Alyssa’s Expat Life—Finding Joy in Sorrow

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“Throughout life people will make you mad, disrespect you and treat you bad. Let God deal with the things they do, cause hate in your heart will consume you too.”

—Will Smith

This has been my hardest week in China by far, and absolutely not one aspect of the range of feelings that have consumed my heart has anything to do with China. As my time here winds down, emotions are running high with my return to the states six months earlier than originally planned. I have a ton of things to worry about logistically. Will my dog be happy now that he’s been running free on vacation for almost six months? I’m almost set on Chicago now, how am I going to prep for this move and pay for it? I live like a queen here; how am I going to adjust to U.S. prices again? I don’t have a “real” job. Do I need one or do I have enough where I can finally have the freedom I’ve always wanted professionally? Where am I going to live? I don’t have a car, how do I get from one place to another? I’ve been an expat and I love it. Simply, how do I return to a place I chose to leave?

My mind has been a jumbled mess this week, and if that wasn’t bad enough, my dad said some very hurtful things in a recent phone call. Everything my mom said to me for 18 years came rushing back, and I learned one very important thing after reflecting upon it—no matter how hard you try some people will never be satisfied with what you do. YOUR best will never be good enough, because it’s not THEIR best. If you aren’t living your life the way they want you to, you will never be pleasing in their eyes. So, you have to be pleasing in your own eyes. It’s a lonely place sometimes. One thousand people can tell you how awesome you are (and lucky for me they have), but until you hear it from the one person you need it from the most, your mind goes back to the child who couldn’t tie her shoes effectively because her mom hit her when she got it wrong on the first try and she couldn’t see through the fearful tears.

To top it all off, the love of my life officially made someone else the love of his life this week. The range of emotions are like none I’ve ever felt, and even though I saw the truck coming miles away, I still stood in the road and blindly let it and the wall of grief hit me.

I carefully and with unbearable pain chose the life path I’m on after the words “You’ll never leave me” were uttered one fateful night in December of 2009. With the help of my amazing friends and utter determination, I put my life back together, but I never truly got over the decision that I made. Was it right in the end? Hindsight is always 20/20, and now it feels like a bet I made with God. I made the bet that I would be treated better than I was being treated at that time, that he would never make the eventual changes I see today. I made the bet that my life would be better, say five years into the future. And I’m still to this day completely unconvinced that it was the right bet, because while I can see where his future is, mine is completely unfinished. Someone else made that bet with him and perhaps in the end reaped some of the benefits of my decision. I have all but lost faith that I will find anyone who knows me and my personality better. Who stops everything else in a room from moving.

However, there is one important point to all of this reflection—while I may have a euphoric high whenever I’m around this person, I am unable to walk the earth with him. In fact, there is no one I’ve ever been in a relationship with who would do the things with me I’ve done so far. With (or without him, however you look at it) I would not have stood on the Great Wall of China. I would not have been inside the Sistine Chapel, or the Roman Colosseum, or roamed the hills of Tuscany. I would not have danced the night away in Vienna or walked the streets of Spain, Budapest, Prague, Florence, Venice, Berlin, Poland or Slovakia. I would not have Maddux, who I’m convinced is my guardian angel on earth. I would not have the strengthened friendships that I have now because my world would be consumed by him, just as my thoughts have been this week. I’m not saying any of this to brag or to try to even the score, trust me, I’m saying it all in my head over and over again to convince myself of how lucky I am rather than be consumed by sorrow and regret.

As I left my British friends’ house this morning and stepped into a cab headed to my house in Southern Jinan, the cab driver started laughing with me and tried teaching me some Chinese on the way home. We learned each others’ names. We laughed at our shared sense of charades and confusion, and as I left the cab, he kissed the back of my hand. I would never have experienced a little moment like this, and even though right now it’s all by myself, I have to have hope that my future isn’t done. That I’ll find my person again.

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I love the aspect of managing the entire product, not just being pigeonholed into one area of the creative process. Using my love of writing, editing and research as a catapult, I work with you in creating social media strategies.


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