I’ve been in China for five years. What’s different about me?

How am I different now, compared to where I was five years ago?

Pretty simple question, but I have thought about it a lot recently. Thoughts have been percolating in my mind. And I have decided to write them out.

What is different about me now?

  • I embrace the fuzziness. I tend not to label things unless it is absolutely necessary. I work especially well in ambiguous work situations. I seize opportunities during times when others look around for guidance.
  • I practice self-awareness and reflection as often as possible. If I had to go back ten years, I would not ask for an Ivy League degree. I would not wish for a million dollars or a genius IQ. All I ask for is the ability to reflect and think with startling clarity. It is definitely a work-in-progress.
  • I do not look to other people for happiness and validation. That includes my wife, family, and friends. They give me support but they do not define me. I find ways to be happy on my own terms.
  • I make the effort to keep in touch with people who challenge me. The cliché is really true. You are who you hang out with. I learn from people who are smarter, better, and faster. I cut ties with people who are toxic to others and to themselves.
  • I believe in action as the ultimate judge of who we are. All that matters is what I can do NOW. I am not defined by my past or upbringing. Talk is cheap. Walk the walk, or shut up.
  • I learn to spend money in ways that make me happiest. I feel less trapped by money than I did a half-decade ago. I will spend money on memorable experiences. I still love buying a nice pair of shoes, but I realize that all things are impermanent.
  • I accept who I am. I am an introvert, nerd, and gamer. I have terrible alcohol tolerance. I derive great pleasure from reading and being in quiet spaces. I embrace who I am.
  • I have a stronger international outlook. My Mandarin has improved and I no longer think exclusively in English. I am exposed to more points of view, and this helps me appreciate diversity to a larger degree.
  • I am a content creator. I write, blog, and podcast. I put myself out there on the Web, for everyone to see. I love communicating with people and getting feedback.

Each one of these items is likely worth expanding on in standalone pieces with relevant personal examples. Instead, I have opted to start with a simple list. If you would like me to talk about any item above at length, let me know! I am happy to oblige.

Peace,

James

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