I’ve been thinking for a while now about how to write on this subject. I still have loads of raw writings stashed away, pending to be polished and published. I’ve been back-dating my Guangzhou posts here on this blog (I had issues publishing stuff while in Guangzhou). This was a tough topic to open up about even to my family, especially to the parents because I wasn’t down for hearing advice or wise words of any sort. I was not okay.
I did not complete my year contract in China. When I tell people why, the reasons come out to sound more like excuses. I kept telling myself in Guangzhou to stop it with the excuses and suck it up, but no matter how much I tried to make sense out of it all, nothing kept me from breaking down.
I have always seen myself as a tough person, not letting itty-bitty living conditions get to me. When I studied abroad in Chengdu, I was shy with people, but I felt invincible. Nothing about going abroad scared me. I was watching my peers having their breakdowns and freak-outs as soon as we set foot off that aircraft. I wasn’t pretending to be tough. It’s just that I wasn’t so reactive to squat toilets, angry sounding people, fish butchering, pick-pockets or dusty apartments. I felt tolerant to most of those things.
This time around in China, I tortured myself with these words, these questions, these standards. Telling myself that I’m flexible. I’m adaptable to new places. If the China-Newbies can do it, then why can’t I? Most of my peers on the program did not speak a word of Chinese prior to this program. Most of them get eye-raped everyday by the public just by looking non-Asian. They have much more adjusting to do than myself. Yet, the China things were really getting to me this time.
So why couldn’t I make it through China this time?
To put it simply: Once I broke down, I stopped working properly.
When you persist on working a broken machine, things get shaky, and then on you go, off the cliff.
Fortunately, I pulled out before things get too ugly. Me in the past would probably see myself as a baby throwing a big tantrum. Me in the middle of all the madness was literally head banging on concrete wall. Me at this moment is seeing an ill person infected with a demonic disease.
“No [work place] is ever perfect, you just have to know how to handle it.” This is good advice, but I would’ve appreciated it if people refrained from saying stuff like this to me during those hard times. As if I don’t already verbally abuse myself with high standards. Took me nearly half a year to feel well enough to write about this. The best supporters I had were the ones who simply understood that I wasn’t okay.
Even after this all, if someone asks me if I enjoyed this job, I actually did enjoy teaching. I love how much creativity was involved in planning lessons and running class. Handling seven-hundred young energetic bodies per week was probably over kill though. At least for now.
The best conclusion to this subject is that the real issue lies below the surface of just tolerating China.
And so the battle continues.