I arrived with a list of goals, and so far the country has been very accommodating. About half way through my Spring semester I had started this list of things I wanted to work on about myself that I couldn’t do in Austin simply because I was afraid of failing horribly around people that already knew me to behave a certain way and people that I would be around for at least two more years. To be able to go to a foreign land where no one knows me presented the perfect opportunity to sharpen skills that couldn’t be taught through a textbook.
In Austin, I study constantly. And quite frankly, I hate my way of life. I’m so sick and tired of working as hard as I possibly can with unobtainable goals. It feels as though each semester gets harder and harder, and the last semester really pushed my boundaries in such a way that made me want to yell “Uncle!” Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the challenges my university throws at me. But when you are constantly fine-tuning the same skills, it’s really hard to just take a minute and enjoy the view from where you are.
While my grades are competitive for medical school (I’m an International Business/Pre-Med major in AFROTC), I still feel like I’m digging my own grave with a teaspoon. When people ask me why I would pursue such a strange degree plan, I can never think of a good, logical reason. I don’t care about making lots of money, or giving my parents something to brag about at work or with their friends, I just want to be happy in life. Because of this, I typically say, “I dunno. It’s just what my heart tells me to do.” Usually upon saying that, people would smile and I see their eyes glisten with a shine that feels like they approval of my answer. Like they were testing me, and I just answered the question correctly. Whether they truly do think of me with high regards is beside the point, the fact that I feel that way of all things makes me believe in my answer even more.
With that said, in Hong Kong I really just want to enjoy life. To finally take a second and do the things I want to do, and do them exactly the way I should. As someone who has to take summer school every summer and three winter semesters, I really need this time to just let out a great big sigh. The goals I have for my time here are:
Be closer to other people – All my life I’ve been very distant with others, not wanting to get close. It doesn’t feel like it’s out of fear, but more like emotional constipation. As if I’ve gone so long with just accepting things, and never really understanding how they made me feel. It’s a shitty way of going through life if you ask me. Although there is a time and place for the feeling, when one feels this way all the time they aren’t living their life to the fullest.
Get better at whistling – No big, deep reason for this one. I just often walk alone and get bored with my thoughts, so this would be a nice little hobby to practice. I normally would make up beats in my head, but it’s getting boring for me as well.
Find the limits of my comfort zone, and then expand them – If the idea of comfort is only an illusion, I rather it extend continents than just a town or two.
Strengthen my vulnerability – The only thing that holds people back are the walls they themselves put up. The very thing we think protects us keeps us locked up. While some may think vulnerability is the same as weakness, my interpretation of it is to make the first move (asking someone out on a date, admitting you need help, letting people know your thoughts, etc.). The key to strengthening vulnerability, is to not make the leap of faith with the expectation of getting to the other side, but understanding you are just trying to learn a lesson in life. Believing that no matter the outcome, you will be a wiser and stronger person for even trying. While exposing your honest intentions is never easy, the more you do it the less hard it seems. Again, just my own thoughts.
Don’t stress out about anything – At UT, I’m constantly stressing out about something. Whether it’s an exam, running late for something, or the idea of accidentally insulting someone. While it can be a very useful feeling, right now I don’t need it and would rather try to achieve my goals without stress, instead of using it as a tool like I normally do to accomplish things.
Surprisingly I’ve been making progress with all of these things! And I feel as though everyone here WANTS me to obtain these goals (whether they realize it or not). From the very first day here, people seem so impressed by me. This makes failing seem impossible. Like I can do no wrong. With that said, I cannot feel more grateful for the environment I am in. It’s such a strange feeling for me.
Not to sound pretentious, but before I even came here I decided that I am an impressive person. Keep in mind that I’m not comparing myself to anyone here, believing that you are worthy of all life has to offer is an epiphany I think everyone should reach. Since I accepted the idea I have given a lot of thought as to what I want to do with this realization, this belief that I could do absolutely anything exceedingly well. The (current) overall goal in life, the mission statement, or whatever you want to call it that I ended up deciding on is to heal those around me physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Because it’s a life goal, I don’t expect to be great at it anytime soon. The biggest problem I’ve had with it so far is not being seen as a threat. Often times people are too proud for help, and instead of taking my actions as acts of kindness, they interpret them with cynical thoughts. Since coming to Hong Kong, I’ve noticed that the more confident and open you are with your vulnerabilities the less people see you as a threat, and more as an equal. And that’s exactly what I want! To be seen as an equal. For people to see me do awesome things and go “If he can do it, then I can too.” Not “I have to do it better than him,” “Well, that’s because he’s David,” or “He’s just lucky.” I’m still an amateur in the art of being viewed as impressive yet equal. No doubt there are still people who view my confidence as a cocky pride, only meant to make them feel worse about themselves. In order to really master this craft of making those feel equally as worthy, I feel as though I would need to spend a great deal of time with these people. But how can I spend time with people who find the idea of hanging out with me repulsive? Again, it’s a long-term goal that I don’t expect to reach by forcing improvement. I’ll just have to keep praying for the opportunity or, even more testing, acknowledge it when it’s been given to me.