Today marks one week of this new beginning here in Hong Kong. Without a doubt, the weather has been atrocious, and the worst is still yet to come. But that aside, I’ve also been through a series of emotional ups and downs over just a short seven days. It takes courage to say goodbye to the city I love, and even more courage to willingly embrace a new start with joy and excitement.
This isn’t the same as Toronto. This is the first time leaving Vancouver, and knowing that I really won’t be back for a while. Accepting that reality is not easy.
Sometimes, I’ll envision the future me, and feel the thrill of being that successful person. Other times, I fear. I fear the working culture of Hong Kong. I fear that this job isn’t what I expected, and that it’s not what I want to do in the end. I fear getting trapped in this cynical city, and turning into that person I don’t want to be. I fear change.
So up until the first day of work, I’ve been consumed with these kinds of thoughts. When I stepped into work on Thursday, I still didn’t know what to expect. We went through all the administrative stuff, then we spent a day and a half in the classroom, learning about our company. We talked about the history and structure of Hong Kong Airlines, but we also had quite a few guests come in to explain the roles of their respective departments. Of course, I gathered many facts about this company, but more importantly, I saw the wisdom in each of these speakers. One of the speakers told us to spend the years of our career not just working, but also to fill up on experience and self-worth. He said to us, “at the age of 70, I am still employable, and I pray that you will all be the same one day”.
Another director showed us this image of successful v.s unsuccessful people. And out of all the great pieces of advice I saw, this stuck out to me to most: embrace change.
Most importantly, I was reminded that “nothing is ever easy… but if you find passion in what you do, you will be able to achieve anything”. Of course I’ve heard this before. One of my professors told me that as you work your way up, you would expect things to be easier. “Well, let me tell you, it only ever gets harder”.
So, where is that passion for me? Airplanes, I suppose. But like I said, I have been worried that this wouldn’t turn into my dream job. I don’t know where this path would take me, and the truth is, I’ve been hearing endless amounts of discouragement regarding my choice to come back. Hong Kong working hours suck. The weather is too hot. It’s too crowded. The politics are a mess, and the general public is dissatisfied. And that’s just the part about the city. There’s still the part about my job, about how my degree in Aerospace Engineering is more about design. As you can imagine, Hong Kong is a financial hub, and they are never going to have a Boeing or Bombardier appear. When you work at an airline, the closest you can get is probably maintenance. Who cares about how the airplane flies, or what causes aerodynamic flutter? The manufacturer already took care of that.
We are so easily affected by the people around us. When other people make a comment, no matter how insignificant they are in your lives, your brain starts thinking about it subconsciously. It’s like the seed of an idea planted in your mind. You might say you are strong and confident, and not so easily waived, but trust me – I am a stubborn person, and I find it hard to stand my ground. How much harder is it to insist on trekking on, when every single person you meet repeats the same comments already heard time and time again? No matter which direction I turn, I’m faced with walls of adversity.
I have thought about giving up. Just find a job somewhere in Vancouver, get by, live a chill life at home in such a comfortable city. Go home early, pick up some hobbies. Hike a different mountain every weekend. Go snowboarding in the winter. Be able to afford a car, and actually drive it out. When you think about things that way, life is never satisfying for you, no matter where you are.
We met with the assistant director of our department on Friday, and before we left, he asked us, “How far is one kilometer? Maybe that building in the distance?”. Then he said, “You can’t get very far with a kilometer of road, but a kilometer of runway can take you anywhere in this world. Remember that this is what the invention of airplanes has brought to this world, and carry this passion as you carry forward with this job.” That was enough for me. That was the reminder I needed. I have always been fascinated by airplanes, and that has never changed.
As I was saying, we are affected by the words of others very easily. But that applies to both the positive and the negative. So, my friends… Hold onto the words that inspire you. Find your passion, and don’t let go of it. When the waves of adversity roar at you, let your passion be the motivation to keep you on your feet. It’s never about whether something is easy; only whether something is worthwhile.