I have written several sentences trying to start this blog in a catchy way. Each time, I back spaced and tried to write something else witty or clever or inspirational. And the reason why none of these strategies worked is because, I don’t feel any of those things toward what I am about to write: The story of me coming home [permanently] from China.
As this is a personal blog, I feel I can say what I want (hopefully I don’t offend anyone, but if I do, oh well). Here goes…
I HATED CHINA. Everything about my experience, I pretty much hated (except what I learned from it). One of my very close friends mentioned that in my last Vlog I looked “sad” and “dead inside”. Quite frankly, I brushed it off because I was trying to be positive about the “opportunity afforded to me” and the experience that I was having. I as trying to submerge myself in a culture that demonized me for being big, or black, or bald, and just plain different. I honestly wanted bragging rights; To say that I went to China to teach and stuck it out for a year. I wanted to travel around Asian cheaply and have different experiences. But what I wanted was drastically different than what I ended up feeling and needing.
The stares that I mentioned in Black Girl Magic Takes China were only a small fraction of the many things that were bothering me. I felt extremely judged and I was physically and mentally isolated. People were mean. They spat in my direction. They scoffed when I walked by. I even got called a “monster” twice on two different occasions. I felt like I was in the Jim Crow south, but in modern day China. It got to the point where, I would only go outside when it rained, because I knew that I would not see or encounter many people. When it was sunny and nice, I dreaded even having to go to the store or go out and get a meal. I would go a day or two without eating because I was so uncomfortable in the environment that I was in. To be frank, I was actually miserable. The negative thoughts and feelings I was having almost negated all the hard work I have done up to this point to keep myself on a healthy path. Even though I was working out, I was doing so to stay sane and to prevent muscle dystrophy from sitting in the bed for hours or days at a time.
The day that I decided to leave, I had a serious mental breakdown. I sat in a corner and cried for what felt like days, but was only for an hour or two. I hadn’t told my mom or best friend because, not only did I not want to worry them, I also didn’t want them to try to change my mind. I had done a good job at faking to other people that I was making it. And the last thing I wanted to hear was “give it another chance” or ” are you sure? You haven’t been there that long” or lastly “you are strong, you can get through this experience”. I wanted to leave, I knew why I wanted to leave.
So I decided to leave and save myself. I decided that I was not going to be embarrassed for “giving up an opportunity”. I decided that I was going to actually forgive myself for being so hard on myself, and remove myself from a situation that was toxic for me. I decided to…take care of myself. So, on a Thursday evening, I booked a flight for Saturday morning. And once I booked that flight, I was already happier. I wasn’t sure where I was going to live or where I was going to work at the time, but I knew I needed to be back in New York. If that isn’t a self care move, I don’t know what is.
And not even 20 hours after leaving China, the very airport I flew out of was shut down, tear gassed, and flights cancelled due to the riots in Hong Kong (I was in Shenzhen, near the boarder, 10 minutes away from the Hong Kong port).
It has taken me weeks to write this. I haven’t even scratched China off of my scratch map. I haven’t been able to talk about it with many people, and many people in my life don’t even know I am back in the US. But, after having two long weekends in row and being able to sit and process all that has happened in the last month and a half, here I am, writing, venting, feeling, and healing. Thankfully, I have had the most love and support from those closest to me in this transition back HOME. I could not be more gratefully and at peace.
This is my story, this is my journey.
Until next time,