The Calm Before The Storm

The Calm Before The Storm

I go to coffee shops a lot. Prior to the pandemic, I probably spent too much money sitting at coffee shops, working on my laptop while mostly looking for an excuse to enjoy the atmosphere. The smell of exotic beans, random conversations, and excess caffeine provided me with a sense of serenity that I can’t properly describe. It allows me to observe, think, and receive inspiration on what I should do next.

Sometimes I ponder whether I’m too logical - wondering if the steps that I have taken and the steps that I plan to pursue will one day cause regret when I’m older. Should I have taken the opportunity to work remotely from Bali? Is staying in the US and not seeing my parents as often to pursue a career/graduate degree the right path to take? Am I being too harsh on myself by focusing too much on work even if I actually enjoy it? Questions questions questions…

The Calm Before The Storm

The world feels like it’s on pause. Everybody that I’m talking to tells me that nothing exciting is happening around them. Every day feels the same. They’re either just working or studying from home, living life lackadaisically, waiting for things to get better. Trump promises a vaccine to be ready before the end of 2020 while the US presidential election is also coming in two months. In general, there are a lot of uncertainties in the world that can implode at any moment if you’re on the wrong side of the coin. For a young professional, especially as a “foreign talent” in the US, this uncertainty is elevated by external factors that can change one’s life trajectory in matters of seconds.

What’s the impact of the US election on immigration for foreign workers?

How long until we have the vaccine?

Will I be forced to go back home?

I saw more and more LinkedIn posts of my fellow international students/workers trying to find jobs. I try to like every single one of those posts to at least contribute something to the algorithm with the hopes of making the post viral. Life is not fair, I know that — but it still sucks to see these talented individuals having to fight until such lengths despite their economic, cultural, and intellectual contributions to the US.

Options Can Be Paralyzing

When your life is not tied to a country, meaning that you have experienced living in different places for a significant part of your life, you become less attached to “places” and are more appreciative of people. What you consider as “home” no longer refers to a place, but to a situation in which you’re surrounded by the people that you care about, doing the things that you love. There was a good article explaining the life of diaspora, a fancy word for people that are simply fortunate enough to have parents that can pay for their foreign education, but I digress.

International students sometimes use the term “for good” whenever we talk about going back home. The term refers to when a person decides to settle “for good”, leaving behind their lives in the countries that they previously lived or studied at. Having options is a blessing, but it can also be paralyzing. I recently got a lot of questions about my next steps; from parents, relatives, and even some high school friends during our mini zoom reunions. When posed with the question of where am I going to settle, I resort to one trait that I was known for as the only child.

I’m selfish. I have seen too many different places, met friends from diverse backgrounds, experienced numerous cuisines to the point that I don’t think I can select just one place as my “home”. To achieve that selfish goal, I need freedom. I need to take control of my own life and finances, to the point that it affords me so much freedom that I can do whatever I want — living in different places, starting my own projects, and spending time wonderful people. Knowing all of this, I’m quite content with the steps that I have been taking, and the steps that I’m going to take. I realize that sacrifices are necessary to reach such a selfish goal.

This pandemic sucks, but at least it provides me with the perfect circumstances to pursue my selfish goal. After all, we need to try and look for the positive things in life.



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