What an interesting year 2011 has been!
The most influential thing to happen this year was the office job. I've always had unconventional jobs - waitress, retail sales associate, adult education teacher, small business owner - so I thought it was time to try out salaried employment for a while.
In my office chair, I learned so much about writing & editing course materials for online English lessons. I learned about spreadsheets & timelines, PowerPoint & office politics. & I learned that - although I really do enjoy being a content editor - working a 9-to-5, enduring the daily commute, & sitting in a lifeless office all day are not exactly my thing. Thank goodness for freelancing!
This year, I was able to travel to London & the Philippines for work. (My first business trips!) I got to spend a month at home with friends & family. I traveled within China to Harbin, Xian & Tibet. Yes, Tibet! Amazing adventures.
But all this stimulating travel & discovery has contrasted starkly with the daily grind. People ask me why I would leave Shanghai when it's so easy to live here. Lots of people speak English so learning Chinese can be a hobby rather than a survival strategy. Western food & culture are widely available. Many people have drivers & maids because money is worth more here. Frankly, we don't really have to put any effort into living here at all. That's true. Maybe too true.
But Shanghai can be overwhelming with it's hustle & bustle, the traffic, the noise, the pushing & shoving, the shopping - oh! the shopping. I find I can handle it much better with my MP3 player on & my head down. I move around the city, I move through my life here in a bubble, without really paying attention to it - stimulation overload.
& so I'm leaving. I don't want to coast through my life, & I don't want to spend my days in a bubble. Instead, I want to pay attention to what's happening, & I want life to be challenging. I want to see beautiful places, meet interesting people. I want to learn what it's like out there. I want to have to solve the kinds of problems that I will only come across when traveling to a new place.
I want to do things the hard way. & that might be the most important thing I've learned this year.
Things I've learned 2010