I know. It’s been a while. And the site was down for a bit.
I have switched to a new server and am still working out the kinks. If you found that some of the comments you left recently were deleted, please forgive me–some of the newer comments did not make the leap over to the new server. Expect at least another week until things are back to normal.
Unfortunately, I can’t blame the lack of updates on the server alone. To be brutally honest, I have been struggling emotionally–so much so, I find it difficult to write. I am still suffering from severe reverse culture shock, even after one year. I tried to summarize my feelings and anxieties in a post to conclude my one year anniversary here in the United States, but none of the drafts seemed to convey just what I was feeling. Plus, I was paranoid about sounding like a whiny, Asia-homesick weenie.
Like the stereotypical distraught writer figure, I was crumpling up my blog posts into paper balls and tossing them into the digital trash bin. I
had have extremely bad writer’s block.
So in a rare change, I am going to ramble.
Does Ambition Make us Happy?
I came across a very interesting article that talked about how relationships are more important than ambition. The article details how those that have achieved what society deems as “success” are actually less happier than their smug counterparts that never “amounted to much.”
The article contrasts the life of a traveling journalist with his homebody sister. While the journalist saw the world and achieved mass media success, the sister planted herself happily in a small town and continued to build a smug, fulfilling community. Although most would say the journalist was more “successful,” the homebody sister was actually happier in the long run since she was constantly surrounded and supported by her friends, family and community. Eventually, the sister was diagnosed with cancer. Instead of fight the battle alone, the entire town chipped in to support her.
The journalist brother then realized what was truly important–what happiness truly is. He then understood that if he were to get cancer, no one would come running to his side.
In America, we are taught to ‘live up to your potential’ and ‘to be the best we can be.’ We’re trained from a young age that anything is possible with hard work, determination and a splash of intelligence. This mindset is what helped create the Steve Jobs and Sheryl Sandbergs of today. It’s a set of beliefs that value ambition more than anything else.
This article struck a very personal chord with me. These days, I often feel like I fell short of all my ambitious goals in high school, post college, and even from a few years ago. I felt like I haven’t reached my full potential. I often feel like I hit rock bottom in America (aka fell from my fulfilling and prestigious life in China) and am scrambling to piece together the broken shared of my life in the U.S.
On the other Hand?
One of my family friends recently had a daughter.
“We need to send her to the best schools,” she said to her mother. “If we send her to the 70k/annual elite, private preschool, she can get into the elite private elementary school and then get on track to attend the elite junior high and high school–and thus, attend Harvard. All of her friends will be future movie stars, congressmen and women, entrepreneurs and leaders. She’ll be running with the right crowd.”
My stomach twists into knots whenever I hear this family friend talk about her daughter’s future life. While some might consider the daughter as ‘lucky’ for being born into such a financially well-to-do family that is determined to see their child succeed, I can’t help but think…Does getting into an ivy league school, having a seven digit salary and exchanging cocktails with future contenders for the oval office make you happy? …What does it all even mean?
I need to stop thinking about failed dreams and wasted ambitions. Instead, I need to focus on what I have and to be grateful. Graduating from an ivy league school and getting a top-notch job is not what makes us happy. It’s the people we love and care about. And we should treasure them, always.
The Renaissance Fair
A few weeks ago I went to one of the country’s largest renaissance fairs. It was my first time attending one, and to be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. While I am a fantasy nerd and medieval geek at heart, I was apprehensive about what I might find at the fair.
Would it be a strange and awkward geekfest?
A creepy assembly of those that don’t have a grip on reality?
A den of cosplaying drunks?
Surprisingly, it was none of that.
It was a place where one could escape the real world, if only for a few hours, and live in the realm of their dreams and fantasies. It was a place where you’re Tom the accountant at the ticket window, but instantly transform into the Duke of Ettingshire (or wherever) after you step through the entrance.
No one worried about what they looked like or what they said. Instead, everyone was drinking mead, feasting on turkey legs and laughing at the jesters performing on the stage, or cheering on their favorite jouster at the arena. No one had a care in the world.
Although I didn’t dress up and go into full renaissance mode, I enjoyed myself immensely at the fair. I talked with lords and ladies, nobles and the not-so-noble, and I threw a javelin.
Yes, I threw a javelin–and I didn’t kill anyone. Somehow.
If you’re a fantasy geek (or even if you aren’t), the Renaissance fair is absolutely amazing. The Pleasure Renaissance Fair happens at various venues throughout the year in the United States, and if you’re near one I highly recommend a visit.
It’s a very much needed break from reality–with mead. Lots of mead.
So hopefully I’ll get back to posting on schedule and my writer’s block will go away. Maybe I need some more mead to stir up writer’s inspiration!