The first day I got to Taiwan, I unknowingly ate lotus root. It was delicious and I thought I’d consigned myself to the island of Formosa forever. From then until now, my thoughts on this place have swung like a pendulum – comfort and unease, joy and sadness, disgust and admiration – sometimes within the span of minutes.
(I was doing a long run in preparation for my marathon and I went back in forth in my mind – crying one minute about how I wanted to go home, thinking about how I loved Taiwan the next minute – about whether or not I should stay a second year here.)
More recently, these doubts have come back, although not as intensely as before. Perhaps that’s an indication that my gut is satisfied with my decision to leave. With less than two weeks left in Taiwan, my doubt is slowly receding, and I think that’s because it was propelled by fear. I’m afraid I’ll never live anywhere as safe as Taiwan. I’m afraid I’ll die in America. I’m afraid I won’t find a job in America and I’ll become destitute. I’m afraid I’ll find a job but hate it and it won’t pay as well comparatively as the current job I have but also hate. I’m afraid to start over and make new friends and new connections in a whole new place. I’m afraid I’ll get sick in America and die or go into debt. I like Taiwan, I know it’s not where I want to be, but I’m afraid that leaving and looking for “my place” in the world will reveal that I have no place.
So… long list of fears. There are plenty of good reasons for me to leave – I’m done with this weather, I don’t know Chinese and am too lazy/unmotivated to learn, I want to do something other than teach ESL and that’s pretty much all I can do here. But it seems the fears scream louder than the good reasons. But I’ve quieted these screams because of a sense of restlessness and the resistance to the idea that I should make choices out of fear. So I’m quite afraid of what’s to come, but I think I’d be more afraid of what my life would be if I did not take risks…