Keeping busy when you’re new in town.

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Photo by Julius Nieves

Boston is a transient place.

I must’ve been at a meetup trying to make friends when I said this. It was the best way I could think of to describe what I’d seen now at event after event: bright-eyed young people, usually brand new to the city, hustling desperately for friends, lovers, and some semblance of the easy social belonging they had during college.

Living alone in the city for the first time should be magical. You’re young, (mostly) financially independent, free to laugh and kiss and put down roots in a new place.

Within a month of moving to Boston I was spending each night under my covers, binging YouTube documentaries about plague doctors. Adult loneliness is tinged with a hint of hysteria. Will I ever find friends? Can I be happy on my own? Could I get over her or am I doomed to crying on the red line every other week? …


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Photo by NeONBRAND

My first journal entry was extremely polite. At the time I operated from the assumption that when (not if) I became a famous writer, people would be interested to see what I was saying at the age of six.

Fame notwithstanding, the habit stuck. I journaled my way through the tumult of moving to China, scribbled through my classic teen angst, and the young adult crisis of coming to terms with who I am.

I’ve always carried a journal around. There are months where I went without writing in it, usually in an attempt to escape my own crippling self-awareness.

And then there are months like these. …


On the unreality of pandemic time.

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Photo by Djim Loic

Crisis is current. Right now means something exhausting and expansive, engulfing us in what it means to exist in hyper-awareness of not knowing what comes next. Cases and deaths by hour, quarantine now, shelter in place today.

As much as I love online media, breaking news stresses me out. It’s far too easy for me to move through headline after headline, sinking into slow despair at how little the people I love and I matter in the “big picture”.

And now every aspect of our personal lives has taken on the shape of the big picture. We are living through a global pandemic. …


The soul-searching method of thinking skin-deep.

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Photo by Nick de Partee on Unsplash

Sometime during middle school, I came to a decision. The sparkly days of childhood dressing up were over. Fashion was a frivolous pursuit, and I would waste no more time on it.

For the next few years I put my money where my mouth was. I wore orange cargo pants with torn-up blue Crocs in the name of “comfort”. The hottest days of Shanghai’s summers were no match for my uniform of long slouchy jeans and collared shirts, accompanied of course by cool kid lanyard. The mere mention of “color coordination” or “makeup” was enough to make me grimace.

Even when I toned down the intentional clunkiness of my outfits for college, I stayed committed to my original cause. Caring about style seemed like a waste of time. Each morning I’d slap on whatever jeans/sweatpants + plain shirt combo was within my reach. …


Dating apps are easy. That’s what makes them so difficult.

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Photo by Tony Lam Hoang

Three months after college, I finally did it.

It was another humid August weekend. Sitting on my bed, I deleted all of the dating apps from my phone.

Four years. Four years of a relationship and odd dates, sloppy conversations and neat deletions later, I decided that I was done.

For the longest time, I was the biggest advocate for dating apps. I puzzled over them, dissected them. I defended it from concerned family members and assorted friends. Technology’s potential for human connection has thrilled me since I was a child. …


I hate ghosting. Here’s why I still do it.

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Photo by Noelle Otto from Pexels

When I first downloaded Tinder, I couldn’t help but feel like my utopian vision of modern love was about to come true. Technology had finally pushed us past the point of going out and mingling with sweaty strangers at parties, and instead I could sit at home judging people from a distance.

If we liked each other, we’d match. If not, no hard feelings. Clean, efficient, and easy, exactly how things should be.

Here’s the deal. People fascinate me the same way that taxidermied animals in the museum do. In glossy photos, at a distance, they’re marvels of nature that I’ll happily observe all day. But when they’re resting on my pillows at 3 am staring at me with their beady little eyes, I begin to wish that I left them where I found them. …


Growing up Chinese didn’t prepare me to be American.

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Photo by Robin Stickel

Like most American kids in my generation, I watched a lot of ads growing up.

This was the early 2000s, when TVs were still the centerpiece of the household. Sitting on the couch with my legs hanging off, staring into the screen with my mouth hanging open, I watched advertisements play out with the kind of dumbfounded attention that a kid could muster.

Of course I loved the toys, the games, the bright colors. But even back then I remember a vague fascination with food ads that I couldn’t quite explain.

In every ad, normal American families were ones that lived in big suburban houses like we did. They had a mom and dad like I did, and a little sibling like my baby brother. They didn’t quite look like us, but I was used to that. …


Even after the worst kind of breakup, no one can fix you but you.

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Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

You’ve been in a relationship for a while. A year, two years, or even more than that, enough time that you’ve carved out a space for the other person in your own plans for the future.

You have faith in the relationship. Your partner is positive, affirming. They say things that you need to hear, make you feel good in your own skin like no one else has.

And then everything comes crashing down.

You’re alone. And you’re hurt. Not just because you’re standing in the rubble of a ruined relationship. …


What they are, why you should start one, and how to do it.

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Photo by: Matthew Henry from Burst

These days, everyone is busy.

When it comes to work, it seems like everyone is hustling. Students, professionals, and everyone in between.

Here’s the thing. I know life can get hectic, and you want to be able to have fun on the weekends. But unless you’re already one of those people who has every little blank spot on their schedule penciled in, or you are already doing every single thing you love at your day job, I’m here to make a strong case to you about the benefits of a side gig.

I’m not an expert by any means. What I am is a very recent college graduate who kept several moderately profitable side gigs as a student. And even if I have regrets about the way I handled it sometimes, I also honestly regret that I didn’t do more. …


Graduating without a job was the best thing I could do for myself.

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Photo by Ali Arapoğlu from Pexels

Two weeks ago, I did the unthinkable.

I walked across the stage at my college graduation, accepted my diploma, and then went home…without a job.

Somehow, I always imagined that the version of me who was strong and smart enough to graduate from college would be strong and smart enough to figure out a job for myself before graduation. But there I was. Despite all the time I spent searching, applying, interviewing, I still didn’t have a job.

My friends and family were kind. They told me I should go home, take a well-needed break. …

About

Xiaoxiao Meng

Part-time writer, full-time bilingual. Trying to make sense of self, culture, and just about everything in between. https://xiaoxiaormeng.com

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