Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Jumping off the hamster wheel

When I started this blog it was meant to be a lighthearted look at the thrill and adventure of moving to a new country, documenting the alien and exotic experiences David and I were to encounter.  I wanted to write about living 6,000 miles away from family, friends and our dog in a new, exciting and vibrant place of opportunity where we could further our careers, earn lots of money and return home to England financially secure and fulfilled.  Instead, I feel it has developed into a cathartic outlet for me to vent my frustrations and inner turmoil.

In many ways my expectations of moving to Hong Kong have been met.  We have made our small, but perfectly adequate apartment in the buzzing Mid-Levels, our home.  We are developing an ever-increasing circle of close friends.  We have become active members of Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club.  I found a hairdresser that can tame humidity-induced frizzy hair issues.  And I secured a job that would further my career.  So, within a couple of months of moving to Hong Kong, we were definitely on-track to return home with healthy bank accounts.

Unfortunately my job did not work out leading me to scrutinise every aspect of my life and ultimately my purpose.  Since leaving work I have had time to draw breath and start evaluating what is important to me and what I want from life - which had become a necessity rather than a luxury.  I realise that I have been pounding around the advertising and PR hamster wheel for almost twenty years now, and while from the outside I have been moderately successful, inside I feel depleted and dissatisfied.

Stopping has allowed me to see what a pointless, hedonistic existence I have been leading.  Working long hours, not sleeping properly, feeling so anxious at times I couldn't breathe, worrying and brooding about anything and everything, and snapping at my lovely husband.  Yet each month taking my fat pay cheque to invest in the nice car to look the part, to squander on alcohol and cigarettes to 'ease the stress', to splurge on clothes and shoes to make me feel better, and to fritter away on 'stuff' to clutter my house that I never needed.

So if my chosen career and money isn't the key to happiness, the question is, what is?  I know that I get great pleasure from writing and I think I'm OK at it.  However, I'm a realist and much as I would love to be the next Marion Keyes/David Nicholls/Adele Parks/Jilly Cooper, this isn't going to happen overnight (if at all!).  We have bills to pay and Hong Kong is an expensive city to live in - although it is possible to live here a lot more cheaply than we have been.

I am keen to explore doing something to give my life more meaning than filling the pockets of the shareholders of a faceless American holding company.  Therefore I am investigating TESOL courses, giving me the necessary qualifications to teach English to school children.  While I may have to cultivate my patience, it would allow me to reignite my creative side that has laid dormant since Art College and Uni. Reassuringly I have been told that helpers are present in the schools to clear up any 'accidents'.  It will also give me the opportunity to work part-time if necessary, freeing me up to spend more time writing.

As I spend the next couple of months taking time out to consider my future direction, I am back to writing my book... 17,000 words down.... 73,000 or so to go!  And while I'm not sure exactly what is going to give me a sense that my life is serving something bigger than just me - I am absolutely sure that it will not be by throwing myself back onto the hamster wheel.


  1. Well done and concur with all you have said! You have made a tough decision but you will be a great writer (still waiting for a typo!) and a fab teacher (although tad worried about the pupil that misbehaves - not sure "you f***ing sh*t" is allowed - ha ha!! I did my first part teaching but knew I was not as structured as you are - so good luck and jumping off the wheel is a very brave thing to do but I am 100% sure you will never look back. Agency life really is draining - no way back for me!!!!!!!!!

  2. Thanks Chris - just imagine how good my pupils will be at swearing in English!!


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