constantly changes in often unexpected ways, here we are more than two years later. And today I find myself thinking about what it has been like for me to start completely over a few times in just the last two years. The first time was when we moved to Guilin, the second when we moved to Shenzhen, and third during the last 6 months while we are building up our business. We haven’t launched our business quite yet as we are building the foundation. So for right now I am starting completely over in a new “career”. This means I’m learning a vast set of skills for next year.
As a psychologist and a scientist, I understood my world. When I would encounter something new or something I wasn’t familiar like a new technique, line of research, or even a treatment plan for a new patient, I still knew how to investigate and learn it. That is not at all what I am finding here. I was, and still am at heart, a scientist, a person who trusts in empiricism and rational steps to solve problems or to explore something new. So learning how to design programs and themes, how to draw images needed, how to draw at all, and even how to speak Chinese has been a humbling experience. Art is significantly different then science.
Deep Breath and Google it
I am starting over, starting from scratch in a world I do not understand. It has taken me months to stop comparing what I could do in my field, psychology, to what I am doing in the field of graphic design or even comparing what I could buy or do in America with what I can in China. For me it has really been a struggle in many ways. I have sat in the middle of our living room (in its various forms) and fought back tears because I realize that there are so many aspects of “normal” life that I can’t do. Buying a coke from a corner store is often a round of charades, random syllables, and reading of body language.
You sometimes hear about people that are in terrible accidents who have to learn how to walk all over again? Well, there have been times when I felt a little like that. I remember the first week in China, we were hungry and wondering how in the world do we even find food? Or later when I started cooking, I wondered where and how to buy vegetables, meat, milk, spices! The most basic elements of life were aloof.
There is Dry Land eventually
At times starting over was frustrating beyond words. I remember standing in an isle and just screaming (in my head) that all I wanted was to buy a simple bag (or box) or oats for oatmeal and yet could NOT decipher between the 15 different kinds lining the shelves.
I quickly learned to use clues to figure things out and when that didn’t work I would look things up on my digital dictionary and ask an unsuspecting worker to help me find whatever I was searching for. As with most things I have learned tricks and trades that help me. Though even today it is sometimes difficult, but I learned definitely that I should not give up for things get better as we learn.
May the road rise to meet you.