2008 passed by so fast — where has it gone?
In a way, it seems that 2008 was the transitional year.
It was the year when I deepened my expertise in project and relationship management, in addition to actually making a mark in the institution I worked for.
It was also the year of many attempts — trying my hand for my GMAT for instance — endeavors which I later gave up when other things caught my attention.
I learned a bit about myself as well, namely as a boss, an employee and a girlfriend.
It was also the year I turned 28, when I can actually officially have a boyfriend according to my strict parents. I did manage to get one with not-so-ideal results. Oh well, everything is a learning experience and not everything can be perfect.
By December of 2007, I’ve already earned my CFA Level I.
I’ve seriously thought about getting my Level II but thought about getting my MBA instead. It was the most ideal time: I was turning 28 and by the time I finish my degree, I would be entering my 30s. Work was great though it was becoming less challenging for me. And no surprise, it was my second time to plan and execute a big-ass project and I knew it would go smoothly. The bull market was ending but of course, we didn’t know that till mid-year when the financial markets came crashing down.
Till the mid of 2008, life was in cruise mode and everything was coming to plan.
After the mid-year passed, I was already taking my GMAT preparatory courses seriously. The plan was to get a decent grade and then leave my company after Chinese New Year when bonuses are distributed. Basically, I originally planned to take 6 months off maybe studying for my CFA 2, and then enter one of the Ivy Leagues Universities (or whoever would take me).
Then late August, I received a call from our Asian boss. “Do you want to work in Hong Kong?”
“Sure!” I nonchalantly answered.
“That’s all I need to know,” he said.
And that was the beginning of the transition to a different life.
I kept mum about the whole thing mainly because I knew the wheels have started turning but I didn’t want to jump the gun. I didn’t even tell my parents until a month afterwards when HR actually started contacting me about getting my documentation arranged. However, as the world started crashing down, the process was prolonged and there were moments of frustration that I thought that I wouldn’t even leave Taiwan!
Which was why it was a surprise to many when I left — overall, I had a 3-week window where I actually knew everything was going to happen as planned. From that three weeks, I spent over a week in Sri Lanka and then preparing for one of our organization’s biggest projects when I got back. Everything was extremely rushed.
Heck, I didn’t have time to organize my own farewell party!
So I left Taiwan with a whimper — with only a chauffeur to see me off. I was still in conference calls as I left.
It was as if I left on a Friday, and then continued working on a Monday. If that was not a smooth transition, then I don’t know what is! Even when I arrived in Hong Kong, I never left the I’m-in-Taiwan mode!
And once I arrived, I found Hong Kong to be a lonely place.
As mentioned earlier, my colleagues are wonderful people and fortunately, managed to connect well with one in particular. On a side note, I’m quite excited in getting to know her. Though I’ve only seen her a few times, I have a feeling that it would be a genuine, beautiful friendship.
The energy at work was electrifying as well. Work hours were longer but being a workaholic, I savored being in the presence of the crème of the crème.
“What did they have that I didn’t?” I asked myself as I dove into the research reports to see what exactly is going in Hong Kong.
However, not all about Hong Kong has been bright and cheery.
A little over a week after I arrived, there was some management restructuring in our organization and I felt the rug being pulled out from under my feet. Who would have expected that things were just so bad that changes had to be made in our organization?
Do you know how it feels when someone close to you dies? No matter how high and mighty you feel, you also come to think about your own mortality… and given that you’d never really know when the knife will fall, then that made me all the more insecure about where I stood, regardless on how I know how much value I bring to the organization.
To top it off, my relationship, which started a few months ago, started to go downhill.
On my previous post, I called it the “Slow Fade,” but it was actually a “killing me softly” type of thing. Though I tried to remain strong and nonchalant, I was and still am hurt on how my boyfriend have started to grow less attentive (an understatement to say the least).
In a way, it’s like looking at a dying, suffering patient and you can’t seem to pull the plug because you still want to hold onto every bit that is left. But to make that pitiful patient live would be pushing him and yourself as there’s really nothing left to go onto. And yet, you still hold onto the switch, not really hoping but more of gazing at his face remembering with much sentimentality all the good memories you have.
Don’t call me crazy but these days, I start to talk to myself more. I tell myself words I do not tell others.
To my boyfriend and why he doesn’t cherish a good thing until he loses it. On how I knew that this would happen and still leapt in with eyes wide open, and because of this, I cannot regret.
To my colleague, with whom I can anticipate a virtual catfight in terms on who is better.
To future friends in Hong Kong who I have yet to meet, but will have a blast with once I do make their acquaintance.
To my parents who incessantly worry, but I think they only want to come and visit me to get away from their own boring lives.
Hong Kong has made me appreciate Taiwan more.
I miss the warm and delicious food and the night markets, the weekly parties that never end (from dinner to Barcode and 18, to Cashbox KTV and breakfast in the morning to sober up), and friends you can depend on.
I miss being in the center of everything, of knowing every event that’s happening that week, of the familiar. I like being able to tell people where to go or who to meet.
Hong Kong is the complete opposite. I feel lost in Hong Kong.
And I don’t really feeling these.
But how can I look back?
Inasmuch that I want to look at 2008, when I look back, I only see memories of the GMAT that I didn’t really take, of the move that almost didn’t push through, of my boyfriend who I knew would be a disappointment and unfortunately disappoint in that thought, and of a transfer I’m currently unsure would lead me to.
These are the things I leave behind, and thoughts that force me to move onwards to 2009. Every naysayer has been preaching gloom and doom, but where else can we look? What else can we do?
Unfortunately, by moving to Hong Kong, I’ve already burned my bridges from Taiwan, my friend. All my things — 21 boxes of them — are already in my new apartment and the only things I have left of Taiwan are my friends and my memories.
Do remember that I am actually not from Taiwan and no matter how welcoming it was, and how familiar it is, it’s still not home. At the same time, where is home? Home is not in the Philippines either… I feel unease whenever I visit, and am reminded why I’ve left.
So here I am.
Without a home, or who treats the entire world as her home.
Home is where the heart is, and if so, then a little bit of Manila, a bit of Taiwan and in time, a bit of Hong Kong will stay and make me who I will become.
The future scares me. As I look into 2009, I am still not as sure where this year will take me. There are a few goals that I would like to set for this year namely:
- To learn Canto(nese)
- To make headway on my CFA Level 2
- To keep my job and actually become an indispensable part of the organization
And with that, wish me luck.
I’ve changed — as I grow older, I realize how different I am. I had thought that Iwould belong more in Hong Kong, but I realized wrong. Maybe in time, I’ll find my groove here but not yet.
Till then, the early part of 2009 will be spent adjusting to a new place, getting more familiar with the ins and outs of this city. It’s a time of discoveries, of knowing more about myself as I deal with a more diverse group of people and of finding people with whom I hopefully share in common. Hopefully, it’s also the time when my heart finds its home. With someone who treasures it because he knows it is vulnerable, and finds no shame in that weakness because it makes him strong.
With that, happy new year everyone and wishing you all the best and success in the coming year!
4 thoughts on “Saying goodbye to 2008 — and hello to 2009!”
Hello again Rav! Happy, happy new year! I dunno if you still remember me. But I just found your blog again after commenting way 2005. 🙂
Anyways, nice to be back. Will do the rounds regularly from now on. I’d link you up, hope that’ll be OK. 🙂
Btw, I go by the name R-Glen & Lene too.
You will grow to like HK. As noted before, it is an electrifying place to work as you have already discovered. The human aspect takes time, just as Taiwan did.
I openly admit my preference for life in Taiwan over HK on many levels, but with some irony work is not actually one of them.
You are you. Think not about boxes moved or bridges you only think are burned… Instead smile at a job you excel in, a company which clearly values you, and future rich with potential and new experiences.
My only question would be about identifying yourself as a nomad. In my view you are not. You are an ex-pat forming a life/lives in one different place at a time rather than flitting from one to another. You will settle more and more there, I am sure.
In some countries people move to different cities, states, provinces, etc. Here we are changing cities, which also means moving countries, but it is a portable world. Different languages register, but as New Year showed you – in some ways everything is still the same even though it’s totally different.
Happy New Year
Hope things have perked up a bit for you. Chinese New Year is coming, so at least that might be some consolation with a few quiet days off from the craziness that surrounds us all.
Thanks Always in Taiwan for leaving such comforting words. You are right–changing countries/environments take time for the dust to settle in and as I’ve mentioned earlier, hope that I can replicate what I’ve done in Taiwan to Hong Kong. It sounds tough but crossing our fingers.
Spending the holidays in Manila. Really feel welcomed here and been eating tons. Nonetheless, working as well! Aiya, hope that things get better soon and happy Chinese New Year to you too!