This is my third post on here in the past two weeks which, for me, is really impressive. See? I really am getting better at this. (At least that’s what I’m telling myself.)
Anyway, I’ve been going through an identity crisis regarding my writing and my blogs, where I want to post this kind of writing, where I want to post another. What I’ve decided is that this blog is going to be for travel writing and interesting things about China.
I’m a huge fan of long-form, beautifully written travel pieces. I also really like to go on descriptive rants about places I’ve lived or been. This blog is where I get to do that. In the coming months, I’m going to test out some long-form, narrative travel writing here and I am so totally pumped about it. I know it’s going to be fun for me to write. Hopefully it will also be fun to read.
OK, on to the actual subject of this post. Why I heart my life in Beijing to ridiculous degrees. Well, there are a lot of reasons.
For one, I live in China. In China. This never actually sunk in until a couple of weeks ago when I felt this surge of love for Beijing and this renewed feeling of excitement and “ohmyfrackinggod, this is where I live.” Beijing is fun and gritty and smoggy and chaotic and overly crowded and frustrating and thrilling and spectacular all at once. It is exactly the kind of place I want to be at this moment in time. And to be honest, it’s also probably about where I am in my personal development. Maybe Beijing and I suit each other right now. I’m cool with that.
Moving on. In addition to the coolness and thrill of living in China’s capital city, I also have a lovely and wonderful group of friends who I am genuinely honored to know. They’re fun and self-aware and all-around inspiring, and I have learned tremendous amounts from them in the few months since our little community has formed. They’ve taught me so much about honesty and friendship, and it’s pretty cool to be experiencing so many new things with them.
But there is another reason why I find my life to be so completely and utterly incredible and awesome (I really need to learn some new words to convey my enthusiasm). I’m a freelance writer.
I realize that to some this is like, not a big deal in any way, shape or form. Who cares, really, what I do for a living?
Let me explain why it’s a big deal to me. Two days after finishing grad school back in ’08, I was on one final vacation before plunging into my first job in the “real world.” It was an awesome gig – I was going to work for a great paper in D.C., have my own column and be assistant to a seasoned Washington journalist. You can’t ask for much more straight out of J-School.
But I remember thinking to myself, as I burned my skin out by the hotel pool, that I really had no interest in working, at least as I saw it then. “I’ll do this for a couple of years,” I told myself. “But what I really want to do is be able to travel around and relax during the day and write whenever I please.”
And now here I am. Three short years later, I’m living overseas and freelance writing for a living. I’m getting published in newspapers and magazines, working on my own creative projects and I work on my own schedule.
Most of my days are like this: I get up in the morning, check my email and write until about noon. Then I take a break to eat lunch and watch a couple of episodes of TV with my roommate, who also happens to be a fellow freelancer and my best friend, which, I have to say, enhances the fun of the freelance lifestyle considerably.
Then I work sporadically throughout the afternoon and, if need be, the evening, with time in between to have dinner with friends, go out, read books, watch movies or pretty much do whatever. It’s awesome.
The other day, I had to swing by the office of one of the publications I write for to pick up my pay and I wondered if I’d feel envious of those actually working in a newsroom every day. I was in there for all of two minutes — less than that, actually, not even 120 seconds — before I jubilantly thought, “Hellllll no! I’m never going back to working a desk job again!”
Maybe all of this sounds mundane to the rest of the world, but it’s huge for me because I live in a city I love and am doing the exact thing I’ve wanted to do my entire life. Ever since moving to Asia, I often find myself thinking about me as a five-year-old girl because I remember even then scouring old copies of National Geographic and saying, “I want to be a writer and I want to travel the world.” And now I’m doing that. Sometimes, I just want to look at the five-year-old me and be like, “See? I’m doing it! Are you proud of me?” I think she would be.
And it’s like, just for this moment, I am totally content. Life won’t always be this way. I don’t expect to be living the same routine, or even in the same city, 10 years from now, five years from now, or maybe even three. Things will change and I’ll go other places and I won’t always live with, or within five minutes’ walking distance, of my friends. Maybe I’ll do something other than writing, leave China, whatever.
But for right now, I’m good. I’m so, so good. And it hasn’t been until the past year that I knew what that felt like. Contentment. As in, I’m just going to be present and happy in the moment.
And that is what makes my life in Beijing so, so awesome.