1. Live with my in-laws: This is something I dread my whole life. How can I live among people I don’t know, consider them my family, follow their routines and habits, just because they are related to this one man I decide to marry?
Things turn out not as bad as I have imagined. Granted, I experienced culture shock and struggled with my inner turbulence for the first few months, it is a new environment after all.
From times to times, an overwhelming urge to move out washed over me. I looked up places to rent online, I asked friends for suggestions, I called landlords and even checked out few apartments. But well, I’ve made it. 365 days and nights have passed and I’m still living with my husband’s family.
To be fair, my mother-in-law is better than what I can ever ask for. Of course that helps a lot.
2. Full-time freelancing: This is a choice, because not only I refused to actively look for a job, but I also turned down several job offers.
I feel thankful almost everyday for not having to work in an office, especially when caught in rush traffic hours. Inhaling exhaust, going nuts with all the honking and getting incredibly irritated when people try to push me forward, the only thing that I can think of to make myself feel better is “at least I can appreciate the fact that I don’t have to bear this every single day”.
If I have to worm my way through Ha Noi traffic every day, and deal with people, and not being able to take afternoon nap, my 2016 would have been much much more miserable.
3. Get more than 10,000 likes on a Facebook post: Not really the result of anything purposeful on my part, and I was surprised when this happened.
However, it does teach me something. Facebook like is very similar to money, in the sense that it gives you social recognition. If you have a lot of money, but you don’t spend it, and people don’t know that you are rich, then you don’t feel rich. Similarly, if you write something really cool, but no one pays attention, then you don’t feel cool.
I read somewhere that fame and recognition are hard to give up. Possessions, relationships, pleasures are easier to leave behind.
Being a billionaire or being a Facebook celebrity can be self-flattering at first (although I am neither of those), but then you sort of get use to it, then you either want more, or you get bored. So if you make money or write sophisticated stuffs just for the sake of recognition, the race may become either more intense or meaningless very quickly.
4. Miscarriage: The fetus stopped developing at 8 weeks, but I had no clue until almost 12 weeks, when my body decided that it had had enough and pushed the fetus out.
I was caught by surprise (actually a mild shock is more accurate) when the ultrasound technician told me there was no heartbeat, even though I was already bleeding terribly at that point. My mind went blank and then it circled back to just a few weeks before, when my eyes teared up in the moment the doctor let us listen to galloping heartbeats without any warnings. I read that after a fetus has heartbeats, the possibility of miscarriage drops to 5%. Well, not in my case then.
I recovered rather quickly both physically and mentally, partly because I had not fully registered the fact that a person was developing inside me yet. So my first pregnancy and my first miscarriage felt like a dream. It happened too fast, and was gone too fast.
5. Be solely responsible for teaching a class: I was really nervous at first, but just like everything else, I read when I don’t know what to do. And fortunately, there are tons of stuffs about teaching IELTS on the Internet.
Four out of nine students dropped out before the class ended. I was disappointed each and every time a person told me he or she won’t go to my class anymore. The last month was hard, because we only had half of the initial number, and I refused to admit more students, even though many people asked to join. I was disappointed because it wasn’t a two-way commitment. Nevertheless, I just had to stick to my words, and deliver what I promised.
6. Received an offer to write a book: This offer arrived in my mailbox out of the blue one day, making one of my longest dream come true.
I was not actively seeking this opportunity. An editor was looking for someone to write a book about freelancers, a trusted friend of his put my name on the top of her suggestion list. I barely knew her and we only briefly communicated some years ago, never met in person. She told me later that she thought of me because of stuffs I post on Facebook. So yeah, kudos to Facebook for making many wonderful things hapen.
7. Received an invitation to apply for permanent residence in Canada: I feel like an adopted child. People can’t choose the children they give birth to, but they can pick the children they adopt. So, one week before the year ends, Canada sent me a letter “hey, we want you in our life, come over here, we choose you and no one else”.
Isn’t it a great feeling to know that you are desired? And it is not a person, but a country that wants me.
I still remember when I first arrived in Canada in 2007. Admits my tears, I couldn’t fathom how I was going to survive until I finished my undergraduate. Four years seemed like four decades at that point. And I thought to myself, “I will just have to wait. I will wait until my love for this place grows.”
Indeed it did. My love for Canada has grown over the years, definitely not love at first sight, I don’t think I am capable of that, ever. It takes so so much time to develop, so it won’t fade easily.
For here, to stay.