TO CELEBRATING MY ACHIEVEMENTS

OK. I don’t do this often. I don’t celebrate my achievements. Or I did, and then I stopped and became too modest. I wonder why that is.

I remember meeting an intelligent, well-traveled, well-educated, mid-twenties girl (Nuria) in Beijing. We have a friend in common (Alessia) who connected us. My memory isn’t clear as to what we were talking about. I simply remember sitting down on a mat on the second floor of a quaint and well-lit restaurant in the hutongs of Beijing. And she mentioned something similar to what I wrote in the first two lines of this post. At the time, I was quite bewildered and in awe with that revelation! I thought: how could she not show-off all the great achievements she’s accomplished so far. Four years later. I’m at that stage, too.

Yesterday morning , I opened my Facebook page and saw a memory from five years ago. Back then, I dropped everything in Montreal, hopped on a plane to Mexico with the intent to keep moving forward and never look back. No matter how challenging this journey might be. Obviously, I was nervous. People think that, people like me — who just up and leave — are bullet proof, like Luke Cage! Strength and boldness have their limits, too! It’s pushing through and extending those boundaries that get extremely painful and numbing. But, I did it. I left. I couldn’t bare not knowing what my life would be like, had I not realized my dream to live abroad and travel.

Within the first year, I struggled. I was caught up in this vortex, in which I missed everything about Montreal, my life in Montreal, my friends in Montreal and my family. Yet, I was liking, loving and annoyed with what worked and didn’t work in Mexico. I was trying to adapt to a new environment, a new culture, ALONE! Then again, I wasn’t alone. I met a girl from Montreal (Prunelle). We connected as two individuals who dropped everything to realize our dreams. At least, together, we held on to a piece of Montreal, while adapting through a new environment. By the end of my first year, we went our separate ways.

The second year, I was prepared. After a bit more than a year in Mexico, I understood myself a bit more as to how I cope with ‘newness’. I moved to Beijing. And no, I didn’t speak a word of Mandarin. But, I learned to pick it up quickly if I wanted to get shit done! I downloaded one of those language apps and learned how to count to 100 in Mandarin. Every morning, I would walk to the subway station with my earphones on, listen and repeat out loud. I was determined and not afraid to sound crazy counting in Mandarin amongst the overly crowded Chinese people on the street.

That year, I made friends quickly. Through Nuria, I met Justin who pretty much knew everyone. I met a lot of successful and young people in their early twenties, well into their career in Hospitality Management. Most of them studied at Les Roches International School of Hospitality Management and doing an internship in Beijing or, kick started their careers with Starwood Hotels, or have worked in the industry for a fairly long time, and been living in Beijing. I was impressed! Meanwhile, I had finished my Bachelor’s degree and couldn’t kick start my career in my field- I would get the silent treatment from every employer I applied for.

Some of them left Beijing as they had completed their internship, or finishing off their degree at Les Roches. Others went back home. As the group started thinning, I ended up with a solid group of friends. Justin, Ranjeev, Juan, Camille, Anne-Sophie, Elisabeth, Thibault, Colleen and Rita. All from various parts of the world and from China. Each and one of them, and as a group, they brought joy, humor, genuineness, kindness, intelligence, and fun! With them, I went to see David Guetta on the Great Wall of China. With them, I savored teppannyaki and sake for 200 kuai. With them, I explored China and Chinese culture through their eyes and their experience. With them, I felt like I belonged. I longed to find friends who could be spontaneous and curious to try new things. I felt like I had found a family. With them, I began to appreciate the strength and boldness to leave my comfortable nest and encounter new people. By the end of my second year, we went our separate ways.

In the past three years, after China, I have been living in Australia. By all means, the hardest part of my journey has been chasing to settle in one place. I live as a nomad. I am a nomad. I feel free as a nomad. It’s definitely not in my nature and essence to stay put — for now, that’s what I believe. I’ve had a hard time making friends from Perth, as the ones I attracted and belonged to, were in Australia temporarily. I struggled to communicate the strength, boldness, and determination that I carried through this journey, and going forward, to those who comfortably lived in their nested world. After a while, I gave up and became lonely. I let myself tumble down a deep and dark hole. I couldn’t get out because I was in complete disbelief with myself. It felt as if those two years in Mexico and China, that have shaped me, never existed. I forgot and leaned towards laying down, still and immobile in this deep, dark hole. On the surface, I seemed happy. I was studying my master’s. I was working, when I could find work. But, I struggled to climb out of this deep, dark hole every day. On New Year’s Eve of 2016, I was watching the fireworks by the Riverbank in Fremantle, and I decided I would climb out of that deep, dark hole and would learn to enjoy my loneliness. By the beginning of that year, I moved forward.

Today (March 1st), I celebrate my three-year anniversary in Australia. In these past five years, I learned that moments are ephemeral. I can cling on to them and try to recreate these exact moments, and even better. But, they have an end date and become a mere memory. That is when I need to learn to go my separate way from those memories, and keep moving forward.

I guess, I now understand Nuria’s modesty about her achievements. It began and ended, and now, onto new journeys.

Happy 3rd anniversary! May more achievements come along this continuing journey!

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