When I first moved to Vietnam, I anticipated staying for five years, as I felt I needed to give it as much of a go as I did my time in Japan. If I look back at my Japan experience after year two, I think, “Wow, I would have never come back with the appreciation for Japan after year two as I did after five.” Naturally, of course, but also because I hadn’t really fallen into my pace of life and routine which allowed me to flourish in year 3 – 5. BIG difference in my work and lifestyle in those last three years than the first two.
As the end of my contract in Vietnam was approaching, and Kurt and I were having some discussions regarding the owners plans for the group, I sat down with myself and re-evaluated my situation. Our discussions were sort of a wake-up call for me and I wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing by renewing my contract.
Vietnam is a much more intense city than Shizuoka, Japan or San Diego, California. Everyday poses some challenge, whether in a taxi ride or with work or even establishing a social life in what turns out to be a small town, Hanoi. I considered the direction of my career, having made a conscious decision to return to sales and marketing after a six year break with teaching and traveling. I have really missed teaching over the last two years, despite rising to the challenges of a much more demanding job. There was something very special about walking into a classroom full of fifth graders and teaching them to connect via a language that was not their own. There was something so utterly delightful about playing Simon Says and singing “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” with kids who never got tired of the program and who participated with a ridiculous amount of enthusiasm. Dare I say that a classroom full of eleven year olds is much more my element than an office with a computer and a very long TO DO list.
At the same time, I am a creative person at my core, and working in sales and marketing allows me to tap into these qualities on a much higher level. And I’ve loved working with my sales teams to push their own boundaries of creativity, to help them to think “outside the box.” For these two years, I have very much been a teacher, but on a much more complex topic than getting my audience to understand the meaning of, “How old are you?” I’ve had any number of a-ha moments with my staff, and when a certain point or message hits home with them, I am also deeply satisfied.
I’ve had to take another look at my personal life, which was the biggest factor in my deciding to return to the States for now. At 40, I’m still an independent woman. And while my spirit of independence will always remain, I do have the desire for a partner and family. As I’ve said to some, “I really want to find my dude.” And I don’t think that is really possible for a Western woman living in Asia. Most definitely, the men who come to Asia are interested in Asian women or come to work with their families in tow. Many of the single men I’ve met are a good decade younger than me. And while a little rendezvous with a twenty-something can be a heck of a lot of fun once in awhile, I never can take the encounter seriously.
With my window of time to have a child closing, I need to put myself in a better and, shall we say, more productive environment. And so my decision to move back to the US is largely a personal one. I’m not at all ashamed to say that…I believe a healthy personal life makes for a more enriching professional one.
There are a lot of huge question marks in front of me. Kurt and I haven’t even decided the day I will return to San Diego, although it won’t be later than the 15th. Once I land, I’m mostly interested in enjoying the heck out of the holidays, however I plan to squeeze in a bit of business before too much holiday cheer. I know I will insist to squeeze my niece to death as I have missed her so much and wish I could reach through the computer screen when she’s on skype with my folks.
And once I return, I’ll do a lot of thinking. What do I really want out of my life. Where do I really want to live and what kind of life do I envision for myself??? Those are pretty hefty questions and I’m at a point in my life where I need to find the answers. A new chapter is about to begin…