A Call To Arms (and Submissions): A New Series on Settledness and Restlessness

Settled in China

As you may have noticed, my posts recently have been flailing wildly back and forth on the subject of being settled in a place.

It’s not just my posts that are contradicting themselves.

I’m waffling on a daily basis, veering between quiet acceptance of being in Shanghai long term (-ish), with comfy familiar things around me and a good job and a bed to call my own, and keening to myself silently, mourning the loss of my True Self– you know, the restless one that packs up and leaves whenever things don’t go exactly as planned or when life needs a little nudge in the Interesting Department.

The one that doesn’t hesitate to walk out on conversations or people or cities or countries.

I’ve been that person for a very long time (for as long as I’ve been a person, I’d wager).

With Shanghai also alternating sunny, clear, pleasant days with awful grim ones lately, I’ve been unable to put my finger on exactly what is driving my wildly changing moods.

Is it the city itself (sunny=happy times; grim=grrrr)?

Is it me?

Is this something I need to change within myself to be able to live contentedly in the here and now, or is this a sign that the whole situation is wrong and that I need to make an external change?

I’ve spoken to various expats living in Shanghai about living here long term and have gotten a mixed bag of responses.

  • Some are totally contented here, with spouse and possibly children, not wanting to live anywhere else. They are here for the long haul.
  • Some are here for the money and have admitted this and accepted it. They have goals that Shanghai is helping them to fulfill.  They aren’t necessarily happy here but they know why they are here (buying a house, retiring early, etc).
  • Some are here because of their spouses or partners and may have had to put their own careers and plans on hold to come here. Some are thriving but others… not so much.
  • Some (like me) simply wound up here through chance (job offers, transient lifestyle) and ended up staying, extending the time frame year by year until two years had passed, possessions had accumulated, contracts renewed, friends made.  I still don’t see myself fully here though, always with one hand on the door, looking for other choices, other possibilities.

With this in mind, I’m opening this blog up to others who may be in this position. I’m looking for people who would like to be interviewed about their choices and their reactions to settling down. Expats and ex-travellers both, anyone who has found themselves settled down in a place they never expected to be, with doubts about the choices they’ve made or are about to make.

This place can be your own homeland after a long time away (with spouses, babies, houses and all), or it can be a totally different country but not the one you had hoped to end up in or not the way you’d imagined it.

If you would like to be interviewed for a (possibly) open ended series of posts on the concept of settling down, please contact me here, through the comments section, or on Twitter or Facebook.

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About MaryAnne

I live in Hanoi. I used to live in Shanghai (hence this blog's title) but I left in 2013. I tend to travel. I cook stuff. I read a lot. I try to scare myself silly with regularity. I write about it all. A lot.