Little Things are Big Things Too

I’m reading my first blog post again and noticing just how ambitious I was two months ago. I wanted to do a million things — as I usually do — with my time off school. (Note: I want to specifically say taking time off school instead of taking time off, because taking time off school does not mean I’m living unproductively, that I’ve been turned ‘off.’ I am just ‘on’ in other ways.)

After a month back in Beijing, staying put, finding a routine, and cherishing the little things are seeming like much more nurturing prospects than embarking on grandiose adventures away from home. Instead of focusing ambitiously on the ‘big’ things even when I don’t need to, I’d like to learn to mark the smaller ‘victories’ in life. As a counselor I saw aptly said, “You don’t allow yourself many victories in life.” Perfectionism and over-ambition prevents me from noticing all the things that have gone well.

As I laid in bed last night, having trouble falling asleep, I couldn’t help notice the sounds of construction still going on. Close to midnight, workers still laboring away at the numerous construction sites next door. Those are people, I think, who get tired and need  rest. What a luxury and privilege it is to be able to sleep when ‘you’re supposed to’.

Working in a cafe with people close to my age has been eye-opening, to say the least. First of all, I didn’t realize how close in age most of us were. I’m even a year older than someone I’d guessed to be 30! During our conversation yesterday about how tired he is all the time, he nonchalantly mentioned his night shift at a 7-Eleven store nearby. Before I could come up with something to say in return, a stream of questions flashed through my head — so… when does he have time to sleep? is there a place to sit at the night shift? how long has he been doing this for?
Sitting down for dinner at 6 pm yesterday with my grandma, I told her how much it felt like a privilege to eat dinner at this hour on a regular basis. She agreed. No job is easy. I have a lot of respect for my coworkers who work 9 hour days, 6 times a week at this job. Who knows what else they’re doing to make it in the hustle of big city life? Meanwhile, here I am doing this ‘for the experience,’ not quite the same as fending for myself when I can come home to food, shelter, water and so much more right at my fingertips.
The psychiatrist I saw today reminded me that there are no ‘should’s’ in life, that what works for you is based on what works for you, not what a theory or professional says. Instead of expecting so much from myself, others, and other things if life, I’d like to focus on what’s right here, right now. Because, there already is more than enough.

Author: claireishuman

a young adult living between hong kong, beijing, london and boston

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