Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Happy soul

They say it’s a particularly inauspicious year to marry this year, but somehow it doesn’t feel so. Robert, my junior high school friend, is getting married this weekend, and last weekend, Bennet, my high school crush got married. Though not particularly crushed by the news, it sure felt weird, and it wasn’t only because of who the groom was. Sitting at a table with friends from NEHS (one of the three high schools I went to), while it was nice to see them after so many years, I felt like something’s changed. More like, someone’s changed. And the person who changed was…me.

I was at NEHS my freshman year, but most of my friends were seniors. I always looked up to these sempais of mine. They were all very smart and I always loved hanging out with them and listening to them. Whatever they talked about, it seemed more interesting than what my own classmates were talking about. I guess I kind of saw them as teachers, sort of. But not anymore. Everyone added 14 years to their lives, but not necessarily the same number of years to their sprit and soul. I’m not saying I’ve become that much wiser, but I certainly think my soul has aged more than many of them. They may be very successful in their career, already have a family or have traveled the world three times around, but some of them still just seem so...”young.”

What does it feel like to have an older soul? When I see someone gossiping incessantly, complaining nonstop, or picking a bone with someone else over the littlest of things, I say to myself, “give them time, they’ll grow up.” I don’t get annoyed, I just look at them kind of like I would at a younger brother or sister, except they may be older than me. These days, I can pretty much sense if a person has a young or old soul without them saying much. I just didn’t really realize that I’ve become this soul that’s either gotten or is getting “old,” until this wedding.

Over a Neapolitan pizza genovese at Primo last night, Ann said, “Maybe they didn’t have to grow because they didn’t have to. You grow when you are faced with adversity and suffering.” I think she couldn’t have been more right. My NEHS friends are very, very intelligent and talented. From just Bennet’s class of 12 or so, Tom already won a Golden Horse Award, Caroline is the head of Google’s communications department in this part of the world, May-yi is one of the heads of National Geographic Channel also in this region, Bennet’s a senior engineer at TSMC, and many others are in high level management positions at other companies. Some of them are so smart they didn’t have to suffer much, nor saw much they would call “adversity.”

I guess that makes me, the less intelligent one, a person who had to suffer and really fight to overcome hurdles.

When I was little, while I received a lot of love from Mom and Dad, I also received a lot of stress. Michael and Daniel tell me that they’ve never seen me smile as a kid. I never noticed! Maybe I was too busy making myself miserable. Then as I was about to graduate from business school, I realized that I really didn’t like business and I certainly didn’t think finance and economics was interesting at all, so I decided to walk my own path and come into the media industry in Taiwan. I was turned down many times before finally landing my first job at FTV, working as a part of the English news team. A year later, I was transferred to the mainstream Chinese news, and that’s when all hell seemed to break loose for me. In addition to having to report in Mandarin, which I hardly read/spoke/wrote, face two deadlines a day, anchor in Taiwanese, which I knew even less of (my Taiwanese ability was the equivalent of a Californian’s fluency of Spanish – taco, burrito), I had a boss who was a medicating manic depressive, a chief editor who seemed to swear even more and that much louder than a sailor at all hours of the day, and a bunch of cameramen who loved to bully, scare and verbally abuse me any chance they got. Now I can crank out as many news stories as they throw at me, anchor in Taiwanese without losing sleep the night before, selectively hear what my bosses say/shout, and even gained the respect of the cameramen, including the one who very publicly ridiculed me. Heck, these days, I’m even OK with food or sleep when I can’t get it. But most importantly, I learned to be conscious of happiness, and I make an effort to be happy.

Old soul, young soul, I guess it doesn’t matter as long as I am a happy soul. I’m glad for what I’ve been through, and what I have yet to go through. Boy, I sound like a masochist…

Are you a happy soul? If you are a happy and old soul and are interesting and can speak English, please email me. Let's have dinner. :)


Mark said...

"A year later, I was transferred to the mainstream Chinese news, and that’s when all hell seemed to break loose for me. In addition to having to report in Mandarin, which I hardly read/spoke/wrote, face two deadlines a day, anchor in Taiwanese, which I knew even less of (my Taiwanese ability was the equivalent of a Californian’s fluency of Spanish – taco, burrito"

That's amazing you managed to land a news reporting job without the language skills! I would have thought that would be impossible!

That must have been some high school you went to, too. It kind of reminds me of what some of my old middle school classmates are up to. Though I was kind of a school star at the time, getting into college classes before high school, my path afterwords has been more winding and far less impressive than that of my old classmates.

I'm not sure if I had really thought about it much before seeing this post, but somehow dropping out, going to a state school and then moving out here to Taiwan has made me a happier person than I was.

翁郁容 Michella Jade Weng ミシェラ・オング said...

It's so interesting where life takes us. I'm finally beginning learn to feel which way the wind is blowing and then guiding myself to go in that direction. Provided it's a direction I like. :D

What brought you to Taiwan? And why did moving here make you happier?

wagawaga said...


I liked having a older soul than others, cause that means one enjoys the vision of older soul, yet still have younger soul to back up one's lacking!

There are so much benefits to having both souls! and so many in-betweens!

翁郁容 Michella Jade Weng ミシェラ・オング said...

Thank you, Wagawaga. I like your concept - blame it on youth! Hahaha! I really like it!

UUu Ming said...

Agree with Mark. How do you manage to do your work in an environment not natural to you? Given you were brought up in the US, you are handicapped compared to others in the field where they have a head start. Plus, my impression is that the pay is low and the working hours are crazy. All I can say is that you are a 強女人.

Luckily, I've lived in Taiwan for the past 10 years all doing English work, not a bit of need for any Chinese skills.

Hmm.. not sure but I remember watching Taiwan news broadcasts in English on one of the channels. Is it still on and was that FTV's program?

Ask yourself where you want to be in 5 or 10 years and the road will unveil itself to you in unexpected ways as long as you work towards your goal(s).

翁郁容 Michella Jade Weng ミシェラ・オング said...

Thanks for voicing out, UUu Ming. :)

I don't think I'm so much of a 女強人, more like a 少一根神經的人... Hahaha

Yes, the pay is low, hours are crazy, and I have a huge handicap with my language and am always at a disadvantage because I don't know current affairs history and culture like my colleagues, but I love my job, and that makes all the difference.

FTV's English news airs at 23h45 on Channel 53 Sunday through Friday, and reruns the following morning (not sure what time, since I don't do much work for them anymore). It's a decent show with decent news. It is relatively more neutral and a little more natural, as opposed to ERA's show, which uses it to teach English, rather than to simply broadcast the news.

I've got my eyes set on where I want to be and what I want to do in the next 5 & 10 years. I have faith that everything will turn out great. Thank you for reminding me about that.

Mark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark said...

I really can't say what brought me to Taiwan. I had studied Japanese in college and after graduating I somehow decided that I needed to study another language. Maybe it was the fact that I had a couple of good friends who had moved to Colorado from Taiwan as little kids that made me choose this place.

Moving here has made me happier for a pretty simple reason-- it freed me from expectations. I've been able to find my own way without constant evaluation or comparison to my peers.

It's also really nice to be able to just keep learning more Chinese through daily exposure. I would really miss that back in the US.

UUu Ming said...

hehe, 少一根經 well count me in also. That plus a lack of social skills since I've evolved into a 宅男 by occupation.

Too modest, I quickly scanned a few articles and it seems like you've put up with a lot of crap. So yea, you're entitled to the 女強人 title.

Cool, as long as your passion surpasses your threshold limit of crap-to-put-up-with then you belong where you are.

I'm watching FTV English news right now.. yes, I actually quite like this program. It gives the impression that Taiwan is trying to become more international friendly. Though sometimes the broadcaster's English pronunciations sound weird. About 1 out of 20 words the pronunciation is a little off. I'm sure it was better when you were there.

Hmm.. this male broadcaster looks familiar. Did he work at 空中英語教室 before? He looks familiar from some other TV program.

This Chinese guy is different from the first time I saw this program, it used to be this same girl and another half-asian half-caucasian guy.

Best of luck! I'm sure things will work out for you :)

翁郁容 Michella Jade Weng ミシェラ・オング said...

Thanks for the encouragement, UUu Ming. :)

And thanks for watching the show!

Bryan said...

Is it better to be rich and unhappy or poor and happy. I think that most will agree with the latter. Not sure if that directly relates to your post, but I guess I started thinking about what it takes to be happy.

I am a happy soul and speak English, but alas, based in Korea, not Taiwan. :)

翁郁容 Michella Jade Weng ミシェラ・オング said...

I'm happy to hear that you're a happy soul too. :)

What brings you to Korea? Or are you Korean and write in English really well?

Bryan said...

No, not Korean. USA born and raised. Just working over here, though I have spent some time in Taiwan.