WM.WM | The Birdcage
Write Minds.Write Matters
A monthly column by Alexis of her thoughts on things that matters to her. It may be funny, serious, both, neither or some combinations of those. "My thoughts are my own - the only thing I really own."
Follow her on Instagram (@alex.is_imm).
"Doing what you like is freedom; Liking what you do is happiness. " ~ Internet quote
“Why don’t you consider going to work in China?”
After all the stress of oral defense and excitement of finally getting my PhD, the next step in my life is getting a job. Many of my professors and seniors told me, more than once, to look west, toward the Middle Kingdom as second- and third tier universities are grabbing fresh PhD graduates from Taiwan like special deals on a Black Friday. As long as you have a PhD and a few publications, they want you.
My answer to them is always the same. China is not a place I will consider at all. If I were ten or fifteen years younger, I would most probably seize the opportunity to go and experience life in a culture that is so familiar yet so foreign to me. Money would be a huge motivator too as the salary packages offered are really generous. I would spend a couple of years there before deciding what to do next.
But now, I am way passed the time to “live it up”. After living in Japan and Taiwan these past decade or so, I realized what I want in life. Now I just want to live life my way, on my own terms and on my own pace. I want options and the freedom to choose among them. Also I realized now that throughout my life, money was never the deal breaker. There are way too many important things in this life than money, or material possessions.
When you’ve lived in a country (or like me, three) where you were reminded constantly that you are sick, breaking the law, or do not exist, you would not want to leave a place that has allowed you to be yourself without any prejudice. I am very reluctant to give up the freedom that I’ve found in Taiwan. It being the only country in Asia that allows LGBTQ+ people to get married is just the icing on the cake. Furthermore, the friends I’ve made these past few years in the queer community have enabled me to grow more comfortably into my own skin.
I do not want to live in a country where I cannot be myself. I do not want to live in a place where I cannot express my thoughts and feelings freely. I do not want to live in a place where many of the people around me are rude, loud and selfish. I do not want to live in a country where I need to self-censor and/or be politically correct. I refuse to trade my liberty and freedom for money. I know I can live with few material possessions and limited physical comfort, but I don’t think I can survive in a place where everything is being controlled and monitored. My body can suffer but my mind needs to roam free.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not criticizing those who had decided and are currently earning their living across the straits. Everyone has their own aspirations and plans for their future. There is no right or wrong way to pursue our happiness as long as we do no harm to others. And unless you are born rich, there are things we would need to compromise and give-up in exchange for the things we want. That is life. At this stage of my life, I know with certainty that my mental well-being and spiritual freedom means much more to me than the opportunity to earn a big paycheck or the chance to further my career.
Every country in the world has its own problems. You can either learn to live with these issues or move to another country. Unless you have the financial means to migrate and/or aptitude to adapt to a new environment, you would have to live with many of the issues faced by your fellow countrymen. The saying, “there’s no place like home” rings true depending on your own definition of what ‘home’ is. For me, home is where I can be myself, do the things I love and hang out with people I like. And after living in four different countries, Taiwan feels like home.
PS: I wrote this article before the HK protest. Now I won’t go anywhere near HK or Macau either.
(Editor: Zac.) (Photo from Alexis; Column graphic: modified from www.pngtree.com)