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If you’re happy, then why not stay?

I left Taiwan because it was time for me to explore the next chapter of my life. I thought I was going to get a ‘real’ job, get married, and settle down just like everyone else, to embrace the security and luxuries of American mainstream #lifegoals. After four years of living abroad, I was 25 and excited to come back to the States to become a proper adult.

Two years later, I have everything I had ever wanted (except for the getting married part, and that’s probably a good thing.) I am content with where I am at, but I can’t help but look back and miss Taipei. The truth is, I didn’t want to leave…I just thought it was what I was supposed to do. I wish I could have told my past self these few things:

  1. America is NOT the greatest place in the world. Many other countries provide excellent if not even better lifestyles, and it’s okay to grow old somewhere else. Just because we hold the passport doesn’t mean we’re obligated to come back.
  2. There is no such thing as a ‘real’ job. All jobs are freakin’ real. If you’re happy doing it, any job is wonderful. I honestly can say that I enjoyed being a kindergarten teacher just as much as I enjoy working at a tech start-up. Overseas, I made less, but I worked less, and my living expenses were drastically less. I was still able to afford high-rise studios in the middle of the city and ate out every meal and traveled whenever I wanted with such a flexible schedule. Now, I make more and work more and my living expenses have drastically increased, but I can still afford the things I want, eat out and travel. Both jobs had full benefits, understanding bosses and food provided. There really isn’t so much of a difference in fulfillment.
  3. Home is really where you make it. I moved about six times while living in Taipei and have lived in almost every neighborhood-Ximen Ding, Shida, Gutting, Gongguan, Taipei City Hall, Zhongxiao Fuxing. All my stuff fit into two suitcases more or less, and I was happy with the freedom this provided me. The whole city was my home, and I knew it well enough to belong anywhere. With that being said, secretly I still couldn’t wait to pick out nice furniture and hang things on the walls, and I longed for the day I could own more than one pair of running shoes at a time. Now I have antique armchairs, a bar cart, huge ass wall mirrors and well, it feels nice having a place that’s all mine. I love catching the streetcar to work and buying avocados at New Seasons. Home is wherever you let your heart and mind relax. 
  4. If you find a place that you love so much that you don’t want to leave again for awhile, then you’re lucky. You have your whole life to move around. If you like a place, then stay for as long as you’re happy. From traveling, I’ve met nomads who just don’t believe in settling down. They say it’s ending the adventure, it’s giving up and selling yourself short, and I’m saying that’s bullshit.
  5. Real friends will always wish you well on your journeys out, and welcome you back with open arms, or even maybe join you halfway across the world. I stopped getting sad about saying farewell to friends a long time ago. I can go months, even YEARS without seeing friends and as soon as we’re together again it’s the best juicy gossips and catch up time ever. People diss social media for making people feel discontent and lonely, but I depend on it to feel connected to people that I care about all over the world. Once the bond is there, it’s never gone. I promise.

Living in Taipei impacted me more than I ever thought anything could. I came back to Portland in order to grow up, without realizing how much I had already grown. The biggest part of that is being happy to stay in one place.

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