Is it you or is it Taiwan?

Returning home after a long journey abroad allowed for a fresh perspective on life in Taiwan and how I see it. The first couple of days back, I was mostly having a good time visting my old haunts, seeing old friends, etc. Not too much bugged me.

Of course, after getting back to the grind and the nitty gritty of daily life, the little frustrations started piling up, and I found myself getting annoyed at things like people crowding onto the bus, driving like lunatics, etc.

Instead of letting those (everpresent) problems get me down, I did a quick assessment of my situation and realized that Taiwan, well, was still Taiwan. Nothing had changed over the last week. It was my mental state which had changed, which had affected my attitude and outlook.

Now, granted that every place on this little globe has its own problems, the question is this: To what extent are the “problems” you encounter here products of your own state of mind? Or, to put it another way, to what extent is the focus of your complaining and irritation affected by your current living condition?

I realize those are extremely difficult questions to answer when you’re “in the middle” of things here. BTW, I’m also interested in hearing from folks who’ve left and come back after a period of months (or years), and how that’s affected your perception of life, Taiwan, the universe, and everything. :sunglasses:

Taiwan as we know it is … wel … Taiwan.
We complain a lot about the little things and bigger stuff, but that’s normal, it’s defintely not as we were used to back home.

So … we yank about it and than we should let it go … go on to next thing to yank about.

That’s I guess the best way to handle things in Taiwan without becoming a depressed wanker.

It’s you. Most of the time. You can’t blame Taiwan for everything.

If it was Taiwan, I’d expect that Taiwanese people would be losing it too. On the contrary, most seem to love their country and their lifestyle. So it must be you (me…all of us). It does seem like this damn country is trying to push my buttons some days though!

Yes, I wonder what percentage of Taiwan Tantrums are reflections of a person’s own wrecked state of mind. And to take that further, I wonder to what extent the people who see a lot of problems are in fact revealing a deep well of personal troubles. To extend that to a point that might be ludicrous, I wonder if cases of extreme ranting might be an indication of serious personal issues, which might be completely unrelated to the object of one’s ranting.

Of course, this can never be cut and dry, since it’s a complicated business. There are issues of culture-shock, adjusting to a new home, etc. But I think it is interesting to draw a connection between our changing perceptions of a place and our changing states of mind. Because then, once we realize that’s what’s happening (if in fact, that’s what’s happening), it can allow for a shift in perception, added stability, and a better sense of balance and well-being.

At least that’s the theory. :sunglasses:

I think it’s all you. The thing is when I go back to NY for a while, I feel that it’s soooo boring there.

Slow, boring and obese.

It’s not that I prefer Taiwan, but I definately prefer Taiwan over Albany New York. :slight_smile:

I think there is a participatory relationship between state of mind and stressors in Taiwan. What I mean is it is not purely one or the other. The stressors exist, no doubt. OP listed a few. I think state of mind determines how you cope with the negatives. I think personality and preference are other factors affecting one’s perception of this place. Some people will love this place, others will hate it. Still others will have their perceptions influenced by health, lifestyle and other factors.

Taiwan can be irritating as hell of course. My personal beef is the traffic and the attendant air pollution. There are a number of wonderful things about the place though such as the sensitivity that you can expect from people who are actually your friends. Basically I think that the healthier you are psychologically the more you will find to appreciate about Taiwan and the less you will find to bitch about. That’s probably what you should try to do if you want to become or remain psychologically healthy as well. Looking for the positive is a good general strategy wherever you are. Of course it is also healthy to try and shape your environment in positive ways as long as you don’t become grandiose and over estimate your potential influence. I’ve seen a lot of Westerners in Taiwan who don’t seem to understand any of these things. They bitch and complain and expect things to improve as if by magic all on account of their having identified a problem or a shortcoming. It really is an embarassing thing to behold and all the more so because I was once one of the worst offenders.

Right-on, Bob.
Wherever you go that’s where you are. So you can either go somewhere else or adapt to your locality.

Back home: The boss screwed me, the driver cut me off, this person is an Ahole, I didn’t get enough respect from so and so, This person is a shithead and is holding me back, the govt. sucks, “The Man” is pulling the strings and little people can’t get ahead, “The System” is designed for those who are within, the world is fed up and I can’t make a difference, so why try…

Here: Ditto

It is easy to externalize our problems. Not so easy to look for the source–usually inside ourselves…Peace!

Thanks Wookie. You know something else I’ve realized lately is that the grandiose, narcissistic, hypercritical, depressive, paranoid mess I was when I arrived here five years ago was to quite an extent pretty much an unavoidable consequence of coming from a grandiose, narcissistic, hypercritical, depressive, paranoid, shame based mess of a society. I have no idea really what the society is about here, but thanks very much to a book entitled “The Art of Happiness” I have chosen to look for whatever positive I could find in whomever I have had contact with here and that has made all the difference; which, in a round about way, brings us back to Jefferson’s original question: Is it Taiwan (or wherever you came from for that matter) or is it you? And that my dear readers is a hell of a question since it is bloody near impossible to extricate a “you” from the mass of influences that created you. It is possible though to yank yourself up out of that cause effect dynamic and chart a more deliberate, controlled course for yourself but that requires a good bit of soul searching…

Two weeks ago it was all the bed’s fault. It’s the thing with the wrong side not me.

The negative things in life are too easily blamed on other things than yourself. It’s too easy to dwell upon them too.

Sounds like a good attitude, Bob. It may well be that Taiwan is allowing you (along with many of us) to undertake a personal reinvention. Being in a place where our previous habits, reactions, and assumptions are decontextualized allows the slate to be recast. Or, at the very least, it allows for a new slate to be created, especially when speaking Chinese or Taiwanese, as many of the cultural and behavioral artifacts of one’s native language are dropped.

But again, it’s not all that rosy or cut and dry, which is a reason we need to do things like engage in regular introspection, read books to help us sort things out, and start threads like this to share experiences. :wink:

By the way, I hope I made it clear enough in my first post that when I mentioned returning home I meant returning to Taiwan. :wink:

Please, Jefferson, my friends call me bob. Bob is so corny.

Anywho I think that people who have a chance to step out of their birth culture as adults for extended periods of time are some of the luckiest people alive. Especially people like us coming from the west at this point in history, which it seems has been characterized by abuse of both the most blatant and the most subtle kinds for decades. Most of the smart people I know in Canada are recovering from it in one way or another. The dumb ones don’t even realize what they did or what happened to them.

Which of course isn’t to say that there isn’t a lot of negativity here. It’s just that I am not part of that dynamic, since most of my interaction with people is in the role of teacher, and in that role I usually seem able to maintain mutually respectful relationships. That would probably not be possible were I to find myself employed less professionally here. Were I to return to Canada :noway: you could be well assured that I would quickly find myself employed less professionally. I doubt that it would suit me much. Anyway both the Chinese and Western Zodiacs say I would make a good assassin. I wonder if there would be good money in that…

Another angle: they’re only frustrating, annoying, etc. if you allow them to get to you and become those things.

When all else fails, it’s helpful to ask “What would Yoda do?”. :smiley:

You’ve definitely done well. Seems a lot of people come here and achieve the above state after a few years.

I’m in and out of the country a lot and almost every time I return and look at and evaluate how feel about Taiwan. (Forumosa helps)

Right now its the oily, salty foods. Great thing is I can change that. Costco trips and lots of chicken and beek salads with croutons, salad toppings and that terrific sauce (chipote? made from rasberries and peppers.

Only real gripe right now remains the ever present crazy drivers.Its the blind corner passing that I just can not understand. Its like a casual toss of the dice with their lives and more importantly other lives as well. I drive a country winding road every day and see the behaviour each day and accidents regularly.

Definitely both for me.

I mean, you can’t change facts. The pollution is terrible, some things just plain SUCK here.

But there are days when I go to a restaurant with an English name. …That has a menu that says ‘soup’ in English, but the different types of soup in Chinese. And I think…oooh, that’s a little stupid.


So yeah, a bit of both.

When your sense of humour goes, then you’re finished.

When living overseas it’s vitally important to keep a sense of humour.

Taiwan has plenty of shortcomings and they just seem to jump out at you if you aren’t part of the pretty much monolithic culture.

But, I think there’s nothing more pathetic than someone who could leave staying put and criticizing everything and everyone. Worse still is when all the criticisms come out in racist epithets (i.e “binlang brain”, “an Asian of Chinese origin” * “monkey”, etc).

Jefferson, kudos for posting this. Many recent posts seem to beg this question.

edit: my apologies for misunderstanding the word “ricer” and lumping the wrong poster in with the rotten ones.

It’s Taiwan … it’s all Taiwan … that’s my daily mantra that keeps me from losing the rest of what sanity I’ve managed to cling on to after being here for over four years now with no end in sight … :help:

I love this place. I want to stay at least until I obtain residency. It has its drawbacks (pollution being the main one), but if you live in a big city you have to be prepared to make some tradeoffs.

I don’t have a scooter and don’t intend to buy one, so the traffic doesn’t bother me. Why should I go on the road, making life miserable for myself, and contributing to the misery of others by adding to the congestion and pollution?