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Reflections on 2022

Pic is one of my favourite concert place in Istanbul called Babylon

As the lunar Chinese new year is approaching in one week, I would like to share some of my thoughts for 2022.

My mother's cancer diagnoses

My life has never been the same since I learned that my mother had terminal cancer. I thought I would not be able to deal with it, but wow, it has been a whole year that my family and I have lived with this new reality. Looking back, it was emotionally distressing and frustrating because China remained closed in 2022, making traveling there extremely expensive and practically challenging. With me being thousands of miles away, there was not much I could do apart from having a leap of faith. I had to rely on my family to take good care of my mother, and my sister took most of the responsibility of taking care of mom, taking her to treatments, and getting meds. I felt fortunate to have a loving and caring sister who fills the role during this difficult time. With China announced reopening this Jan, it won't be far away for me to visit my homeland.

A plan B and own a place for the first time

I have always felt like I need a plan B outside China. What happened in China in 2022 just reinforced my opinion. Two weeks ago, I bought a small apartment in Kadikoy. It felt terrific as if I am a true adult now. I still live in my beautiful rental home but feel hopeful for life ahead. This year, I felt grounded in Istanbul and did not think of traveling that much. I built my new routine here in Istanbul and started to like it. For the first time in a very long time, I am in one place without going elsewhere. I am happy that Istanbul will be my base for the next few years. From here, I look forward to visiting family in China and friends in Israel, exploring new life opportunities here, and having some slow-motion travel.

Accept having fewer people in life

As an introvert, I was raised in this culture where being sociable is greatly praised and rewarded. During four years in the university, I was this awkward, slightly anti-social girl sitting in the corner of the classroom; I did not manage to build any strong relationships apart from the girls in my dorms. After I left university, I decided to live under this motto of "going out of my comfort zone"; however, living abroad really made me overcome my inner fears and learn to express myself. I grew from a socially awkward girl to someone no one would see as an introvert anymore. It got me to meet some people I would have never met otherwise and gained me some of the best and wildest experiences. Sometime this year, Suddenly, it took a sharp turn. I started not to enjoy the social life that much. I began to realize that I am quickly bored out by the people I meet and enjoy spending more time with myself. It has been eight months since I moved here, and I have only very few people I can call stable friends; it sounds a bit pathetic, does not it? The truth is that I feel perfectly fine about it; I also don't feel the urge to have many friends.

Learn to find opportunities in crises

I have not had a stable place for these three years since the pandemic; it has been physically and mentally exhausting. However, I tried to take advantage of the freedom that I had. Now looking back, I felt lucky enough that most of the time, I was not under many restrictions because I was mainly in Egypt and Turkey, where restrictions are much less severe than in some other countries. After being jobless for nearly a year, I successfully started my own e-commerce business. It enables me to work remotely, which is the freedom I always dreamed of, only to find out that I actually like to stay in one place nowadays. Not only was my business not affected by the pandemic, but surprisingly, it experienced steady growth and a boom in 2021. I have also got covid twice and recovered from it. I have always been very calm with the virus. One of the most important lessons I learned from this pandemic is to be equipped with the mentality to stay resilient and find opportunities in crises. The word crisis in Chinese 危机 consists of a crisis and an opportunity right after it. These three turbulent years made me understand that life is a perilous path, and we must learn to be anti-fragile. Even though 2022 marks the end of the pandemic restrictions, challenges remain and come one after another like dominoes, setting us on the post-covid trajectory. The Russia-Ukraine war and the high inflation in most of the world, with some other countries ending up bankrupt and in horrific totalitarianism.

Be content with what I have

I started to hear people tell me that you are like this or that because you are getting older. As blunt as it can be, it is true as we are meant to experience different phases of life as we mature over time physically and mentally. I feel calmer this year, able to navigate big cities like Istanbul, benefit from what it offers, avoid things I don't like, and focus on doing what I enjoy and less affected by my environment. For me, life here is somehow peaceful despite the chaos this country is currently experiencing. Istanbul is far from an easy city; it is so big, crowded, and noisy sometimes. Calmness and tranquility are hard to find here, and it has many other problems. Nevertheless, it is a perfect base for me for the moment, and I decided to be content and happy about this decision. Having Istanbul as my base was never part of my plan, but now I am open to what will happen next with good faith. Why? Because I could be in much worse situations.

My gratitude

As usual, kudos to the people in my life who offer me tremendous help, support and consolation. I am thankful to have a fantastic sister who cared for my mother while I was away, to have some dear friends who trusted me and lent me small loans for me to buy the apartment in Kadikoy, and for the people who took care of me when I was ill... The list goes on. Thanks for being in my life.

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