Mu-An Chiou

Update

Hi again.

I am sitting in an apartment in Berlin right now thinking about e-mailing my therapist. But instead of doing that, I thought I'd read back on what I have written in the past on this website.

I guess it is time for an update.

I am doing better. I guess stabler, more understanding of my own feelings and more in control; um, scratch that. And more aware of how to priortize my responsibilities.

My insomnia somehow got worse again earlier this year, and I continue trying. I got a new job last year, somewhat out of obligation, and I have since left the position.

With my not-so-new-anymore job, I got to go to TPAC representing the Taiwanese government. I presented two proposals at WHATWG meetings, and connected with so many amazing people. It was incredibly exciting. I found a meaningful direction and had momentum. There were a ton of exciting things I could contribute to, and they would also bring me joy.

But then I dropped back down to earth and lost the drive.

I was disappointed in myself but have also learned to accept that many things are out of my control.

Earlier this year I reached the conclusion that I need to have a constant source of relational intimacy. My family and I were never close. In fact, I am as far as can be from them now mentally. I have no close (geographically & psychologically) friends at all due to moving around and working remotely all my adult life. I figured now, my three options are:

  1. Continue to try to find something in Taipei
  2. Find an oversea satellite hub where I can meet a bunch of my favorite people semi-frequently
  3. Adopt a cat or two

I have been trying 1 for a hot minute and it has been looking grim. Perhaps I am just to peculier and picky. My high school best friend said I am a weirdo trying to find other weirdos, of course that is going to be hard. Him and I are still close, but our lives have diverged too far to cross again.

2 was deemed promising because I am always happier when I meet my oversea friends, which is also always noticeable by people around me as well as myself.

I was pretty sure 3 wasn't going to work, as I am someone who would not like to be relied upon; however in this scenario, I'd be relying on them too, so it would be a mutual dependency. Transactional. Not owing anyone any favors is logically preferable. And my cat friends always seem less lonely than I am.

I met more people, went to a few cat shelters, and visited a few different countries. 2024 is my year of fucking around and finding out. So that brought me to Berlin.

Berlin was my first stop after I started my "digital nomad" phase soon after joining GitHub in 2013, because a U.S. work visa was impossible to get.

Berlin has always been one of my favorite cities. The GitHub coworking space here used to have a collection of international, weird, smart, but also very kind people. And my subsequent visits back to the city were all for JSConf EU, where my favorite kind of nerds get together.

The decision to try out Berlin wasn't a hard one. I know so many people here, and baking Pretzels, like my obsession with Pacific Saury (秋刀魚 / サンマ), is one of my personality triats now.

I figure if I want a hub here, I ought to learn the language. And I grew up wanting to be a polygot, so why not use this chance to get serious about things?

I found a German tutor, a very cool nonchalant Taiwanese German woman who is also kind of weird like I am. Her German mom loved my pretzels, and our classes went very well.

Months passed by I arranged to attend a language school in Berlin and my friends helped me find an apartment. My doctor signed off on my travels and agreed that changes of sceneries are always good. Everything fell into places. And I fell into this foreign city.

How hard can it be? I moved to Birmingham when I was 19 to study, I moved to New York when I was 29 for work. Now I am simply pretending to live in Berlin for a mere 2 months. Easy-peasy... No?

Little did I know this challenge would push me off a cliff like I was free-falling.

I got the warmest welcome. Lots of friends hit me up wanting to meet. There are no external problems that can't be solved. Except all my problems are internal. Deep feelings of anxiety and fear. I immediately want to crawl into a ball and ship myself back home, where things are familiar.

"This is a mistake," I said to myself. Perhaps I moved too fast, too far, too hastely. "Nothing is grounding me here," I said to a friend. All these loosy goosy reasons for me to be here are not enough of an anchor to weight my anxiety down. I am floating in space and surrounded by... what the fuck is that?


I gotta relax.

I'll check back in with y'all in two months.

Trust the process. It will be fine. Everything will be in its right place.


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