Damn! I just had a sobering realization this morning that maybe I’m here for life, or at least till retirement. Not some silly joking around realization, but a real, honest, heart-stopping one.
Like everyone, when I arrived here I figured maybe it would last a year or two. But time went by, I got married, had a child, and now – in a flash – it’s been 11 years. At least twice I’ve made serious efforts to return to the States. Maybe 6 or 7 years ago I sent off 100 resumes to potential employers from San Diego to Seattle and out to Boulder, Colorado, followed up with a flight back there and a handful of interviews. Not an offer. A few more years passed, I made other furtive efforts, but I’m still here.
Recently I’ve been getting the itch again to return, because my parents are 81 years old, and just because California is beautiful notwithstanding all its problems so I’m keen to give it another try. So I contacted a headhunter in California who specializes in exactly my field and specialties and this morning we had a chat on the phone. No surprise (I read the news and know the US economy, California budget, unemployment, etc are all disastrous), but she didn’t paint a pretty picture. Very competitive job market she said. Lots of very good candidates trying to land better positions.
As for me – no one wants to hire someone with 20 years experience, she said. They’re afraid I’ll want too much money. And living in Taiwan – they’ll want to see committment. At least I’ll need to fly over for some interviews, but maybe I’ll need to move back without work and then seek a job. Acckkkk! (No way I’ll do that.) Anyway, she’ll try to help me out, she says my best odds may be with a company with close ties to Taiwan (duh). But it seemed clear I shouldn’t be holding my breath.
Then I spoke with my wife. She told me to just quit dreaming, to accept my lot in Taiwan. She said I’m a potted plant and am afraid to actually plant myself in Taiwan and let my roots grow. Not true, I countered, I’m very happy here, I enjoy life in the present moment; I’m just trying to explore, on the side, the possibility of returning to the States. I told her I’ll do my best not to get overly excited about returning, not to yank her expectations up and down, but this is like a side hobby for me: working towards a potential return some day.
But after the two discussions I started feeling maybe my wife’s right. 50 years old, 20 years work experience, 11 years outside the US – what are the odds someone would want to hire me back in the States? Wouldn’t they vastly prefer a 35 year old with 10 years relevant experience right there where the job is located? Of course they would. Maybe I should stop dreaming of an impossible escape and embrace and accept Taiwan.
I’m not down, I’m not blue, but I’ve just had this strange feeling this morning that – DAMN – I don’t know how that happened, I never expected it, but my 1 or 2 year visit first turned into 5 years, then 10 years, and now it really IS possible, or perhaps likely, it may be a life sentence. Weird. Nothing against Taiwan, but there’s nothing spectacular about this place. It’s not Sweden, or Switzerland, or Paris or, hell I don’t know. It just seems so random and arbitrary and odd to come here for a short stay and end up trapped for life.
I take it a bunch of you probably feel similarly.