I have been living and travelling in Taiwan for almost 7 months. It has been wild ride of up and down emotions that included a brutal battle with culture shock.
” I want to strangle somebody.”
“Only 312 more days, 22 hours, 15 minutes, and 27 seconds more until my contract is up.”
I found the above quotes written in my daily journal.
I am certain they should have been a pretty clear indication that something more than just the funny noise the lousy air conditioner makes at my place of employment was bothering me.
I spent the first two months taking pictures and updating my Facebook status about 3-5 times a day. I was absolutely blown away by the magic and huge differences I was discovering in my daily adventures.
Everything was NEW and EXCITING!
I am not sure why it took me to realize something was wrong.
The magic and excitement of watching a pack of 75 year old Taiwanese people gamble on checkers was bound to wear off sooner or later.
Trust me when I say it happened really freaking quick!
It just seemed like overnight Taiwan lost its fun. And, my boss and my two female coworkers went from cute and innocent Taiwanese girls, to (in my head) raging bitches over night.
The job, my job performance, and my outlook on Taiwan rapidly went haywire before I could even blink an eye.
It all culminated in a crashing halt roughly 60 days later with my boss and I having a coinciding temper tantrum like two 14 year olds, and me walking away from the job by giving her a big fat “eff you!”
It took me about 3 days to recover from my hangover after “letting off steam” the night after I quit.
To say I am set in my ways is a MILD understatement to say the least. I once got reprimanded at work for “too many complaints” about me not having my shoes tied.
Can you imagine how many people must have complained to force my boss into calling me into the office and having a conversation with me as a 33 year old man about keeping my shoes tied? I still chose not to change my ways that time and went out bought a pair of lace-less dress shoes.
The point of my shoe lace rant is this. I realized pretty quickly that I finally better read up on Taiwanese culture, culture shock, and just how I went from super-passive to a rotten, and miserable angry son of a bitch without even knowing it.
I am feeling 1000 times better now about my new job, the culture, and adjusting to this new life. This is how I am handling it.
1. Read a Self-Help Book
I am not saying that you have to put on your baby blue vest sweater, and bow tie while you look in the mirror and say “I really LOVE YOU!”
You still should never doubt the power of positive thinking no matter what your “life situation” is.
I just reverted back to my childhood when I realized this sort of mental condition was really bogging me down and keeping me from living the life I want.
My father had a panic attack in approximately 1992. Now, I love him to death and don’t want to bash him by any means. The SAD reality is that after the panic attack I watched him never leave the house for at least 10 years without carrying his “bottle of sedatives.”
The doctor even told him countless occasions that they no longer had any medical effect on him. The entire world knew the problems were only in his mind, but he still would not leave the house without them.
I didn’t realize until I got into my 30’s the desire and passion within me to not let my mind “mind-fuck” me.
Self-help books can do wonders for getting you back on track and avoiding the mind-fuck.
2. Stay HUMBLE
This one is an absolute must. This is the starting point for anything I can talk about from here on out.
I had to really sit down and think about it for a moment. I came to this outrageously different and foreign land with nothing more than 2g’s in my pocket, and a hope from some sort of paper or contract I signed with funny characters (Chinese letters) that somebody would pick me up at the airport and I would have a job two weeks later.
It is enough to make the average man cry just thinking about it.
That is how I realized I just needed to become extremely more humble about everything I was doing.
3. Forget About the Past
You read any spiritual guru’s work and they will let possibly let you know hundreds of times in a 200 page body of work that the past is just an illusion.
Why does it take that many times to sink in? Many of us have this unconscious draw to what happened in our past. You probably feel like it defines who you are as a person, right?
I know most of us will not believe that the past is an illusion and I am not trying to change your mind.
However, I realized that everything I did in Taiwan I was comparing to when I lived in Spain as an English teacher in 2004.
What good was that doing me? ABSOLUTELY ZERO!!
To dwell on the past, is the surest method possible for continued failure.
4. Forgive and Forget
. This is a skill that can only come from being humble.
It is also extremely critical that you take some time even daily if necessary to forgive yourself.
I knew after spending several months in COMPLETE misery that this would not be an easy task. However, I have no choice but to find ways to go back and forgive myself for everything to keep it from further resonating and polluting my mind with nothing but toxins.
5. Learn As Much As Possible About the Culture
I only knew when I came here that they all drive scooters down really cool-looking alleys and they liked to learn “The English.”
Being 35 years old , with an MBA, (bilingual in Spanish) and working for a “call center” that was about all the information I needed to get the hell out of dodge and try somethihng new.
Well, guess what? If you go into a completely different culture without learning the unwritten laws of the land, you are going to be one sorry soldier once that Taiwan Honeymoon period ends.
It is actually even a bit more shocking once you start learning more about the culture. There are some things that will piss you off beyond belief.
” A white complexion is powerful enough to hide seven faults.” This is just one saying I learned that pissed me off.
But, reverting back to the guess what, this isn’t my land. I just need to be aware of it.
Big nose means great career and money is another belief of some Taiwanese people. Much of their society has to do with status, beauty, and people’s perceived perceptions.
I grew up listening to the Grateful Dead and with a solid foundation in treating everyone as equal no matter what they look like, or the color of their skin.
I am still horrified by the vision of watching this 13 year old Somalian kid, Mohammed Mohammed being chased by 20 “cool kids” just because he was black 22 years after it happened.
You can imagine the disgust I felt when I started to learn this stuff. Again, it is just something I have to accept as belief systems out there.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t millions of Taiwanese people here that care about nothing besides the goodness of the soul of the person. The point is to just be more aware of my surroundings.
Are you currently in a situation completely new to you? It doesn’t matter if your Indian mother-n-law moved in with you, the recipe should always be the same.
You must stay humble, learn, and grow. Belief systems are just that, a system. Mine is no better than yours. It is just different. The more I can learn to accept them, it will only benefit me in the long run as a person.