Guest Blogs

“Still Restless or Ready to Settle?”

“I want to settle down,” says our ADHD blogger. But will attention deficit – and her own fears and imperfections – let her?

The panic sets in now and the countdown begins again. I am counting down the days, literally three, two and then back onto the airplane. Back to the other continent. To another time zone, to another language, lifestyle, to dense humidity, mosh pits of people and noise. Back to work. I am really looking forward to this…not.

I am internally kicking and screaming my way back this time, not thrilled about being planted and so rudely uprooted again. I am aware that this is my choice still. I could decline to fulfill the contract and abandon it all, though I’d be an idiot to do it.

The reality is that I’ve been about as excited about this as a visit to the dentist. The summer overall has been wonderful, a life that is the stark opposite of life in Hong Kong. Target, mega malls and move theaters, an all-English speaking environment, a round robin of coffees and gatherings with friends who seem shocked that I am still out there.

The stepmother says that my fears stem from restlessness. I’ve had a summer of working holiday, sometimes more play than work. “You’re getting lazy,” she says. I can hardly disagree more. I keep singing the same mantra, replaying the record again: “I want to settle down, I want the mortgage, the apartment, a set dinner time, a warm body.” I don’t want to live life as if I were always having to swim against the current. At some point it makes sense to retire.

The words “I want to settle down” seem as steady and consistent as a heartbeat. But how to get there has been a challenging and constant struggle for a lifetime. “I don’t want to be bicontinental anymore,” I told the stepmother who shrugged. The sister says that perhaps she’s given up on us. How can anyone help me? The only person who can put a stop to this is me.

And somehow as I frantically pack again to return to a new season and work, the words don’t sound very convincing to me either. I want to settle down and yet I keep moving around. Over coffee with a good friend the other day, she marveled at how many places I’d traveled over the past couple of years. Over the past year she’s acquired the mortgage, the house, the husband, the pet dog and now the baby. “You know, I kind of envy you sometimes,” she said. But “sometimes” was the key word.

“Your problem is that you change your mind all of the time, and don’t stick with a plan,” the stepmother finally said when I pushed her for one last bit of advice. “That’s because you want everything to be perfect and work in your favor,” she said. Harsh words, but true. Sure, I could stop the moving, the uprooting, the international life. But then what?