I am definitely someone who is guilty of wishing my life away. I think everyone does it when they’re young – desperate to escape school, dying to hit 17 for that first driving lesson, counting down the days to your 18th birthday, then your 21st, closely followed by the anticipation of your first post-graduation paycheque. However, even as the years march by at an increasingly alarming rate, and I am quite happy for my birthdays to just stop appearing so regularly, I still find myself spending a lot of my time focusing on the next chapter, wishing it would get here faster rather than appreciating what’s happening in the here and now.
Whilst I don’t think I am ever going to be the person who stops living for the weekend (even if I do manage to find myself a career I enjoy!) I am trying really hard to not spend our last 3 months in China just joyously ticking off the days and thinking only about how soon we can go home.
After what will be 18 months here, we are both definitely ready to head home and get back to normality for a while. The thought of being a mere train or Megabus ride away from our family and friends is enough to induce a full on adrenalin rush when I think about it. Add the thought of the endless brunch, cheese, chocolate, wine and carbohydrate options that will soon be available on our doorstep and I practically explode with glee.
Of course, coupled with all the excitement is a slight sense of trepidation about leaving our relaxed lifestyle out here to settle back into something far more reminiscent of real-life. It’s the same for everyone when they come back from a holiday – questioning whether you remember how to be responsible and capable of managing a daily routine. Only this time our holiday has been 18 months rather than a fortnight. As well as wondering if I’ve forgotten what it’s like to have full-time commitments, I also have to face my fears that my old friend anxiety will be there to greet me at arrivals. Having successfully left 18 months of panic attacks, tears and dread behind me on the airport tarmac when we left London I am hopeful that the running-away solution has provided me with a lifetime cure from that particular brain-bad-habit.
And it’s this reminder, that China has been a fantastic, responsibility-free and ultimately sorting-my-life-out experience, that helps me appreciate just how lucky we are to have had this experience. And ensures I continue to appreciate it until we leave. Arriving in Chengdu last February, I literally did not have a clue what I wanted to do with my life. A half-cooked idea of teaching was quickly shelved when I realised that a career with kids is really not my bag, and after a few months of musing about the merits of opening a sausage dog themed coffee shop versus going back to university, I thankfully decided the latter option was probably more sensible. So now the next chapter is a Masters Degree in Glasgow…who knows what comes after.
Coming back to the UK to study for degrees, get jobs, save for a house and other grown-up things it’s safe to say that we are not going to have the chance to do something where we can afford to be so totally selfish and irresponsible again for a very long time. As such, I fully intend to spend our last 3 months of relative freedom enjoying as many relaxed mornings, lazy afternoons and chilled evenings with friends as possible. As well as making sure we tick off every adventure plan we can stretch our extra ESL earnings to cover. With a trip to Yangshuo, a visit from some VIP family members, hiking in the mountains of Western Sichuan and a city-break in Shanghai scattered nicely across our remaining weeks, it’s safe to say we’ve still got a lot of China things to get excited about. So whilst I might still wish away my work hours, it’s OK if mid-July takes its time to get here.