The future is a weird place that we all like to visit from time to time. As humans we just cannot help but spend time in an imagined future, full of hopes and dreams. But, for many of us, the future is filled with anxieties, worries and fears. What if I don’t make it? What if I don’t get that dream house? What if I end up alone? What if, what if, what if? It is an endless list…
Because it is the end of the year, everyone is thinking of the near future, 2019!!It is almost here, but we have already started saying what we want or hope for it to look like. Truth is, these are just more dreams. We have no way of knowing if our resolutions will actually come to pass. We can only hope that they do and put in as much work as we can to try and get there. But, are we ever really in control of what is going to happen to us?
Today I had a revelation. I was reading Psalm 139:5 which says :
You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head
God goes before us, into our future and follows us, into the past. This means He already knows what the future holds and what we have been through before. He has seen it already. What this means for me is that, there is no amount of worrying that is going to change what God has already planned for me. There is no amount of hard work that will change his purpose either. What this also means is that, when you surrender to His will for your life, you can live a life free from worry. If you pray for His will to be done in your life and trust that it will, then there is no need to be uncertain.
This was liberating for me. I am walking into 2019 with a certain feeling that I am going to WIN and everything is going to be just fine. That is a winning mindset.
It’s the end of the year now and today we had our last fellowship for 2018 with my Christian brothers and sisters. One activity that we did was to reflect on the year that is about to end and discuss it based on three things: the good, the bad, and the ugly. In other words, we each had to reflect on what went well, what didn’t go so well and what was a total fail in 2018. I shared my three things with my fellowship family, but I thought this would make for a good blog post. So here goes…
I always want to start with the bad news and build up to the good news. 2018 was the year I had my very first mental breakdown. Yes, you read that right! I broke down in a really bad way in July 2018. I was in a very dark place. I almost gave up on my studies, I think a small part of me actually did give up and I hated the isolation I felt being so far away from home at the time. I hated being here in Hong Kong and some days I could not find the strength to get out of bed. For the first time in my life, I reached out to other humans to tell them “I am not ok” because I was so tired of being strong all the time. I cried all the tears I had been holding on to since the year began. I cried for all my failed relationships and the people I lost in 2017, including my father. I finally broke down. This was after a tumultuous trip to Ireland which was meant to be a vacation but turned out to be one of the worst moments of my adult life. Something about being back in a familiar place, with people who were supposed to be familiar but who had become strangers, triggered something in me and I just could not go on cruising on autopilot. Depression is not a joke, it is so easy to go over the edge. I almost lost it, but I am glad I only teetered close to the edge, I did not fall.
This year has been a tough one for my family concept. I love my family, but this year has tested everything I thought I knew about blood relationships. It doesn’t help that my Ph.D. thesis is about the meaning of family and I argue that family is more than just blood relationships(one day I will be able to write a post without mentioning the PhD…soon). Anyway, as we grow older it is expected that we grow distant, but as a child, I never thought I would live a life without my siblings or live knowing they are there but we are not as connected as we used to be. The distance, the change in mindsets, the different lifestyles… Human relationships are fragile and this is something I have reflected upon beforeHERE. We live and we learn though. How I wish we were young and innocent again.
Another ‘bad’ is that I am still single. This one is really just bad because my mother says so. I cannot explain how or why I am still single, but I just seem to enjoy being alone more than I do being in a relationship. I however know I have to change this bad habit of not wanting to be in companionship with a significant other. Studies have shown that coupling if done properly can have some positive effects. I always say I will try it, but it just hasn’t been a good year for that. Better luck in 2019.
The good in all this is that I am still standing. 2018 started off on a semi-bad note, things were not so rosy and the middle of it was the pits as I have just mentioned. But your girl is still here and I plan to stay. I am not a survivor, I am a conqueror. No weapon formed against me shall prosper. As I look forward to 2019, I am expectant of renewed favor upon my life. There is something that I am trusting God for in 2019, I seriously hope this is the year it finally happens cause I have beeeeeen waiting!!!
Happy end of the year reflections to everyone reading this. Consider doing this little exercise, to think about the good, the bad and the ugly in 2018 for you.
Before I came to Hong Kong I honestly thought this would be the most interesting place to blog about. I thought the immersion into a different culture, living in a different continent and learning all sorts of cool Asian stuff would make for nice blogging content. I remember reading tonnes of blogs about Hong Kong before I came in 2016 and I could see myself being here and writing about all the amazing things here.
Fast forward to 2018, after counting the number of posts I have written about Hong Kong, I am a little embarrassed. I wrote quite a bit whilst I was here, but I haven’t written much about the place itself. I have only six or so posts about this place, excluding all my posts about the Ph.D. (I sound like a broken record honestly).
So what happened to my plan of falling in love with this place so much that I would write about my escapades with the culture, the food, the people, the places, etc.?
After much reflection, I realized that I hardly write about Hong Kong because the truth is I have not managed to integrate into this society enough to form an interesting opinion. That realization made me quite sad. Two whole years? I realized that I have not had the opportunity to have enough cultural exchanges to inspire my voice during the time I have been here. This saddens me because I know if anyone else was in my shoes, they would be milking this opportunity for all that it is worth.
I attempted to learn Mandarin in 2017 and failed miserably. That is one tough language to learn. It is very difficult to integrate into Chinese society if you do not speak the language. Hong Kong is mostly Cantonese speaking, but I wanted to learn Mandarin because it is used in more places outside of Hong Kong. Although in my academic life English is the main language of instruction (otherwise I would not be studying here at all), my social life has not benefited from my lack of Chinese language ability. I have a few Chinese acquaintances whom I know only because we are in the same department, the delivery guy from my favorite online store and one of the friendly security guys in my apartment. I also have a few people I can call friends from the Christian fellowship and from the church, but we mostly converse in English.
There are many expatriate communities in Hong Kong, but my few encounters with this bunch (read snobbish, out-of-touch with reality types), had me running back to the comfort of my small-circle life. I have spent most of my time on campus studying, which is probably why most of my Hong Kong posts are about my academic life. Plus, I usually hang around with my fellow Africans. This is a popular characteristic of people when they find themselves as the minority in a place, there is a tendency to go towards the familiar. There are a few exceptions of course, I know a lot of African people who do not want to hang around with other Africans in a different country. Anyway, I digress…
Since it is now December month, a lot of people are taking stock of the year and their lives. For me, I am thinking December means I am now left with roughly 8 months to completing my studies and possibly leaving Hong Kong (I still have no clue where I want to be after this). Thinking about this has made me want to do something about the memories I am creating in this place. This is what I plan to do:
Create opportunities to explore more of Hong Kong in the coming months. I have a deadline for my thesis this December, but until then I can keep my eyes open for interesting things I can write about Hong Kong.
Challenge myself to do a typical Chinese activity at least once a month. That should be a fun way of immersing myself into the culture. It is never too late. At least I learned how to use chopsticks :). so I will find more activities…for the culture.
Take solo trips and find simple hidden treasures. I am a firm believer that one can find the most beautiful things hidden in plain sight. I just need to get out more, even if it is a walk by the beach at sunset.
Disclaimer: All images in this post were taken using my Samsung Galaxy S7